Why young people should look beyond the lure of big city life

Why young people should look beyond the lure of big city life

By Jenée Tibshraeny*

“When are you moving to Auckland?”

There wasn’t a question that made me flush with rage more, during the 21 months I spent living in New Plymouth.


Because the question I was really being asked was; what is a bright-eyed young person doing on the edge of the country, while there’s a more enthralling life to be lived in the city?

Many of you are probably thinking those in Generation Y should stop complaining about living costs in Ponsonby, and do the hard yards starting their careers in the regions.

But we rarely hear this rhetoric from a 20-something-year-old who too enjoys sipping a flat white in a trendy café, while reading Metro magazine.

I hesitantly moved to New Plymouth for a job, after working in Auckland for a year in 2012.

While my time to take on a new challenge here at interest.co.nz (in Auckland) has come, I urge young people to do a stint in the regions.

1: You get more experience than you would in a large place, where you’re often cubby-holed to a certain type of work.

As well as doing the fundamentals of your job, you may be the person who gets tasked with doing your senior’s job when they go on holiday, or get sent to represent your company at a local business lunch.

2: There’s easier access to the movers and shakers of the community.

Whether it be a district court judge, a CEO or arts festival organiser, it’s likely you’ll run into them at the pub on a Friday night. Having contact with these sorts of people is a great way to learn and broaden your professional network.

3: You can rent a decent room, in a decent house, in a decent area, for less than $140 a week.

4: Making a deposit on a house, or gathering enough savings to invest elsewhere isn’t out of the question.

5: There’s no traffic, so finishing work at 5.30 means hitting the surf at 5.45.

I need to acknowledge smaller places don’t provide as many opportunities for people in less traditional or particularly niche careers.

I also admit New Plymouth’s wealth largely defined my positive experience.

While plunging oil prices and a slow down in oil and gas exploration have deferred projects and seen engineers made redundant, the summer of 2013/14 was the busiest the industry’s ever seen in New Zealand.

This activity created jobs and sparked the likes of doctors, accountants and builders, as well as engineers, to move to the traditionally dairy farming region.

So yes, I can’t say whether I’d sing the praises of the regions quite so much if I’d spent 21 months on the West Coast, which conversely to Taranaki has the country’s lowest GDP per capita.

But Taranaki is a good example of why fostering regional development should be a high priority for the government.

Whether it is through weakening the dollar to prevent companies like Fitzroy Yachts closing, or creating incentives for businesses that don’t need to be based in the city to set up in the regions, I acknowledge there isn’t a silver bullet.

But my message to young people remains: don’t write off the regions.

If not for the experience, then to make more rentals in Ponsonby available for a fellow Gen Yer, ready to embrace the city with somewhat of a fresh perspective.


* Jenée joined interest.co.nz this month moving to Auckland from New Plymouth where she worked as Newstalk ZB's central North Island reporter. See Jenée's full profile here.

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Agree with all these points, except as an argument for why you should give Auckland a try instead of moving to Singapore, Melbourne, or London.
Except for the traffic argument, you can get around much easier in the bigger cities than little old auckland.

Absolutely.  Why waste the best years of your life in Auckland.

Singapore would give New Plymoth a run for its money, in excitement levels.

Throughout the human history, ppl as social animals tend to move close to each other. 
How can you expect a normal young person to do the opposite?

I couldn’t agree more, and in fact have been asked similar questions many times as I have a similar story. Another tip is to work for a large company that has offices in the city’s that way if you work in a small town for that company chances are you are paid the same amount (as salary bands are the same) as someone who lives in Auck/Welly/CHCH. You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon work out how much further that good money goes in the likes of a town like, for example Taupo. Finish work at 5:00pm, riding my mountain bike through world class trails at 5:15pm. Life couldn't be better.

Excellent article.  Good on you.
You need to add the advantage that good eucation for future kids costs a fortune in Auckland whether by way of real estate to get into the right zone or private schooling.  Not a problen in small cities we and our children grew up in Dunedin where all schools are excellent and private school costs are very modest
Re carreer and scope for wide experience and responsibilities, these are far better in a smaller centre and as one senior mager said to me " it is better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond."
Interestingly there is quite trend for young proffessional to migrate away from London to the secondary cities that are now enjoying a lot of vibrancy and growth. 
The hardships and costs of living in Auckland and other similar cities point to the fact that ecconomically they do not work for the bulk of their population.  Self evident.

