Why Rotorua is the best place to live

By Mike Watson, mike.watson@dailypost.co.nz

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FILE Photo / Ben Fraser
FILE Photo / Ben Fraser

Rotorua has been rated a more affordable city to live in than either Auckland, Tauranga or Hamilton - and residents tend to agree.

The Infometrics housing affordability index - calculated by dividing the median house price by median annual income - showed Rotorua (with a score of 5.6) more affordable to live in than its three bigger neighbours.

Unsurprisingly Auckland scored the least affordable rating of 8.3, followed by Tauranga (8.1) and Hamilton (6.6).

But overall residents are paid less than their Tauranga and Auckland counterparts, fork out more in rates and pay more to park in town on a Saturday morning.

Close neighbour Tauranga is cheaper than Rotorua if you like to keep fit or are taking your kids to the after-hours doctor frequently.

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Roger Gordon said the "real" value of Rotorua housing was well known in regards to what the same purchase investment could buy in Rotorua compared with what could be bought elsewhere.

"When you add to this all of the other benefits of living in Rotorua - quality health service, great sport and recreation facilities, a vibrant arts and culture society - it makes you appreciate what we really have.

"It makes you wonder why people are not flocking to live in our great city."

Harcourts real estate agent Heilke Oppers said new house buyers in Rotorua were probably investors, not people wanting to live in the city.

"There's definitely an increase in investors, who instead of investing in Auckland, are coming to Rotorua."

Readers who commented on the Rotorua Daily Post Facebook page - facebook.com/rotoruadailypost - all considered Rotorua cheaper to live in than elsewhere.

Rent, gas and parking were all considered as less expensive than Hamilton, Whakatane and Auckland.

One reader calculated that without paying for water rates, and with less mortgage, they were saving $400 to $500 a month since they shifted to Rotorua.

Others said Rotorua supermarkets were also cheaper, as were tourist attractions which offered discounts to residents.

Rotorua Mayor Kevin Winters said the label of being the most affordable of the four cities made him proud. "Especially when you compare the quality of life factors such as short travel times, accessibility to the region's forests, lakes and geothermal activity, alongside very affordable quality housing in Rotorua," he said.

"We also have relaxed airport access to Sydney and the rest of New Zealand, and a multitude of world-class visitor attractions on our doorstep - many of them very affordable for local residents."

Mr Winters said 42 major event weekends were hosted in Rotorua last year.

"This is giving residents exposure to a wide range of ever-changing activity.

"We've won the Best City award six times in 11 years and we boast quality secondary and tertiary schooling environment ... and we are proudly the home of Maori culture."

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said the gap between house prices and higher-paying jobs was driven by market prices for houses, and it was difficult to compare rates between cities.

Overall Tauranga sat in the middle, he said.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Max Mason said lower house prices were an incentive for Aucklanders to move to Tauranga, stimulating the economy.

But Mr Mason said it was a mistake to assume the lowest rates were automatically a good thing, if the council was not investing back into the city.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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