READER REPORT:

Aussie opportunities 'too good' to pass up

SHANNON HEITZMANN
Last updated 13:30 19/03/2014
australia lockyer valley
PERFECT SPOT: Crops soaking up the sun in Lockyer Valley, the Fruit Bowl of Australia.

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How does New Zealand living compare to overseas? We asked expats to share their experiences.

I am a New Zealander living in the Lockyer Valley in South West Queensland, Australia.

Until the devastating 2011 floods, the Lockyer Valley wasn't a place many Kiwis would have heard of; I certainly hadn't.

Known as the "Salad Bowl of Australia", the valley is a pretty place, sitting between Brisbane in the East and the Great Dividing Range in the West, and filled with market gardens.

It is also incredibly affordable. I feel very fortunate to have entered the property market here, something I wouldn't have been able to do at home.

I still consider New Zealand home, though as time goes by it seems less and less likely I will return. The opportunities here are just too good to pass up.

My departure from New Zealand was originally sparked by a quarter life crisis of sorts, and was almost immediately regretted. But stubbornness, and eventually love, have seen me stay and finally settle in Australia.

We have a lovely lifestyle property, known here as acreage. While the majority of Queensland is drought ravaged, we have a green lawn, a thriving garden and a small flock of sheep which has more grass than it could eat in a year.

Proximity to a major city (Brisbane) and a regional centre (Toowoomba) mean there are plenty of job opportunities and the pay differential is marked.

Although power prices have increased recently, a quarterly bill is still on par with what I would have seen in New Zealand in only a month or two.

What I miss though is New Zealand's natural beauty - the beaches, the birds, the hills, and the green. New Zealand has a thousand different shades of green, which, after living in a country of brown and red, you really learn to appreciate.

If you're reading this in New Zealand take a moment, look outside and really soak it up.

I also miss the more liberal attitudes, which is in interesting contrast to this story from a Kiwi living in Vancouver.

I was so proud when the Marriage Equality Act passed in 2013. That is a long way off from happening here.

Regional Australia is a much more conservative place than I would ever have imagined - it is a different world to the Melbournes, Sydneys, Wellingtons or Vancouvers.

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It has required some big adjustments and I often describe it to people as like living in the 1990s, but without the awful fashions.


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