Across the ditch: I haven't abandoned NZ

Last updated 05:00 30/11/2013
TIME TO GO: I missed out on a job so I thought goodbye New Zealand, I will go to Australia. And I did.

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I am a typical brain-drain Kiwi who moved to Australia.

I completed my university degrees in accounting and economics, applied for a bunch of jobs, went back to university and did a postgraduate course.

I didn't get any jobs, and applied again when applications opened mid year and end of year.

I applied everywhere, every accounting firm, every bank, every bookkeeping agency, everywhere that was offering graduate or entry-level business jobs.

I got depressed, I got fat, and I got frustrated.

I had one interview where I was flown to Christchurch to complete the interview then was scheduled to fly out again that evening. When I received the call to tell me I hadn't got the position, the reasoning was that I was exactly what they were looking for, that's why they flew me in for the interview. I delivered exactly as they hoped in the interview and exercises, but I left too early in the evening to really gel with their staff, whereas other applicants did that and as such earned the position.

So I thought goodbye New Zealand, I will go to Australia.

And I did. I sold my car and my furniture and used the money to buy my way to Melbourne.

Finding a job here wasn't as easy as I had hoped and pretty soon I was running low on cash, my budget reduced to $50 per week for food and $20 per week for public transport to go to interviews.

Rent was expensive, and when I eventually did get a part time job as a cleaner at a city hotel, my pay of $900 a fortnight went 75 per cent on rent and the remainder on food and public transport.

Because of my free time and lack of money, I stated to run. I was running three times a week. Pretty soon I was running 10km at a time. This was a huge achievement for me.

I got more confident. I eventually stepped up at work and was moved to a different hotel and became leader of a team. My hours and pay increased, and soon I was on $1,450 a fortnight.

I kept running, I met some new people, and I got to discover Melbourne for what it really is - a delightful city of vast tastes, cultures, sports, music, and fun.

I went to the Boxing Day test cricket match, and I went to the Australian Open. I saw four mega concerts from the United States, I discovered Indian food (the way it's meant to be, not what they call Indian food in Dunedin and Christchurch).

I started to date the most amazing woman, until she told me that her work was moving her to Darwin. I was reluctant to follow her, but I did anyway.

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My love affair with Melbourne had been torn apart, but it takes a lot for me to stop going with the flow.

I got a transfer from work, still in a hotel, to the only five-star hotel in Darwin.

There, I made an immediate presence. The staff all looked up to me and my two years experience, which is a lot in the hospitality industry.

Within six months I was 2IC of the housekeeping division at the hotel, and a few weeks after that got offered three jobs in two days.

I took the one that was most likely to take me somewhere (and also paid the best) - night audit. So began a year of being a night owl.

I never have liked nights but the opportunity was too good to spit at.

Darwin is a highly expensive city to live, for those who don't know about Darwin. Rental prices start at $400 a week for a two bedroom unit, $650 a week for a three bedroom house. Petrol is 10 per cent more than the rest of Australia, food is more, and electricity seems to go up every six months. Buying a house is out of the question, as no one can save a 10-20 per cent deposit for a $750,000 three bedroom shack, 40 minutes from town.

While I was being paid OK ($54,000), and my partner was earning approximately $70,000, we still had no money. We used credit cards to buy furniture, sometimes groceries, and to finance trips back to Melbourne.

It was all worth it.

I grew tired of working nights and tried to get a transfer to a managerial role during the day.

The boss told me they would let me know when sometime came up.

Months passed, and still nothing, so I thought I'd do something I hadn't done in a while - apply for some business jobs.

The response was epic.

Soon I received a call for an interview at what I thought was a small firm. Turns out that it is one of the largest networks in the world. And they were all about selecting the right people who will then use their life experience and drive to be the best they can be.

Perfect for me.

Australia is not the land of milk and honey. But it's a damn sight better than New Zealand.

The way the country is run, there is no incentive to stay in the country. There is no work available, and the employers in the professional sector care more about the study nerds who get A+ in their exams but still cannot talk to others than to emphasise people.

The only real centre on commerce is in Auckland, which is just as expensive to live in as Australia, with worse wages, so anyone who moves there in search of a better life will be sorely disappointed.

Have I abandoned my country? Absolutely not. I still wear black to the pub for the rugby matches, and I still stay up well past my bedtime to watch the Black Caps.

If I can find it, I'm still grateful for a decent Monteiths beer, and I still pay my student loan regularly.

Will I ever return? I don't know. Maybe, it all depends on my now fiancée. Her job doesn't exist in New Zealand, and my line of work has completely different rules here than there.

Do I care about not getting government handouts? Absolutely not. I am entitled to receive Medicare which got me through some difficult times, but now I have private health insurance.

If you want to be protected against accident and illness, there is accident and illness protection insurance, which is readily available, cheap, and tax deductible.

I don't care that I can't vote, as with New Zealand choosing between Labour and Liberal/National is a choice I'd rather not be forced to make under penalty of fines.

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