Aussies singing Timaru’s praises

'So much to offer people'

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Bridging a gap .. Australians Lucy Dillon and her children (from left) Megan (6), James (5) and Amy (8) moved to Timaru from Perth last year and are loving their new life here. PHOTO: RACHAEL COMER

by Rachael Comer

Lucy Dillon is not surprised Australians want to move to Timaru.
The former Perth resident and her family are among the increasing number of Australians who moved to the region last year.
Figures provided to The Courier by Statistics New Zealand show 195 Australians moved to Timaru in the year ending January 2017, compared with 175 the previous year.
The figures also showed that fewer people from Timaru are moving to Australia, with 119 leaving the region in the year ending January 2017, compared with 152 in the corresponding period the previous year.
The figures were no surprise to Mrs Dillon, who said Timaru had “so much to offer people”.
“We moved to Timaru in April last year,” she said.
“John [her husband] was out of work in Perth. He is an engineer and after a year he started looking for jobs out of Perth.”
An internet job search came up with Alpine Energy in Timaru and after a trip to the town for an interview, the Dillons were hooked.
“We came here and checked the place out.
“It was hot one day and cold the next and hotter here than I thought it would be.”
Mr Dillon was offered the job and he, his wife and their three children moved to Timaru.
They quickly learnt how friendly the town was, Mrs Dillon said.
“The job and the school helped us meet new people and everyone was so welcoming.
“I found it easier to meet people too, having kids.”
She said the family had not regretted the move one bit.
“The hardest thing is being away from family but Timaru is a pretty place to show off to them when they visit.
“My parents came here and they said ‘we need to move here’. They think it’s very, very nice here.”
She said the region had good support for immigrants and she had joined a group of expats who had been helpful with the shift.
The Dillons had travelled throughout the South Island and being active, outdoor types enjoyed the town’s proximity to the mountains and sea, she said.
Mr Dillon’s parents have also visited the region, as well as two of Mrs Dillon’s friends.
“The mountains and snow are a big seller for people – especially coming from Perth.”
She said her husband had told former workmates about the region and had encouraged them to “head this way”.
Mrs Dillon said while more Australians were moving to Timaru, she liked the idea of it being a secret getaway.
“Everyone in Australia knows Christchurch and Queenstown, but Timaru is a bit of a secret, which is nice.
“We don’t want too many people here.”
South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith said foreign workers brought something positive to the region’s workforce.
“We have very low unemployment numbers at the moment, so employers are in a position were they are looking for highly skilled workers,” Mrs Smith said.
Employees who had international work experience often brought different ideas, she said.
Timaru was attractive to Australians as it was affordable and offered a good lifestyle for families.
“They tell their friends and family back home, too, and word-of-mouth is often more trusted.”