My wife and I are in our 30s and now have $100,000 in savings, but can't afford to buy our first house in Auckland. We are sick of spending $400 a week in rent to line our landlord's pocket, with no return for us. What are our options? - Pissed Off about Property, Auckland.
I feel you on the rental woes. It's never been harder to rent or buy a house in Auckland.
Your first step might have to be looking at apartments. There are lots on the market, and while capital gain isn't as great, they're going to be a way of life for urban Aucklanders in the decades to come (so you might as well get on the bandwagon now).
If you're dead-set on a house, have you considered buying property in another part of New Zealand? I'm not saying you have to leave Auckland (though it wouldn't hurt if you can get a job transfer to a region with a more affordable housing market). Many people own properties in the likes of Wellington, Hamilton, and Tauranga, but continue to rent themselves in the City of Sails.
The rental return on a house in the capital, for example, could easily cover its mortgage - there are lots of government types needing fully-furnished executive pied-à-terres to get to their jobs at Parliament. You can pick these up for around half a million (i.e. your budget based on your saved deposit), and then lease them for $600 or so per week. A well-furnished house within walking distance to Lambton Quay will be in high demand and constantly tenanted, and could thus prove the investment entry you hope for.
Hang on to your Auckland rental at $400 a week, wait for a market slowdown, and in a few years time assess your capital on your existing property and weigh up your options. You might find you're in a better position to buy in Auckland then.
If the idea of owning property in another city doesn't float your boat, contemplate putting your cash into stocks or other non-tangible assets. Property isn't the only investment that yields good gains. In fact, young Kiwis would be wise to start thinking outside of the quarter-acre box - because, as we all know, it's more like one-sixteenth of an acre these days.
How often should I be doing a Facebook cull? - Social Media Suffocation, Christchurch
It's a good idea to clean out your Facebook friends list once every six months.
There will be people in there who you've added from random nights out, chance encounters via mutual friends, and some even whom you've never met and you added simply because they saw you tagged in a photo and thought you were cute.
None of these people are valuable in your social media sphere, and none of them will you ever connect with again - neither online nor in real life. Besides, it's not 2008 anymore. Having a four-digit friends list is not a goal for anyone.
Continually ensuring you have a condensed, concentrated friends list - one comprising only people you genuinely care about - will make your regular Facebook.com visits shorter, more valuable, and more interesting.
How do I tell my boss to stop touching me? It's not sexual, he just pats my arm or shoulder, but I hate it. How can I make him stop without turning it into an HR drama? - Terribly Touchy, Auckland.
Your options are slim without offending him, or (as you say you want to avoid) letting it escalate up the human resources chain of reprimand.
Just be honest with your boss. Next time you get a tap on the shoulder, turn and say, "Sorry, I don't like being touched. It's not you - it's a weird 'me' thing!". Which, as you've acknowledged, is true: your superior is just showing you a bit of non-sexual, co-workerly affection, and you're rejecting it.
Your boss will be somewhat affronted, but handling the situation this way will make him stop whilst keeping the awkwardness as brief as possible.