Up to half a million Kiwi expats could return home in the next few years as they look to escape the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new survey.
One of the expats to have returned is celebrity chef Peter Gordon, who came home after 31 years in London.
“I managed to sell my house in the UK, I put it on the market on a Monday, I bought my ticket to come home on the Wednesday, I accepted an offer on the Friday, on the Sunday I was on the plane,” Gordon explained.
A new survey by expat Kiwi network Kea, released to TVNZ’s Sunday, shows 250,000 Kiwis plan on returning home within the next two years, while a further 250,000 could follow in the years after.
“At any one time, we know that there could be about a million-plus Kiwis existing offshore,” Kea chief executive Toni Truslove said.
Currently, more of our skilled population live offshore than any other OECD country.
“Kiwis have always come home, but not these specific Kiwis - not these Kiwis who are amidst a really successful career overseas,” Truslove said.
Many expats are highly-skilled and wish to stay. Around 20 per cent are planning to invest in a business, potentially creating thousands of jobs here.
“A higher than normal percentage of those Kiwis looking to return are looking to go back into regional New Zealand, which is really amazing for those regions,” Truslove said.
While the returning Kiwis could potentially place further pressure on our infrastructure and housing market, Kea is urging those of us already living here to see it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild the country post-Covid.
Truslove said New Zealand should consider establishing a taskforce similar to the one set up by the Australian federal government for “talent and investment”.
“Kea would be encouraging New Zealand to look at a similar task force,” she said.
Gordon has since started employing staff for a new venture, adding that after years of international travel, he’s home for good.
“I had a great life, but I'm really enjoying this life,” he said.