New ZealandTravel

How to spend a year living abroad

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So you want to leave the US, for no particular reason…we have the solution for you! Pretty soon after Matt and I started dating we made a “Couples Bucket List.” This was everything from restaurants we wanted to visit in our town, to getting a puppy. And we both agreed that living in another country should be on there. I’m so happy he shared this dream of mine because it made it that much easier to plan our future together. 

A good first step to this would be studying abroad in college! This is what we both did, and was actually how we met in London. However, for us this was just a teaser of how amazing it could be to live abroad. We were there for 5 months and agreed that next time we wanted to spend a year somewhere to experience all the seasons, holidays and activities we could! 

We would love to live in Europe, however most European cities will only allow you to stay for 3 months without a visa (UK is 6 months). If you have dual citizenship to a European country or a job that will sponsor you, those are great ways to move to Europe! We did not have either of those things…But don’t worry, there are other solutions! 

A friend of ours moved to New Zealand and told us about this amazing offer…the working holiday visa. This visa is good for one year and allows you to live in the country and work while you’re there! This was very unique for us in our research. I believe Australia has the same visa available but it may be slightly different. This is perfect if you are between 18 and 35 years old and craving a new adventure! 

First step to moving to New Zealand, make sure you have a valid passport. Then go to and complete the application for the working holiday visa. This is super easy you’ll think you missed something but really it’s just that easy. It’s free for Americans too! We got an email a couple days later saying our visas were approved! 

Now you’ll need a job, (or a place to go to school) and a place to live. Going to a university for undergrad or grad school is a great way to live abroad because then you’ll get a school sponsored visa which is even easier.  Some universities in New Zealand include: University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology, University of Otago in Dunedin, University of Canterbury (Christchurch) and Victoria University of Wellington but there are many more. 

To look for jobs I used: and applied to a bunch of temp agencies. This is how I got the job I have now! I enrolled with the following agencies: Emergent, Madison, Hays and Naked Recruitment. But there are a ton of others based on your work experience/interests. Matt found his job straight on the Air New Zealand website which is good too if you want to just search through the actual company’s career pages.

Now that we are both employed it was time to find our own place! We were extremely fortunate in that we knew family friends in town who allowed us to stay with them when we first arrived. We also had family friends who asked us to housesit for awhile. This is a great solution for free housing! You can use websites like that are made specifically for people looking for housesitters. Airbnb is also good if you need a short term place while you look for something more permanent. To look for apartments we used We wanted an 8 month lease which was possible but most places will be 6 or 12 month. You can also look at this before you come over but we wanted to secure our jobs first and look for apartments in person.

When we first came to Auckland we stayed with people in the North Shore in Castor Bay. Then we did housesitting in Saint Heliers. We also stayed with people in Mount Eden. All places are beautiful to live! We were working in the city center and airport though so we wanted to live right in the CBD (city center). We also made the decision not to get a car which will definitely depend on where you live. There are a ton of places within an hour drive of Auckland that you really need a car to see, but we’ve been lucky enough to borrow one as well. We can also rent a car when we need. The parking costs in the city center are outrageous though so for now we’ve skipped this cost. But now we live within walking distance of (my) work and so many restaurants and places we’d want to go anyways. 

After our first couple months of being here and getting settled, we wanted an 8 month lease since technically we’ll only be here 9 more months. We also wanted to give ourselves a buffer for more travel after our lease is up in this area. When in New Zealand be sure to plan lots of trips to Australia (and vice versa). Fiji, Tahiti and Cook Islands are also really close! Asia is also easier to travel to from here than the US so we are planning those trips as well. The best thing about living abroad is seeing all you can see and really making the most of your time here! It won’t last forever, or maybe it will, but just in case do lots of trips! Day trips, weekend trips or extended vacations within your extended vacation! You only live once right?! See everything you can and enjoy!!

If you have any specific questions about moving to New Zealand, Auckland, London or just living abroad please let us know! We’d be happy to help! We hope this has inspired you to get up and go somewhere. You never want to wonder what if! 

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