4 August 2015
Emigrate to New Zealand's regions - save money and earn addditional Residency bonus points.
Auckland as a city is unusual in that, despite it not being its nation’s capital, it dominates the country like almost no other city on earth. Given New Zealand’s popularity as a place to emigrate to, it is not surprising that Auckland has received a large share of those new immigrants. It consistently ranks highly in quality of living and liveability surveys and indices based on its climate, beautiful environs and strong economy. This is reflected in the fact that the city accounts for 35% of the country’s economic output, and has attracted half of the total number of migrants to New Zealand in the year to June which was also a record high of 58,259.
Such popularity comes at a price though. Along with under-pressure infrastructure, the property market has continued to power ahead of the regions, with prices recently rising at over times 10 times faster than the regions. With an average property price of $834,000 compared to $404,000 elsewhere, just how feasible is it for migrants to continue to want to move to Auckland?
The Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said in a statement that
“Currently, many new migrants settle in Auckland, which faces infrastructure challenges as it transforms into a truly international city. At the same time, business owners in other parts of New Zealand often struggle to find enough skilled workers to meet their demands."
Perhaps with other regions being more affordable and the prospect for easier residency requirement, should potential migrants consider other locations?
The government is certainly concerned that the regions outside Auckland are suffering from a lack of suitably skilled migrants to help stimulate growth.
Regional Mayors throughout the country, such as Sheryl Mai in Whangerei, have been keen to stress that skilled migrants who wished to open up their own businesses were particularly welcome to their areas.
Proposed new changes, due to come into effect in November, are aimed full-square at addressing the current imbalances and skilled migrants and entrepreneurs will get a higher number of points counting towards their residency applications if they agree to live in the regions.
Skilled workers will receive an additional number of bonus points towards their residency requests, up from 10 to 30. These bonus points will be received on condition that the new migrants stay for at least 12 months rather than just 3 months. For entrepreneurs, their bonus points will double from 20 to 40.
The current threshold for skilled migrants to pass in order to get residency is 140 points.
The Prime Minister, John Key told his party’s annual conference that
"There's no question that for some people they will now look at what's on offer in New Zealand and they'll say 'it's an easier pathway if I want to go to the regions than if I want to park myself in Auckland'."
"We're not making it harder to come to Auckland, we're making it more attractive for people to go around the regions” he said.
At the heart of the issue is a longer-term discussion about the future growth of the population of New Zealand. Back in 2012, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research released a Working Paper that that it would be very beneficial to the economy as a whole to grow the population towards 15 million by 2050 (around 2.5 times the current population growth forecasts).
The argument ran that New Zealand will continue to struggle with growing its economy due to its small size and remote location. Increasing the population closer to the levels and density of a prosperous European country would allow the economy to benefit from economies of scale in infrastructure spending, diversify the economy away from commodities allowing specialisation, the development of larger cities to drive higher wages, a stronger domestic market and to mitigate the effects of an ageing population.
There is no doubt that New Zealand offers a fantastic lifestyle for many migrants. It is also clear that migrants will be key to the overall drive to develop the economy and allow it to compete more effectively on the international stage.
Moving to areas outside Auckland that offer a more relaxed way of life, considerably cheaper property prices and a lower cost of living may prove to be winning way of combining a lifestyle move with increasing economic opportunities as New Zealand plans how to drive the longer-term economic growth of the country.