Kirsty Johnston is an investigations reporter at the New Zealand Herald. She lives in Auckland and wants a home to call her own.
This morning I read advice from a mortgage broker which said house hunters just need to give up their Sky TV or expensive cars and they'll have a first home in no time.
It enraged me. I am one of those house hunters. And let me tell you right now, it's not the Sky subscription that's the problem.
Between us, my boyfriend and I earn about $110,000 a year. We have good jobs, and some savings, and could probably scrape enough together using our Kiwisaver accounts to pay for a deposit on, say, a $400,000 home.
The mortgage repayments would actually be less than the $450 per week we pay in rent.
Except of course, we live in Auckland, where the median house price has hit $820,000. Even if we could afford the deposit, the mortgage on that is more than $1100 a week. What if interest went up? Or we wanted to have a baby? Or I lost my job? We'd be ruined.
There are a few homes we could afford in the outer suburbs, but then we'd be facing a three hour commute each day. At which point, we may as well live in Hamilton. Move, you say? Why should we? I worked hard to build my career and I'm not ready to give it up just yet.
What about an apartment? Trust me, I've run the numbers. At the weekend I even went to look at some new builds, in Avondale. The cheapest were about $375,000. One bedroom, bottom floor, south-facing. No carpark.
If you consider the resale value, it's a huge risk to take, particularly when the same mortgage broker's own website warns that buyers suffered huge capital losses on apartments just ten years ago.
Plus, banks require a higher deposit for apartments. Meaning we'd have to do some serious saving, which according to John Bolton, chief executive and founder of Squirrel Home Loans, simply means cutting down the luxuries - no more Sky, expensive car or trips to Bali.
But none of my friends own a $17,000 car. Mine was $4,300 and I'm still paying it off (thanks Dad). We haven't been to Bali, although I did take a year off to travel the world. Is that banned now?
We do have Sky - my boyfriend is both a TV reviewer and a sports nut - and as my colleague Matt pointed out, cancelling it truly isn't going to make much of a difference.
So, at the moment it looks like we're stuck renting. Which would be fine, except it's also fairly grim. Our landlord just put our rent up. Our house is so small we can't have friends for dinner, or people to stay. Once when my grandmother was ill, my brother and his wife slept in our lounge.
Because you have to go through our bedroom to get to the bathroom, and my sister-in-law didn't want to wake us up, she had to drive to the public toilets in the middle of the night. We can't have a cat.
But at least we're not as poorly off as some friends, who effectively got kicked out when they had a baby. Or, the families from the low-decile schools I visit, who are sleeping eight-to-a-room because rent is so tight.
Yes, we are privileged. But we're not spoiled brats.
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