Some British migrants are turning their backs on New Zealand – but are they really any better off heading home?
Stuff reported at the weekend that immigrants were complaining about unfriendly locals and terrible public transport.
Official statistics also showed that the number of British departures from New Zealand was on the rise, while the number of arrivals has fallen.
Meanwhile, there were 8929 British arrivals in the 12 months to June, down 2933 from the previous year, or 24.7 per cent.
The United Kingdom median weekly earnings for full-time workers jumped 3.5 per cent last year compared to the year before, to £569 (NZ$1098).
In New Zealand, it’s just under $1000.
In both countries, there are regional variations. London’s average salary is about £35,000 and Wellington’s is $59,659.
People in Manchester earn an an average £27,136 and in Auckland $59,139.
Unemployment rates are similar. In New Zealand, the unemployment rate is running at 3.9 per cent compared to the UK’s 3.7 per cent.
As of June 2019, the average house price in the UK was £230,292, or just under eight times the median working individual annual income.
In New Zealand, QV puts the average at $687,021, or 13 times median income.
You can get a house in the northeast of England for an average £130,342 — New Zealand’s cheapest houses are found in Southland, where the median price is $300,000 and the average $318,578.
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Economist Shamubeel Eaqub said New Zealand sold itself internationally as beautiful and unspoilt, and some people did not understand that its urban centres were very similar to other urban centres around the world.
“A lot of people really think there are sheep running around in Auckland, but realistically we know Auckland is expensive.”
New Zealand rent prices are generally higher than those in the UK but there is significant regional variation in both countries.
Rents in Greater London are about one-third higher than anywhere else in the UK, and twice the price of some areas.
The average rental in that area in February was £1599 a month or £369 ($711) a week. You could rent in the northeast of the UK for just over £500 a month, or £115 a week.
In New Zealand, the median rent is $450 a week but in Auckland Central it’s $530.
Economist Gareth Kiernan said rental costs were similar to incomes in both countries. But people moving to New Zealand might find the rental housing stock to be poorer quality.
“New Zealand’s housing stock is not generally renowned for its warmth. However, you might also get a bit more house or land for your money in New Zealand when renting than might be the case in the UK given the prevalence of semi-detached and terraced housing there.”
Grocery shopping is often a crunch point for new migrants. Consumer prices are about 10 per cent higher than in the United Kingdom.
In Aldi this week, a kilogram of chicken breast was £5.34, toast bread 6.1p per 100g, salad potatoes 59p per kilogram and milk 48p a litre.
At Pak’n Save, chicken breast was $13.89 a kilogram, toast bread 99c for 600g or 16.5c per 100g, potatoes $1.99 a kilogram and milk $2.30 a litre.
Economist Cameron Bagrie said British migrants were usually prepared for the lifestyle opportunities but were shocked by their first trip to the supermarket.
“There is only so much ‘lifestyle’ can compensate for. New Zealand has been in favour for many years now with migrants but I think that attraction is fading. A key reason is living costs relative to incomes.”
Victoria University economist Norman Gemmell has studied how our prices compare to the rest of the world, and his report showed New Zealand had almost 50 per cent higher food and non-alcoholic beverage prices compared to the world as a whole.
But, our prices were just under 10 per cent higher than Australia and OECD nations.
“Some of the higher prices are on things that we can export because if you can export it for a higher value, prices can be higher at home.”
New Zealand supermarket prices are also inflated by the application of GST on food – Australia and the UK do not apply VAT on everyday food items.
One of the big drawcards of living in the UK is how accessible the rest of the world can be.
You can fly from London to Paris for about $50 or take the Eurostar for €77.
An Auckland-to-Sydney flight by comparison usually starts at about $300.
Then there’s the time you spend on a flight to most places from New Zealand – in the UK many more destinations are a short hop.
Immigrants complained about the lack of public transport in New Zealand and getting “stuck in traffic for hours” if they drove.
But people spend longer in the UK getting to work.
Data there shows people who travel by rail spend an average of two hours and 11 minutes getting to and from work every day. Drivers spend 52 minutes a day on the road and bus commuters 79 minutes.
Londoners had the longest average commute at 74 minutes.
The average commute in Auckland, by contrast, was just an hour there and back each work day.
Only a quarter of all Aucklanders spend more than eight hours commuting each week.
According to the OECD, life expectancy in New Zealand is 82, one year longer than in the UK.
The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles that can enter and damage lungs – is 4.9 micrograms per cubic metre in New Zealand, compared to 11.3 micrograms in the UK.
In New Zealand, 89 per cent of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, compared to 84 per cent in the UK.
Deutsche Bank’s research put Wellington second in the world for quality of life and Auckland 16th.