My experience of housing in New Zealand

Fifth-teen. That’s how many different houses we lived in since we arrived in New Zealand in 2013.

When I say “live”, I mean staying at least two weeks, and not for holiday purpose. That includes short term rentals, flat-mating, house sittings and long term rentals. We keep moving mostly because it’s almost impossible to find affordable long term rentals in the country.
Awkward photography of a house half standing on top of a building.
Photo by Cindy Tang on Unsplash

Renting a house in New Zealand

We are pretty lucky as we can be classified as “middle class pakeha (white) with jobs” so it’s looking good on the paper. It’s still pretty tuff to make your application stand out for a rental on a pile of 30+, even for a shitty house.

I can’t even imagine what is it when you don’t tick all the boxes, and I really feel sorry for those who, unlike us, had to sleep in their car or in a garage with their kids.

New to the rental hunt? I got a few tips for you.

I have found places to stay by just talking to people who helped us, that I met with my jobs in retail & hospitality. Word of mouth works well in New Zealand. It’s a small country and there is always someone who knows someone who might have a house for rent.

If you go through a property manager, you better get multiple jobs to blow up your income and a lot of references ready to praise how exceptional you are. You also need the clean up your Facebook as they might check your personal life even if it sounds like a breech of privacy. Once you’ve been offered a rental, don’t feel ashamed to beg for this dump. Tell them you understand how hard their job is and how wonderful they are.

You now have a rental, yay! But don’t get too comfortable. Please mown your lawns every two weeks – no less. And get rid of those weeds. Who said Roundup was carcinogenic?
Your rent will go up soon, or you might just get an eviction notice – you are a great tenant but the house is not for sale, boo!

House Sitting in New Zealand

Kiwis are very generous and genuine. It might be hard to find the first sitting but once we had a good reference it can work like a treat. We used a website first, then word of mouth. Besides having to pack and unpack every few weeks it was great. It was fine when we had no kids and a campervan where we could sleep between stays. With the pandemic and the border closure, it’s probably hard to find a place now.

Buying a house in New Zealand

Do I really want to talk about this?

When you know that you need about 20% deposit and the average house price in New Zealand is $749,000 (December 2020), that’s enough to give you a fright. Today, we spend about 40% of our income in our rent like many other low/middle income families. I don’t need my calculator to know that a mortgage is not an option. If you still have hope, you may find those tips from the government useful.

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