In case you didn't know, today is the fifth day of "money week", with the theme Get Your Money Fighting Fit. I have no idea how to get my money to ‘fight fit', let alone what it means. All I know is it's easier to save money in Christchurch than any other place I've lived.
I realised this on a recent trip to Auckland with friends. Our taxi driver must have thought we were from some backwater village the way we all chattered excitedly heading into town. Skyscrapers! Shops! Restaurants serving food from all over the world! People everywhere!
We joked that if we ever saw that many people out in Christchurch's streets on a Sunday night, we would think there was a zombie apocalypse.
At first I loved it. I had been missing the excitement of being in a big city. But after a day there, I decided I was better off living in Christchurch.
Even with rents and house prices rising, it is still cheaper to live here than in Wellington or Auckland. I went a week without spending a couple of months ago and have reduced my expenses since then. It's all in everyday habits like bringing your lunch to work, skipping the daily stop at the cafe and avoiding shops. There's only one cafe and two lunch options (a sandwich or a rice ball) I like near my office - not a huge sacrifice. When I need to buy new clothes, I have to go to the mall and that is not pleasant. If I wanted the life sucked out of me, I'd rather move to Transylvania and find a sexy vampire.
Having friends around for dinner rather than going out is increasingly popular worldwide - there are even reality TV shows about it. But it's probably more ingrained in Cantabrians, because for people living here, there was a while where going out for dinner and drinks was barely an option.
In Auckland, temptations to spend money await you at every street corner. Without money, it would be hard to enjoy a stay there.
In a way, Christchurch gives us a look at what city centres might be like if people were less inclined to go shopping and eat out so often. If you take a walk in Christchurch's CBD at the moment, you're more likely to have your thoughts interrupted by street art or a randomly placed minigolf course than by a poster shouting that you could save 20 per cent on something you don't want anyway. I enjoy the reduced commercial noise.
As the city is rebuilt, I hope it won't be all shops and fancy bars and restaurants. I hope we'll save space for community projects like the vege gardens and the DanceO'Mat. Spaces you can enjoy without having to spend money.
- The Press