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Auckland, NZ Thread - Is it a good place to live?

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Auckland, NZ Thread - Is it a good place to live?

Help me evaluate a property opportunity

=====================================================

 

This weekend, I came across an interesting investment opportunity in Auckland, NZ's largest city with a population of about 1.4 million people. Given the diversity of locations that people on GEI come from I thought I could ask whether Auckland is a good place to live.

 

I may also collect so info here on this thread to help me evaluate the opportunity. Please add anything relevant. Later I may say more about specifics. But maybe this thread will help others evaluate opportunities that they may see too.

 

One of the first things I discovered was that Auckland is considered the 4th or 5th Best place to live Globally, by Forbes magazine.

 

Property prices in Auckland are higher than NZ average

 

Median-house-prices.gif

/source: http://www.knowledgeauckland.org.nz/knowledgeAuckland/index.cfm?50CAA2C0-14C2-3D2D-B933-1C40A84C5ACE

 

CO-NZP-F06-1.gif

/source: http://www.globalpropertyguide.com/Pacific/New-Zealand/Price-History

 

I also started a thread about the Top 10: http://www.greenenergyinvestors.com/index.php?showtopic=14947

(where Auckland tied for No.4 with Vancouver.)

 

== == ==

LINKS:

Data Sources :: http://www.knowledgeauckland.org.nz/home/data/data_home.cfm

Sea level--- :: http://globalfloodmap.org/

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New Zealand Average Hourly Earnings

 

September 2010

Earnings

Classification : Average Hourly Earnings

Public sector- : $32.61

Private sector : $23.72

Males --------- : $27.26 x (38.0 + 1.1) = $1,069 / week x 52 = $55,588

Females------- : $23.93 x (35.9 + 0.4) = $0,868 / week x 52 = $45,136

================

All NZ Employees $25.71

 

The average NZ male employee works 38.0 hours per week with an additional 1.1 hours paid overtime to earn $1,069 per week.

The average NZ female employee works 35.9 hours per week with an additional 0.4 hours paid overtime to earn $868 per week.

 

/source : http://www.emigratenz.org/Work.html

 

== == ==

LINKS:

Emigrate NZ :: http://www.emigratenz.org/investing.html

Rent vs Buy :: http://www.globalpropertyguide.com/Pacific/New-Zealand/Price-History

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Housing - Average House Price

 

New Zealand proudly boasts one of the highest home ownership rates in the world. Housing in New Zealand is very affordable compared to numerous other countries however the amount you should expect to pay for a house depends where in New Zealand you choose to settle.

 

Migrants to New Zealand considering living in Auckland may discover that the average house price is approximately NZ$339,000 however another new immigrant who is thinking of purchasing a property in Southland may discover the average price is only approximately NZ $125,500.

 

The New Zealand housing lifestyle is diverse ranging from urban old style villa homes to new suburban townhouses and the increasing trend of inner city apartment living. Most people who buy or build their own home borrow some money from their bank - this is referred to as a mortgage. Some New Zealand banks may let you borrow up to 95% of the valuation price of a property, however this depends on the individual banks’ criteria, your credit history, amount you can afford for mortgage repayments and how much deposit you have.

 

/source: http://www.nz-immigration.co.nz/cost-of-living/housing.html

== == ==

 

Wednesday 8th June 2011

NATIONWIDE PROPERTY VALUES REMAIN FLAT

 

The QV residential property indices show that nationwide values have remained flat in May.

 

“Nationwide property values have now remained steady for the past six months, after having declined in the six months prior to that. Values are now 1.6 percent lower than the same time last year, and 5.7 percent below the market peak of late 2007” said Glenda Whitehead of QV Valuations.

 

“While values remain static at a nationwide level, there continue to be differences between regions, with Auckland and Wellington showing contrasting trends” said Ms Whitehead.

 

“Values in the Auckland area have moved within a narrow range since the beginning of 2009. In the past few months they have begun to edge upwards and are currently 1.2 percent above January, 0.3 percent above the same time last year, and only 1.8 percent below the market peak of late 2007” said Ms Whitehead.

