New Lynn and Glen Innes may be the Goldilocks zones for young Auckland families because they're not too far from the city and not too expensive, new research shows.
Both suburbs are less than 35 minute train rides from the city centre and have homes near their train stations priced considerably cheaper than Auckland's $885,000 median value.
Homes and apartments located within 500m of New Lynn station are typically worth $588,000 and just 34 minutes by train from the city along the western line, new research by the Herald and analysts CoreLogic shows.
Glen Innes on the eastern line is an even snappier 13 minutes into the city and has homes near the station typically valued at $689,000.
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So while millennials and young professionals may once have turned their noses up at New Lynn, they are now heading there in droves, Ray White real estate agent Michael Gee says.
"I'm getting a lot of enquiries from first-home buyers in prices ranging from the $600,000s into the $700,000s," he said.
"And a lot of them are wanting something within 15 to 20 minutes' walk from the train, they work in the CBD and want easy access to the city and back home."
The findings are part of a Herald-CoreLogic study of whether it is better for young families pushed out of the inner city by astronomical prices to buy along the western, eastern or southern train lines or the northern busway.
The research looked at the price of homes located within 500m of train and bus stations.
In addition to New Lynn and Glen Innes, it found Manukau could be another good option for young couples.
Officially on the eastern line but located in South Auckland, Manukau is 37 minutes from the city and even cheaper at $393,000.
However, most of its housing stock near the station are small apartments, better suited to couples than families.
Further south, Papakura is 50 minutes from the city with a median price of $589,000, while Swanson at the end of the western line is 54 minutes from town and has homes valued at $870,000.
In the north, Albany is 36 minutes from town but has homes close to its bus station worth $1.4 million. Silverdale at the end of the bus route has median values of $1.2m.
CoreLogic head of research Nick Goodall said it showed young buyers didn't necessarily have to move to the city's edge to get a foot on the property ladder.
Those young families could also gain another advantage by buying close to train stations in up-and-coming suburbs as their house values might go up faster.
A research paper by Auckland Council's chief economist unit last year found homes and apartments within close walking distance of train stations already attracted a better price than similar ones further away.
The effect was greatest on the eastern and southern lines where properties within 260m walking distance of a train station were 19 per cent more valuable than similar properties further away.
Homes on the western line could also soon benefit from this effect when the City Rail Link project opened and cut commute times into the CBD, the report said.
Home values along train and bus lines could be further boosted as more people used public transport.
Owen Vaughan, editor of property listing site OneRoof, says the Auckland suburbs that have the biggest potential for growth are those with strong transport links, and a pipeline of new developments that are aimed at the first home buyer market.
"Previosuly overlooked suburbs such as Albany and New Lynn are seeing an increase in development and there are opportunities for buyers to find affordable housing that doesn't require a huge commute from the city fringes," he says.
According to Auckland Transport, nearly three times as many people now ride trains to and from work compared to 10 years ago, while the northern busway had grown from not existing to 5.5 million trips per year.
Auckland Council planners were also trying to further boost these numbers by zoning housing corridors along the transport network as higher density to allow more people to live in apartments and townhouses there.
Planners hoped this in turn attracted more cafes and shops to set up close to transport hubs and make them more attractive places to live.
In Glen Innes and surrounding suburbs, this was being aided by the major Tamaki Regeneration redevelopment converting old housing into 10,500 new homes for sale and public housing.
House prices at the end of the line
• Silverdale, end of the northern busway, 56 minutes commute time, according to Auckland Transport. Median price within a 500m radius of the bus stop: $1,202,000.
• Manukau, end of eastern line, 37 minutes. Price: $393,000.
• Papakura, end of southern line, 50 minutes. Price: $589,000.
• Swanson, end of western line, 54 minutes. Price: $870,000.
• New Lynn, western line, 34 minutes. Price: $588,000.
• Glen Innes, eastern line, 13 minutes. Price: $689,000.
• Manukau, eastern line, 37 minutes. Price: $393,000.
'New Grey Lynn'
Radio personality Clint Roberts and wife Lucy Slight followed a course well-known to most first-home buyers.
They started by looking at houses in the Auckland suburbs they'd like to live in before reality intruded and the search shifted to places they could actually afford.
That led them to New Lynn in 2015.
"We came out to look at the open home, and my wife said, 'I don't think I've ever been to New Lynn before' - she'd lived in Auckland for 30 years," said Roberts, who works as ZM radio station's drive show presenter.
Despite that, the couple bought the three-bedroom home they looked at, which also came with a sleepout and was within walking distance of the train station.
Roberts said that for the same price in Waterview and Sandringham they would only have been able to pick up a two-bedroom unit or apartment.
"For what we could get for our money, it was worlds apart."
Initially, they approached their new life in New Lynn matter of factly.
"We came into it with the idea this was where we can afford to live, so let's just do it.
"It wasn't until after we lived here that we realised how great it actually is."
Not only could they walk to the train station, but cycleways also led directly from their house.
"It's great to be able to just jump on the train and you can be at the rugby or the cricket at Eden Park straight away," Roberts said.
However, he and his wife still drove to the city each day because they had dedicated car parks with their jobs, he said.
If they were paying for parking, however, the train would be a better option, despite it being a tad slow because the rail line currently "dog-legs" through Newmarket.
Roberts tipped the City Rail Link project to be a "game changer" because it would speed the journey greatly by routing the tracks through Mt Eden direct to the CBD.
New Lynn was also nice because it was close to picturesque Scenic Drie in Titirangi, Piha and the western beaches and the local walking beach at French Bay, which was just 5-10 minutes from their home, he said.
New Lynn had a "great community feel" and was "self-contained" with Lynn Mall and The Brickworks bar and restaurant precinct, a Les Mills gym and nice primary schools and child-care centres, he said.
New housing was also springing up.
"We walk a lot because we've just had our first baby, and there is heaps of infill housing going in."
He joked the suburb New Lynn was just two "really great coffee shops" short from earning a fresh title of "New Grey Lynn".
Although, he acknowledged that could be more down to him "trying to do creative marketing for his suburb" to push the property prices up.
"You move into an area because it's more affordable, but as soon as you get a house there, you go, 'I can't wait for these prices to go up'," he said.