Young Kiwis from the Bay are doubling their income by crossing the ditch amid the transtasman skills war.
Australian businesses see New Zealand as a ''hunting ground for talent'' and are offering ''big bucks''.
This is raising concerns for the New Zealand economy, which is already grappling with a major skills shortage.
'Aussie is great and everything is cheaper'
Chiropractors Kellee Fisher and her partner Josh Murdoch are living in Young, New South Wales, and working in Cootamundra.
Murdoch's wage has more than doubled and Fisher's has nearly doubled.
''Aussie is great,'' Fisher said.
The 24-year-old moved from Rotorua in March.
"Everything's cheaper - the cost of living is so much more reasonable and the average wage is higher'.
''My wage in Australia is almost double what I was making in New Zealand. I can fill my car up with petrol for nearly half of what It would cost me in New Zealand,'' she told NZME.
''It's just nice to be able to feel like you are getting somewhere rather than working hard and being in the same place you were 12 months ago. ''
She had friends who were also looking to move to Australia, but the hardest thing was being apart from family.
"It's hard not knowing when we will see them again.''
Murdoch, from Auckland, said Australia provided more opportunities.
''It's easy to come over here with a job lined up and without needing to get any other qualifications or anything."
The couple plan to back home in a couple of years after saving some money.
NZ a hunting ground for talent
Drake International chief executive Chris Ouizeman said Sydney, like the rest of Australia, was suffering from a labour force deficit, with demand outstripping supply in many sectors.
Many businesses looked to New Zealand as a ''hunting ground for talent',' he said.
''Given the slightly stronger Australian dollar and lower cost of living, we often find it easier to attract New Zealanders to Australian jobs rather than the other way around.''
Ouizeman said in some Australian sectors salaries were increasing by 10 to 30 per cent.
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said the loss of talent overseas was concerning.
''Australia is a strong proposition for talent and they are actively searching here. The economic impact of businesses not having staff is significant and a constraint to the wellbeing of our economy post-pandemic.''
''The time where we are attractive to immigrants is rapidly passing with our borders closed at a time when many other countries are opening up.''
Perth apartment near waterfront beats cold NZ flats
Kirk Ross first moved to Australia when he was 21, before coming back to New Zealand to complete postgraduate studies in Christchurch.
The 23-year-old, from Tauranga, said after looking for jobs in New Zealand he realised ''if I wanted to get ahead early in life, pay off my loan and afford a house, moving to Aussie full-time was the only option''.
The engineering geologist now lives in Perth and spends his time working in the office and flying to mine sites all over Western Australia.
''My company specialises in building structures such as railways, conveyors, roads and airports to name a few, every day is a completely new challenge.''
He was making $25,000 more than he would have in New Zealand, not including his superannuation - that was an extra 10 per cent.
''The ability to do up to 84 hours a week while at mine sites helps a lot, all food is also provided on-site so you can easily go two weeks without spending a dollar. I share a modern apartment near the waterfront in Perth city which is cheaper than dark, mouldy flats in Wellington and Auckland.''
''I pay less than NZ$30 a month for 20gb of data, all public transport in the city centre is free, there are no warrant of fitness checks for cars [although rego is more expensive], last time I fuelled up 91 was $1.38 NZD a litre and the list goes on.''
Ross said it was difficult to leave behind family and friends but the price of a flight from Perth to Auckland was not much more than the Tauranga to Christchurch flights.
The accomplished snowboarder also missed the snow but ''Western Australia has some amazing beaches with plenty of marine life and the weather for nine months of the year is near perfect''.
His long-term plan was to move home in three to five years when ''I have paid off my student loan and have enough money to buy a house''.
'Earning almost double my NZ salary'
When Caroline Fleming moved from Rotorua to Sydney in March she also almost doubled her salary.
The former journalist, who now works as a PR account manager for Good Talent, said she shifted for a ''change in scenery'' and to try something new.
Money wasn't a motivator but she knew switching careers ''would see me with a decent pay increase''.
''I am now earning almost double the salary I was earning in NZ, with big pay rises coming only three months in.''
However, living in Sydney had its downsides.
''I don't think it is easier to get ahead in Australia. Living expenses in Sydney are huge.''
She had friends who had jumped the ditch to ''earn big bucks'' and planned to use that money to save for a house on their return.
