We earned 40 per cent less than we do now, house prices were five times the average wage, and England won the Rugby World Cup.
But most people believe they were better off in 2003 than they are now, according to the latest Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll.
The poll asked 1000 voters for their views on life now, compared with 10 years ago. More than half (54.1 per cent) say New Zealand is not a better place to live than in 2003. Almost 12 per cent were undecided or couldn't say.
The global financial crisis and subsequent economic downturn appear to have affected many respondents' outlook on life.
Negativity rose sharply among those actively looking for employment (58.2 per cent) or not in paid employment (62.4 per cent). Respondents earning more than $200,000 were more satisfied: 51.9 per cent believe New Zealand is a better place in 2013. This figure dipped to 26.7 per cent among those earning less than $50,000.
Women were much more negative, with 57.6 per cent preferring life in 2003, compared with 50.4 per cent of men.
Age was also a influence: 58.3 per cent of over-65s were happier 10 years ago, dropping to 43 per cent of under-30s.
NZ First voters were most dissatisfied (almost 80 per cent believed life was better in 2003), while National supporters were at the other end of the scale.
Almost 60 per cent of Labour voters preferred 2003 - when their party was in government, led by prime minister Helen Clark.
Back then, the average wage was $34,600, compared with today's $48,500. However, the cost of living has risen considerably over the decade. Milk costs 11 per cent more, a loaf of bread is up by 34 per cent.
Treating yourself was also a lot cheaper in 2003: the cost of a portion of fish and chips has risen by more than 44 per cent, and a glass of beer by almost three-quarters. The cost of fuel has soared by 16.7 per cent.
In 2003, the median house price was five times annual earnings. Now it is almost eight times the average salary.
Labour leader David Shearer was living in Jerusalem, as head of the UN's Humanitarian Office. He returned in 2009 because he believed New Zealand offered children a good upbringing.
"That's still the case," he says. "The issue is once they grow up. What are the opportunities for jobs, or getting into your own house?
"I'm always optimistic for the country [but] . . . wages haven't moved very much in the last four or five years. People's jobs are very uncertain, they are worried about their jobs. We have to make some big changes."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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