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Location, location, location

3 December 2013

Location, location, location

Considering moving house? Take a tip from Victoria PhD researcher Michael Sloan, and think long and hard about the location.

Michael has spent the last three years comparing people's expectations of moving house with the reality and found a strong link between where people move to and their levels of satisfaction after the shift.

For his doctoral research, Michael’s looked at the trends and patterns identified in 4,900 movers from the 2007 Survey of Dynamics and Motivation for Migration in New Zealand, provided by Statistics New Zealand. “Importantly,” Michael says, “the survey included people's own assessments of the outcomes when changing address.”

In addition to overall satisfaction, he looked at how positive they were about their outdoor environment, housing, employment, social life and standard of living.

“Most movers were satisfied with the outcome of their move, but some were not.  It was this variation in levels of satisfaction that I was interested in.”

He investigated shifts to both urban and rural areas and found that the choice of location involves compromise. For example, people who moved to more urbanised areas experienced better employment satisfaction, but could not afford the same quality of housing.

“It comes down to people making compromises in one area for gains in another,” he says.

This was also true when it came to neighbourhood and people’s standard of living.

“People who moved to more urbanised areas tended to end up living in a less affluent area than they were used to and this accounted for some of the decrease in their standard of living.”

Michael’s research also found that, these days, people are less likely to move from larger cities to smaller ones within New Zealand. “The attraction of the larger city is primarily employment related, although most of these movers believed such gains came at the expense of their immediate standard of living.”  

But, he says, moving to a rural area doesn’t necessarily make people happier.

“Moving to a more rural area meant higher satisfaction with the outdoor environment, but satisfaction with social life diminished for many people. You might expect to have more time to socialise, but perhaps in urban areas it is more satisfying because there are more people around and it’s easier to meet up.”

As well as investigating the geography of moving, Michael compared levels of satisfaction of different types of movers.

“For example, couples who move tend to be happier with the outcome than individuals—it seems there is more support and any risk is shared.

“A lot of the literature on this subject suggested that when a couple moves it is generally for the husband’s employment, and the wife follows. What we found, however, is that they actually share the benefits of moving in terms of satisfaction.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the trade-offs,” Michael concludes.

Michael's thesis was supervised by Professor Philip Morrison of Victoria’s School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences.

Michael will graduate with a PhD in Geography on Thursday 12 December at 6pm.


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