Australia takes hit as seasonal workforce reduces
National Employment Services Association Australia chief executive Sally Sinclair said
roles normally filled by overseas students, working-visa travellers and through other visa schemes including seasonal workers, had been affected by the skills shortage.
Employers in Australia were showing greater willingness to take on disadvantaged job seekers from the employment services programme.
''However, funding arrangements for many Government-funded employment service providers exclude them from being able to help NZ job seekers look for work in Australia.''
NZ labour shortage grim, job posters going up in urinals
Phil Van Syp of 1st Call Recruitment said the labour shortage in the Bay of Plenty and New Zealand was "dire''.
''If you ... will turn up to work and pass our screening there are jobs either that day or the next day.''
Van Syp believed New Zealand could become attractive when the borders opened but other countries with bigger economies were able to pay more.
Success Group Limited managing director Graham Rodgers said the company was spending thousands of dollars a month advertising jobs - with some up for grabs in Tauranga and Rotorua - to no avail.
''Now we are putting letters under windscreen wipers in carparks, we are putting posters up in the supermarket and we have gone to putting up posters on the wall in front of urinals in the men's toilets.''
The company had blue-collar, trades, construction, engineering and office administration jobs available.
One labourer in the Waikato was getting $24 an hour and had worked on the job for three days - and was up for a $500 cash bonus if he could last the week.
''The guy didn't turn up on Thursday.''
Rodgers said when the borders opened ''we've got to ask ourselves why would somebody come here as opposed to Aussie''.
The mobile international workforce was also highly competitive and ripe for ''poaching''.
Chambers of Commerce say businesses are hurting
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said he did not see any substantial evidence of people going to Australia for higher wages.
''Nothing seems to have changed sometimes they may go to work in the mines or diving and they get big money, but those jobs don't exist here.''
Heard said data suggests there were a lot of Kiwis coming home and when our borders opened it was likely to appeal to others - if our Covid record stayed intact.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said Australia's skills shortage and closed borders meant ''losing our labour market to Australia was always a risk''.
''It is made worse with the cost of buying or renting a home taking such a big part of most people's incomes. I hope Kiwis are able to make informed choices as Australians treat Kiwis like second-class citizens with little access to public benefits.''
In Tauranga, many people were looking for alternatives to employing staff.
''They are outsourcing their jobs, which is a lot more expensive than recruiting their own employees, but it is more flexible.''
Service industries, like hospitality, where it is difficult to outsource, they are asking for favours from friends and family.
''They are getting desperate as many of those jobs were being filled by visiting workers on temporary visas/people on OEs. That is a big labour pool that has been cut off.
"We've nearly reached full employment, but the Government was only tweaking visa rules on the back of overwhelming feedback from nearly every industry sector, he said.
Easier to save on a higher income
One Kiwi who chose Australia and plans to stay put '' for a very long time'' is vet nurse Amy Roper.
She left Pāpāmoa in January 2020 to work in Melbourne. She started on $24 an hour, which has gone up to $26. In New Zealand, she was working for minimum wage doing another job while studying.
The 24-year-old said the cost of living was cheaper but houses were more expensive.
''I guess it's easier to save when you're on a higher income than what you would be in New Zealand.''
Roper has also come across a lot of Kiwis who preferred the Aussie lifestyle.
Australia pay rates in their dollars
* Registered Nurse $27.61 - $43.32 an hour
* Operations Manager $57,795.99 - $133,471.51 a year
* Project Manager $65,757.76 -$151,703.28 a year
* Carpenter $21.36 - $45.67 an hour
* Cleaner $19.47 - $27.90 - Source Australia PayScale website
NZ pay rates
* Registered Nurse - graduate $54,000 a year, senior $79 - $130 a year
* Facilities Manager $55,000 - $100,00
* Project Manager $65,000 - $170,000
* Carpenter $20 - $23 an hour, experienced $25 - $50 an hour
* Cleaner $20 - $24 an hour - Source careers.govt.nz
Movements to and from Australia.
* In 2020 there were 14,600 migrant departures to Australia ,and of those, 9700 were NZ citizens.
* In 2019 over the same timeframes there were 33,400 migrant departures to Australia, 24,400 were NZ citizens.
* In 2020 migrant arrivals from Australia to New Zealand were 18,200 of those 14,100 were NZ citizens.
* In 2019 over the same timeframes there were 27,800 arrivals from Australia to New Zealand and of those, 17,800 were NZ citizens.
- Source Stats NZ