A cheap house, at what cost?
How can we get more Kiwis into homes?
Every time I read an article and the comments on the housing problem, my heart sinks for New Zealand.
Once a nation of everyone giving each other a hand up, it now seems a race to the top whilst kicking those at the bottom.
Every time a first home buyer comments about not being able to afford a house in Auckland, I feel the collective wave of baby boomers booting up their computers to make sure they can comment "It's generation I want it now! That's your problem", "I saved $5k but paid 95 per cent interest on my mortgage in 1967" and my favourite "You should go by a house in Otara, plenty of cheap housing there".
The last comment is the one I'd like to address.
My wife and I had the ability to buy straight into Mt Eden. The bank threw money at us, but my conservative nature said to take the cheaper option..
So we purchased a house in South Auckland in the cheaper areas, Takanini, and what a mistake.
1. The Housing New Zealand houses around us were filled with those who gave no hoot about the community around them. Parties till 5am, broken bottles and fence posts were common most Thursday to Sunday mornings.
Calls to Housing NZ were met with polite apologies and promises of action. Only after the 15th call, an email to the head of Housing NZ, local MPs and the media did we get any substantial action. Not that it really changed much, the parties only happened twice a week rather than four times.
2. The private rentals on the other side of the fence were owned by absentee landlords so no amount of complaining could stop the rubbish piling up, the dogs barking or the bass music coming out of the garage at 5am. As long as they paid the rent, they were happy.
Then we also had to contend with the fights in the park across the road on a weekly occurrence, being robbed twice, the tagging on the fences and the general disorderly behaviour.
After 18 months of living the "Kiwi dream", having my work and relationship suffer, we have sold, and not a moment too late with Black Power members moving in across the road.
So the next time you think to write that there are plenty of houses for under $400K in South Auckland, go and actually look at the areas they are in because every house I have seen currently on TradeMe in that price range is in an area exactly like the one I am moving from. Would you want your grandchildren being raised in an area like that?
Something needs to be done to help middle to lower income workers get into housing; it provides a base to feel stable which in turn helps to nurture families and communities.
I'm not against people being able to own rentals properties, whether they be local or foreign citizens.
I'm not sure what the solution is but as a country we need to find a balance between helping young families get that stable base, not eroding retirement savings and capital gains of those who have enjoyed the property wave.
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