Let's live on... Waiheke Island
At just a hop, skip and jump from downtown Auckland, Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf is an ever popular spot for tourists, and there is always a celebrity or two choppering in to have lunch at either Mudbrick, Stoneyridge or Te Whau.
Waiheke is also drier and a few degrees warmer than Auckland, due to being sheltered from the prevailing southwest wind, so it is probably the closest New Zealand comes to having its own tropical island.
Why should I move there?
With its safe, white sand beaches and plethora of vineyards, it is an appealing place to live full time, and, while over recent years it has been seen as the go-to place for the 'rich and famous', there is still a really great community feel with plenty going on - you just need to get in amongst it.
Downtown Auckland is only a 35 minute boat ride away, and when it comes to commuting, you'll probably make it to the office a lot quicker than your outer-city-suburb-dwelling colleagues, minus the road rage. Not to mention the opportunity to read the paper and have some breakfast with the time that the ferry ride affords you.
Why it's not for everyone
If you are one of those people who are notoriously late for things, living your life by a boat timetable might not be the best move. With the last ferry leaving the city at 11:45pm and the first one in the morning not until 6am during the week, (later on weekends) this can prove a little difficult for shift workers, or those who frequent concerts and clubs.
What's the transport like?
The buses work around all the boat timetables and the routes are pretty good around the Western end of the Island (the most populated part) but Onetangi is the furthest they go, so if you live out the 'bottom end' then a car is required. The passenger ferry operates every hour through most of the day and the vehicular ferry (from Half Moon Bay) has frequent daily sailings.
There are two primary schools, and a high school that includes intermediate.
There is pretty much everything you need on the Island to survive, from a supermarket, to building suppliers and clothing stores. However don't expect to see any well-known big brand retailers over there, you'll have to come to the city for that - but that's what the residents tend to love about the place. Every Saturday there is the Ostend Market, which sees people selling their crafty art and secondhand wares, as well as some delicious food stalls with some locally made/grown/tended-to produce.
Where to eat out
Mudbrick, Stoneyridge, Casita Miro, Te Whau... there is no shortage of fantastic places to eat out. For a more casual meal there are plenty of takeaway and cheap eat spots, including Indian, Chinese, Italian and the Kiwi fish and chips - the latter is to be taken down to the beach of course.
Waiheke has good recreational facilities, with much of the community involved in some sort of sport, ranging from rugby to netball, soccer, golf and league. Some teams visit Auckland on a regular basis, as well as hosting city teams on the Island.
Property prices range from one end of the scale to the other on Waiheke, especially when views are concerned; basically the more of the sea you can see, the less of your money there will be. But you can still buy a section for under $250,000. However if money is no object, you are most welcome to purchase this Julian Guthrie-designed home for $7.5million.
There are still quite a few classic beach baches around the place that can be snapped up for less than $500k, but this beautifully renovated home has all the hard work already done and is on the market for $650,000.
From John Hawkesby to Graham Henry and everybody's mate Peter Leitch - there are plenty of well-known names that call Waiheke home.
Whats my view?
As someone who lived on Waiheke for 20 years, and still regularly visit family, I have seen a lot of changes - some good and some bad. But like anywhere, it's what you make of it. Being able to easily visit the beach straight after work, especially for a dip in the summer, is such a treat, although I do worry about how busy it is during the holiday season - it does make it a lot less enjoyable when all the things you love about the Island are so difficult to access.