Greener Grass

20 SEP 2020
Christchurch has long had more affordable housing than other large cities in New Zealand. Or more to the point - the houses cost the same but the cost of the land is significantly cheaper. This makes Christchurch houses around half the price of similar houses in Auckland. Rents too are lower. This makes the cost of living in Christchurch lower with a consequential higher standard of living, because incomes and other costs are similar to that of Auckland, and where there is a difference it is more than made up by the lower cost of housing.

It is something of a surprise that this is the case, but it is likely a consequence of greater availability of developable land. After the earthquakes when there was a large loss of housing stock when land was Red Zoned land was opened up for development earlier than planned - but it enabled the rapid construction of new homes. It is unfortunate though that many of these homes have been in the exurbs of Rangiora in Waimakariri, or in Lincoln and especially Rolleston in Selwyn. Effectively part of Christchurch they are under separate council control. Unfortunate because this has merely increased Cantabrians car dependency - already the highest in New Zealand. If there is one bad spot on the cost of living equation is that Cantabrians spend a larger proportion of their incomes on transportation. Now some may claim this as a consequence of greater wealth and disposable income - but it is a poor way to spend your money when it increases traffic, pollution, and climate change.

So should more people move to Christchurch from Auckland? It is hard not to thinks so. Perhaps more should be made of the comparison of costs, and especially housing. And Christchurch should work hard to maintain the price differential as it really does improve the standard of living. And if Christchurch people could wean themselves from cars, live in a walkable neighbourhood, or cycle more, then the value proposition is even greater.

Yes - moving to Christchurch makes perfect sense. And that's a decision my family has made. Now if only COVID would make the move easier.
By Hab3