Stunning scenery, a booming economy and affordable housing - Tauranga was once a hot spot for families looking to leave the big smoke for a better way of life.

But for Tukara and Tiffany Matthews, the dream of buying their own home in the sunny Bay of Plenty has become that - an unattainable dream.

"Good beach, good weather, we knew a couple of people who lived here, it just looked like a nice place to live," Tiffany said. The couple moved to the Bay of Plenty from Hillsborough.

"We have been in Tauranga for three years now and it's just as expensive as Auckland.


"As we have waited and waited, house prices have risen and it got a little bit out of reach for us."

Just five years ago, the median price in Tauranga was $370,000, but they have skyrocketed to a median of $635,000 - an increase of 70 per cent.

As a result, the number of Aucklanders buying homes in the area has decreased significantly.

"In 2016-17, we saw a huge increase of Aucklanders coming to Tauranga and over that time we also witnessed an appreciation of property prices," Realty Group chief executive Simon Anderson said.

"At that time, 50 per cent of people in the auction room were from Auckland. Now only around 10 per cent of those coming to open homes are from Auckland.

"The gap between the Auckland property market and our market is a lot smaller now so there's not that big advantage to move down here, because the Tauranga market has caught up."

Tauranga is now the twelfth most expensive city in the world behind larger cities including Sydney, New York, and Hong Kong. In the last year, more than 150 homes in the region sold for a million dollars or more.

Priced out of the market, the Matthews are renting. But that too, comes with a hefty price tag, so they've turned to Airbnb, with the permission of their landlord.


"We have a spare room and a spare bathroom, so we thought: 'Why not rent that out short term over summer?'"

During peak summer periods the Matthews can charge around $100 per night, but opt to have only four or five visitors a week.

"We don't have a long term tenant so we don't have someone in our space all the time and we can pick and choose when we want to have visitors and when we don't. And it's really good, they're paying per night instead of a weekly fee. It helps us out a lot," Tiffany said.

The Matthews are one of more than 1200 families listing their Tauranga homes or rooms on Airbnb.

"At first we thought it might have been a bit weird having people we don't know living with us, but we've probably had 150 people and only two or three we don't feel comfortable with.

"We make sure to ask plenty of questions before we accept bookings. We love meeting new people and the kids love meeting new people."

While house prices in some suburbs may be out of reach, it's not all doom and gloom.

Anderson suggested looking at places such as Greerton and Judea, where houses go for around $500,000.

And for the Matthews family, even without a house to call their own, they say living in Tauranga is worth every penny.

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