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Wellington’s lifestyle hits the mark across the Tasman

16 Feb 2016

Wellington’s internationally acclaimed lifestyle, cuisine and creativity is resonating in Australia as more people cross the Tasman to live in what has been labelled “the coolest little capital in the world”.

Mount Victoria view Wellington CBD New Zealand

Wellington’s internationally acclaimed lifestyle, cuisine and creativity is resonating in Australia as more people cross the Tasman to live in what has been labelled “the coolest little capital in the world”.

Statistics New Zealand figures reveal 2,301 people migrated to Wellington from Australia in 2015, an increase of 86% from 2012 when just 1,234 people made the move. 

Just 214 more people left Wellington for Australia during the year, a huge reduction from three years ago when the city recorded a net loss of 3,921. If the trend continues, Wellington will soon be gaining more people from Australia than it loses. 

Dan Ferguson was one of 2015’s migrants, setting up a new life in Wellington in December when he moved from Sydney to become Trade Me’s Marketing Director. 

“We had some preconceptions of what a capital could be like. Wellington smashed those preconceptions. It really is a cool capital and very diverse.” 

His “mind boggled” when he found he could live in Karori on a “farm-like property”. 

“One minute you’re listening to native birds tweeting, 20 minutes later you’re in the city working for a company that touches the entire nation’s lives. It’s awesome.” 

The city’s renowned café culture – Wellington reportedly has more cafes per capita than New York City – excellent restaurants, “rippling hills”, affordable housing and vibrant events calendar have all impressed Mr Ferguson. 

“It would be easy for Australians to think Wellington has all these aspects to it because it’s small. Well it doesn’t feel small when you’re here - Wellington is bursting at the seams with life.” 

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) Chief Executive Chris Whelan says attracting talented professionals is key to the region’s success. 

“It’s important that we continue to enhance Wellington’s reputation, throughout Australasia and beyond, as the ‘place of the possible’ – a destination for people who want to make their ideas happen and enjoy a fantastic lifestyle. 

“As the trans-Tasman migration trend continues to shift in our favour, we’ll be increasing our work to highlight the opportunities Wellington holds for those in Australia,” Mr Whelan says.

Wellington City Council’s economic portfolio leader, Councillor Jo Coughlan, says the council-funded Destination Wellington programme is a key platform for growth identified in the Wellington City Economic Development Strategy. 

“Wellington has a strong base of world class businesses, particularly in the science, digital creative, film, education and IT sectors. This is being recognised by talented people in Australia and beyond who have discovered how good both the career opportunities and lifestyle are in Wellington. 

“Destination Wellington has been a catalyst in attracting talent from across the Tasman, something we will keep building on.” 

WREDA, through its Positively Wellington Tourism and Grow Wellington units, has run a number of Destination Wellington initiatives, helping drive over 40,000 visits from Australia to last year.

During March and April a “Wellington Works” talent-focused digital campaign told the lifestyle and work story of Wellington through local tech talent, while a talent and business PR campaign launched in February last year has generated more than 150 stories on Wellington’s lifestyle merits in Australian tech, startup, national and lifestyle media.

The Wellington Story has also been told at New Zealand Job Expos in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. 

Trade Me’s Head of Jobs Peter Osborne, who relocated from Melbourne in 2013, says Wellington’s compactness and connectivity is what won him over. 

“Physically it’s not a big city so everybody walks in Wellington unless there’s a damned good reason not to. I love that. 

“I also love the connectedness of the city. It’s two degrees of separation in Wellington. If you don’t know somebody, you’ll know someone who does – and that makes for fantastic collaboration and fast-tracked actions, as well as making it a great place to live.” 

Data from Statistics New Zealand shows that overall, Wellington’s population grew by 2,440 in 2015 from net migration alone, a record high, at least since 1990 when the data series began.