Dunedin is the best NZ city to live in - just

Affordable housing, civic pride, and a strong sense of safety seem to be behind the good results for Dunedin.
PETER MEECHAM/FAIRFAX NZ

Affordable housing, civic pride, and a strong sense of safety seem to be behind the good results for Dunedin.

 Dunedin has pipped Wellington to become the best city in New Zealand to live in, according to a new survey.

Affordable housing, civic pride, and a strong sense of safety seem to be behind the good results for Dunedin in the biennial Quality of Life Survey.

Those in Dunedin were also more likely to be physically active and less likely to be stressed than their urban counterparts.

Fully 88 per cent of Dunedinites said they had a good or excellent quality of life, compared to 81 per cent of the total.

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The study questioned 7155 Kiwis across seven urban areas and two wider regions. Quality of life in general was relatively steady across the two previous surveys in 2014 and 2012.

Wellington came out in top in 2014, but were beaten by Dunedin in 2016's results, coming in second with 87 per cent of residents happy with their lives.

But while capital-dwellers found their housing to be less affordable, they led the pack in city safety and were close to the front in civic pride.

Auckland and Christchurch lagged the pack, with 79 and 78 per cent of residents saying they were happy with their lives.

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HOUSING WOES

While four in five urban Kiwis say they have a good quality of life, less than half consider their housing situation to be affordable.

Housing was one of the main reasons cited by people who said they had a poor quality of life, along with financial anxiety, poor health, and bad job prospects.

Unsurprisingly, Aucklanders were the worst hit, with just 41 per cent considering their housing situation affordable, less than the 42 per cent who said it was unaffordable. Those in Dunedin were the most likely to find their housing situation affordable, at 69 per cent.

Despite these housing issues life satisfaction remained quite high. Research leader David Stuart of the Wellington City Council was somewhat surprised by this.

"It's a bit of a surprise that you can be facing pressure in one area in your life but still have other things that are working really well for you," Stuart said.

"Housing is a driver of quality of life, but the strongest driver was a category of responses that would fit more into emotional and physical health."

The survey used a random sample of those enrolled to vote, so could miss out those in severe housing duress. It was post-weighted to be representative of New Zealand's demographics.

STRESS AND SAFETY

About one in five Christchurch residents said they were stressed "always" or "most of the time". The least stressed city was the Hutt or Dunedin, where 35 per cent of respondents said they were "rarely" or "never" stressed.

More than two thirds (67 per cent) said dangerous driving was a problem in their area. This was the biggest safety issue identified, particularly for respondents in Christchurch and Hamilton. The least cited issue was "people begging in the street," which just 45 per cent of perceived of as a problem in their area.

Just four in 10 respondents felt safe in their city centre after dark. In Christchurch and Hamilton more than 60 per cent of respondents felt unsafe there after dark, with 23 per cent of Hamilton respondents saying they felt "very unsafe". Residents of Wellington were the most likely to feel safe in the CBD after dark, with 65 per cent feeling "fairly safe" or "very safe".

"It's interesting that Wellington is perceived as the most safe, because intuitively you assume the bigger the city is the less safe it is," Stuart said.

Wellingtonians were also the most welcoming to outsiders. About three quarters of the capital's respondents said that New Zealand becoming home for people with different lifestyles and cultures made their city a better place to live in. Aucklanders were the least welcoming, with just over half (52 per cent) saying diversity was a net positive and one in five saying it was a net negative.

 - Stuff

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