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We needed to live and not work to live especially with two children under 5. We loved Vancouver but we couldn’t afford a house, and monthly rent and childcare costs were extremely high despite having two good incomes. By the end of each week, we were exhausted. Where was the quality family time? As we started to consider schools for our son and the next chapter of our lives, it was towards New Zealand that we looked. Where else could we enjoy a family lifestyle where we could be at the beach in 10 minutes, or walk the kids to school and with a moderate climate where we didn’t spend four months of the year with constant rain or snow on the ground?
We actually didn’t choose Dunedin to be honest, Dunedin chose us. In mid-January there was a posting for the golf professional’s position at the Chisholm Park Golf Club. I always knew how good Chisholm Park was but I actually didn’t know much about Dunedin. It had a reputation as being a cold place to live, and it was a great sports town (it always looked great before a test match at Carisbrook!), it had Speight’s brewery and Cadbury chocolate factory, and it looked like a wonderful environment. I was fortunate to get the job at Chisholm and my family and I have never looked back.
I still laugh when I recall how my wife and I decided to go to our first movie in Dunedin shortly after arriving in the city. We left 40 minutes early (one hour was needed in Vancouver), found parking, got our tickets, drinks and popcorn and waited another 25 minutes before the movie started! We just laughed. Yes, this was Dunedin. And it is still like this on most days. Where else in the world could you have world-class schools so close to home, a top hospital, an international airport and a world-leading university which my son will attend this year?
Where else could you find such magnificent scenery and be so close to an abundance of wildlife in such an accessible environment?
I had a great old friend who taught me the value of "living for 365 days". He said the perfect place is where you can do anything you wish to do on any of the 365 days in a year. I can walk the dog at the beach, play golf, ride a bike or enjoy any other pursuit nearly every day of the year in Dunedin. Auckland can have its humidity, Vancouver can have its rain, and Winnipeg (where my wife is from) can have its -30degC for weeks on end! Honestly, by comparison, Dunedin really does have a great climate.
But the best thing about Dunedin is that is offers opportunity. In my role as a Dunedin city councillor, I come across many amazing individuals and companies that are world class. The talents coming out of our education institutions are unbelievable. We are no longer "sitting at the bottom of the world" but in many cases, we are leading or have the ability to lead the world.
When I talk to companies, they are often talking about the work they are doing internationally. There are many people and local firms outsourcing to international companies and many people now working for off-shore companies — thanks to the power of high-speed internet. There is no need to work in the office; with today’s technology, you can work remotely across the world. This really is a major part of our city’s future.
The global remote workforce is growing as people seek places to live rather than just places to work. The need to find that "work-life balance" is becoming vital. Then toss in the "Trump" or "Brexit" factor and I am sure we will be seeing many more people finding that Dunedin and what it has to offer looking extremely good.
Regular readers of the ODT will be used to seeing what leading entrepreneurs like Ian Taylor, Ryan Baker, Dean Hall and Anna Campbell are doing in taking their companies to the world stage. There is no longer the barrier to distance. Dunedin really is one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business as there are so many talented individuals and groups that are willing to assist through the start-up phase.
Just before Christmas, Enterprise Dunedin launched SeeDunedin.nz. It serves to introduce everyone to the best of Dunedin and to highlight why we are one of the world’s best small cities. It talks about what many of us already know and that is "the Dunedin advantage" for living, working, raising a family or enjoying your life. We really are a great place to live. I think my wife summed it up the best when we were at a barbecue in Vancouver and our friends asked us what we liked best about our move to Dunedin. She replied "We bought time!". Time for us as a family, and time to do things, as we weren’t spending hours commuting or working long hours to afford to live.
So I ask every one of you, that during this New Year, please share the website with at least one friend who lives overseas who may be thinking of making a change in 2017, and invite them to have a look at Dunedin. Wouldn’t it be great to have them living around the corner, enjoying coffee at St Clair or dinner in the Octagon? I am really glad we discovered Dunedin and the lifestyle advantages.