 

PropertyValueMap_NZMap.jpg : Auckland $528,334 : +0.3% / Wellington $467,254 -3.6%

 

/more: http://www.qv.co.nz/onlinereports/propertyvaluemap.htm

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RENTS

Auckland North Weekly Rent For 2 Bedroom Houses - Unfurnished

Location

======= : One quarter of 2 bedroom houses rent for less than:

======= : === : Average (median) rent for a 2 bedroom house:

======= : === : ==== : One quarter of 2 bedroom houses rent for more than:

Albany---- : $320 : $360 : $392

Devonport : $365 : $455 : $490

Hillcrest :

/Northcote: $320 : $350 : $400

Rothesay /

Murrays /

Maira. Bays $325 : $362 : $405

Takapuna- : $370 : $400 : $445

Torbay----- : $350 : $355 : $380

Wairau Park

/Glenfield N $318 : $330 : $377

 

/source:

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MEDIAN HOUSE PRICE

 

== MEDIAN HOUSE PRICE (NZ$) -------- ANNUAL CHANGE (%)

Location---- : - 2007 : - 2008 : 9/2009 :: 2007 : 2008 : 9/2009

=======

Australia---- : 345,000 : 328,500 : 350,000 :: +4.5 : --4.8 : +6.1

Auckland---- : 460,000 : 440,000 : 462,500 :: +8.2 : --4.3 : +8.8

(as % of OZ ) = 133 % : = 134 % : = 132 % :

Wellington-- : 380,000 : 390,000 : 392,000 :: +0.1 : +2.6 : +9.8

Christchurch : 336,000 : 310,000 : 331,000 :: +6.2 : --7.7 : +6.0

Other...

North Island : 310,000 : 289,500 : 295,000 :: +7.2 : --6.6 : +0.0

South Island : 277,500 : 255,000 : 270,000 :: 12.1 : --8.1 : +3.4

 

/more: http://www.globalpropertyguide.com/Pacific/New-Zealand/Price-History

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AVERAGE HOUSE SIZES - compared

U.S.A.

house_sizes.jpg

/US : http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/the-righteous-small-house-challenging-house-size-and-the-irresponsible-american-dream

 

“Home buyers have been changing,” says Fran Litton, a planner with Evans Group, an architectural firm in Orlando, Fla. “They still want the luxury and toys, but they’re putting them into a smaller space.”

 

Although the average square footage of a new house is still double what it was in 1960, in the last year, it decreased slightly to 2,215 square feet from a high of 2,277 square feet in 2008, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. While the decrease doesn’t approach mid-20th century levels, it is the first drop in house size since the recession of the early 1980s.

/source: http://chicagoismynewblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/how-to-live-big-in-a-small-home-average-home-size-on-the-decline/

 

NZ vs OZ - back in 2004

200404271029572.gif

/source: http://www.infometrics.co.nz/top10/art1719.htm

 

NEWBUILDING SIZES (NZ and Aust. data are from 2003.4)

 

============ : - N.Z. : Austral.: U.S.A :

Ave. Home size : 176sm : 206sm : 213sm- : Square Meters

Ave. Home size : 1,878 - : 2,198 - : 2,277 - : SF (sm x 10.67)

 

Obviously, the average home size (old and new stock) is smaller than this.

And a NZ developer tells me that Ave. size of existing stock is up from 100 -120 SM

over the last 20 years.

 

more (coming ?)

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Best areas to live near Auckland?

 

Can anyone recommend a good quiet area to live near Auckland, with good schools and walking distance of good swimming beach... Looking for a 4/5 bedroom house around 700,000 NZD with a decent sized garden. Hubby needs to commute into Auckland CBD.

===================

 

(1)

Walking distance from a beach and an easy commute can cost well in excess of a milion dollars(Takapuna and Milford). However with the new busway ( http://www.maxx.co.nz ) you could look at the shores East coast bays( torbay, Browns Bay) but even then I'd say a 15 min walk to beach. Westlake boys is good, girls not so. Rangitioto college(co-ed) massive, very good reputation (lots of asian students very hard working and clever, ups the standards ) 2 private schools Kristin and Pinehurst,good, but not very good.

Have a look on trademe.co.nz for properties for sale, it often gives more prices than those on http://realestate.co.nz.

