Tuesday 20 March 2012

Entrepreneurial migration to NZ

Our Prime Minister encourages rich people to move here; our immigration authorities make it easy too.

Kiwi tech entrepreneur Lance Wiggs provides some advice for potential migrants. His advice is targeted at Kiwis coming home but is more broadly applicable:
Coming back to New Zealand is often difficult after a heady career dealing, say, in billions of dollars. The economy and industry tiny here, our domestic industries are often sleepy versus their foreign peers, and many don't seem to understand offshore experiences.
So for those coming back after a senior career offshore, a word of advice: don't look for a job. Look instead to enter the really dynamic part of our economy by starting something new. As Prof. Paul Callaghan is fond of saying, we are very good in New Zealand at doing everything else.
Not for us the big dirty industries, nor the global consumer goods we all own, but instead the quiet conquering of global niches, such as online accounting or frequency control. There are plenty of people and tools to help, and New Zealand is a wonderfully easy place to start and run a business.
So if you are considering leaving, then make sure you come back bursting with ideas and energy to start something. And if you are considering a return, then now is the hour. New Zealand is doing reasonably well during this global recession, and it's time to get going and do something about addressing the markets in our enormous trade free zone.
Forbes today listed NZ as second overall among best countries for business. [Note: they seem to be using Heritage's rankings on trade freedom. I don't buy Heritage's rankings on trade freedom.]

We get top rankings in lack of red tape, investor protection, lack of corruption, and personal freedoms. The last one I find most important, but Forbes used a very broad brush in marking the personal freedom category. Most OECD countries wind up getting a rank of 1.

Personal liberties are a bundle of a whole lot of different things. For the bundle of freedoms about which I care most, NZ comes out on top. But I suppose that somebody who puts lots of weight on firearm ownership rights relative to not being subject to arbitrary exercise of police power could rank the US higher than NZ.

I also put reasonable weight on that, flying domestically in NZ, there's often not even a metal detector, never mind this sort of thing:

I continue to be amazed at how few American libertarians emigrate.


  1. I'm an American libertarian who's been flirting with immigration to NZ. How easy is it, and what do you find preferable about living there?

    1. Immigration is pretty simple if you can hit the list of skills in short supply in NZ. Had listed some of that here: http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.co.nz/2011/07/emigration.html

      Best about NZ: default is that you're allowed to do something; sane tort laws generally mean you're free to do dumb stuff that might hurt yourself. That's slowly eroding, but seemingly less quickly than elsewhere. Also, while we still have a war on drugs here, asset forfeiture is very new and the police have not turned into an armed gang of thugs.

      Worst about NZ: low income, high fixed costs of everything, distance.

    2. What's the job market like for academics? I'm a tenure-track econ professor.

    3. Thin market. If you've a good publication record AND you can be on the ground here prior to June 2012, then Unis able to hire will fight over you a bit because of a research ranking exercise coming up with a June census date. After that, it'll just be normal demand. A couple places usually hiring every year. Zero chance Canterbury's hiring anytime in the next few years with earthquake stuff (except maybe in finance; student numbers there through the roof); Waikato's just hired a couple of our guys who got tired of earthquakes.

      I don't know who in particular is hiring though. Feel free to email for more.