So I've settled in Whakatane. Permanently, I hope and expect. It:s early days but I'm excited and thrilled with the decision and energised by the relaxed atmosphere, new trails to cycle, and opportunities.
I left Auckland in October, did a few months regional apprenticeship in Tauranga for practice, then moved to my new home.
And I figure by moving here I've contributed positively to the New Zealand economy. I don't claim any nationalistic or altruistic motivation - my life decisons are made around people and places, not noble gestures. But contributed nonetheless.
Because by moving I have benefited both places. Auckland, by freeing up scarce real estate for someone, probably in mid-career, who has no option but to live there - I've taken pressure off house prices. Whakatane, by adding momentum to house prices and bringing a bit of economic value to the cafes and shops in the town.
My contribution alone is of course, too small to measure. But if a few thousand JAFAs entering their retirement phase, whose work like mine is location-independent, did the same, the impact would be dramatic. And interestingly three times today, working ibetween Gisborne and Hicks Bay, I have run into ex-Aucklanders who've recently done the same. Thats what inspired this blog post.
Regional New Zealand has stunning facilities. Cafes and shops just as good as main centres. Sure there are not as many - Auckland is reputed to have 3000 cafes and bars but you can only be in one at a time.
We would all benefit from more of this movement. In earlier times successive governments had policies called "Regional Development" with ministries and ministers assigned to subsidise antything that looked like doing good things for smaller centres. They were about bringing industries to the regions, usually with incentives, to balance out the population.
Today's baby boomers (and I consider myself a leading-edge baby boomer) are almost an industry in therir own right - an economic resource that can add real value by rebalancing the population in ways that benefit everyone. We don't need governments to show us how. Lets just do it!
See you in the Craic at Whakatane - as good an Irish bar as you'll find anywhere. If you come down on an LSD trip (look, see, decide) I might buy you a beer.