Small town love

I just cannot understand why young Kiwis aren’t flocking to towns like Taumarunui.

This week the lovely little town made headlines for failing to attract a suitable candidate for a $150,000 job that came with free accommodation.

That’s right, free accommodation.

As another article pointed out, this isn’t the first time a high-paid job has been over -looked for its location. Tokoroa offered $400,000 a year for a doctor and still couldn’t find one. In fact, rural doctors are in such short supply that Waikato University and the DHB are thinking of setting up a school just to train some.

Now, I understand that town night life is a little slower than Auckland’s, and perhaps the cafe culture is quiet, but for the life of me I can’t figure out an equation in which the downsides of small town New Zealand outweigh the benefits.

Think about it; cheap housing, a great income, and limited temptations tugging at your wallet or purse. Take out rush hour, add in the ability to save for your dreams and a few local characters to keep life interesting, and there’s really nothing to complain about.

Now, I know the applications for the Taumarunui job have come flooding in since the headlines appeared, but it’s still telling that it came to needing a major news article to get applications for a deal like that.

Presumably, the job wasn’t flooded with applicants before because none of them bothered to alter the location search bar on the jobs website they were looking at from “Auckland” or some other major centre.

It says something about the ambition or creativity of the common Kiwi, that we are so unwilling to step outside our stock standard suburbia when it comes to finding opportunities.

It seems someone has to wave an them right under our nose before we notice them. In the interim, we whinge about house prices and the traffic in Auckland.

When did that become the Kiwi way?

By the by, even if your dream job isn’t available in small town New Zealand, it’s getting easier and easier to take a job with you to a quiet, cheap, family-friendly place where you can afford to have kids and spend lots of time with them too.

But go to the big city and you’ll soon find yourself competing with hundreds of others to live in an overpriced suburb paying overpriced living costs, while your dreams go up in exhaust fumes thanks to travel costs.

It seems crazy small towns get overlooked, given all the talk about how hard it is to get on the property ladder, work-life balance, and the rest. Surely these little towns don’t just offer an alternative, they offer the solution; The chance to make your mark on the world, or at least your bank account, and enjoy life while you’re at it.

And here’s the real mystery: If you do decide to give small town New Zealand a go, it’s not like you have to stay forever. A few short years and you’ll have saved up enough to put a deposit on Marc Ellis’ Auckland penthouse if you want to.

That’s what we call delayed gratification. It’s when you sacrifice something in the short term for a more important prize down the line.

And maybe that’s it. Maybe we have gotten so used to having what we what, when we want it, that we can’t even conceive of having to wait.

I don’t think small town New Zealand is the problem. I think we are.

This article was first published on

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