Elizabeth Davies on why she's trading in renting in Auckland for life in Mount Maunganui

Elizabeth Davies on why she's trading in renting in Auckland for life in Mount Maunganui

By Elizabeth Davies

I was born and raised in Auckland City and in my twenty four years I’ve never lived anywhere else, nor have I ever seriously considered it.

Like everyone my age I’ve daydreamed about chasing boys to Canada or jumping the ditch to drink cider on rooftop bars in Melbourne, accompanied by musicians in winkle pickers with beautiful tattoos and glorious beards.

The truth is I love this city. I love the view of the harbour at night, the talented street performers, the grungy little basement bars and the amazing restaurants. I love people watching on K rd and in Ponsonby. I love chocolate peanut butter milkshakes at Bedford Soda and 3am dumplings at New Flavour.

As I face the reality of leaving Auckland I’m beginning to develop a premature sense of nostalgia, even for the things I quite frankly can’t stand. Crowded buses and pretentious hipsters, overpriced parking and waiting in lines for bars leaves me with a slightly sad, lop-sided smile, raising one hand in a fond salute to my ridiculous and wonderful home town.

The time has come for me to leave Auckland, at least for a little while. My partner has been offered a job in Tauranga and we will be moving in eight weeks. We’re very much looking forward to purchasing our first home and have realised this dream will remain out of reach if we stay in Auckland’s competitive and depressing housing market.

We haven’t told everyone about the move yet, but those we have informed have been quick to scoff and criticise. We’re often met with witty and original enquiries if we are intending to retire. I’ve even been asked if I’m pregnant. It seems there’s no other explanation why a happy, healthy, intelligent and qualified couple could be leaving Auckland (and not moving to Wellington, Christchurch, or Australia).

The big move to ‘God’s waiting room’ as so many have nicknamed it, was not a decision we made lightly. I’ll be leaving a full time job I truly enjoy and moving away from all my family, friends and ultimately the only home I’ve ever known. My partner Mike has been offered a great position with a fantastic company with lots of potential for career progression. What’s better, he’ll have a ten minute drive to work, a free car park and he won’t have to avoid patches of spit while walking down the inner city footpath.

Life is all about compromises and so I’m willing to leave everything I know in the hopes of better lifestyle opportunities somewhere else. In Auckland we live in a one bedroom split villa. For the same amount of weekly rent we can afford a three bedroom fenced house by the beach in Mount Maunganui.

I’m excited about our move but I must admit I’m nervous. I thought everyone would be supportive but sadly that’s not so. My generation is constantly being told to lower our expectations, spend less, work more, stop buying i-phones and fifteen dollar drinks and start committing to serious savings for a future that isn’t getting any cheaper. I’m happily volunteering to do just that and yet some people feel it necessary to criticise further. I’m now told that moving to a smaller place is career suicide and a waste of time. I’m told to just accept Auckland’s lifestyle limitations and live with it, or move to Australia and make more money.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way forward is to decide what is best for yourself and ignore the snide comments of everyone around you. There’s no way I can please everyone so if you want me, I’ll be at the beach.


Elizabeth Davies is a 24 year-old graduate of the Auckland University of Technology post graduate journalism course. She lives with her partner in Epsom and spends her free time refurbishing vintage furniture and attempting to bake while fighting a daily battle against her bank balance. She writes a weekly article for interest.co.nz on money matters and financial struggles from a young person's perspective.

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Good on you. The Mount is a great place to be. 
It sounds like you are very much a city person.
I'd imagine that a city person would slowly change into a health conscious beach person with the passage of time in such a place. Particularly if you have children.
There is a slightly wierd mix of people down there: Retired people, beach people/ surfies, petrol heads and unfortunately the unemployed (often with addictions).
Like any relocation, how well you fit in will be determined by whether you make the conscious choice to change to fit in with the place/ people. And it will be affected by those who you choose to associate with.
My view: Potentially, its one of the best places to live in NZ. And the weather of course, is really nice.

The Mount looks like the perfect city person's beach to me with all those high rises and heaps of traffic because of them.
From a city to live in point of view, Tauranga is pretty good but a true beach person would run like hell from one with all that traffic/ high rises and seek out the beach without a single footprint on it, of course getting harder and harder to find these days

Tauranga/Mt Maunganui is a fantastic place to call home. It might just be one of the best decisions you will ever make.  Age demographics are changing with many young families leaving Auckland to enjoy the lifestyle that Tauranga offers. Don't get me wrong - Auckland is a lovely city.... but Tauranga will offer you a lifestyle that is less about the rat race and more about the quality of living.

Good luck Elizabeth.  Dismiss those that don't support you.  It takes a certain type of bravery and independence to make a move like that and often the knockers, are knockers because they wouldn't have the gumption to do what you are doing.  Auckland and Tauranga are not that far apart. ;-)  Make sure you have a spare room in your lodgings - you are bound to get visitors! :-)

he’ll have a ten minute drive to work, a free car park
Bringing all your unhealthy Auckland lifestyle habits and expectations as well.  Soon turn the place into the same heaving congested mess you are trying to escape.
How about...he will walk/bike to work and will leave the car at home.

Having just brought a house in Tauranga I can attest to some parts of the region being much cheaper than Auckland. We managed to get a 60's weatherboard do up on 1200 sqm's for around 250k. 
For the Mount you may need a reality check. 'Auckland house prices with provincal wages' sums up alot of the market in the Mount. We are moving from the Mount to Tauranga to be able to afford a house with some land for our kids.
Good place to live though. Both my partner and I turned down jobs in Auckland to stay close to family and for a better life. We earn less but are far more 'wealthy'.
Good luck with the move.

