Elizabeth Davies describes the joys of moving to a friendly new community

Elizabeth Davies describes the joys of moving to a friendly new community

By Elizabeth Davies

The first thing any businessman will tell you is that time is money. If this age old saying is to be trusted as truth then the savings in Tauranga are beyond anything I’ve ever experienced in Auckland.

Moving houses and cities is a stressful process. Our first week in the Bay saw us interacting with multiple tradesman and services. All of our experiences so far have left me speechless ( not easily accomplished, rest assured ). I’ve been left dumbfounded by how painless, efficient and downright pleasant every experience has been.

Our TV man was booked one day in advance and gave us a half hour time frame in which he would turn up. The exact same service in Auckland told us they would arrive sometime between nine and five on Tuesday… hopefully. While the financial cost may have been the same – the time savings are already starting to tick up.

The delivery men who bought our couches were two of the nicest guys you can imagine. They recommended restaurants for us to check out and pointed out an indentation on the couch and made a note of it in case it didn’t pop out and we needed a replacement.

The glazier who installed our dog door was at the house within an hour of calling to book. He was a genuinely lovely middle aged guy who invited us to his annual New Year’s Eve party on his farm – proudly letting us know there would be three live bands. This was all within fifteen minutes of meeting the man. When he left he forgot his cash on our bench and we had to call him to remind him. He was the kind of man that could forget cash – that says it all really.

For the first time in my life I’m living in a community that understands and appreciates the green dollar. While walking along the beach Mike and I stopped to let our dog play with another couple’s dogs. We got chatting and Mike mentioned he was a sparky, in return they mentioned they needed a couple of new power points. Long story short we’re going to their place for a big BBQ in exchange for a little bit of electrical work.

Our first morning we opened the door to find our neighbour standing there with a huge basket of freshly baked scones to welcome us to the neighbourhood. Three days later I returned her basket full of chocolate brownies.
I’ve offered to babysit our other neighbour’s seven year old and she’s offered us use of her staff discount at Bunnings.

I’ll admit I was sceptical about moving to a smaller city but the reality is Tauranga isn’t some backwater hick town with 500 people. It’s a city in its own right, but there is a much greater sense of community and closeness. There’s a generosity there based on favour exchange and a genuine willingness and openness that simply doesn’t exist in a large portion of Auckland.

We’re quickly discovering that those people who trade in higher earning jobs and sky rocketing property values for a different kind of lifestyle out of Auckland may not be the richest, but they seem pretty damn wealthy to me.


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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My experience is the smaller the town the friendlier the people.

The reality is that Aucklanders are hard done by financially.  The 'Poor but Happy" idea about the provinces, is easy to say but misleading.  New Zealanders, out of Auckland have high incomes often and certainly less costs.  They have money in their pockets that Aucklanders just don't.
True, there may be 50k to 100k people in Auckland doing really well, but most are struggling with the mortgage.   Aucklanders just don't have any money, much less disposable thatn the rest of the the country.

The impoverished, stressed, time poor Auckland dogs body may well be the norm, KH but why is the place getting such an inflow of newcomers. It may be the opportunities arising from a large and growing population - a compounding effect that creates it's own momentum divorced from more human type fundamentals.  We see the same thing elsewhere, (London and Dublin come to mind) one major city dominating the rest of the country. 
I wonder though if it's such a great thing (as some have suggested) and, if not, what can be done? 

Beats me Dave.  Perhaps it's like battered person syndrome.  The inhabitants are trapped in there and don't know there is a better normal.  Mind you lots of Aucklanders have worked out there is an alternative, look at Central Otago, and Wanaka, filled with ex Aucklanders having a marvellous time.
Two things would inprove Auckland.  1.  Keep the wonderful natural environment and have 100,000 max population.   Too late.    2.  Build appropriate infrstructure.   They should have built the rail loop forty years ago.  As a schoolboy I was reading about it then.  Also I see they are now quibbling about the train to the airport,  Unbelieveable.   But again.  Too late.  They can't buil a real international city.  Too poor.

influx - less Earthquakes than Chch, but still high wage and top careers available.
If you've got foreign cash in your bank account, you'll likely get a better salary than the rest of Nz, plus some semblance of global civilisation and if you're from other cities you'll already be used to paying through the nose for necessities and getting along on the "social currency" for everything else.

Good for you Elizabeth and thanks for bringing these points to wider attention. It's such a shame that our smaller cities and towns are not more widely appreciated while our major city sucks in such a disproportionate share of people and business creating huge problems as a result.

Tauranga and the Mount can't really be considered to be hidden gems. They have been growing for years. eg Papamoa, Welcome Bay. But Aucklanders are probably not the main source of people going there. Old Hamiltonians, retired Waikato farmers, other lower North Island people after a better climate. That is probably why the people there seem friendly. Not from Auckland!

Funnily enough so far every single person we have met that wasn't born and raised in Tauranga has relocated from Auckland. That includes people in their early thirties to early sixties. The Aucklander's say a place like this brings out the best in them. :)

Great stories Elizabeth.  We had our own stories like this when we cam to Rotorua from the UK.  It was very heartwarming to find, and we have never regretted the move.

When did you get a dog? That can't help with "fighting a daily battle against (your) bank balance" or finding a place to rent.

