Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Teachers not alone in leaving Auckland because of cost of living in NZ's biggest city

Teachers aren't the only ones struggling with Auckland's overheated housing market, as staff in other industries look to live and work in more affordable regions.

Mount Albert Grammar School in central Auckland is losing three of its young science teachers at the end of the year, with the cost of living in Auckland a significant factor, but the nursing industry is also feeling the pinch.

Both teachers and nurses get paid on the same pay-scale across New Zealand, with pay likely to go further in the regions than in Auckland - something New Zealand Nurses Organisation industrial adviser Lesley Harry said was pushing workers out of the city.

"When the national pay meter was organised it was based on the fact that a nurse should be paid for the job rather than location or other factors," Harry said.

ARE YOU LEAVING AUCKLAND? TELL US WHY

"But we are hearing anecdotally that people are leaving Auckland because [of housing and other pressures] and not just young people but older people looking to retire and move to the regions."

Harry said the issue was much broader than just the nursing and teaching sector, adding that if Auckland couldn't attract a lower paid workforce as well as professionals, that this could significantly impact services long-term.

Vector chief executive Simon Mackenzie also highlighted the issue last month, saying it was a growing problem.

"One of the biggest issues we're starting to see is that it's getting harder to attract people and we're starting to see younger people leave Auckland to go and live in other areas," he said.

Similar to teachers and nurses, pay for utility company workers was largely the same throughout the country.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said a lot of businesses in Auckland were paying more for staff than in other regions.

"There is an Auckland component to salary for most businesses," Barnett said

"If you're going to get good people and they're going to work in the Auckland environment then you're going to have to pay for them - and it's probably going to be more than what you pay when you employ someone further south," he said. "Most businesses understand and accept that."

Barnett said the trade-off for business came from being based in a city that allowed for scale as well as access to some of the biggest markets, which compensated for the extra staffing costs.

Tourism business Destination Rotorua has capitalised on Auckland's pressures, launching its latest 'love life, love Rotorua campaign' aimed at promoting the city as an alternative and more affordable option than Auckland.

Destination Rotorua consumer marketing manager Tom Worsp said he was seeing a number of Aucklanders packing up and leaving the city for regions such as Rotorua, with the campaign highlighting the benefits of living there.

"Housing affordability is obviously the big issue dominating headlines at the moment and will be one of the key messages of the campaign," Worsp said. "The other two are around traffic congestion, or lack of, and the lifestyle and freedom that living in Rotorua offers individuals, couples and families."

Worsp said the campaign was initially targeting families with school children and young professionals, but said the company was also working with the local business community to identify areas where there were skill shortages.

- NZ Herald

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