Sunday, September 16, 2012

To live in Auckland can mean you are 'poor.'

I know, that is a very strange or confusing title to my blog. I need to explain my statement. I am of course talking about the high cost of living in Auckland. Take housing for example. The housing market is such that even a cool half million doesn’t buy much anymore, unless one goes to the extremities of the city, namely south or west. For those wishing to purchase anywhere within the central or near city suburbs, you will be looking at 600,000 plus and then some.
Imagine a young couple (or God forbid a single income family) trying to raise a mortgage (without help from Mummy and Daddy) to get a foot into the market. One would need a combined income of well over 100.000 and even then the prospect would be for a very long term mortgage.
OK---buying is too expensive, so maybe renting and hoping to save. That’s a trap too. Rentals in central are way too high. You can expect to pay upwards of 600 per week for anything decent.
So what to do: Buy or rent in the outer suburbs and then face expensive traveling costs if you work in town. Either way you’re stuffed.
Back to my opening statement: Unless you are prepared to live in the outer suburbs and live not too far from work, then after meeting your housing and transport needs, you will have little discretionary income. Auckland is a poverty trap. Most Aucklanders have little or anything left over after their housing and transport needs are met and I won’t even talk about those on benefits of any sort.
 The fact is that despite the flash looking suburbs and cool cars that some people manage to own (or the bank does); life is not easy for those in the queen city. What the can they do if they want a better life?
Move to the secondary cities and provinces. Havant we heard that before under the guise of ‘Regional Development?’ Successive Governments have tired that on us at election times and then conveniently forgotten or moved it to the back-burner.
They should not have. We need our smaller cities and towns to be lively and successful. We don’t need a third (and growing) of our population living in one centre. Surely if we were a little more evenly spread, more NZers would benefit and have better lifestyles. We have to think about developing our provinces in new ways. It may take some government intervention to start the process off.
Imagine cities like New Plymouth having about 100,000 and the smaller Taranaki towns adding a few thousand, The province as a whole would be more vibrant and less young people would need to move to the ‘ big smokes’ to find work and entertainment.
Mirror that process throughout NZ and create jobs. Firms may need encouragement/incentive to move. New immigrants could be persuaded through a range of tactics to experiment with living in the smaller centres. We would all gain form that rich cultural exchange.
Yes, we have ‘talked’ about this issue in the last, but have we really embraced it as a policy? I am not saying that we should make Auckland smaller but I am saying that it does not need to grow at the expense of the rest of NZ.
Let’s get our collective heads around this issue and come up with some answers. Think of the advantages of a rail system and public transport system that can only benefit from healthy provincial centres. I am not saying that we should go back to the last--- I’m saying we should go back to the future.