$10 Tauranga

Anyone who has ever contemplated a move to the Bay of Plenty will be aware of the term $10 Tauranga. It originated back when wages were much lower so the $10 figure is well out of date, but the implication is clear: you won’t earn much in Tauranga.

These days, the truth is quite different. Sure, we are placing candidates in jobs which pay less than the equivalent role in Auckland, but Tauranga pay rates have risen dramatically, and continue to inch upwards.

A qualified Auckland management accountant might earn a salary of between 95,000 and 130,000 ; a Tauranga accountant with an equivalent 5 to 8 years’ experience could earn 80,000 to 110,000. These figures are of course dependant on the size of business but offer some insight to the discrepancy.

At executive level, where there is strong competition for fewer openings, we advise anyone earning upwards of $150,000 to expect a pay cut of around $20,000-$40,000. While this not an insignificant amount, it still equates to a generous income in a region where – thanks to the dream combo of great weather and hardly any traffic – many fill their weekends with free and uncomplicated activities like meeting friends for a swim at Pilot Bay, riding the waterfront Daisy Hardwick trail or going for a picnic at McLaren Falls.

Compared with the City of Sails, this is a cheap place to live. While CoreLogic research shows Tauranga house prices have risen 23.1% in the last 12 months, your Auckland house sale will still put you in a strong position to buy well in the local property market.

During your hunt for a home, you can rent a 3-bedroom home, 2 streets back from Mount Maunganui beach, for $480/week. Parking in the Tauranga CBD is $2/hr; at the Mount, it’s free. Private childcare generally costs less, and naturally you’ll pay less than in Auckland if you engage a builder to renovate your home or an accountant to finalise your tax.

We moved here almost four years ago and noticed an immediate saving in fuel costs – not to mention being freed from the torture of the inner-city traffic crawl. We lived 3km from Queen St, where I worked. My daily commute took at least 40 minutes each way. I now live 4.7km from the CBD. Even though locals have seen a definite increase in traffic on the roads in recent months, it still only takes me 10 minutes to drive into the CBD at peak hour. We are also 10 minutes’ drive from the beach and I walk my children to our excellent neighbourhood school.

But when the lifestyle is that idyllic, it’s no wonder some aspects of the supply and demand that created $10 Tauranga remain.

Many Western Bay of Plenty employers are flourishing in the current economic climate and can now offer more competitive pay rates. The construction industry is screaming out for talent. In Auckland, qualified builders with 5-8 years’ experience earn around $60/hr, and the same person in the Bay could now demand $40/hr. There are record numbers of jobs advertised in the trades, manufacturing and transport – but not in professional service roles (the jobs we used to describe as “white-collar”).

So while a truck driver, kiwifruit picker or drainlayer can enjoy confidence in their chances at securing a job in the thriving Bay economy, it’s a different story if you’re a banker, website designer, or operations manager. In fact, in professional roles, the competition is more fierce than ever.

In salaried positions, the increase in Bay jobs is no match for the increase in people wanting to move here. In recent weeks, a number of highly-specialised roles – in areas such as IT and executive-management – have attracted upwards of 70 applicants.

This is why, in my experience, those eyeing professional services roles should definitely get a job before moving to the Bay.

If you’re looking for a senior or executive-level opportunity, you’ll be battling it out with applicants who live locally, elsewhere in New Zealand and offshore, and you’ll need to be primed for a determined campaign (be assured, though: it’ll be worth it!!).

I’ve lived all over the world and the Tauranga lifestyle is second to none. It’s not a backwater; it’s not a giant retirement village. It’s a vibrant city, offering excellent career prospects to those who can secure great jobs.

Please come and join the fun as this energetic region grows in scale and prosperity – but, given the competition you could face, don’t cash up and head south until you have a job to come to.