The Kiwi dream of the quarter-acre pavlova paradise is now beyond the grasp of many firsttime buyers in Auckland. Instead of a suburban section with plenty of space, they are turning to apartments.
By the end of this year there are likely to be almost 30,000 residential apartments in Auckland's central city and inner suburbs.
With admittedly small central city apartments still selling for between $150,000 and $200,000, first home buyers are increasingly turning towards apartments and abandoning hope of a stand-alone house in a central suburb. Compare that with Quotable Value's latest E-Valuer estimate of average value of properties in relatively affordable suburbs such as Mt Wellington ($516,000), Pt England ($574,000), Glen Eden ($471,650), Henderson ($507,000) and Albany ($659,500).
Although apartment living has been available to Aucklanders for many decades it is only relatively recently that it has become desirable.
Similar large cities around the world have long recognised the benefits large resident populations in high-rise apartments bring in rejuvenating previously run-down, and often abandoned, central suburbs.
While Auckland may struggle to recreate the cosmopolitan atmosphere of major cities such as New York, Paris and London, it is already moving in that direction. Developments such as the Wynyard Quarter, with its wide pedestrian boulevards and range of restaurants and entertainment areas, are helping to entice potential apartment dwellers downtown.
Pedestrians are being given more priority in the central city, and public transport facilities are improving, making the prospect of going without a car less scary than it would have been even a decade ago.
The vast majority of Aucklanders will continue to sprawl across the length and breadth of suburbia, but even in the outer suburbs population pressures will see the city growing not only outwards but also up.