Today ELM will be discussing the top cities to live and work in the Oceanic region. Both Australia and New Zealand are very popular destination for expats, students, and other adventurers. The cities we are discussing this week are Auckland, Melbourne, and Sydney. They will be compared to each other in terms of quality of living, cost of living, and the economic environment.
Auckland is the largest and most populous city in New Zealand, with close to 1.4 million residents. It lies in the North island of the country, between the Waitakere Ranges, the Honua Ranges, the Manukau Harbour, and the Hauraki Gulf. The city enjoys an oceanic climate, which is comparable to the climate in most of Europe. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.
Located in southeastern Australia in the bay of Port Phillip, Melbourne is the second most populous city in Australia, after Sydney, and is the Australian centre of arts and music, often being referred to as the cultural capital of Australia. The climate is known to be quite unpredictable and can change quite often. This is due to the city’s location, being close to the cold southern ocean.
Sydney is the largest and most populous city in Australia. Many people mistakenly believe that Sydney, and not Canberra, is the capital of Australia. Sydney is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world, combining amazing natural beauty of its bay, beaches, and surroundings, with great architectural achievements like the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Sydney has a population of about 4.5 million people.
Quality of Living
For determining the quality of living of each city, we will take into consideration the 2010 Mercer’s Quality of Living survey, and we will take a look at HSBC’s Explorer survey to see how expats and foreigners experienced their stay in these cities. The cities that normally score well in Mercer’s survey are mid-sized cities in developed countries with high political and social stability, low population density, and large amounts of recreational activities.
Quality of Living in Auckland
Expats have an overall good experience when staying in Auckland. Most expats find it very easy to make friends with the locals, which are often considered to be very friendly. Another positive thing about Auckland is the amount of nature and free space, which is appreciated a lot, especially by those coming from more densely inhabited locations. Expats are often disappointed by the shopping experience, but also admit that this is not why you would go to Auckland for.
Auckland has scored extremely well on the Mercer quality of living survey for many years. It currently ranks at 4, tied with Vancouver, with a score of 107.4.
Quality of Living in Melbourne
Most people that have tried Melbourne have being quite happy and enjoyed their period of time there. You also come across many that have stayed their indefinitely! A lot of expats actively recommend people to try it out, more so than most expats do for other locations. It is considered to be a city that lacks the wow factor of Sydney, but grows on you the longer you stay there. Locals are very friendly, and making friends with them is no problem at all.
Melbourne is ranked in Mercer’s quality of living survey at 18 with a score of 104.8.
Quality of Living in Sydney
Sydney gets very positive reviews by many expats. As in Melbourne, the local people are very friendly, and it would be uncommon not to befriend a few of them during your stay there. Like in Melbourne, most expats love the fact that food is cheaper. Australia is a big producer of beef and fruit, and eventually most expats find themselves changing their diets because of this. The city also offers great natural locations for outdoor exercise and recreation, which has a very positive effect on the living standard of expats.
Sydney ranks at 10 on Mercer’s quality of living survey with a score of 106.3.
Winner – Auckland
Auckland is one of the best locations for expats when it comes to quality of living. It’s hard to come across people that haven’t had a good experience in Auckland. On top of that, the city scores incredibly well on Mercer’s quality of living survey, reaching the top five.
Cost of Living
For the cost of living we look at Mercer’s Cost of Living survey and look at where each city ranks. Additionally we compare the cost of housing, food, transportation, and healthcare of each of the three cities using the amazing comparing tool at Expatistan.com.
There is a major difference in cost between the Australian cities and Auckland. Sydney is considered to be the most expensive city of the three, ranking at 24. Melbourne follows closely at 33. However, Auckland is ranked at 149, making it significantly cheaper than Melbourne and Sydney.
Compared to Sydney, food in Auckland is 15 percent cheaper, housing 51 percent cheaper, transportation is 16 percent cheaper. However, healthcare is 14 percent dearer. Auckland is 31 percent cheaper than London, 17 percent cheaper than New York City, and 14 percent cheaper than Amsterdam.
Winner – Auckland
Auckland is simply the cheapest city of the three by a fairly big margin. It ranks a lot lower than the other two cities in Mercer’s cost of living survey, and is cheaper in most things when compared to the two Australian cities.
To determine how the economic environment looks like in Auckland, Melbourne, and Sydney, we will look at the most important business sectors of each city, the economic output of each city, the expected economic growth in 2011, the unemployment rate, and the income level that expats and foreigners can expect from each city where information is available.
The Economic Environment in Auckland
Auckland is the economic and commercial centre of New Zealand. The most important economic sectors are finance and banking, the industrial sector, and the city’s airport, which generates about 21 percent of the region’s GDP.
The GDP of Auckland is about 26.4 Billion Euros, which is expected to grow by 2.5 percent in 2011. The unemployment rate in Auckland is around 8 percent.
The Economic Environment in Melbourne
Melbourne has the busiest seaport in Australia handling more than 50 Billion Euros a year in trade, making this sector a very important one in Melbourne. In addition, other important sectors are finance, IT, manufacturing, logistics and transportations, tourism, and, art and music.
The GDP of Melbourne is about 125 Billion Euros, and the forecasts predict that it will grow by 3 percent in 2011. The unemployment rate is around 5 to 6 percent. The salary of expats is probably one of the negative points about Australia in general. According to the HSBC Explorer Survey, expats in Australia are amongst the worst paid in the world, together with Belgium.
The Economic Environment in Sydney
The important economic sectors of Sydney are trading, finance and banking, and distribution. Sydney has established itself as the corporate, financial and banking capital of Australia. Most of the corporate headquarters of big companies are based in Sydney.
The GDP of Sydney is about 150 Billion Euros, which is expected to grow in 2011 by 3.5 to 4 percent. The unemployment rate is currently around 5 to 6 percent. For more information about income levels in general check out this report.
Winner – Sydney
Sydney is the biggest and most varied economy of the lot. With a relatively healthy unemployment rate and GDP growth rate, the economic environment in Sydney is very positive, and should be considered when looking for work in that part of the world.
Overall Winner – Auckland
We choose Auckland as the winner this week. The great combination of scoring the best in both quality of living and cost of living make it a really solid choice for those wanting to live and work in the Oceanic region. Auckland also offers a great economic environment with positive forecasts for the remainder of the year.
Honorary Mention – Wellington
Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand. The city scores very well on Mercer’s quality of living survey, ranking at 12 with a score of 105.9, slightly ahead of Amsterdam. Wellington is the centre of film and theatre in New Zealand, where films such as The Lord of The Rings Trilogy have been filmed. Wellington is one of the cheapest destinations for expats, giving most expats a decent lifestyle and more disposable income. If you’re interested in living and working in New Zealand or Australia, make sure to take a look at Wellington as well.
Next week we will present our last article of the 2011 Top Cities to Live and Work Abroad series. We will look at the top cities to live and work in the Middle East. If you want to see a particular city or aspect mentioned in next week’s article make sure to contact us and we will take it under consideration.
See you all next week!
Joseph Cavanna, ELM Team