6 Sep 2016

What's the alternative to a $1m Auckland house?

4:45 pm on 6 September 2016

The average house value in Auckland has topped $1 million for the first time, Quotable Value figures released today show.

If that thought makes you a little queasy then you're not alone. Those kind of prices have sent many packing their bags for greener, and more affordable, pastures.

But where could you go and what would you do there?

Sold sign outside a house in East Auckland

With the average Auckland house price topping $1m, perhaps there are greener, more affordable pastures elsewhere. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

With a budget of $650,000, RNZ took a look a some options.

First-home buyers in Auckland can use money saved in their KiwiSaver to buy a home for up to $650,000, which could buy a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre or a three- to four-bedroom entry-level home in South Auckland's Manukau or Papakura.

Another 35 minutes south of Manukau is the country town of Te Kauwhata, where house prices start at around $450,000, with a three-bedroom newly renovated house on a full section costs $480,000 and $620,000 buys an executive-style home in one of several new subdivisions.

Real estate agent Bruce Baverstock has lived in Te Kauwhata his entire life and wouldn't change a thing.

"Te Kauwhata is in the middle of nowhere but in the centre of everywhere. You're close to Pukekohe, Hamilton and Thames and also Manukau City so we're getting people from Auckland selling houses and buying here for less and simply commuting to work," he said.

Two and a half hours drive from Auckland, and just 30 minutes from Tauranga, is the horticultural town of Katikati in Western Bay of Plenty.

Here, about $650,000 will buy a four-bedroom home with a garden, a three- bedroom new build in a subdivision or a country-style home with water views and there will be change to spare.

The Western Bay of Plenty town of Katikati is just two and a half hours drive from Auckland - but here $650,000 can buy you a four bedroom home with a garden.

The Western Bay of Plenty town of Katikati is just two and a half hours drive from Auckland - but here $650,000 can buy you a four-bedroom home with a garden. Photo: 123RF

Property prices were rising rapidly but they were still plenty affordable, said Western Bay of Plenty District councillor Mike Williams.

"You can still buy a modest three-bedroom property for around $400,000, possibly even less. It's a wonderful little town and if you're looking at relocating for a family, we've got good schools, it is a very open and friendly town and handy to Tauranga, Auckland, the beaches and the hills."

Max Mason - the business relocations manager for Western Bay of Plenty economic development agency Priority One - said the region offered lots of employment opportunities to Aucklanders if they were prepared to take a 10 to 15 percent pay cut.

There were several high-tech manufacturers including Triodent and Rhondium, which made dental products for export, and Stainless Down Under, which made products for super yachts, and Puma Darts.

"We've got manufacturing jobs, we've got a wide variety of jobs in horticulture, there's building and property management, tourism and accommodation and then jobs in Tauranga go right across the board."

Most Aucklanders who moved to the region were happy to take the pay cut in return for a better lifestyle, he said.

Meanwhile, in Masterton...

The Wairarapa region has been attracting Aucklanders after a slice of the good life since the Masterton District Council launched a campaign to lure them to the town last year.

Tina Nixon worked for the council at the time and said at least 20 families took up the offer in the first three months and more had since followed.

She had heard of more than half a dozen families also bringing their parents with them because there were plenty of retirement homes and the region offered an active lifestyle for the elderly.

"It's the good schools, it's the lifestyle and it's sophisticated country living, I suppose, that's attracting them and the fact they can put a lot of money in the bank and retire earlier," she said

An average Wairarapa home costs less than $300,000, but a four-bedroom home in rural Masterton on 15 acres of land could sell for about $500,000 and $590,000 buys a grand character home in town with a huge garden.

Back in Auckland, there are signs the market is starting to cool, though analysts fear it may not last for long.

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