With over 200 neighbourhoods in just about every price range, deciding where to live in Auckland can be a bit of a challenge.
Where you live may determine much about the type of life you will lead in Auckland. For starters, there is a cost. The city ranks #62 on the list of the world’s most expensive cities to live in. Areas of Auckland, particularly those near coveted beach areas and the city centre, are extremely expensive with house prices reaching into the multi-millions, however, in other areas, a nice house with a view can be purchased for $350,000. You may also find an extremely inexpensive street right next to a street with some extravagantly high-cost houses. That said, if you find one particular house or street is out of your price range in a neighbourhood you like, don’t give up; make sure you take a good look around at all the other streets in the area and even slightly outside the area.
Greater Auckland is divided into five major districts. Central Auckland, the area surrounding the city center, boasts much of the most expensive real estate in New Zealand, although there are areas that remain affordable. Across the Harbour Bridge is the North Shore – a beach-centered area that also boasts its share of pricey enclaves, but also many family and starter-friendly suburbs. South, West and East Auckland each have their own unique character, and all offer more affordable options than the city centre.
Of course, price and proximity aren’t the only things to consider when choosing a neighbourhood. In Auckland, you can live in any environment and style of house you choose ranging from an ornate, 19th-century villa on an elegant, tree-lined street to a modern, cliff-top mansion at the beach, a big-city apartment overlooking twinkling lights to a modest state house close to shops and schools. You can even live on a farm in the country or on a small island a brief ferry or private boat ride from the city centre.
Once you decide which area is right for you, the difficulty of finding a home will depend on where you want to be. Larger, more populated areas tend to have more properties for sale and a wide range of available rentals, while homes may be more tightly-held in smaller neighbourhoods. Far more New Zealanders choose to buy their homes rather than rent, so it can be difficult to find rentals in outlying suburbs, although there are numerous options in and around the central city.
During the recession of 2009, housing prices fell slightly, but Auckland has remained fairly stable with some small increases during 2010. Rental properties are becoming increasingly difficult to find with rents increasing and landlords being very choosy about who they choose to reside in their property. A recent NZ Herald article claims that rental properties have reached a crisis point. People are recommended to treat finding a rental in much the same way as finding a job.
If you plan to move to Auckland, the book “Where to Live in Auckland” is a lifesaver. It provides in-depth profiles of all of Auckland’s neighbourhoods, including details on prices, schools, shopping, commute times and more. The book is available at http://www.wheretoliveinauckland.co.nz and costs NZ $35.51 (plus tax) – the best $40 or so dollars you will ever spend.
Over the past few years, there has been a slowly building backlash against real estate agents who charge a 4% or more commission to sell a house, in addition to charging for advertising and various other fees. A lot of owners are now selling privately. This means that you can often find a house for much less than you would if buying it via an agent as the vendor will be saving themselves tens of thousands of dollars by selling privately. It is well worth checking TradeMe and various other for-sale-by-owner sites to find private sale listings.