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Australian economist Tim Brook is sick and tired of people asking him why he moved to New Zealand.

Since the 34-year-old shifted to Auckland a month ago, almost everyone he has met has asked why he would want to leave Australia.

"Every single person I meet says 'What are you doing here? Melbourne is great'."

The trouble, said Mr Brook, was that the difference was all in our heads.

"The standard of living day-to-day is almost exactly the same," he said.

"Housing, food and amenities are no different at all. Wages are roughly the same, and for the type of job I do they are probably identical."

Mr Brook moved here to work in carbon trading, a field in which New Zealand was well ahead of Australia until the recent change of Government across the Tasman.

He said finding a flat was far easier here than it would have been in Melbourne, where you could pay a lot to live in a "complete sh*thole". Taxes worked out about the same, with the exception of fresh produce, which in Australia is exempt from GST. Things that were cheaper here - like bananas and second-hand cars - were balanced by other things that were more expensive.

Mexican food and a more even temperature across the seasons were also benefits of living in New Zealand, he said.

Mr Brook, a trained economist, said the common perception that Australia was a better place to live was due to misinformation.

"People see something saying wages are 30 per cent more in Australia and don't factor in the cost of living, the tax rate, or the exchange rate."

He said Australia's wage growth was largely driven by the mining industry, a sector that was typically the domain of young single men who were prepared to put up with the harsh conditions.

"People say, 'I hear you can get paid so much for driving a truck.' I say they should go and try it," he said.

According to Statistics New Zealand, 30,600 more people left New Zealand for Australia in the year ended April than moved the other way - the highest net loss since 31,000 left in the 12 months to June 2001.

Higher labour productivity means wages across the Tasman are about a third higher than New Zealand's, without adjusting for the currency, cost of living or tax.

However last year's Mercer worldwide cost of living survey found expatriates in Australian cities faced higher living costs than their New Zealand counterparts. Sydney was the most expensive city in Australasia, while Melbourne and Adelaide also ranked higher than Auckland and Wellington. Wellington was the least costly city in the region.

Mr Brook said he was looking forward to having surfing, skiing and diving all within easy reach. But for now, he just wished people would stop asking why he moved.

"The implication is that I must be on the run from the cops. No-one can understand that it's just as normal for me to go this way as it is for you to move to Australia."