Every now and again I get emails or Facebook messages or blog comments with this type of question: “If you were moving to New Zealand all over again, what would you say that you have to bring with you from the States?”
When we first moved here, I had a boatload of suggestions, things that I thought really needed to be stocked up on because you couldn’t find them here, the NZ equivalent/replacement wasn’t as good, or it was just too expensive when compared with shopping in the US.
Recently, however, my list has been shrinking. In fact, it’s been hard to think of anything other than a very few items that I would recommend stocking up on and shipping over to New Zealand. I’m not exactly certain why that is, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that it boils down to one simple thing: I’m forgetting what everyday life in the States was like.We’ve been in New Zealand for over 2 years now. I don’t bemoan the fact that I can’t find my favourite type of salad dressing or ketchup or jeans or whatever, because I’ve found new favourites. When I hear stories of people bringing over jars of Jif peanut butter or Twinkies, I think, “Why on earth would you use up shipping space for that?” I know, I know – we all have our preferences and things that make us nostalgic, and I shouldn’t judge. I don’t, but I don’t recommend bringing those things, especially when you consider the cost of shipping.
Nowadays, when someone asks me what “essential” things to bring to New Zealand, I give a 3 suggestions:
1. Update or replace any major electronics that may stop working while you’re here.
2. If you like to read, get a Kindle or eReader since traditional books are more expensive in NZ.
3. If there’s something that you just cannot live without, then bring it.
This is of course assuming that people are travelling with the regular stuff such as a suitcase full of clothing, copies of important documents (or their originals), and enough cash or traveller’s cheque’s to tide them over till they receive their first week’s wages. If there’s any room leftover once your bags are packed, then fill it with extras: extra clothes, extra pairs of shoes, or whatever it is that you choose.
That’s about it. There’s no real item that I’m missing from the States or that I feel deprived of by not having at my fingertips. It’s taken months and months for me to reach this point, and there are still waves of homesickness and wanting to be able to buy Cool Whip (crazy!), but it passes in short order. The only things that I miss about America are my family, my friends there, and the generally lower prices.
What about you? If you were leaving your home country to go somewhere else, what sorts of things do you think that you would need to bring? If you’re already living the expat life, are there items that you miss on a regular basis and wish that you could stock up on?
Jenny is an American from Indiana living abroad in Auckland, New Zealand. An ER nurse, she spends her spare time with her husband and infant son and enjoys photography, travel, and writing about her experiences as an expat. You can read more of her thoughts and opinions at www.practicallyperfectblog.com