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Idealog's Guide to Wellington: why I moved

Wellington was recently named the world's most liveable city by Deutsche Bank. Delia Cormack and Rikki Townsley were early adopters. 

Delia Cormack / legal and policy adviser 

When 26-year-old Delia Cormack moved to Wellington in 2015, she was chasing her dream job – and the city was a bonus that came with it. 

After working for a corporate law firm in Auckland, she wanted a change of scene and the opportunity to be right amongst the action, so found herself looking at Wellington.

She took up a job as a legal and policy advisor for the Government and hasn’t looked back. 

Cormack says for job satisfaction and employment, Wellington’s gone above and beyond her expectations.

“I find the work so much more interesting down here, and being part of Government is really interesting as a lawyer – you’re right at the centre of where things are happening and you help have input into and influence lawmaking.” 

She’s also developed an appreciation for Wellington’s idyllic combination of bustling, job-rich urban life and beautiful, rugged New Zealand nature.

“My office looks out to the hills behind Thorndon, so it’s amazing I’m working in a city for the Government and in my office, the majority of my view is green bush. You don’t really get that in other centres around the world that offer career opportunities.”

Outside of work, Cormack says the weather requires some stoicism, but the quality of life is great in the capital. She lives in an apartment in the central CBD and gets to take in the city’s spoils as she wanders to and from work each day.

“It’s such a vibrant city,” she says. “I probably would never want to live in the inner city in Auckland, it’s a bit dry and a bit boring. The inner city in Wellington is much more vibrant, with interesting people and events happening all the time.” 

Another aspect of Wellington that feels different to her prior home is its sense of community.

Because Wellington is significantly smaller than Auckland, Cormack says there’s not as much of a feeling of getting lost in a crowd.

“There’s a sense of anonymity in Auckland because there are so many people, which is really nice sometimes,” Cormack says. “But in Wellington, it’s smaller and you are more likely to bump into people a lot, so they tend to be a lot friendlier and more relaxed.” 

But overall, she says her favourite part of the capital is what an attractive place it is. 

“I probably take it for granted, but this morning I walked to work along the waterfront and I was like ‘man, this is actually really beautiful.” 

Rikki Townsley, general manager of https://www.wellingtonnz.com/about-us/media/newsroom/wellington-named-the-worlds-most-liveable-city/Y&R Wellington

It was love at first sight for UK-born Rikki Townsley when he first flew into Wellington eight years ago. 

Despite spending two months travelling around New Zealand, it was his first ever taste of Kiwi life and it stuck with him. 

After a stint working in Australia, Townsley relocated to Auckland to work at advertising agency Y&R and wound up working one day a week in the Wellington office. 

When a job opportunity arose to head up the office as general manager, he talked with his partner and emailed the CEO with the exact words: “As I believe the expression goes: ‘keen as’."

Townsley has been living in Wellington since January, and has since found out some of his initial assumptions were slightly askew.

“When I was working one day a week in Wellington the last six months, it did not rain once. I was convinced it was some sort of paradise – no rain, coffee flowing frequently,” he says. 

“It’s a bit of a British summer, except not as wet. The wind is fine as long as it’s not raining, and it’s also not as sweaty as Auckland,” he says. 

But the positives are endless.
The cliché of Wellington on a good day rings true, he says, while the people seem more chilled out – perhaps it’s something to do with less commuter traffic.

Townsley himself takes a 15-minute stroll to work each day down Cuba St, and says it’s probably his favourite part of the experience so far. 

“Walking down Cuba St is awesome because it’s kind of like a hippy microcosm mixed with modern liberals. It feels like a vibrant, liberal, open-minded, creative city, like everyone’s got a project. They
tend to have something on the
side that is a creative outlet for them,” he says. 

After living his life abroad in cities like London, Sydney and Belfast, he says Wellington brings the best of many worlds together. 

“It’s almost a bit of Camden, a bit of Melbourne, a bit of Sydney and a bit of Brighton mixed into one.”

And despite the only piece of flat land in Wellington seemingly being Te Papa Museum, he says he has no regrets about making the move.

“I’ve got a couple of friends who are Wellingtonians in London, and none of them were in any way surprised when I moved here – they said they knew I was a Wellingtonian at heart,” he says.

“The city picked me, not the other way around.”