We have been living in central Auckland (New Zealand’s biggest city) for the past year now and looking back in hindsight, I don’t think I would do it again – here’s why.
I already knew that Auckland was among the world’s most expensive cities, but I guess I didn’t realise the full extent of that statement until I was actually living here myself.
My Schnucki and I have been living in a one bedroom apartment (it is literally just one bedroom with a toilet and balcony attached) right in the city centre and it costs us $300 NZD per week to live here (try converting that into your own currency!). That price doesn’t even cover internet, electricity or water bills which we have to pay separately per month. I really want to cry at how much money has gone out of the window at renting this apartment the past year.
And don’t even get me started on grocery shopping. I’m a New Zealander and yet the price of basic products at the supermarket never fail to astound me. I go in there to buy about one or two days worth of food and I always come out having spent at least $60 NZD, or more. I just don’t understand how milk, cheese and butter can be so expensive when we are the main producers of this stuff. Why, New Zealand, why?
Obviously any city centre has a lot of people and you can expect a lot of noise, but it really is noisy all the time here.
Sometimes it’s not even worth keeping the window open on a hot Summer’s night because the street noise from below will just keep me awake anyway. And it doesn’t help that we live next to the Worst Neighbours In The World. Seriously, we have a psychopath living next door. We had to call the police on him once and we’ve been more than tempted to again many times since.
I moved up to Auckland from Christchurch with the naïve thought that ‘a bigger city = bigger opportunities’ and we would both be able to get jobs quickly and easily. It turns out that this was not the case for us. My Schnucki struggled to land a job for months with his working holiday visa and I had to provide for both of us during that time at the worst job I have ever worked at. It was not a fun time.
A big city means a lot of jobs…but also a lot of competition. I definitely found out the reality of this fact the hard way.
Air conditioners, anyone?
I don’t know what it is about Auckland, but it seems like air conditioners never made it here. We don’t have any sort of heating (or cooling) facility in our apartment, which makes it chilly in winter and stifling hot in summer. It’s not just us though – my friend living in the North Shore told me her HOUSE doesn’t have any air conditioner or heater either and that is just too weird. Step up your A.C act, Auckland!
Of course, living in Auckland central is not all boo and hoo – it definitely has had its perks too. (Now I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it!)
The biggest perk of living in the centre of everything, is that everything is close to you.
Everywhere is in walking distance and when big events are on in the city, you can be there in the front row without ever having to worry about where to park or enduring any over crowded public transport to get there (SO good!). Work was in walking distance too, though I would opt for the 4 minute bus ride instead, because yes, I am that lazy and I would rather pay 90 cents to bus each way than walking 20 minutes.
Winter is coming…or not
When the rest of the country was suffering through the mid-Winter blizzards, we were bracing ourselves for the blast too…which never came. Okay, well, there was one week where it really felt like Winter (the week my family came up to visit haha) but after that, nothing.
It was just one really long-and-balmy-sort-of-Autumn-like time and then it was all over. I never had to put on more than two layers…which was GREAT! When Aucklanders would complain about how cold it was, I would scoff, “You know nothing, Jon Snow!”
No Bug Heaven
This one may be a small perk to some people, but it’s a big one to me. The whole time I’ve been in Auckland, I have not seen one spider, anywhere. Not just spiders, but no moths, flies, ants or any other sort of creepy crawly has ever set one foot or wing into our apartment, as far as I know.
We can leave the balcony door open all night, with the light on, and no unwelcome visitors will come in. This is a stark contrast with my house in Christchurch where we get all of the above even with the lights out and all of the doors and windows shut tight.
I have to say I’ve been pretty impressed with the Auckland transport, thus far. Buses and trains are frequent and come on time (pick up your act, Christchurch buses!), and the Airport Bus which runs 24/7 is particularly handy for those flights at godforsaken hours. When you sign up for the free transport card called the HOP Card, it allows you to travel on any Auckland transport (even ferries) at discounted prices.
The really nice thing about the city is that if you take a 12 minute ferry ride to Devonport, or a 10-15 minute bus ride to Mission Bay, St. Helier’s Bay or the North Shore, you can feel worlds away from the fast-paced and noisy city centre. It’s a great escape for when you’ve had enough of living in the central city, like me.
All in all, living in Auckland central has been an interesting experience and if you are planning to live here, I strongly recommend living in the suburbs outside the CBD, rather than the CBD itself. Places like Mt. Eden, Mt. Roskill, Parnell and the North Shore are all good recommendations. Also, avoid Queen Street at night (or in general) if you know what’s good for you!
Is anyone planning to live in Auckland/already is? Let me know how it’s going for you!