 

(2)

We've just been to Auckland for a recce. We spent an hour with a real estate agent in Parnell who helped us identify areas in Auckland that we could afford. I'd get in touch with someone in the business and pick their brains - it was incredibly useful and they are very helpful. Word of warning though, apparently many areas of North Shore are out of reach on your budget for a 3 bed family home. Good luck and let us know what you find

 

(3)

Oh and yes I love it up here in Orewa... has a beautiful beach, close to shops, 15 minutes drive into Albany shopping centre, or close to Whangaparaoa shopping centre is 5-10 minutes away. There is a bus direct into the city from up here too - it runs and picks up right down Hibiscus Coast Highway and the main pick-up is in Silverdale (park and ride) it's $10 single fare and takes about 30-45 minutes. I got my hubby to collect me from the city so I don't know the return fares but you can buy passes on the bus for about $85 for 10 rides (??) you can check those on www.maxx.co.nz though

 

/source: http://britishexpats.com/forum/showthread.php?t=522154

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Albany Village Apartments / Map

 

fader1_fader.jpg

 

An amazing hideaway within the central Albany Business Vicinity, on Aucklands North Shore.

 

Excellent 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, superior condition, modern spotless and spacious.

Take advantage of the modern attractions of bars, restaurants, shopping and stadium.

 

The corporate can relax after work amidst the tranquil native bush surroundings.

Perfect accommodation for families relocating.

 

/see VIDEO : http://www.albanyvillageapartments.co.nz/wawcs0139143/tn-Accommodation-Video.html

 

Another Albany Village photo - looks like a "walkable community" with too many cars

9594788.JPG

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Average House Price Eases Slightly In Active May Market

 

Friday, 3 June 2011 .. Barfoot and Thompson

 

Auckland house prices in May reversed a three-month trend of rising values.

 

"In May the average price of $529,284 was down 2.8 percent on April's average price and down 2.5 percent on May's average last year," said Peter Thompson, Managing Director of Barfoot & Thompson.

 

"It reverses a three-month trend where the average price for the month was higher than that for the preceding month.

 

"We sold 889 properties in May, a quarter more than we did in April, and 12.2 percent more than we did in May last year.

 

"This combination of rising sales and the average price easing demonstrates that prices are not starting to overheat.

 

"The major issue facing the Auckland market remains lack of choice for buyers.

 

"In May we listed 1169 new properties. While this was up 13.2 percent on new listings for April, it was down 15 percent on new listing in May last year.

 

"At the end of May we had only 5249 properties on our books, the lowest number for 20 months.

 

"A contributing factor to the decline in the average sales price was the relatively low number of million dollar plus sales that settled in May.

 

"In any given month 15 to 16 percent of our sales by volume would be valued in excess of a million dollars, but in May that number eased to 13.6%.

 

"Again it is lack of choice that is affecting this market segment as there are active buyers looking in this price bracket.

 

"Given the natural level of home turnover in a city the size of Auckland, it indicates that many home owners who are thinking of selling have adopted a wait and see policy until there are stronger signs that the economy is on the path to recovery.

 

"There is a good level of buyer interest, and people who are pricing their property right are achieving a sale."

 

Note to editors: Due to processing delays, data for rentals for May will be released later in the month.

 

/source: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1106/S00111/average-house-price-eases-slightly-in-active-may-market.htm

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There are nice areas to live. And not so nice areas to live.

 

The $339,000 NZD won't buy you much close in to Auckland. Certainly not in any nice area. The rents you are quoting look awfully light for anything decent.

 

If you can get Steve Netwriter to comment you might get some stats that make more sense.

 

Might pay to ask about the culture from immigrant's perspectives. I've lived in both NZ and Australia. Australia seems more optimistic as a whole. NZ a tad more on the pessimistic. Though that may be changing with time.

 

In general terms, I prefer living in Sydney. Though prices there are crazy for housing. Both the NZ and AU governments / central banks did all they could to prop up the housing market post 2008. With the end result that, in Auckland, Prices are still a little crazy. Possibly an immigration factor with the government opening up immigration to anyone with sufficiently bulging wallets.

 

Wellington has more culture but carries the risk that one day it will have a major earthquake. Prior to christchurch, everyone in NZ would pick Wellington as the most risky place earthquake wise.

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There are nice areas to live. And not so nice areas to live.

The $339,000 NZD won't buy you much close in to Auckland. Certainly not in any nice area. The rents you are quoting look awfully light for anything decent.