We've had him for about nine months now. He definitely adds to our expenses and makes finding a place to rent slightly harder - though we didn't have any real problem and love the place we're currently renting. Looking back on it I don't regret the extra expense at all. He makes us beyond happy. He gives us a great reason to get out and explore the outdoors a bit more, go for more walks and turn the TV off more often. We love him dearly and he's been absolutely amazing for my mental health especially. cheers :)

Dog is good for your mental health, what's the secret Elizabeth?  My 2 yrs old lab is driving me crazy.  Our backyard is like the moon surface, full of perfectly round holes and I can’t wait to see if my dog would fall through to China one day.  Here in Australia, Westfarmers group is making huge profit and I have partly contributed to this, so far I have brought at least a dozen of dog soft beds from Kmart.  For some strange reasons the bed keeps on exploding into small pieces in front of my dog.  He also went through countless pair of shoes, bicycle tyres, soccer balls and he itching to get into the neighbour’s cat! 

Oh dear, sounds like my golden retriever I had growing up - I'd love to say it gets better but she never did. We were super dedicated to a lot of training and discipline with our little dude from day one. He's very quiet by nature and not a big digger - but he did completely destroy every single camelia flower I had the second they bloomed :( Other than that no pairs of shoes or anything destroyed yet - but hopefully I haven't spoken too soon. Tauranga is absolutely amazing for dogs as well, you can take them off leash in pretty much every park and beach at pretty much any hour of the day, not like Auckland where you're kept chained to your dog and only allowed out after dark :)

sounds like boredom.

Well done Elizabeth , Auckland has now become so expensive that its now becoming New Zealands most UNAFFORDABLE  & UNPLEASANT city to live in .
In addition to the house prices , the rates & taxes we have to pay are actually a burden. Our  modest home that has taken years to pay off , is  rated at over $4,500 a year alone .
And they dont even collect our refuse or dispose of our sewage ( we pay seperately for that ).
But they have money to waste on stuff like ATEED  which produces absolutely NOTHING and for which I pay .
ATEED gats  about $50 million a year which is handed out to secular  or special interest groups like V8 motor racing , gay parades , and stuff that ordinary folk struggling to make ends meet , should not have to cough up for  .
Why ATEED even exists I dont understand

As an immigrant who has lived in different countries and cities I always say that Auckland has the worse of the big cities and lacks the best of the big cities.
I find it a soul-less city and most of the expats I meet feel the same way. Transport is just horrible and people keep insisting in living as if they were in a village so the city it's an endless field of houses with gardens, empty and boring streets and people commuting to work or everywhere from 20 kms far and trapped in traffic jams constantly.
I'm not gonna lie, cities in NZ are far from being interesting for young travelled people but it's compensated with the nice lifestyle that they offer (especially for kids) when they are not too big.
As an immigrant I found my first specialised job opportunity in Auckland but after more than 2 years i couldn't take it anymore and I started to look for something in my favourite cities Tauranga,  Napier, Gisborne and Queenstown). I was lucky and found something good in Tauranga so here I am enjoying a city that it's not more fun than Auckland but where at least I can cycle to work, enjoy surfing 100m from my home (affordable rent) and have the perfect balanced lifestyle. People are great here.
The problem is that there are not that many skilled jobs outside Auckland/Wellington. I just hope more and more businesses move to the provinces so i never have to go back to Auckland :)
No wonder why you're happy in Tauranga! It's a great place to live.

If you like the feel of Tauranga but missing the beats of big city, try the Gold Coast.  You can still bike to work, surf 100m from your home, full of night clubs, shops (and boogans).  
Gold Coast is like Tauranga only 20 times bigger!

Thank you. Hopefully soon I'll pay a visit :) 
But i heard there are also more sharks!

I couldn't disagree more to be honest. I find Auckland far from souless. There are great restaurants, bars, clubs, there's good shopping, a great zoo, a beautiful art gallery, fantastic public shared spaces and a stunning harbour. Not to mention beautiful homes with beautiful gardens which I'd kill for if I could afford it. I'll give you the traffic issue and the cost but cities in New Zealand are not boring for young traveled people in the slightest.

Certainly there must be many people who likes Auckland. Otherwise I cannot explain how could anybody spend more than 7 times a median household income in a hutt 20kms far from their workplace. (Well, there is the speculation factor..) or how could anybody dream with a bank allowing them to "afford" an overpriced asset in a city where if you don't have a car you cannot live a normal city life.

Yes, there are some good restaurants. But any big city have good restaurants. About clubs I cannot agree, sorry. Overpriced nightlife and quite dodgy (am I the only one who finds walking in CBD unsafe after midnight?). About shopping I cannot understand what's so good in Auckland. Anybody who has been to Asia, Europe, USA or UK would disagree with you.

But it's just my opinion. I don't mean offense to anyone. It's just fun to criticise the big city ;)

PS: Weather in Auckland is not bad :p

Shopping? Aren't Westfield malls all over the country? 
Methinks a few deprived Aucklanders need to get outdoors a litte more often, if they can get to them in the traffic jam, that is

BTW, using someone elses "staff discount" (aka "sweethearting") is considered theft as an employee, and can result in instant dismissal, as well as a pretty nasty mark on their future employment record.

You're right I should have clarified. We're wanting to build a fence on the boundary between her property and our own, she's suggested she buys the wood etc, we contribute and we share the labour of the build. Nothing dodgy I promise :)

...........honey moon period.... next stop 'neighbours at war'.