A bargain to buy, but a fortune to maintain.

Clean up this waste

How councils waste your money: Alan Smytheman spotted a road-sweeping truck complete with flashing lights and bold signage clearing the gutters on the street. "Necessary? Yes. However, 50m behind was another truck with two employees in it, complete with flashing lights and more signage telling you there was a road sweeper truck ahead. No wonder our rates are so high."

Beggars turned into human zoo


Beggars turning up for a religious festival in Nanchang, southern China, are making temple visitors uncomfortable with their pleading for change, so event organisers decided to put them in cages around the grounds, where people can still give donations, but without continued harassment. "The beggars are quite comfortable in their cages," an organiser said. "People send them food and water as gifts. The beggars can leave whenever they like but they have to leave the city too." Human rights activists see things differently: "They are treating them like zoo animals," one said. "What will they have to do next - tricks for their food?" (Source: Oddity Central)

Peeled items get under the skin

Regarding yesterday's peeled and packed bananas, Judith writes: "Last week at our fruit and vegetable shop in Moore St, Howick, there were styrofoam trays of peeled mandarins. I couldn't believe it. Maybe someone didn't have enough to do that day."

Commuting isn't equal to cash

"A commuter in Whangaparaoa might spend a lot of time commuting by car, but this isn't 'equal' to 20 per cent of their salary," says Cam Pitches. "People choose to commute in their own time, not their employers'. A recent NZ Transport Agency survey found that 40 per cent of people actually enjoyed their commute. Common responses identified any time savings would be spent on non-work/non-study activities such as sleeping, more time getting ready for work, eating breakfast, family time, household chores and reading."

Cheaper doesn't mean better value

A reader says Mike is right that buying a cheaper house further out will cost you less to pay off, but he is forgetting that at the end of paying off the mortgage, you have a house worth $300,000, not $500,000.

West is best for the commute

Gary lived in Cockle Bay, Howick, for 27 years, but this year he moved west, to Riverhead. "I work in Newmarket and it was 24km to work from Howick. Now I travel 28km to work, but the trip is 20 to 30 minutes quicker because I don't have to battle traffic on the Pakuranga Highway anymore. I now enjoy the wide open spaces for the same sort of money as a house in Howick. Because of the position of Riverhead and new motorway links, I can head north or south out of Auckland, or go anywhere within Auckland and not have to use the harbour bridge. That alone made the move worthwhile."