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Is Auckland Losing Its Lustre?

Amongst all the usual focus on the future that each new year brings, there is also plenty of reflection on the year that has just ended. In some aspects of life that can broad reflection that leads to resolutions about health, mindfulness and family etc. For most businesses it has to be more precise than that, looking at last year’s figures and trends to help predict this year’s figures and trends.

We’ve done a bit of that here at McLeod Duminy and as always it has thrown up a few interesting things, not least that we spend a lot of money on coffee and peppermint tea! As we embark on a round of coffee and tea focussed fiscal measures, a trend that is likely of more interest to most is that last year candidates sought to escape Auckland in higher numbers than ever. There was a combination of lawyers currently based in Auckland and looking to leave, along with lawyers returning to New Zealand and actively seeking other cities and regional centres. They accounted for over a quarter of the candidates we worked with and that doesn’t include those who are already outside Auckland and are not seduced by the big lights and big city.

The main factors are not surprising, with rising house prices and rents on the front pages every other day. Whilst dollars and cents are easy to weigh up, there is also a less quantifiable sense that Auckland doesn’t represent a ‘Kiwi’ lifestyle anymore. Longer hours, longer commutes, more people and less space are the other things that we hear about. It is a more abstract sentiment but no less powerful and compelling.

As the country’s biggest commercial centre, there is certain work that will always be Auckland-centric and certain people that can’t imagine living anywhere else, but the quality of work offered outside Auckland is growing ever stronger.  Better connectivity means that you don’t need to be on Shortland Street to work with local and international clients and so there are genuine career prospects elsewhere. There are less and less places that would be considered career cul-de-sacs.

As much as it presents opportunity and choice for candidates seeking a change, it represents a challenge for firms who are already resigned to the fact that they will lose people overseas. They might be prepared for the exodus to London, but what are they going to do about Tauranga?