Kiwis heading to the United Kingdom for their traditional OE are returning home sooner because of increasingly difficult job and visa conditions, according to a university study.

Young brain-drainers have always come back home, but statistics and anecdotal evidence showed they were doing so more quickly than before, said University of Canterbury management researcher Dr Rosemary Baird.

The change has been prompted by the tough job market, she said. It was also becoming increasing difficulty to get long-term residency.

Recent Home Office figures show the number of New Zealand citizens entering the UK for employment has also dropped.


"It certainly seems as if those who are going to the UK stay for less time because of the difficulty of obtaining long-term visas or residency. For Kiwis who want to migrate elsewhere more long-term, other options apart from the UK, including Australia, may become more preferable," said Dr Baird.

Kiwis tended to be drawn home by the lure of family, lifestyle and a desire to own their own home, she said.

"Although real estate in the major cities is increasingly pricey, owning land is often still more achievable in New Zealand than in the big Australian and European cities, especially if financed by overseas savings."

In February the number of Kiwis departing for Australia dropped to the lowest figure in two years, 3770, compared to 3920 the previous month and 4630 a year ago.