I slept in a Pāpāmoa laundry for more than two months.
Falling asleep with the jarring smell of laundry detergent and other soaps filling your nostrils was far from a pleasant experience.
Each night, I would hunker my 6ft 5in carcass down on a mattress between a washing machine, cupboards, a sink and shelving on the floor of my friend's washhouse.
There was no bed base, and given my large body mass I'd sink through the poor excuse of a mattress on to the hard floor below.
The worst part of laundry living was what I could hear — my flatmates on the toilet.
I couldn't look them in the eye afterwards.
The only place I could rest my head was right beneath the toilet window which, for some reason, went through to the laundry.
You might be thinking to yourself: 'Luke, why didn't you just sleep in the lounge?'
And I probably could have, but I like my own space and having a bedroom as the living room and the entrance to the flat didn't float my boat. It was better than the tent I slept in for the first week.
The only reason I was living there was that I got offered a roof over my head because I couldn't find a place after moving to Tauranga to work amid the housing crisis.
My new flatmates and I tried for weeks to find somewhere to live but the rental market was too hectic, full of business people, families and single parents. We barely stood a chance.
However, we finally got there and moved into our new place on Saturday and it's glorious. No more sleeping in the laundry.
That's the extent of the housing crisis in the Bay of Plenty, especially in Tauranga.
While the Bay of Plenty, including Tauranga, Rotorua and outlying towns, is a postcard wonderland, full of white sandy beaches, magnificent lakes and expansive forests, there is another image emerging that is less flattering.
The aforementioned housing crisis, with seemingly no end in sight as the population increases faster than houses can be made.
And as previously reported, preschoolers are showing up to school hungry and in ill-fitting clothing, while some don't show up at all.
There are close to 20 centres on the waitlist for assistance from KidsCan, three times more than the waitlist at the same time last year.
The number of children in emergency housing is also growing, with one expert saying they're being exposed to drugs, gangs and disorder.
Crime levels throughout the region have been steadily increasing for the last five years. Gang activity is also of major concern here.
Pokie machine spending skyrocketed in the final quarter of last year nationwide, with a whopping $252 million forked out.
Elsewhere, about 8,000 people in the Western Bay of Plenty are living with type 2 diabetes.
The list of problems is seemingly endless.
But I've loved my time in the Bay of Plenty so far, it's like New Zealand's very own Gold Coast.
The lifestyle here is so different from the rest of the country, much more relaxed than the hustle and bustle of Auckland.
The beaches are awesome and the water is refreshingly warm — I've gone for a swim every day possible.
I'm hooked on this part of the world and I don't know if I could ever bring myself to leave.
However, while I've enjoyed my two months here — except for the laundry part — I realise not all is as it seems.
The spectacular drawcards of the region cannot and should not hide the fact that so many people are struggling to even survive.
We, the community, need to rally together and collectively recognise the biggest issues we face and do our best to address them.
Luke Kirkness is a journalist for the Bay of Plenty Times & Rotorua Daily Post.