We Kiwis are known for our migratory tendencies.
This, of course, is generally a great thing for New Zealand. When our roving compatriots return to the fold they bring with them fresh ideas and a broader perspective than they could ever get mooching around on our little island at the bottom of the world.
But in the years following the GFC, record numbers of people left our shores – and they stayed away for longer. That’s beginning to change dramatically.
In 2014, we reached record net immigration levels, driven by a big drop in Kiwis leaving, and an even bigger rise in people coming home – more than 25% of long-term arrivals last year were Kiwis returning from overseas. The net loss of people to Australia was the lowest it’s been since 1994.
All these people understand that now is a great time to be living and working in New Zealand. For skilled people, there’s a lot of interesting work around.
At 5.4% and dropping, New Zealand’s unemployment rate is the envy of much of the developed world. Business confidence and hiring intentions for 2015 are very strong.
But best of all, the jobs are interesting. I started in recruitment in the UK. When I came home in 2006, I was struck by the lack of diversity in employers. Most jobs seemed to be generated from one of two camps: a small handful of corporates, or a vast league of SME’s who were solid, but not exactly setting the word on fire.
Today, the corporates and traditional SME’s are still hiring, but there are also loads of exciting, high-growth start-ups doing big things and screaming out for the right ‘talent’ to help them compete on the world stage.
People returning from their OE might not find quite as many jobs for them as there were pre-recession (yet), but the options are a lot more exciting.
As well as this, we can now truly saw Auckland is an international city full of international opportunities. It’s heaving with world class restaurants and bars, it has events coming out the wazoo, great shopping… and all on a sparkling harbour within cooee of some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in the world.
When you’ve been living and working in a big city, the thought of returning home can seem a bit stifling. Yes, you might have had your fill of big city life and long for the beaches and open spaces of home; but on the other hand, Auckland seems too small, too provincial.
Many of my friends opted for the halfway house that is Sydney, figuring they’d just pop home for long weekends – and then never quite managed the final step home.
This was really brought home to me last year when I found myself queuing up to get into a craft beer place in the city on a drizzly Wednesday evening in the middle of winter. There were throngs of people everywhere. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but Auckland somehow got cool.
And let’s not forget one of the biggest draw cards of all – it really is a great place to raise kids.
No matter how much they love their adopted home, many people look to move back to New Zealand when they start to think about having kids. And with good reason.
Whatever your thoughts might be on the introduction of the controversial (in New Zealand, anyway) National Standards, NZ schools are very good. The latest OECD report rated New Zealand “a top-performing country in terms of the quality of its educational system”. And this comes without the pressure of endless after school activities and test-taking.
Things may have changed a bit since we were at school, but people who move here are generally impressed by the slower pace of life for our kids, and the freedom they have to be kids for longer. Not to mention the free GP visits to the age of 6, free maternity care and the wonderful Kiwi institution that is Plunket.
So, if you’re overseas reading this, you should get your bum back here. And if you have friends and family overseas, feel free to forward this to them. You could even attach a few of your own holiday photos (you’re not above a bit of emotional blackmail, right? It’s for a good cause).
Come home, Kiwis!
(Full disclosure: It’s in my personal and professional interests to lure back the Kiwi diaspora. But honestly, it is a bloody good time to come home.)
Ellen Williams is the Digital Marketing Manager at Consult Recruitment. Find out more about Ellen and the team at Consult here.