Good on you! I did the same, packed up and move westward across the ditch.  Found a job in sunny Brisbane, similar job, almost the same pay as my old job in Auckland, bought a house similar distance to the CBD as our Auckland home, has 2 more bedrooms and paid about $500K less.

I hope you keep writing for interest.co.nz, Elizabeth!
Congrats on the decision - I suspect once you get there all your fears will just melt away and you'll think it the best move you ever made.
We lived there for a year whilst I was doing consultancy work for a merchant bank in Auckland. I commuted to Auckland once a week for meetings - and just loved the Bay of Plenty lifestyle. It does have its traffic congestion however, particularly around school pick up/drop off hours, but NOTHING like Auckland. Winston Peters did a great deal for that city roading wise over the long period of time he was its MP.

Aucklanders always come across with this amazement syndrome as they "discover" features of the rest of the country when displaced from their box by necessity. Otherwise they seem to huddle like an emperor penguin colony convinced that only desolation lies beyond their fringe.
It is this condition which clearly defines them and for which the term JAFA is very apt.
Good luck with the move and maybe off in the future a piece about looking into the box you once lived in.

This is pretty much spot on. I would look forward to reading a piece after say 12 months of being away from Auckland. I'm sure there will many "discoverys" to come.
Who would have thought there was something south of the bombays?

Very perceptive Spinach.
And it doesn't take too long before their newly discovered place is tainted by the Auckland attitudes. eg I loved Queenstown in the 1980s. It had an amazing feeling of being an undiscovered gem with a faded charm Olde Worlde feel. But now every man and his dog....... In the last place I worked in Auckland, about 3 of the Senior Management had holiday houses in QT!!! Ridiculous!!!

Great move Elizabeth. There is life south of Auckland. As an ex Aucklander I am of the view that current Aucklanders are unaware of how financially badly off they are. Follow the financial signals and move. You will not regret it.

And keep writing for interest .co

Good luck to you and your partner Elizabeth. Thirty years ago I made the decision to shift from Wellington back to my home town which is a provincial capital in the North Island. My wife who was born in Wellington actually found the move hard as she was not used to living in such a conservative area of New Zealand. To give you an idea many people including members of my family could not cope with the fact she kept her surname even though we were married. I was a young professional fresh out of university and working in a large firm and probably would have ended up a partner in the firm if I had stayed.
After living in the provinces for 30 years I have to say it has been a good move. We live on a lifestyle property 6 minutes from the middle of the city and if I was in Auckland that kind of property would be costing me millions. Traffic jams , overcrowded housing and I have to say violence and burglaries are not a major feature where we live. They exist but from what I read there are less than what is occuring in Auckland. People know each other and acknowledge each other. The schools are of a great quality and there is another advantage. Our children have to move away to go to univerity like I did and I think that is good for them as it makes them grow up and become more independent as they should. The coast is only minutes away if you want to go for a walk on the beach. Life is less stressful and of course cheaper as housing costs are a lot less and  you do not need to drive so far to  get to anything. One benefit of this reduced cost of living is you do not have so much money tied up in a home and therefore you can invest more money to be used for retirement purposes.
We are pleased we came here 30 years ago. I might have earnt more in Wellington but my lifestyle would not have been as pleasant as it is where I live and now I am retired it is even better as the recreational activities I pursue such as cycling as within easy reach from where i live.

Seemingly against all the odds, Elizabeth battles on with life.

Nothing wrong with Auckland, you just cannot expect to buy a $1M home at age 24. Start saving and buy a cheaper home in your early 30's and go from there. Yes Tauranga is nice but useless for work in many industries as they simply don't exist down there. Loads of retired people and those out of work and probably okay if your in retail, work in a bank or something like the port but no industry down there for me so its not even an option I don't care if the houses are cheap.

Her partner has a great job. They can buy a nice house easily. They have fantastic beaches. Less time on road, less stress and more time for fun. Cheaper to live especially vehicle use wise. No brainer. Good luck to both of you.
ps I love Auckland, especially the beaches on the North Shore. 

Yes I love living on the North Shore, I'm in Torbay its a 900m walk to Long Bay beach. Also I work in Albany so traffic's not an issue. Yes good luck to both of you, like I said great while you have a job and if your in the right industry, you can get a 10 year head start in the property market.

I am a NZ Permanent Resident. I have lived a few years in Auckland, and more than a year in Invercargill and Wanaka.
I live now in Tauranga and I must say it's by far the best place to live I have experienced in New Zealand.
Mount Maunganui is expensive though, we pay $480 a week for a 3 bedroom home but it's by the beach. In Auckland we were paying $400 weekly a few years ago but we had to go to work by public transport or car and suffer traffic jams, etc. while now my girlfriend walks to her work and I cycle 15 minutes to my office! We are more than happy to rent forever as long as we can keep the freedom to change house, area whenever we want and as long as we continue living where it makes us happy to live. Not every young couple has the need to own a house. Some of us value freedom and flexibility way more than an overpriced property.
It's a shame there are not more job opportunities and good salaries outside Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch. I encourage tech companies to relocate in Tauranga. I'm sure they wouldn't have any problem attracting good staff. There are plenty of people (at least other immigrants like us without family attachments in the country) that would happily leave Auckland/Wellington/Christchurch and move to places like Tauranga, Gisborne, Hastings, Napier or Nelson (I love them all!) if there were more opportunities despite receiving less salaries.
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