As if getting a foot in the door of one isn't hard enough, many Kiwis now face a battle to furnish their homes, as Covid-related supply headaches leave some waiting up to six months for household furniture.
Shipping delays, staffing shortages and lockdowns have strangled supply, with household staples such as sofas and beds especially hard hit.
And some online customers have discovered they face a long wait for delivery only after making their purchase, prompting a warning from a consumer watchdog.
Broadcaster Kerre McIvor wrote on Facebook last week about discovering, post-purchase, the homeware item she'd ordered online would take up to three weeks to arrive - which then "stretched to five, and the order hasn't even been processed".
The order has since been delivered, but the post on the Kerre McIvor Mornings' host's public page sparked almost 400 comments, among them others also having their patience tested.
"The lesson I've learned", one wrote. "Is that I will make sure I know where the product is coming from. I'm still waiting for an order placed in September and there has been no communication whatsoever."
Communication has been better for an Auckland couple who moved into their new home this month, albeit the news hasn't been good.
They've been told their new sofa will take up to six months to arrive, their curtains are "weeks away", and their blinds won't be available till February.
The Herald on Sunday this week called several furniture chains in Auckland and staff at all of them said customers faced lengthy waits for some items.
Interior designers also reported supply headaches, even for home-grown furniture.
"A lot of the high-quality furniture in New Zealand is made in the South Island. But suppliers are having major problems getting products out of Auckland, so they're delayed", Cuthbert Interiors owner Anna Cuthbert said.
"[The problem is] getting boards and componentry to Christchurch, so they can make the furniture to get it back to Auckland. The supply chains have really been affected."
Products arriving in the port of Tauranga were also taking a long time to get to Auckland, Cuthbert said.
"Auckland, from what I understand, isn't able to cope with the quantity of product coming through … because of reduced staff numbers, because of Covid."
In some cases, shipping containers without perishables were being unloaded in Asia and sometimes left for weeks before resuming their journey to New Zealand, Cuthbert said.
"And it's being pre-sold before it even arrives, because of the demand."
Plumbing fittings, tiles, appliances and fabrics - for custom-made furniture and affected by Covid-sparked mill closures in France - were on the hard-to-get list of Mal Corboy Design owner Mal Corboy.
"Anything you have to order out of Europe is taking ages now to come through. I've got fabric we ordered for a job at the end of last year that still hasn't turned up. It gets pretty hard to explain that to clients.
"Tiles that used to take eight to 12 weeks to turn up are now taking 16 to 22. Appliances, you might get one or two available [for a client] but not all. And furniture seems to be taking ages."
In the mass-produced market, a person who answered the phone at Nick Scali Furniture said dining suites, TV units and coffee tables could be delivered within a week.
But lounge suites and beds with fabric bases were taking between three and five months.
"Shipping is a bit of a nightmare at the moment."
At Harvey Norman, direct import items not in stock were taking four or five months to arrive, a worker said.
Even some New Zealand-made stock was slow to reach customers, thanks to the Delta outbreak.
"Because Auckland was closed for so long and everything piled up, there's a backlog of orders."
Exactly which items were subject to delays varied, with each supplier having their own models for popular household items such as dining suites and sofas.
"But everyone's affected."
Lounge suites were particularly susceptible to delays, a Freedom Furniture worker said.
Deliveries could take three weeks to four or five months.
"We've had a few cases where people have ordered online and then they call and say, 'Where's my order?', and I have to say, 'Oh, it's three months away'.
"Worldwide, shipping is just a mess at the moment."
An employee at one homeware and furnishings store suggested online shoppers call before ordering, so staff can check stock levels and alert customers to potential delays.
But Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy warned retailers to be more proactive.
"Retailers must be sure they're not misleading purchasers around the terms of sale.
"In a normal operating environment, if there's no discussion around waiting time, consumers are entitled to assume the product will be delivered within a reasonable period of time, unless the retailer makes it known that the delivery time would deviate from what would be normally expected."
What was reasonable depended on the product, Duffy said.
A one-off, bespoke product manufactured in Scandinavia could reasonably be expected to take much longer to arrive than an item listed as being "in stock" - which it would be reasonable to expect was in the country and wouldn't take more than a couple of weeks to arrive.
The public understood the global supply chain challenges, so retailers just needed to be upfront about significant delays before consumers clicked buy.
They'd had a "steady amount" of complaints about delivery delays, with many the result of poor communication by retailers, he said.
"Where we're hearing from consumers, it might be three months down the track they haven't heard back from the retailer about the product they've bought. So they've proactively contacted the retailer and been told, 'Oh, no that's on a ship and it's not expected here for another three months'.
"That's where consumers are getting upset."
Customers could also protect themselves by asking about expected delivery times before purchasing, Duffy said.
"And if they're given information that subsequently proves to be inaccurate, then those retailers could be breaching the Fair Trading Act."
It was also worth managing expectations in what was a changed world.
"Remember we're living in different times. And perhaps the expectations you had in 2019 around how long it would take a couch to get to you, it may not be reasonable to have those same expectations."