South Canterbury is basking in the glow of people returning home from Australia, with the net loss the lowest in at least 10 years.
Timaru couple Kim and Andre de Joux moved to Australia seven years ago. The couple moved back with their three children two weeks ago.
Builder Andre was having to commute to different towns for work, Kim said.
She said the family found it tough with him being away during the week and thought, with the extra earthquake work, it would be an easier life in New Zealand.
Being around family was another factor, Kim said.
She said their children were "loving" going to the school their grandmother teaches at. As they have only been back for two weeks, they are yet to find out if it is more economically viable here, Kim said.
However, she had secured a job at a local accounting firm before she returned.
"Yeah, we are loving being back. I think Timaru has actually improved since we left, with so many places opening up to go out to," she said.
Sandy Boyd moved to Timaru in June last year after spending four months in Australia trying to get a job. She had recently completed her degree in health sciences and moved to Australia to join her partner.
Boyd said she was determined to get a job using her degree, but got turned down for 50 jobs in her field.
She said it was tough to get a job in Australia at the moment, especially for Kiwis, who were only being hired for the jobs Australians did not want to do.
Boyd is an environmental health officer at the Timaru District Council, a job she got before returning.
Trudie Banks and her husband came back to Timaru after her husband was laid off by the mine he worked at. She said they had no option but to return, as there was no assistance for out-of-work New Zealanders in Australia.
Banks' husband is a truck driver and had a job before they had even left Australia.
Awla Kay is in the minority. She is an Australian who moved to South Canterbury four years ago, motivated by love - her boyfriend is a Timaru man.
Kay works at Soul, Surf and Skate and said people still come in and ask her where she is from in Australia.
But when she goes home to visit, everyone thinks she has picked up a Kiwi twang.
ECONOMIC BOOM A LURE
South Canterbury people are flocking back from Australia.
Prime Minister John Key said this week that fewer New Zealanders moved to Australia last year than in any year since 1986.
Statistics New Zealand figures for arrivals and departures to South Canterbury from Australia bear out the statement.
In the year to the end of March, South Canterbury had its highest number of arrivals from Australia and its lowest net loss to Australia for at least the past 10 years.
The number of departures to Australia was the second-lowest for the past 10 years.
While the unemployment rate in Australia has steadily risen over the past three years, New Zealand's has declined.
Aoraki Development Business and Tourism chief executive Wendy Smith said she was not surprised people had been attracted to the region from Australia, due to the booming South Canterbury economy.
She said the Timaru District had a gross domestic product growth of 2.6 per cent a year over the past 10 years, which was comfortably above the New Zealand rate of 2.1 per cent.
Smith said South Canterbury's labour productivity growth was 1.3 per cent, again well above the national average of 0.7 per cent.
"When you consider our economic growth, matched with our excellent lifestyle, first class education and medical services, South Canterbury must be the best place to live, work and play," Smith said.
The Timaru Herald