By Hannah Kronast
From university dropout to first home buyer in three years - Alex Mayo is one of a growing number of young Kiwis choosing to buy an apartment rather than a house.
Mayo, 22, had always known he wanted to buy his own home for the sense of independence it brought, but he was less sure about his studies.
It meant that after just one month at university he dropped out.
Yet rather than let that set him back, he jumped into a one year web development course before joining online marketing company Moustache Republic two years ago.
He saved money by staying with his parents in Whangaparoa, putting away 80 per cent of his salary, while directing 8 per cent into his KiwiSaver account.
But with savings behind him, he quickly found buying a house wasn't the best option.
"If I buy a house and have a budget of $400,000-$500,000, the only place I'll be able to buy a house for that value would be South Auckland," he said.
"And I didn't really want to live there. Also if I wanted to rent that out, the rent would only be like $300 (per week), and I would be far away from my job."
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That led Mayo to use his funds to settle on a two bedroom, top floor central Auckland apartment.
In order to qualify for the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant for first home buyers, Mayo has to live in his apartment for six months.
But to help pay off the mortgage he is renting out the spare room and will eventually rent out the whole apartment.
The future prospect of high rental returns were also a big factor deciding to purchase an apartment rather than a house, Mayo said.