My wife, Jeannine, and I had always wanted to live somewhere else in the world. We had traveled to many countries ahead of our move to New Zealand; but every trip gave us just a ‘taste’ of a culture or lifestyle. At this stage in our life of no mortgage, children, or other responsibilities, we decided to act on our impulses.
We decided in April 2002 to sell off practically everything we owned and move to a little country we had never really given any thought to until seeing Lord of the Rings.We had two great paying jobs, two cars, a nice apartment, and lots of all the other wonderful modern conveniences one builds up in life.
At first, we were interested in moving to Scotland. I had visited Edinburgh before and absolutely loves the culture, archeitecture, and people. Jeannine checked Monster.com for job opportunities and couldn’t find anything remotely related to her profession. For the fun of it, we decided to click on opportunities in New Zealand, laughing at the time that it was the most remote place we could go. Suddenly, several job postings in Speech came up. We both looked at each other and laughed. Could we really move to a place we had never even visited?
That weekend we both visited Jeannnie’s parents in Binghamton and told them of our plans; jokingly slipping in the job opportunities in New Zealand. Jeannine’s father looked at us sharply and said, ‘that would be the place to go!’ Turns out, he had spent about three months in Auckland 18 years previous. In one of the few times when family slides are useful, he took out the projector and proceeded to show us an amazing country. We knew it was a sign and focused our efforts on this new destination.
Within two weeks Jeannine has sent in her resume, received a reply, interviewed over the phone, and had landed a position at Dunedin Hospital. We couldn’t believe this happening so quickly–and with such ease. We still had our doubts, of course, and would sometimes second-guess whether we were doing the right thing. However, we decided that if we were ever going to take a risk and live somewhere, now would be a great time to get started. We clinched it by buying our one way tickets a few weeks later.
Next came the arduous process of untying ourselves from the United States. Credit cards, cell phones, utilities, cars, furniture, etc. A massive purging of things we never needed. In one sense, this move forced us to clean out stupid things we had been paying for that we never needed. Of course, we couldn’t pay off everything right away and left a small manageable number of items (loans, bank accounts) that kept us connected to home. The greatest tip for anyone going overseas is to keep a bank account open in the states with online bill pay. This way, in case anything does occur after you’ve left the country, you can take care of it from anywhere in the world.
So, we whittled everything down to four suitcases. Anything else we wanted to keep we placed in storage. We knew we would be coming back within two years. We simply had too many family commitments to miss out on everything. Two weeks before we were scheduled to leave, I interviewed with a technology firm in Dunedin from a posting I had found on nzjobs.com. My interview was at 10:00pm EDT and I found out the next morning that I had the position. I was lucky–but excited that I had one less thing to think about upon arriving.
The rest of the story you find within the site. Regardless to say, we had an amazing time. New Zealand is now our second home and one we will keep coming back to frequently (We’re planning a return three week trip for October 2005). In our opinion, there are few places like it in the world. Retirement there looks like a fine opion; but for now, we’re simply happy to tell others our experiences and help people get there to make their own. Good luck and remember: Just do it.