The place I am looking at is pretty small - a starter home really:

 

Three floors of about 42 Sq. Meters each, but the first floor is a garage, so only about 82 SM of living space.

 

Have you any idea of the Albany area? Is it good to live there?

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The General Economy matters

 

Property bubbles and food inflation

 

The US economy is showing encouraging signs of growth and unemployment is finally decreasing. The unemployment rate slipped to a two-year low of 8.8% from 8.9% in February4 and Payrolls rose by 216,000 workers last month after a 194,000 gain the prior month, consumer spending is increasing and manufacturing activity is growing at its fastest rate in seven years. By contrast, the housing market is coming off its worst year in more than a decade for sales of previously occupied homes and its worst in a half-century for sales of new homes. According to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index, home prices are still falling in major U.S. cities, and the average prices in four of them are at their lowest point in 11 years. Furthermore, analysts expect further prices declines in most cities in the coming months5.

 

In the meantime, China - another country dealing with a potentially devastating property bubble - raised interest rates for a fourth time in five months as Beijing struggles to reduce bank lending, rein in inflation and slow economic growth6. The central bank raised the deposit rate to 3.25 per cent and the lending rate to 6.31 per cent. Consumer price inflation in China rose 4.9 per cent in February from a year earlier, the same as in January, yet politically sensitive food prices accelerated and producer prices increased 7.2 per cent, their most since October 2008.

 

3. A little growth

 

Economic activity in New Zealand, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), was up 0.2 per cent in the December 2010 quarter , after a fall of 0.2 per cent in the September 2010 quarter7. This small increase is the result of a mixed picture across industries. A rebound in manufacturing activity this quarter has been mostly offset by falls in other parts of the economy.

. . .

Concluding Comments

 

Public deficit is over 9 per cent of GDP, yet despite this fiscal stimulus the economy is struggling on the verge of a new recession. The Government has already announced that cuts are on their way. The opposition claims cutting public spending could instead push the country deeper into recession.

 

The current terms of trade provide a good short term opportunity to help the rebalancing of the economy, but as the economy relies almost exclusively on its primary sectors a structural diversification of the production and export base is needed in order to make the country less vulnerable and to achieve higher and more equitable social and economic development. To this end, increasing Auckland efficiency and attractiveness in a sustainable way is a key challenge for the whole nation.

 

The Christchurch earthquake has the potential to alter the national urban equilibrium and Auckland could well be the only available alternative to attract those human and capital resources that would otherwise gravitate towards Australia.

 

/source: http://www.knowledgeauckland.org.nz/home/economic/economic-and-labour-market-update.cfm

 

QUESTION : Is Auckland truly on the "ring of Fire" ?

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Some Effects on NZ of the Sea Level Rising 14m

 

February 27th, 2009 | by noel |

Recent scientific research makes it plain that ocean levels are rising and that they will continue to rise at an ever-increasing rate.

 

Some estimates suggest that that we are looking at a 100m rise within 100-200 years.

 

But this post is not about a 100m rise. It deals with a rise of just 14m.

 

Personally I think there is less than a 50% chance of the sea level rising 14m by 2050, but I am certain that the sea level will rise at least 14m by 2100. (For reasons why, see Rising Sea Levels.)

 

As you will read below, a 14m rise in sea levels is catastrophic – even without considering related issues like ocean acidification due to increasing levels of carbon dioxide.

 

(Click on each highlighted place name to see what is under water after a sea level rise of 14m).

 

NORTH ISLAND

 

Kaitaia-Northland – Kaitaia is the shoreline. Main road to the Far North is under water. It is quite possible that the Far North becomes an island.

 

Whangarei-Dargaville – Dargaville – under water. Most of downtown Whangarei and Port Whangarei, under water. Marsden Point Refinery, under water. Highway 14, under water.

 

Helensville-Omaha – Helensville, under water. Omaha under water. Much of Orewa under water. SH1 and SH16 under water in places.

 

Auckland-South Auckland – North Western Motorway, under water. Approaches to Auckland Harbour Bridge, under water. North Western Motorway, under water. Ports of Auckland, under water. Southern Motorway, under water in several places. Otahuhu, under water. South Western Motorway, under water. Auckland Airport, under water. Clevedon, under water. Glenbrook Steel Mill, under water.

