Frustrated Cantabs exit to Aust

OLIVIA CARVILLE AND RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 07:34 14/06/2012
Grant Fomison and wife
RELOCATED: Grant Fomison with his wife at Kings Park. The family moved to Australia and now see no reason to return to Christchurch.

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Cantabrians leaving for Australia are running from a lot more than the shaky ground.

Low wages, spiking rents, a "dismal" nightlife and bureaucratic hurdles are also to blame for new statistics showing more than double the number of Christchurch people have jumped the ditch in the past two years.

In the year to March 2012, 4230 people left Christchurch for Australia, up 123 per cent from the year ending March 2010, according to Statistics New Zealand.

The number of people leaving Canterbury in the year up to March 2012 made up 12 per cent of the total number of Kiwis departing for Australia.

One former Christchurch family of four had "hung in there" through all the major earthquakes, but it was the aftermath that had pushed them to leave in April this year.

"I feel guilty for leaving, I feel as though I've abandoned my home town but if I think back to what it was like living there, I have no regrets," Kaye Davey, 42, said.

The mother-of-two left Christchurch because "the wages were so low, the rents getting so high and the ongoing hassles with insurance, EQC and Cera were so awful".

For the first time in 1 1/2 years "we have pictures on the walls" and Davey said it was hard to believe her Christchurch mother was still sliding a wooden spoon through her pantry door handles to hold them closed.

Andrew Archibald, 23, and his two Christchurch friends, said goodbye to their quake- hit home town three weeks ago and have not looked back.

The lack of entertainment and sky-high rent rises fuelled their move but the earthquakes were also a driving factor, he said.

Now living in a Melbourne apartment with seven other Kiwis, Archibald had seen his salary triple and said it was "the best decision of my life to move over here".

"When you're in Christchurch it's hard to keep positive because there are so many rough things happening around you. That's why so many are choosing to go."

Former Sol Square bar manager Grant Fomison and his family settled into their new Perth lifestyle with ease.

The family had planned to move for only a year, but Fomison was now looking to buy a house because "nothing is encouraging me back to Christchurch".

After the February 2011 earthquake, the father of two lost his job and the ongoing aftershocks had sealed his decision to depart the city.

Along with his wife and two children, the family moved in May 2011 and within four days he had a job paying $15,000 more than his previous wage.

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Fomison said he read press.co.nz daily to keep up with Christchurch news and did not regret his shift.

Mayor Bob Parker could see the temptations for an earthquake-free lifestyle and said "it's not hard to understand why people have gone".

Several factors were driving the figures, but he was not disheartened by the increase.

"I expect the numbers will slow soon and it's still a remarkably small number given what we are still going through as a city," he said.

- The Press

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