Ditto, well said Jenee. I would add: keep away from drugs, bars and cafes- take up gardening, tramping, fishing & the like - ye will never look back at squalid Auckland.
As for Xing and his animal theory - speak for yourself Xing. 

Many, including commentators on this site, have not worked out that they have less money in their pocket in Auckland, huge extra costs (housing obviously) and mediocre incomes similar to the rest of the country.
Bit like slowly boiled frogs.  They don't know the trouble they are in.
Should try getting out and about more.

If I move out of Auckland my income would halve.
I think I'll pass - Housing is only 20% of my after tax wages.

Even if you move to Wellington where median incomes are higher than Auckland?

Good for you Jamesy.  Go for it.
But Aucklanders are not all the same.  (Actually nowhere is all the same)
One image of Auckland is the bays, including the shore, good incomes and a yacht.
The other is what Metro magazine described many years ago.   The real Aucklander is female, polynesian, lives about Otahuhu, and is a factory worker or unemployed. 

I always found New Plymouth to be a petty racist town. Much like the rest of provincial NZ...

Best you live in Auckland simbit; then everyone will be better off. 

Of course there are no racists in Auckland simbit.  New Plymouth has a lot to offer actually. High incomes, plenty of sunshine as statistics tell us, a lot less traffic and therefore more play time, the fantastic walkway, the mountain and the sea so close. Housing is a lot cheaper than Auckland.

Ponsonby was superb last night. Every place busy with punters spilling happily out into the streets. Where is New Plymoth actually?

S.K.  As a boy who grew up half way down Dominion Road, I do know the good things of Auckland.  Off there this afternoon actually and there will be a great time this weekend in Whitford, Newmarket, Mt Eden and Kumeu.
But as somebody who also has been elsewhere in the country I know there are also lots of sectors outside of Auckland with high incomes, which do the major exporting essential to the country, and have good quality affordable housing, excellent education, innovative business and fine lifestyles with sophisticated interesting people.
My point in this thread has been that the narrow experience of some commentators limits their view. 
It isn't all Ponsonby Road.  (I do know SPQR, Bambina etc well).  There is a big sector of struggle in Auckland, and you don't have to go far to find huge areas of social misery.
And for the 'middle class' who are doing 'sort of ok' in Auckland, elsewhere would be a big step up in the quality of how they live, and the coin in their pocket.

S.K that sounds like fun last night in Ponsonby. Of course they were all sober and no one would have been spewing.

Wandered through on my way to Andiamos/Elbow Room which are more my hangouts.
No spewing or raucous behaviour seen.

....advice holds true for young and retirees alike.   Cash in your Auckland home, buy equivalent (or better)  in provincial NZ and put the other half mill aside.  Qulity retirment as opposed to hand to mouth existance in the madhouse of Auck.

Yes quite right, I would possibly live elsewhere if I was grinding away in a factory or at McDonalds.
What are your top picks for:
"sectors outside of Auckland with high incomes, which do the major exporting essential to the country, and have good quality affordable housing, excellent education, innovative business and fine lifestyles with sophisticated interesting people."

SK.  Mekong Baby is great isn't it.
But do try Carrick, overlooking the inlet.   For a very long fine lunch.
It's difficult for a tourist to get a hold of I know, but do try to work what happens in the area.  Close by and 100km and 200km radius.   It's fantastic.

Yes, although Pons is starting to turn a bit bland ala new market isnt it?
Herne Bay and Grey Lynn cooler, more space, less poseurs.

The best places in nz are outside of Auckland...and so are the cheapest houses.
Young Aucklanders that see Sydney and London, before they even explore the regions don't realise the opportunities the opportunities they are missing.
For example some of the most beautiful Victorian houses in NZ are actually in Dunedin not Ponsonby!  Nelson has some of the best beaches, Hawkes Bay has some of the nicest weather, Canterbury has some of the hottest summers, Central Otago/lakes district has some of the best scenery, wineries and eateries...
Freedom from the tyranny of expensive housing justifies a move out of Auckland for anyone who doesn't make six figures.
Why would say a school teacher, or lawn mower man or basic office worker choose to live in Auckland when the same jobs are available at similar pay rates anywhere else in the country...

You wont find more welcoming, genuine people then in Westport.  Though they may not be that interested in how great you are, I guess thats the lack of sophistication.  I'm no fan of cities.  Auckland probably prouduces lots of exports that I am unaware of, but from my point of view, its just a monetary vacum that skims a cut off of every bit of production, and transaction that comes from the regions.  Obviously a lot of people enjoy that, and are eager to mortgage their future based on that kind of relationship.  Good luck with 'all that.'