As Australia's economic recovery strides ahead of ours, Kiwis wanting career opportunities and financial reward would be better off going there next year.

Official statistics show that Australians enjoy incomes one-third higher than New Zealanders do, and some market-watchers predict that as our neighbour comes out of the slow-down faster than New Zealand, the gap will increase to around 40 per cent.

Australian growth has not been based on debt-fuelled consumption as New Zealand's has, so it hasn't undergone the same economic adjustment and is recovering strongly.

ANZ economist Cameron Bagrie says the breeze behind Australia's back is China's demand for its natural resources. The strength of its economy, underpinned by its resources boom, is a great lure amid a world still recovering from recession, says demographer Bernard Salt.

One of only two countries in the developed world to post growth figures for the past financial year, Australia is now experiencing a record population increase.

In the year to October, 21,200 Kiwis left for life in the lucky country, compared with 34,600 the previous year.

The annual outflow to Australia has been decreasing since the record highs of 35,400 in the years to last December and January this year.

Bagrie expects trans-Tasman departures next year to climb back to 30,000.

Around 450,000 Kiwis live in Australia already. The perky Australian labour market, with its unemployment rate at 5.7 per cent compared with New Zealand's 6.5 per cent, will be the big determinant of migration flows next year.

A severe talent shortage could develop in Australia, says Greg Savage, chief executive of global staffing company Aquent.

Better job opportunities will push up salaries, Savage says, and Kiwi migrants will be among those who benefit.

"Historically, Australian employers have been very quick to hire New Zealanders and go to New Zealand to recruit and advertise."

But comparing living standards between the two countries is not straightforward.

Richard Bedford, director of the population studies centre at Waikato University, says costs such as accommodation may not be comparable.

A job and twice the pay

Kiwi couple John Young and Jane Reynolds arrived in Melbourne eight weeks ago, following nine months of fruitless job hunting in Auckland after a seven-year stint in the UK.

They work in advertising and have both landed jobs through looking online.

Young is working at the Fuel agency: "I went for an interview on the Friday and started on the Monday."

The pay is "scarily different", he says. "I was on fairly good money in London and was in for a massive shock when I came back to New Zealand. I was earning £45,000 a year, which is more than $100,000. To do the same job in New Zealand you'd be offered $40,000.

"Auckland just seemed to offer no money at all. Now I've come to Australia, I'm on AU$71,000 ($88,600)."

Young also found Kiwi employers were not interested in overseas experience.

The couple are renting a one-bedroom apartment 15 minutes' drive from downtown Melbourne for $1000 a month. He says grocery costs are higher than in New Zealand.

They envisage being in Melbourne for a few years but would ultimately like to return to New Zealand.