An IT Pro's Guide to Christchurch
11 Aug 15 by Jason Bishop
Christchurch has a lot to offer for IT professionals. With its amazing surroundings, booming technology sector and exciting lifestyle opportunities, there’s plenty of reasons to move to the Canterbury region if you’re an IT professional in New Zealand, or abroad.
The Canterbury Plains, the Southern Alps, the Pacific Ocean, Arthur’s Pass; Christchurch is beset by the incredible on all sides. Here at Sourced, we’re always hearing from people from all over the world who we’ve helped find work in Christchurch about how they’ve fallen in love with the region. The beautiful landscape, laid back atmosphere, friendly people and amazing lifestyle opportunities always get a glowing review from recent movers, and it’s easy to see why.
In the winter, the mountains and ski slopes are just a couple of hours away, and any extreme pursuit you desire, from hang-gliding to water-skiing, is readily available. In the summer, the weather presents a wonderful opportunity to hike or cycle through the nearby national parks, and the west coast beaches offer soft sands and great surf.
The recent earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 devastated the community, but the rebuilding that has resulted from it has made inventive solutions a necessity, as demonstrated by the Cardboard Cathedral and the Re:START Mall. This mentality has turned Christchurch into a hotbed for inspired start-ups and technological innovation, and working here gives you the chance to be a part of something very special by helping to get this great city back on its feet.
IT in Christchurch
A recent report by Flux profiling the companies in the Canterbury innovation and technology sectors identified that there are over 500 firms in the region. These firms employ around 7,000 people and contribute 6% of Christchurch’s GDP, triple what they represent as part of the population.
The Christchurch IT sector is projected to grow significantly, and is expected to employ over 10,000 people by 2031, contributing to an increase in Christchurch’s GDP from $12.4Bn to $21.7Bn. This growth is down to a commitment from the council and government to invest in the city; with $40bn being spent on construction and infrastructure costs (including first-rate utilities, digital networks and services).
As we know, IT is a diverse industry, and Christchurch is no different. This graph (right) highlights the split across core sectors. At Sourced we work with clients in each of these, ranging from leading healthcare providers such as McKesson to a global travel provider in House of Travel.
The IT community in Christchurch is also very active, as can been seen in our last blog post on the number of technology events taking place locally in the next six months.
One consequence of the earthquakes is that many commercial buildings in Christchurch have become uninhabitable, forcing many companies to move further out from the city. This has resulted in many companies building modern, custom-designed offices in areas like Riccarton and Addington. These areas lie just a few kilometres outside of the city centre, and have become conducive environments for both established and up-and-coming tech companies in the wake of the earthquakes.
As the city’s recovery continues however, tech companies are starting to move back into central areas. One of the trailblazers in this regard has been the Enterprise Precinct Innovation Centre, or EPIC. EPIC houses 20 high tech, innovation focused IT companies in its state-of-the-art, centrally located building, and has managed to turn a heavily earthquake damaged area into a hub for innovative start-ups.
With a wide variety of tech companies in the region, Christchurch covers a broad range of professional preferences. Whether you like the funky, independent, small office start-up approach, or prefer a larger, more organised corporate environment; there really is something for everyone.
Working in Christchurch
The average annual salary in the Christchurch tech industry is $74k NZD. This level of salary, coupled with the lowest overall cost of living in New Zealand’s largest three cities, make Christchurch a very affordable city to live in. Rent for a three-bedroom house outside of the city centre comes in under $2,000 per month, and the average house price is around $450,000.
Looking internationally, we see a similar story. Christchurch house rentals are 60% lower than London, and yet salaries are only 12% lower.
Outside of the technology sector there are plenty of jobs for the rest of your family. There is a large demand for construction and engineering, but also for healthcare, accounting, HR, marketing and tourism professionals. The median household income citywide is $65,000 NZD.
Living in Christchurch
Aside from the incredible landscape, lifestyle benefits and career opportunities, Christchurch is also a great place to live from a practical point of view. There are great schools at every level, one world-class university in the city, and another one within reasonable driving distance in Dunedin.
Living outside of the city centre is a far smaller stumbling block than it is in larger cities, as the average commute time in Christchurch is only 25 minutes. Public transport is efficient and affordable, and although most international air traffic in New Zealand goes through Auckland, Christchurch is well connected. Its international airport offers direct flights to 9 major cities in New Zealand and Australia.
In addition, high-speed fibre Internet is available in Christchurch. Over 80,000 homes are fibre-capable right now, and fibre uptake has increased enormously in recent months, more than trebling in the past year. So, whenever you’re not skiing or hiking, you have world class internet at your disposal.
The IT sector in Christchurch has a very prosperous future ahead of it, and the excellent talent that gets drawn to Christchurch from across the globe will only enhance this. Here at Sourced, we’ve seen many fantastic candidates make the Garden City their home, so if you’re an aspiring expat have a look at our guide on relocating to New Zealand, or view these useful links below. If you’re in New Zealand already and would like to explore the possibility of living in Christchurch, please get in touch with us today.