Moving Abroad during a pandemic: Flor didn’t wait for the “right” moment and went on an adventure of a lifetime

Moving Abroad during a pandemic: Flor didn’t wait for the “right” moment and went on an adventure of a lifetime

When the pandemic hit us in 2020, the world stood still and adapted to new things, like homeschooling and working from home. Moving abroad during a pandemic, wasn’t something that a lot of people considered. Yet, for Flor and her husband, the pandemic made them realize that they had to take matters into their own hands. If they wanted to travel and explore new places, they had to move abroad and go on an adventure of a lifetime. 

They searched for opportunities and secured a visa in New Zealand (a country that limited entry the moment the pandemic hit). Six months later, Flor and her family enjoy every minute of their adventure, exploring New Zealand’s beautiful hikes and learning about new cultures. This is her amazing and inspiring living abroad story:


Moving Abroad during a pandemic: Flor's story

Hey Flor, you moved from the US to New Zealand last year (2020). Can you tell a little bit about how you (and your husband) came to that decision?

We had always talked about moving and living abroad. There are so many countries, including New Zealand, that we had never visited but thought it would be cool to live there. The timing was just never right for us.

Then when the pandemic hit in early 2020, we were frustrated with the inability to travel. We love traveling and exploring new places. We kind of saw this as a way to travel and explore a new country. We both agreed that this would be a really fun adventure at this stage in our life.

New Zealand’s borders have been strictly closed since the pandemic. Can you tell a little bit about how you entered the country – during times of such restrictions? Was it challenging to organize visa paperwork and the likes? Any tips you could share?

At the start of the pandemic, New Zealand acted quickly and closed its borders to visitors traveling into the country in early 2020. At that same time, NZ also halted processing any new visa applications. One of the only visas that was being processed when we were applying was something called “a critical purpose visa”. Doctors and nurses were on the list to receive “a critical purpose visa” from New Zealand. Both my husband and I work in the medical field. My husband is a medical doctor, and I am a nurse practitioner. We had to secure a job in New Zealand before even beginning the visa process.

We did a lot of research on the NZ immigration website and talked to them on the phone. Ultimately the best thing we did was join a Facebook group of people trying to move to New Zealand. There was a lot of paperwork that we needed to complete for the visa. For our visa we had to include records showing how long my husband and I have been together, some financial records, pass a medical examination, and show that one of us had a start date for a job. 

Moving with a family of four, how did you prepare for the move? How did you and your husband plan the move? And how (and at what stage) did you involve the kids?

At the time, our daughters were ages 4 and 2. Since we were planning this during the pandemic, both our girls were at home during this whole time. We would sit and watch a lot of youtube videos of different places in New Zealand while trying to figure out which city we wanted to live. We talk very openly to our children and include them in our conversations. They are always up for a good adventure. We included our young children in the packing process and allowed them to decide what toys and other personal belongings they wanted to take.

Moving Abroad during a pandemic: Flor's story

It has been over six months since you moved to NZ; how have you settled in? Do you feel at home, or are you still adjusting to your new life?

My husband and I were just talking about this the other day because it feels like we’ve been living here for quite some time now. We really feel at home. We have our routine in place. 

The food has been an adjustment. It was challenging to come to a new country and shop at grocery stores I have never been in and not know what to buy. I now know which foods are our family favorites and where to shop. Of course, I had to get used to driving on the left side of the road, calling the trash can a rubbish bin, and not knowing if I will get chips or fries when I order chips from a restaurant. 

How has the adjustment been for the kids? Going to a new school, making new friends – what are you doing to help them with the changes? Any special tips?

Children are resilient. I feel like they embraced the move faster than my husband and I did. They were really excited to begin school a few weeks after moving to New Zealand. Our children go to school in our neighborhood, and they absolutely love it. We just had a two-week holiday, and they were constantly asking us when school was going to restart.

The school was incredibly accommodating, and while we needed a lot of help, they were great along the way. I tried to do research before moving here, but it was not until we arrived in New Zealand that I was really able to understand how and where to enroll them. 

My tip would be to go with your child’s pace when it comes to transitioning to a new country and culture. My youngest took a bit longer, but they both settled in and now don’t even think twice about being in New Zealand.

Moving Abroad during a pandemic: Flor's story
“We are a close-knit family, and this has brought us even closer.”

Has the move changed your family and the relationship with your partner and kids?

We are usually a close-knit family, and this has brought us even closer. We are learning about the New Zealand culture and exploring this beautiful country together. 

New Zealand is a lot more relaxed than the US. There is less of the rat race. Also, my husband can work less here, so we are spending a lot more quality time together. 

It is extremely beautiful, people are incredibly kind and have a very relaxed attitude.

How has living abroad changed YOU?

Moving to New Zealand has made me a more creative person. I’m more adventurous and feel inspired. New Zealanders really value childhood and encourage children to act like children. I feel like I have more patience and am more relaxed, especially with my kids. I’m also more willing to make new friends and meet new people.

How do you think you will look back on this experience 5 or 10 years from now?

Six months in, we are happy with our decisions and hope we look back on it as a transformative time in our lives. We feel that traveling and living abroad helps us keep our minds open about different cultures, and for our kids, we hope that inspires them to be more compassionate. We feel strongly about learning about other people’s cultures and others around us.

Moving Abroad during a pandemic: Flor's story

Any last advice for people out there who are thinking of moving abroad?

If I were to advise someone considering moving abroad, I would say that there is no perfect time to make the move. We had always talked about moving abroad and were waiting for the right moment or opportunity to come along. However, after some years, we realized that these moments may not come, and we may have to create them ourselves. In our case, we searched for an opportunity even in a time that felt like the most inopportune. So my advice is to go for it. We only have one shot at this life, and why not live it to the fullest.


If you are planning to move to New Zealand, or visit the country on your next holiday – make sure to check out Flor’s blog with lots of amazing tips: You can also follow her adventures on Instagram: @flormcorbett

And yes, while the pandemic is still not over yet Flor’s story proves that you can move abroad during a pandemic. Also, check out our 3 tips on how to move abroad during a pandemic.

Get your moving abroad adventure started, with the Let’s Move Abroad book, you’ll be ready in no time! 

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