. . .

The only question is how fast the oceans will rise.

 

So, our policies and coping strategies must assume the worst, while we hope for the best.

 

Bottom line:

 

The NZ Government should only invest in infrastructure that is 100m (or higher) above sea level. (This may be impractical in the short term, but it is a starting point for long term policy).

 

/source: http://www.remarkable.co.nz/wordpress/global-warming/rising-sea-levels-14m-nz/

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QUESTION : Is Auckland truly on the "ring of Fire" ?

THe Historical evidence...

 

Auckland Volcanoes

We go on the Auckland Ring of Fire tour.

 

We visit, climb, experience and photograph some of Auckland's landmark extinct volcanoes and in the process learn about Auckland's History and Maori Heritage.

 

Photo Opportunities:

volcanoes_1.jpg

A one on one encounter with extinct volcanoes in a city surroundings.

. . .

Our first destination is Mt Eden, one of the most popular, as the views from the summit are breathtaking! We go around the crater on a 360 degree view tour of Auckland down below. From the summit we look for other volcanoes and identify as many as we can.

 

Next we head to Mangere Mountain. This is a Maori Heritage site so we dip in History before heading on foot to the summit. Its a pleasant 1 1/2 to 2 hours leisurely walk with fantastic views towards Auckland City, the Manukau Harbour and the depths of the crater.

 

One Tree Hill is next . We leave our vehicle just below the summit and continue on foot so we can appreciate the craters, views and gorgeous surroundings.

 

One Tree Hill can be our final destination for the day or, depending on the time of the year, the weather and light conditions we may still go to Mt Hobson to enjoy the views of the Waitemata Harbour and Rangitoto Island as the sun sets. Alternatively we may just enjoy an ice cream and a short stroll through Cornwall Park before heading back to town.

 

The Auckland Volcanic field comprises about 50 volcanoes.

 

/more: http://www.zoomonnz.com/tour_pages/auckl_volcanoes.html

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The place I am looking at is pretty small - a starter home really:

 

Three floors of about 42 Sq. Meters each, but the first floor is a garage, so only about 82 SM of living space.

 

Have you any idea of the Albany area? Is it good to live there?

 

I don't know about Albany.

 

Maybe trawl through the property talk New Zealand forums, And ask questions there.

 

Generally pro property but there are some knowledgable folk there. Frame the questions the right way and you are likely to be helped. (hmm. wonder if that falls into teaching your grandma how to suck eggs...)

 

http://www.propertytalk.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?14-New-Zealand

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I lived in Auckland for 10 years.

 

Albany is nice, but it's at the top of the Northern motorway.....getting towards the outskirts of the city, getting to the CBD on the motorway at rush hour is not the best. But you will get value for money.

 

There no trains on the North Shore...so the motorway over the harbour bridge is the only way to town. you will be a long way from the airport which is to the south.

 

With Auckand stay away from the Western and Southern Suburbs.

 

Western suburbs are full of 'Westies'....they wear black t-shirts and listen to heavey metal and drive V8 utes.....in Australia they are known as bogans.

 

The south has a high Maori and Pacific Island population....read, high crime rate, gangs etc

 

North and East are best.

 

If you are looking East check out Mission Bay and St Heliers...awesome, that would be my pick if I went back....but expensive, harbour views will come at a premium.

 

Hope this helps. You will not get a more scenic City than Auckland, with it's volcanos and harbour, the views are stunning, it does rain a lot, it's a very narrow part of the country, so it gets a lot of weather off the Tasman Sea. Winters can be cold and wet. Summers are nice..about 25 degrees C with is very pleasent.

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I lived in Auckland for 10 years.

 

Albany is nice, but it's at the top of the Northern motorway.....getting towards the outskirts of the city, getting to the CBD on the motorway at rush hour is not the best. But you will get value for money.

 

There no trains on the North Shore...so the motorway over the harbour bridge is the only way to town. you will be a long way from the airport which is to the south.

 

With Auckand stay away from the Western and Southern Suburbs.

 

Western suburbs are full of 'Westies'....they wear black t-shirts and listen to heavey metal and drive V8 utes.....in Australia they are known as bogans.

