For many people, the weekly rent payment makes up the largest portion of bills. But where you choose to rent plays a large part in how much you have to fork out. Rotorua's rental availability is dire, forcing some to live in motels and hotels. Reporter Zizi Sparks looks at the latest market rent data to identify the cheapest and most expensive areas to rent in this year.
The cheapest Rotorua areas to rent a home are Kuirau, Hillcrest and Glenholme, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
The most expensive? Pukehangi and Springfield.
The ministry's Tenancy Services has an online tool to find out what the weekly market rent is for properties in an area, based on bond data it collects.
• Rotorua median rents at all-time high of $387 per week
• Premium - The Rotorua suburbs giving the best and worst rental returns
• Rotorua rentals attracting huge numbers to viewings
• Premium - New figures reveal where it's cheaper to buy than rent
For the six months between April 1 and September 30 this year, the median weekly market rent in Pukehangi South/Springfield was $440.
In Kuirau, Hillcrest and Glenholme, it was almost $100 cheaper a week at $350.
Holdens Bay/Ōwhata/Ngapuna was second-most expensive at $420 a week.
Third was Ngongotahā/Pleasant Heights/Koutu at $395 and fourth was rural Rotorua at $355.
Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Group, which operates Eves and Bayleys, said the rental situation in Rotorua was "dire".
Opinion: Census shows Government must take action on housing
Rotorua Business Award winners 'stoked' and 'over the moon'
"It's quite an expensive living cost for anyone looking to move off the property ladder or raise a family. It makes up it quite a big part of the weekly bills but obviously is determined by supply and demand and location.
"If it's a nice home that's been well-cared for and is close to schools it's going to attract high rents."
Anderson said some Tauranga workers chose to live in Rotorua and commute to save on rental costs, which also put a crunch on the market.
"Someone looking after their budget, as long as they manage fuel costs, can do that," Anderson said.
"There's also a shortage in Tauranga. It's not as desperate as Rotorua, but there's still a shortage. It's not as dire.
"There continues to be a real shortage in Rotorua. It's a big problem, just like there's a housing shortage and that's been driven by lack of subdivision opportunities in the last decade."
He said a shortage of rentals was having a roll-on effect illustrated by motels being used by the Government for short-term emergency accommodation.
Rotorua rentals director Pauline Evans said multiple factors affected rent prices, including house size, condition and location.
"There's still growth in the market ... Rents are still high for what's relative, and that's supply and demand. Until we get supply, there will always be demand."
Evans said the turnaround for new listings was incredibly quick and the stock was limited. Earlier this week they had just four houses available.
"Not so long ago I'd have three pages of houses.
"We have to be selective and we always have been. It's about making sure owners are satisfied and they can be selective.
"Everyone has a right to a roof over their head; we just try put them both together."
Evans said it was clear prices were rising as she had rented a central two-bedroom unit for $350 a week and a well-presented Ngongotahā three-bedroom home for $550 a week.
James Wilson, director of valuation innovation at Valocity, said the Bay of Plenty rental market was strong and rental rates were strengthening across the region.
"The Rotorua rental market is currently proving particularly strong, one of the drivers behind the popularity of the area among investors at present.
"With the rates of house value growth currently being experienced in the area, investors are looking to maximise their returns by completing renovation and modernisation work."
On the hunt
Retiree Mariana Ardern has been looking for a rental property since May. She has been staying with her sisters while she looks.
She was previously with her son in Paeroa, but the house was too big and expensive to keep staying in.
Now Ardern is "desperate" to find a place.
She wants a one-bedroom unit, in any area, for less than $250.
Ardern has been visiting real estate agents in her hunt for a property and found there are limited options and many are out of her price range.
"It's quite depressing actually. I've been to see a few places, but they are not fit for a person at my age."
Ardern said she had not applied for a huge number of places, simply because she could not find properties in her price range.
"The house I'm in, you can't move around in it. I'm living with my sisters and there's three of us together. I desperately want to move and get my own space.
"I'm still holding out hope. You've only got to hope."
The Tenancy Services online tool provides specific weekly market rent prices from bond data between June and September.
Any category that had fewer than five bonds lodged was excluded, to prevent individual properties from being identified.
Market rent is the amount a landlord might reasonably expect to receive, and a tenant might reasonably expect to pay, for a tenancy.
Holdens Bay/Ōwhata/Ngapuna, median weekly rents
Bonds lodged: 109
Three-bedroom house: $450
Two-bedroom house: $380
Kuirau/Hillcrest/Glenholme, median weekly rents
Bonds lodged: 296
Three-bedroom house: $445
Two-bedroom house: $350
Ngongotahā/Pleasant Heights/Koutu, median weekly rents
Bonds lodged: 303
Three-bedroom house: $405
Two-bedroom house: $340
Rural Rotorua, median weekly rents
Bonds lodged: 66
Three-bedroom house: $375
Two-bedroom house: $337
Pukehangi South/Springfield, median weekly rents
Bonds lodged: 77
Three-bedroom house: $460
Two-bedroom house: Not available