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Stages of settling in

Moving to a new country is a big life change that involves a lot of adjustments. So even if you are not expecting it, a degree of ‘culture shock’ will almost certainly affect you at some point.

Some people settle more quickly than others. You may go through various emotional stages as you settle in and start to feel comfortable here. Researchers call this the ‘settlement curve’.

Your journey to feeling settled

Before arrival is filled with forethought and planning. People have different approaches to this stage. Some like to do a lot of research and have everything organised before they leave. Others plan as they go.

Whatever your style is, you need to be thinking through the differences as well as the expectations for your decision to live in another country.

Here is one example of the Settlement curve - it is different for everyone.

Settlement curve

Curve showing mood. 0-3 months you feel good, 12-15 months you feel down, 21-24 months feeling better again

1 - Fun

On arrival in New Zealand, you feel excitement. Everything is so different and new. It is fun!

2 - Fright

Then, you might have a bad experience that gives you a fright. Living in another country is perhaps not as easy as you thought.

You may experience the feeling that life ‘back home’ is going on without you and you are missing out on important family milestones. You may feel down (in a low mood) and very homesick.

3 & 4 - Flight / Fight

You may not experience the ‘fright’ phase for a few months or even years. But if and when it happens, it can make you question whether you should go back to your old life (flight) or try and make your new one work (fight).

This is the time when you need to face the challenges of living in a new country and get support to help you achieve your goals.

Having someone to talk to is a big help at this stage. Think about setting up informal support networks right from when you arrive. Make friends with other new arrivals to share experiences with or find a counsellor to talk to.

Taking advantage of Immigration New Zealand's help with the practical issues of settling in New Zealand can make the experience easier.

Access help and support

5 - Fit

This is the final stage of the settlement curve, when you start to fit in with your new surroundings and feel at home in New Zealand.

Family together living in New Zealand

It can be difficult for families to settle in to a new country.

Waitangi Park, Wellington

Helping a partner to settle in

Being in a relationship can make moving easier. But even if it is a joint decision, there can be tensions if one partner feels they are following the other to New Zealand at the expense of their own career or lifestyle.

One of you may feel homesick and vulnerable without their family and old friends, while the other may really be enjoying the new experiences. Being aware of this can help. 

Moving and the effect on your relationship

Helping children to settle in

Giving children a better life is a big reason many parents move to New Zealand.  Helping your children adapt to the change will be an important part of migrating successfully.

Fortunately you do not have to handle this one on your own.

Parenting support is available from several organisations in New Zealand. Parents Centres are a great place to start. They are available throughout the country. Check the Parents Centres website for more information.  

Kiwifamilies is a popular website with information to support parents in finding what is available for children of all ages here.

Families on the move: helping kids cope with migration

Find a centre | Parents Centres New Zealand Inc

Kiwi Families

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