Jamie Cameron grew up in Taranaki and left first for his OE, then came back to play rugby, then left again to further his career. Now he’s back, along with his wife and two children, and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Having spent the last two years on the Gold Coast, and the two years prior to that in Perth, Jamie is very clear on why he’s back in Taranaki.
“Things were going very well professionally, and I was enjoying the challenge of hard work, and the rewards that came with it,” Jamie says.
“The flipside was that I was always travelling and spending a lot of time on the road, but I really didn’t like being one of those dads who wasn’t there for his kids.”
“I loved growing up a Kiwi Kid, and wanted my kids to have the same lifestyle and opportunities, so we made the move back to Taranaki first and foremost for our family.”
And now they’re back, Jamie, his wife Denise and kids George (13) and Jake (7) are loving life and how much easier it is to live here.
“One day it took me almost two hours to get to work, two hours to get home, and that night I read the Daily News online and the headline was ‘Congestion at Waiwhakaiho.’ I almost fell off my chair laughing.”
“I used to have to be in the car at 5.45am, home at 6.30pm. It took 20 minutes to drive anywhere. This morning it took me 6 minutes 35 seconds from home to work,” he says.
“You don’t appreciate how good it is here until you live away, particularly as a family.”
The family are finding that life in Taranaki offers benefits beyond the easy lifestyle.
“There aren’t a bunch of theme parks just up the road here – when the kids get bored they have to be creative and make their own fun, not just wander around looking for the next high.”
“I wanted to be able to take the kids to Pukekura Park to watch cricket and do all the little things I did with my dad. Now we’ve got Back Beach, Pukekura Park, all these beautiful places on our doorstep, and my kids keep asking ‘where is everybody’.”
While the family miss the reliability of the Gold Coast’s weather, they are enjoying not having to plan their weekends around travel, something that extends to the week days as well.
“You can get to the library, the beach and the museum after school, it’s not a case of spending an hour in the car to get home.”
When it comes to school, the differences have also been noticed.
“When we arrived I walked into school with my son and he turned to me and said ‘Dad, those kids are climbing trees. Can I do that?’ I knew we’d made the right move, and now he enjoys school so much he doesn’t want to stop for the holidays,” Jamie says.
The family have also found the cost of living cheaper here.
“Our electricity costs were $1000 a quarter, and we paid $300 a quarter just for water. Our weekly grocery shop, which hasn’t changed much, cost $300 Australian, but is only $250 NZ dollars over here.”
Jamie, who is now the Business Development Manager of Programmed Integrated Workforce – a comprehensive staffing, maintenance and facility management firm – has found that adjustment in a professional sense has been the one of biggest changes.
“Bigger markets are a bit more ruthless, and progression oriented,” he says.
“But here, with a smaller population, you have to hold your breath a bit more often. Generally though everyone here wants to work, so it’s pretty positive, and loyalty and trust rate really highly.”
“While bigger markets offer more career opportunities, it’s not always about that. The move enabled Denise to get out of retail and get a new job she really loves here, as a new home consultant for Stonewood Homes.”
With his recruitment hat on, Jamie now helps many others make the move to Taranaki, and advises them to be aware that life in Taranaki is different to big cities overseas.
“While you might be able to earn more in Australia, it’s important to calculate the value of contracts over a full year. Often you’re not getting ahead because you’re not working the whole year,” he says.
“Taranaki offers everything you need with the added bonus of a quality of life you don’t find in the big cities. It’s important to be clear your motivations for shifting.”
For the Cameron family spending more time with your family, in a landscape full of adventures, is a pretty compelling motivation.