By Greta Yeoman and Chris Tobin
It might be a long way from San Francisco, but an American couple are happily settled in Timaru – more than 11,000km from home.
New Timaru residents Andy and Kate Vandeford, who have been living in South Canterbury for just over a month, have quite a story about how they ended up living in their dream loft-style apartment thousands of kilometres from the United States.
The pair quit their jobs earlier this year to go travelling and planned initially to do a loop around several Asian countries.
However, when they realised they were near Australia, they decided to visit the southern continent, Mr Vandeford said.
“[Then] we thought, ‘oh – it’d be so cool to go to New Zealand’.”
After watching videos of camper van trips, the couple decided to embark on a similar adventure.
Their 10-day trip turned out to not be enough for them, so they applied for work visas.
“We really wanted to stay here.”
Once back in Australia, they found out their visas had been accepted, so it was then time to fly to Auckland and decide where to live.
They were looking for a loft-style apartment space, of which there was one available in Auckland, but they found the city too busy, even though they had lived in big cities including Seattle and San Francisco.
“There was no sense of community in [those cities],” Mrs Vandeford said
“We both grew up in small towns.”
The other loft-style apartment was in Timaru, a town they had briefly driven through on their trip. It is owned by long-time resident Jayne Blakemore.
“We just wanted to be involved in a small town .. [Timaru] just made sense for us,” Mr Vandeford said.
So now they are settled in South Canterbury, finding jobs, making videos and exploring “a great town”.
He said their favourite places so far were Caroline Bay and Dashing Rocks.
“People are always asking ‘why Timaru?'”
“You should be so proud of your town . we see so much potential in Timaru.
“Timaru is such a cool town.”
Aoraki Development operations manager Di Hay was delighted the couple had chosen Timaru over Auckland.
Aoraki Development has been running a promotional campaign targeting people in Auckland to look at the Timaru District for its affordable housing and work-life balance.
“It’s great to hear of people choosing to move to Timaru over life in Auckland, when they realise all the opportunities we have here, whether it’s being able to afford to buy their first home or getting a better work-life balance,” she said.
“Instead of sitting in traffic on the motorway they can go for a run or walk after work, join a sports club, or get involved with their kids after school activities.”