 

The south has a high Maori and Pacific Island population....read, high crime rate, gangs etc

 

North and East are best.

 

If you are looking East check out Mission Bay and St Heliers...awesome, that would be my pick if I went back....but expensive, harbour views will come at a premium.

 

Hope this helps. You will not get a more scenic City than Auckland, with it's volcanos and harbour, the views are stunning, it does rain a lot, it's a very narrow part of the country, so it gets a lot of weather off the Tasman Sea. Winters can be cold and wet. Summers are nice..about 25 degrees C with is very pleasent.

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With Auckand stay away from the Western and Southern Suburbs.

 

Western suburbs are full of 'Westies'....they wear black t-shirts and listen to heavey metal and drive V8 utes.....in Australia they are known as bogans.

 

The south has a high Maori and Pacific Island population....read, high crime rate, gangs etc

Those "Bogans*" sound pretty dangerous - and I recall an old film called,

,

and so it is good to know which end of town might be more desirable for foreigners wanting to live in Auckland.

 

I remain impressed that Auckland is in the top 5 "best to live" places in the world, and is also considered one of the "Top 10 cheapest". But I have to wonder how they do the calculations when the average house in NZ / Auckland-? is 176 SM (x10.76 = 1,894 SF) and costs NZ$529,000, or about NZ$3,006 per SM (NZ$279 x0.82 = US$229 psf.) That will buy you "plenty of house" in the USA.

 

"Nobody likes a Bogan" video:

 

- suggests this is part of the noxious global "car culture" which is destroying Westen civilisation, by giving these undesirables the ability to travel anywhere and spread their culture at will.

 

I saw something similar all around me when I was growing up in the Detroit suburbs, and as soon as I could I "high-tailed-it" for Boston, New York, and eventually London and Hong Kong.

 

I wonder if the Kiwis will ever discover New Urbanism.

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Bogans or Westies or Bevens are usually white Kiwis or Aussies.

 

Once were warriors movie is about the Maoris...set in South Auckland. Maoris are not usually associated with bogans, they are more into copying the US hip hop scene, but yes, can be violent, especially to their own children, there have been quite a few deaths of young maori children at the hands of their parents.

 

We don't have the gun culture down here like the US, thank god.

 

But yes, if you stick to the Northern or Eastern suburbs you won't run into any problems.

 

Pop down for a holiday and check it out.

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Pop down for a holiday and check it out.

I almost certainly will do so someday.

But I may need to travel to the US and Malaysia first.

 

I like the looks of what I can see from Google and Google maps, but nothing beats "boots on the ground."

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NEWBUILDING SIZES (NZ and Aust. data are from 2003.4)

 

============ : - N.Z. : Austral.: U.S.A :

Ave. Home size : 176sm : 206sm : 213sm- : Square Meters

Ave. Home size : 1,878 - : 2,198 - : 2,277 - : SF (sm x 10.67)

 

Obviously, the average home size (old and new stock) is smaller than this.

And a NZ developer tells me that Ave. size of existing stock is up from 100 -120 SM

over the last 20 years.

There are various conflicting sources for this data

 

... but larger homes sizes are not helping Energy efficiency ...

 

(1)

Size matters

 

Larger houses with fewer people means more energy use per person

 

Larger houses use more energy

The amount of energy required to heat a space is a function of the size of the space. Whilst newer houses in New Zealand are better insulated they are also much larger than they used to be. The average house size in the US doubled during the twentieth century and the situation is likely to be similar in New Zealand where, like the US, suburban development space hasn't been an issue. According to Infometrics the average new house size in New Zealand increased by 42% (from 140m2 to 195m2) in the 15 years from 1992 to 2007.

 

And New Zealand has larger houses than the US

According to market analysts Euromonitor, New Zealand has the second largest houses of all the countries they surveyed. In New Zealand 74% of houses have five rooms or more, slightly behind Canada (75%) but ahead of the US (73%), UK (72%), Australia (70%) and all the European countries. In Finland only 14% of houses have five rooms or more.

 

Less people per house

The amount of energy used in a house is also a function of the number of people who live in it. There are now fewer people living in New Zealand houses than ever before. The average household size in New Zealand decreased from 2.8 people in 1981 to 2.4 people in 2006. It is projected to decrease still further to 2.3 in 2021.

