You're better off buying a house in most Rotorua suburbs than renting, according to new figures.
A breakdown of where it's cheaper to buy than rent, carried out by OneRoof and its data partner Valocity, has showed Rotorua is the third most affordable property ownership city in New Zealand, behind Invercargill and Whanganui.
The figures compared the monthly mortgage repayment on a median sale price for more than 900 suburbs across the country, excluding areas with less than 20 rentals and 30 sales, and assumed an interest rate of 5 per cent on a 30-year term with a 20 per cent deposit.
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said the figures didn't include additional housing expenditure like rates, insurance and maintenance costs.
Of 33 Rotorua suburbs, monthly mortgage repayments were lower than the monthly rents in 22, with the biggest savings for aspiring homeowners in Fordlands, where the difference was $600.67 a month and the median value of properties sitting at $215,000.
Ngāpuna, Koutu, Western Heights, Holdens Bay and Selwyn Heights were also good options for cheaper mortgage repayments compared with market rent.
Renting was a cheaper option in Rotorua's more expensive suburbs, including Lake Tarawera and Lake Ōkareka, where renters were more than $900 a month better off and Lynmore, where renters were $674 a month ahead.
Vaughan said the lower mortgage rates currently being advertised by the banks were unlikely to last the length of a 30-year loan so the calculations were done on a 5 per cent interest rate to give a more accurate figure.
"First-home buyers should be encouraged by the data. It will give them a good guide as to how they could structure their budget and see beyond what can be a challenging effort to save for a deposit," Vaughan said.
"Conversely, for investors, the data provides a guide to where the best returns are in New Zealand. Anywhere where rent outstrips mortgage repayments by a huge margin would be worth further investigation."
Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Group, which operates Eves and Bayleys locally, said the biggest challenge for most people in Rotorua was saving 20 per cent for a deposit.
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"The majority of these people are struck in a rental cycle and because rents are now at a higher level they can't afford to save."
He said most people around the world rented their homes but New Zealanders had a "real passion and desire to own their own properties".
"That's just not going to be possible for some people even in these so-called more affordable areas."
Ray White Rotorua co-owner Anita Martelli said interest rates were low and Rotorua was affordable but deposits were the stumbling block for most people.
"But property will always be a good investment, even if the property market is declining which it isn't at the moment, it will always come back.
"It's hard work to get a deposit but do it while you are young, work as hard as you can while you have two incomes, because when children come along you often have to go down to one for a while, and get into the property market."
Rotorua Budget Advisory Service manager Pakanui Tuhura said while owning your own home was ideal, there were several hitches along the way which people budgeting needed to think carefully about.
He said he personally paid $3000 a year in rates and $200 a month for insurance, which equated to just over $100 a week and that wasn't taking into account home maintenance.
"I wouldn't choose to own my own home simply because I didn't want to pay high rents. I would choose it because I wanted to be permanently situated in a location I love and if I thought I would get good capital gain."
He said most people would stumble at the hurdle of saving for a deposit.
'Buying a house was cheaper for me'
Rotorua's Bena Putaranui has owned her own home for two years and pays just $405 a fortnight in mortgage repayments.
New figures have confirmed she's saving money owning her own home in Fordlands, instead of renting.
Fordlands market monthly rents are estimated at $1524 compared with monthly mortgage repayments of $923.
Putaranui pays even less.
"People want to keep up with the Joneses but it is love that makes a house a home."
Two years ago she and her husband bought the house they were renting on Ford Rd for $172,500.
They got a property valuation recently before starting renovations and already the value has increased to between $202,000 to $269,000.
With extra money in their pockets, they have been able to afford a new kitchen, cobblestoning, a new roof on the shed and a renovation of the sleepout and a new bathroom.
She said she had no problem with living in Fordlands and had become part of the community.
Putaranui said she knew her neighbours and most people in the community were homeowners.
She said the security of her family owning their own home was comforting, especially given Rotorua's housing crisis.
"The amount of money the Government is paying to put people into motels is ridiculous."