Where the grass is greener

by Rebecca Macfie / 03 December, 2013
Some have found the answer to Auckland’s high property prices.
Ken Kilkenny and Karen Guise with Tari and Finn at their Tauranga home. Photo/David White

Secondary school teachers Karen Guise (42) and husband Ken Kilkenny (43) quit Auckland in January this year, convinced they could get more bang for their housing buck elsewhere.

The couple each owned a modest two-bedroom unit – one in Te Atatu and the other in Avondale – and were living in a rental in Ellerslie. With their toddler Finn in tow and baby Tari on the way, they wanted to buy a three-bedroom place with a bit of lawn for the children to play.

“But we knew that if we wanted to live in Ellerslie or within range of the central city, we just couldn’t afford the kind of place we wanted. We were looking at having to pay $800,000 to $1 million. We’re not on corporate wages and we just weren’t going to be able to afford that.”

As teachers, they are paid the same salaries regardless of which region they are working in, so it was a logical step to pack up and head for Tauranga, where they were able to buy a 70-year-old four-bedroom house in Welcome Bay. Ken got a job at Papamoa College and Karen, who is on maternity leave, is planning to find a job at one of the city’s schools next year.

“We love it here, and a big part of that is the fact that we’ve been able to find this home, where we’ve got a garden and can grow a few vegetables, we’ve got a view of the sea and access to the water. I want to go back to work, but it’s nice to know that I don’t have to go back full-time to pay the mortgage.”

Christa and Brad Inglis-Topp also chose to opt out of the overpriced Auckland property market – two months ago they shifted to Invercargill. The two property developers say Invercargill land prices are a fraction of Auckland’s. What’s more, the Invercargill City Council doesn’t charge developer contributions for parks and reserves, which in Auckland can amount to $20,000-80,000 per section.

They have already bought a 1300sq m block of land – they don’t want to disclose the price but say an equivalent section in Auckland would cost at least 20 times as much. They have subdivided the Invercargill property into four sections on which they will develop two-bedroom kitset homes targeted at retirees. They’ve also bought a 150sq m heritage home on a 1100sq m section. It cost $80,000 and they expect to spend about $90,000 doing it up.

Invercargill presents “the perfect opportunity”, Christa says – not only for business, but also for lifestyle. “You can go out for a drink with friends and the price of a taxi home is a sixth of what it is in Auckland.”

For the full story on New Zealand's surging property market, read this week's Listener cover story by Rebecca Macfie: Big bang theoriesSubscriber contentIcon definitionSubscriber content

Follow the Listener on Twitter or Facebook.
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


The often-windswept Neil Oliver is headed indoors for a live NZ show
85873 2018-01-16 00:00:00Z Culture

The often-windswept Neil Oliver is headed indoors …

by Russell Baillie

Neil Oliver's live shows are based on a prolific career of making the past come alive on television and in print.

Read more
Hilary Barry takes Mike Hosking’s spot on Seven Sharp
85857 2018-01-15 13:40:27Z Television

Hilary Barry takes Mike Hosking’s spot on Seven Sh…

by Katie Parker

Hilary Barry takes over Seven Sharp and ex-Green candidate Hayley Holt replaces her on Breakfast. But not all are happy at the seat shuffling.

Read more
Win a double pass to Molly’s Game
85852 2018-01-15 11:06:05Z Win

Win a double pass to Molly’s Game

by The Listener

The thrilling true story of Molly Bloom, the mastermind behind a poker empire whose players included the rich, famous & most powerful men in America.

Read more
Auckland Harbour Bridge lights will 'change the skyline'
85843 2018-01-15 10:41:09Z Urbanism

Auckland Harbour Bridge lights will 'change the sk…

by Sally Murphy

Work is being done around the clock to install 90,000 solar powered LED lights on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Read more
Inside Fukushima’s nuclear ghost towns
85838 2018-01-15 10:01:10Z World

Inside Fukushima’s nuclear ghost towns

by Justin Bennett

Seven years after Japan's devastating tsunami, evacuees from towns around Fukushima's Daiichi nuclear plant have yet to return.

Read more
'Baby brain' is real - but we're still not sure what causes it
85822 2018-01-15 08:52:02Z Health

'Baby brain' is real - but we're still not sure wh…

by Sasha Davies

A new study has found "baby brain" is real, but mums-to-be shouldn't worry - it doesn't make a dramatic impact on daily life.

Read more
Paddington 2 – movie review
85704 2018-01-15 00:00:00Z Movies

Paddington 2 – movie review

by James Robins

Returning to its heartening roots, the sequel to Paddington doesn’t disappoint.

Read more
The long Jewish struggle to find a place of belonging
85756 2018-01-15 00:00:00Z Books

The long Jewish struggle to find a place of belong…

by Ann Beaglehole

Comprehensive and personal, Simon Schama's history of the Jewish people is a rewarding read.

Read more