Palmerston North's 'affordable lifestyle' needs to be promoted - mayor
Palmerston North is not doing enough to sell itself as an affordable alternative to the impenetrable Auckland housing market, its mayor says.
Grant Smith says while Auckland house prices rise over $1 million, Palmerston North is a more affordable option.
The average house price in Palmerston North was $335,136 as of October, up from $297,253 in October last year. By comparison, the average house price in Auckland city was $1,209,199.
Smith said the city needed to push the message that Palmerston North and Manawatu were desirable places to live.
"This is a card I don't believe the city plays as well as it could."
Smith said the city offered affordable housing, an easy lifestyle, jobs and a central location.
"We should not underestimate the power of the affordable lifestyle."
He raised the issue during a speech to the Milson Rotary Club this week.
He claimed Palmerston North had more jobs than neighbouring regions Hawke's Bay and Taranaki.
Palmerston North was close to both coasts of the country, as well as to Wellington.
"We offer affordable homes, we're in the centre of one million people, you can get to where you want to go."
Massey University senior property lecturer Dr Susan Flint-Hartle said the ability to enter the property market was fundamental in New Zealand.
"But unfortunately it's become extremely difficult in Auckland with median house prices around $800,000.
"We also see Wellington prices beginning to rise and with this kind of phenomenon in main urban centres it's not surprising that first home buyers are considering making their lives in regional areas."
Flint-Hartle said that across the board regional areas were benefiting from high prices in the country's biggest cities.
"Why wouldn't you want to escape the traffic and have less debt exposure. It makes sense to me.
"I'm an Aucklander and I've been here for years but if I was starting out I'd be looking seriously to making my life and career out of the city in one of NZ's lovely regions."
Flint-Hartle said Smith's comments seemed to be a "sound statement from a mayor who has the interests of the city at heart".