New Zealanders living in Australia are warning other Kiwis against moving across the Ditch in search of affordable housing.

"I would not come here now and certainly would not encourage anyone to do so," said former Aucklander Donna Fawcett, who moved to Brisbane 28 years ago and is now planning to come home.

Other Kiwi expatriates are warning that it is now harder to find work in Australia, and that New Zealanders have lost access to many welfare benefits and tertiary education subsidies.

Many are scoffing at Auckland couple Wayne and Kelly Slattery who are planning to join family members on Queensland's Gold Coast because they could buy a house there for $550,000 compared with $1.3 million in the Howick area where they now live.


"Kiwis need to know before arriving in Australia, it's not as easy as you think," said Fawcett, who lives in the Brisbane suburb of Bridgeman Downs.

"Work is not always easy to find, you will get no benefits to assist you if required, and no Medicare for Kiwis even though you pay a percentage of that in your tax.

"I see these people talk about buying a cheaper home. I have owned five homes in my time here, but to buy something around 500k tells me it won't be in the city area, more like 20km out in the suburbs."

Donna Fawcett: Australia is
Donna Fawcett: Australia is "not as easy as you think". Photo / Supplied

Fawcett worked in the gatehouse at the Brisbane port until she was "thrown around the room" by a colleague six years ago.

Her husband, a Canadian-born fuel trader, commutes from Brisbane to work in Papua New Guinea, and Fawcett said the couple planned to buy a house in Auckland so they could spend time close to her family here.

"We'll keep this place [in Brisbane] and just come and go," she said.

Gold Coast resident Maya Richardson commented on the Herald Facebook page: "Not a lot of employment here at the moment. It's really who you know that will get you a job. Things are tough over here at the moment. I wouldn't be shifting until I'd secured a job."

Elva Hata, who has lived there 20 years, wrote: "Very little employment. Very hard to get rental properties also. Few and far between. It's not at all easy street."


Another Gold Coast Kiwi Dianne Stemp said: "Taxes in Australia are a lot higher and houses to buy here are pretty expensive too, he must be looking at a shack for that price [$550,000]."

Keren Papprill wrote: "The GC is only really for the rich as we moved here thinking it would be a step forward (being less than average wage earners in NZ) and I'm still on the same hourly rate I left NZ 4.5 years ago (which isn't fantastic), and am only employed as casual so no holidays or sick leave or the like and not earning anywhere near the annual salary I was on."

"The only bonus of moving here is the cost of living is slightly better and the lifestyle and warmth is good," she wrote.

A Demographia survey found that median house prices on the Gold Coast were nine times median household incomes last year, compared with house-to-income multiples of 10 in Auckland and 12.2 in Sydney.

Higher incomes in Australia have driven a net westwards migration from New Zealand to Australia in all except four of the past 39 years, with an average net outflow since 1979 of 16,750 people a year.

However tighter employment conditions in Australia have reversed the flow in the past two years, with net eastwards migration from Australia to New Zealand of 1862 people in the year to March last year and 1018 in the latest March year.


A Kiwi family on the Gold Coast said this month that they were considering returning to Christchurch because of new proposals to raise university fees for Kiwi students in Australia.

The NZ High Commission in Canberra says New Zealanders are still entitled to Australian Medicare-funded health services, but "cannot access the full range of Centrelink social security payments including payments such as the unemployment benefit ('Newstart Allowance/Youth Allowance'), the parenting payment, the special benefit and the sickness allowance".

How we compare


Median house price: A$495,000

Median household income: A$79,400

Multiple: 6.2


Gold Coast

Median house price: A$579,000

Median household income: A$64,300

Multiple: 9.0


Median house price: $830,800


Median household income: $83,000

Multiple: 10.0


Median house price: A$1,077,000

Median household income: A$88,000

Multiple: 12.2


Australian average

Multiple: 5.5

NZ average

Multiple: 5.9

Source: Demographia