 

There are a number of reason's why average household size has decreased and continues to do so. There was a trend throughout the twentieth century towards more nuclear families and less extended families. Also people live longer now on average and there has been an increase in the number of widows and widowers living alone.

 

The larger the house the more embodied energy it has too. Embodied energy is the energy that was required to build the house including the manufacture of all construction materials, components, fixtures and fittings.

 

Fewer people living in bigger houses means that the average energy use per person goes up.

 

/source: http://www.econation.co.nz/blogs/econation-blog/2009/05/25/size-matters

 

 

(2)

Despite recent dips in price, houses are horribly out of reach for many would-be homeowners.

So why are new homes still getting bigger and more expensive? Adam Dudding reports.

 

IN THE South Auckland suburb of Mangere Bridge, there's a family of six squished into a two-bedroom house – but don't shed a tear for them. Michael O'Sullivan, his partner Melissa Schollum and their four young children are perfectly happy with the living space that O'Sullivan, a partner in Auckland architect firm Bull/O'Sullivan, designed and built.

 

The four young children share a bedroom (which inevitably has bunks), the parents get the other, and they all enjoy the intricately finished wood surfaces and strokeably beautiful custom-made fittings in the light-filled kitchen and living room.

 

This 112m2 house, which O'Sullivan completed in 2008 with materials that cost $152,000 (though that's not counting the many hours he and friends put into actually building it), is more than ample for his family, he says, although that will change as the kids grow.

 

"In five years' time it'll be different – but now it's lovely."

 

Yet O'Sullivan's demonstration that small can be beautiful, even for a family home, has him swimming firmly against the tide. Over the past half-century, New Zealanders' expectations for their house have ballooned – we are addicted to our square metres, and each decade our appetite grows.

 

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In 1976, the average new house in New Zealand had a floor area of 121m2 – by 1986 it was 134m2, by 1996 175m2 and by 2006 209m2. Never mind the fact that the average household size is predicted to fall to 2.4 people by 2031 – we want more and more rooms for fewer and fewer people.

 

Yet at the same time that we're building houses bigger, our ability to actually buy them is going down the ensuite toilet.

 

In 1949, the average house cost 2.1 times the average annual salary and by 1989 that ratio was around 4.2. By last year, the figure was an eye-watering 8.37. In simple terms this tells you what any person in their 20s with a hankering to buy a house in a major New Zealand city already knows: they're quite simply unaffordable unless you've got helpful parents, a ridiculously well-paid job, or a willingness to live a very long way from where you work.

. . .

Camenzind says the four and five-bedroom properties that now dominate the new-house market may be enough to satisfy the Kiwi appetite for size and that the growth may, in fact, be peaking. After all, how much more space do we need? "Houses have now got the extra room for office or spare bedroom, they've got the family room, the two living spaces; the double garage with internal access; the automatic garage doors and the heated towel rails."

 

He believes eventually something will give on the affordability front. The yearning of young buyers to get on the housing ladder will drive us to build more cheaper houses – "and we might have more of a range for all market segments, including first-time buyers".

 

If that means a little more restraint in how we use space, that would suit Michael O'Sullivan. Four kids to a bedroom in his Mangere Bridge home is about the limit, he reckons, and he'd certainly consider building on a bit more space if it becomes necessary. But he still scratches his head at developers "who build disproportionately large houses and market them as being an acceptable way of life in today's society". He believes Stonefields is "appalling" and would rather see a focus on intensive housing alongside communal land, given that "the romantic ideal of the pivoting swinging clothes line in the back lawn is a memory that's fast fading".

. . .

Even with the scrimping and two good fulltime jobs earning more than $60,000 each, modest student loan debts and no children, Kate reckons she and her partner would have had little hope without a $35,000 leg-up from parents and an inheritance to help with the $50,000 deposit they hope to have ready by March. They will be looking at properties around the $350,000 mark – enough to get a small two-bedroom place with a bit of a garden in a relatively cheap suburb such as Avondale. They calculate the mortgage payments shouldn't be too far off the $400-a-week they currently pay for a small unit in Mt Albert. Kate says that until recently she's avoided even thinking about house-buying as it all seemed too hard.

 

/more: http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/4045718/The-supersized-homes-puzzle

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