With an average value of $1.5 million, Auckland homes are an increasingly impossible dream for many.
As some families consider packing up and moving to the regions, exclusive new research by the Herald and analysts Valocity reveals the best alternatives.
Top of the list is Christchurch.
The research shows new arrivals to the Garden City can expect to land an average home for $752,000 - half the price in Auckland.
A typical three-bedroom property also has a slightly larger backyard (629sq m v 600sq m) than those in our biggest city.
But you'd better be quick. Christchurch prices have jumped by more than a third in the past year.
New Plymouth, Manawatu, Dunedin and Gisborne also featured highly on the list.
The research comes as buyers in bigger cities, such as Wellington and Tauranga, facing similar challenges as those in Auckland.
The average home value in the City of Sails leapt 25 per cent over the past year.
The trend's impact on population was reinforced by a report for Auckland Council. It found that between June 2013 and June 2018, the city lost about 42,000 more people to other regions than it gained in new domestic arrivals.
To determine which regional alternatives provided the best value, the Herald and Valocity examined the council districts where average three-bedroom house prices were at or below $750,000.
They were considered against how much prices had risen in the past year and how much land such homes typically came with.
That made Christchurch one of the few major cities with an average price around $750,000.
But Valocity head of customer experience James Wilson said feedback from real estate agents and buyers had highlighted factors driving Christchurch prices up.
These included the large number of newly built houses on sale, a diverse range of job options offering good salaries and the ability to live near work.
"The easy commute is a big contrast to cities like Auckland, for instance," Wilson said.
Those looking for an even more relaxed pace might want to consider New Plymouth.
With farming, forestry, manufacturing and port jobs, it offers a great outdoor life with Mt Taranaki, surf spots and mountain bike parks all within easy reach.
A typical three-bedroom home costs $739,000, 25 per cent more than the year before.
New Plymouth three-bedders still come with plenty of land too - 736sq m blocks on average – markedly bigger than those on offer in Auckland.
Wellingtonians looking for a change without going too far might want to consider the Manawatu region close Palmerston North.
Home to many well-paid government jobs, Wellington prices have boomed throughout the pandemic, prompting an exodus of young families looking to buy in cheaper satellite towns.
While Manawatu might be a long commute, three-bedrooms homes cost a fraction of those in the capital, with an average price of $734,000 - up 27 per cent - and huge 865sq m sections.
In Dunedin, typical three-bedroom homes cost $731,000, up 20 per cent.
That's the same price as the Far North, up 26 per cent, which offers enormous 1022sq m sections.
Retirees looking to escape to the Mainland could consider Kaikoura.
The whale-watching mecca offers three-bedroom homes costing an average $688,000 on a big 827sq m block.
Kaikoura's popularity appears linked to a broader trend of coastal and bach properties proving popular with buyers who might have spent long lockdowns cooped up in city homes, Wilson said.
Another coastal town, Gisborne, appears to be another good option for young Auckland families.
A typical home on an 833sq m block is now selling for $688,000, up 27 per cent over the past year.
Gisborne was also the Herald-Valocity's top place to move to last year when it had the fastest rising house price among cheaper districts.
Then, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's fiance Clarke Gayford said the city's coastal lifestyle was a fantastic hidden secret.
"They have such a great lifestyle there, nowhere is far from anywhere else. You can go to the beach every night after work if you want. There is a real sense of community and fantastic parks."