Property rental prices continue to rise steadily around the country, and Whanganui hasn't escaped the increases.
According to the government's Tenancy Services website, the average weekly payment you'll need to put down for a three-bedroom house in the city is $435.
The cheapest suburb to live in is Castlecliff, with a three-bedroom house there costing an average of $380 per week to rent.
At the other end of the scale, a three-bedroom house in St John's Hill will cost you $520.
Whanganui resident Hayley Saunders said up until a year ago she and her two children were living in a caravan in the driveway of her mother's house.
"It's not that I minded living in it, but the main reason we were there was because I couldn't afford to pay market rent," Saunders said.
"For my mental health, I couldn't battle with the hundred other people that were going to look at places as well.
"You keep having to compromise and downgrade from what you think your family deserves."
Saunders and her children currently live in a house owned by her friend, and rent is discounted because it is being redecorated.
"We would still be living in the caravan otherwise.
"The problem is I can't make it my home. Things are packed up and I'm not sure which part of the house is getting done next, so we just kind of shuffle from room to room."
Saunders said she was "genuinely baffled" how people could afford rent in the current market.
"Even with the whole living wage aspect, I don't think that covers the spike in rental costs.
"Saying 'it's market driven' isn't a suitable excuse, to be honest.
"Just because the cost of purchasing a house has gone up at the moment, there are lots of people who have owned these rental properties for years and years.
"There's no reason for them to have gone up $100 [per week]."
The fact that many rental properties in Whanganui were now over $450 meant competition for something more affordable was high, Harcourts property manager Kieran Corliss said.
"The higher we go the more people are priced out, and that's where we are getting cases of people moving in with family, downsizing or moving into sleep-outs," Corliss said.
"They simply can't afford the new rent level."
Corliss said rental properties over $500 were usually only taken by people who had sold their house and were looking for a place to live short term, or by working professionals from bigger cities.
Artist Sarah McDowell moved to Whanganui with her husband, who works at Whanganui Hospital, and two children from North Carolina, United States, a year ago, and they have been renting a former AirBnb on Bastia Hill ever since.
While they pay significantly more than the average market price, the house came fully furnished (down to towels and pots and pans), and some utilities are also covered.
"We can see Mt Taranaki on a clear day, so maybe we pay an extra $25 a week for that," McDowell said.
She said finding a rental in Whanganui was hard enough, but with listings being filled within a few days, trying to find one while living in another country was near impossible.
"We were definitely surprised how few rentals were available, I feel like it was 20 or so," McDowell said.
"If you put the pet filter on, that number goes down to one or none."
Healthy Homes standards for rental properties are to be implemented from July 1, and some houses will need work done to reach government standards.
"We have a sweet, 1960s house that's in good shape, but that wasn't a great era for insulation," McDowell said.
"If our place had to have work done to meet those new regulations it would mean a level of construction that people couldn't be living through at the time.
"We would have to find another rental, so it's easier for us to just put up with it [the cold] than have to move out so they can do the work."
A property Corliss listed this week already had eight applications and around 20 inquiries, he said.
"They are easy to fill.
"People are wanting to live here as a lifestyle choice, and even the locals are staying put. We aren't seeing a lot of movement in our portfolio of current tenants."
Fellow Harcourts property manager Rachael Cole moved to Whanganui at the start of last year.
"During summer when we were listing some houses we were absolutely inundated by inquiries and applications," Cole said.
"I was really shocked to see Whanganui mirroring what was happening in Wellington."
Sandy Fage said the current rental market was unlike any she had seen in her 20 years as co-ordinator at the Whanganui Budget Advisory Service.
Whanganui was caught in the "perfect storm" and there was no quick fix, she said.
"I have got two clients who were in relationships but are still living in the same house together because neither of them can afford to part.
"That's no way to live, but they don't have any other choice at the moment.
"What we are seeing is not just the financial impacts, we see the mental health and self-esteem side of things as well."
Rent prices were so high that there was little the Whanganui Budget Advisory Service could do to help people afford them, Fage said.
"That's where we struggle as a service, because we are all about giving people options.
"When they come in for financial advice we can say 'have you considered this?' or 'did you know you can do this?'.
"When it comes to housing, I know they are going to be very lucky to get a place to live.
"Our clients say they go to a viewing and there are 25 other people there, and these people are much better off than they are."
Glenn Davy rents a three-bedroom house in Whanganui, and his rent has gone from $270 to $360 over the last three years.
Even so, he said he felt lucky to be paying less than most.
"When you look at income statistics here, I don't know how anyone in Whanganui who is not in a two-income household can pull it [renting] off," Davy said.
"I'm not looking to move until I can afford to buy, or unless something wonderful comes along."
Davy said he was subject to a rental inspection every three months.
"There seems to be a principle that it's more important for people to make money out of your rent than it is for you to have a home.
"That's a bit of a cultural indictment."
The property managers Davy had dealt with were all "really pleasant individuals", he said.
"They are very sympathetic to the scenario, and are sick of dealing with a***hole landlords, that's almost their exact words.
"It must take its toll. In the time I've been here there have been five different individuals who have come to inspect.
"The agents are great, but landlords seem to be sociopaths."
Meanwhile, McDowell said the family had begun to adjust to the cooler temperatures that were common in New Zealand houses.
"People say 'just put a jacket on', but I'm inside my own home.
"That seems to be the Kiwi way.
"We've had a year or so to toughen up, and I think we are a bit more prepared for this winter."