Better by far in Whangarei, say ex Sydneysiders

By Mike Barrington

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Northlanders moving over the Tasman with hopes of earning heaps and having a better lifestyle could be in for a shock.

Two women who moved to Whangarei from Sydney this year warn Australia is no longer the Lucky Country, especially in the city they once called home.

The women are Shirley Dollimore - who crossed the ditch from Whanganui for a "look-see" 33 years ago - and her sister-in-law Kathy Rzoska, a dinkum Aussie married to Shirley's brother Stephen. All three reckon you'd have to be a mug to swap life in Whangarei for the pressure and expense of living in Sydney.

"It's a rat race over there," Kathy said. "Maybe Kiwis will do all right in Western Australia if they get high-paying jobs and don't mind heat and dust, but living in Whangarei is wonderful after Sydney. You have to be a millionaire to live over there."

Kathy said she and Stephen were earning $130,000 a year between them, yet they struggled to make ends meet. "Housing, electricity, food, travel - everything is more expensive there."

Gridlocked roads were among Kathy's major complaints. She had lived five minutes walk from a shopping centre, yet she claimed it took 20 minutes to drive to the shops and then it was impossible to find a place to park.

She and Stephen had sold their Sydney house "which needed knocking down and rebuilding" for A$500,000 ($638,000), collected up to NZ$1.31 per Australian dollar when exchanging cash for their move, and paid just over $300,000 for a house in Whangarei.

Kathy was rapt with her new home, its garden and a yard "big enough for a pool". She had spent a week back in Sydney recently visiting a daughter and had "no intention of going back".

Shirley said life in Sydney had become stressful with poor public transport, crowds, noise, increasing immigrant pressure and ever-rising expense.

- Northern Advocate

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