22 Sep 2016

NZers happy, but some struggle to make ends meet - survey

7:35 am on 22 September 2016

Most New Zealanders are happy, while many say they're feeling the pinch, a quality of life survey says.

The Colmar Brunton study was done on behalf of seven cities from Dunedin to Auckland and two regions, Waikato and greater Wellington.

It found 19 percent of of the 7000 respondents were struggling to make ends meet, but 81 percent in seven cities rated their quality of life positively.

While 58 percent of respondents said their quality of life had stayed the same, 27 percent felt theirs had improved compared to a year earlier.

Family standing on a beach looking at the sunset. (file).

Photo: 123RF

The survey covered nine topics including crime and safety, health and wellbeing, community culture and social networks.

People living in Dunedin reported the highest quality of life with 88 percent, saying life was good or extremely good.

The average for the whole country was 81 percent.

Eighty-six percent of Wellingtonians reported being happy with their lives with Auckland at 79 percent, just beating Christchurch on 78 percent.

And people do feel connected; the survey found 57 percent felt a sense of community with people in their neighbourhood and 97 percent had experienced positive interactions with their neighbours in the last year.

Wellington City Council Research and Evaluation team leader David Stuart said New Zealanders were generally happy with where they lived: 82 percent deeming it "suitable".

Mr Stuart said people were asked whether their housing costs, such as rent or mortgage, rates, house insurance and maintenance, were affordable

Overall 35 percent of respondents felt they were not affordable, with that number at 42 percent for Aucklanders.

But only 17 percent of Dunedin residents rated affordability as a problem, Mr Stuart said.

"[Thirty-five] percent of respondents disagreed that their housing costs were currently affordable and of that 35 percent, 9 percent strongly disagreed and 25 percent disagreed, so you've got roughly one in 10 strongly disagreeing that their housing costs were affordable."

Mr Stuart said the survey also found that some residents were struggling to make ends meet, with 19 percent saying they did not have enough money to meet their daily needs, such as accommodation and food.

He said while 40 percent of people felt they did have enough, 35 percent were scraping by, having "just enough".

"When people report 'just enough' it's an interesting one because it suggests their needs are being met, but obviously there's not much comfort there in terms of beyond meeting those needs. You could look at it as one in five people report that as inadequate."

The Federation of Family Budgeting Services chief executive Raewyn Fox said while it was good 40 percent of respondents were making ends meet, the service was still seeing a lot of people that could not.

"The biggest drawback for people visiting our budgeting services [is] such a large proportion of their income goes on housing it's really difficult to cope with the rest of their expenses and debts.

University of Waikato senior lecturer in psychology Neville Robertson said when people were asked how they were coping they generally preferred to keep up a facade.

Dr Robertson said it was human nature not to confront issues and their enormity.

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