Do Young New Zealanders Actually Want to Buy a House Anyway?

As housing becomes a contested issue across New Zealand, the idea of owning a home is fast becoming a pipedream for many young people.

by VICE Staff
26 July 2017, 12:47am

Living the dream? Image via.

As housing becomes a contested issue across New Zealand, the idea of owning a home is fast becoming a pipedream for many young people.

So where does this leave our generation? Are we going to be a generation of homeowners like our parents or are we going to be a generation of renters?

VICE spoke to four young New Zealanders to find out if they actually want to own their own home anyway.

James, 22

VICE: Hey James, what's your living situation at the moment?
James: I'm living with mum and dad, at home. I flatted for about a year and a half but renting was just too expensive and I knew I wanted to go overseas, so I had to move back in to save.

How does living at home compare to flatting?
Oh man, I like flatting way better than living at home. I would definitely move out, but I think rent prices would have to be like Dunedin prices—and that would just never work up here.

Do you think there's anything more that local government can be doing for youth housing?
See, no, I don't even think there is anything else. This bubble is not like what happened 10 years ago with a housing market crash based on shady loans; this is a supply problem.

Can you see yourself owning a home in Auckland? Is that even something you even want?
I would love to own my own home here, I mean it's the freaking New Zealand dream isn't it? Have people come over and compliment your house and you're all, 'Yeah, I built this all myself' type thing. I don't think it's feasible though, not here in Auckland. You would have to be saving from 18 years old. If I can find affordable housing overseas, I'll go there.

You sound pretty resigned about home ownership, do you think a lot of young people are this complacent about it? Or is it apathy?
I'm not apathetic about it. Of course I vote to have my say in these kind of issues. But it's like going to a bakery for a bagel that used to be four dollars and is now 12. You don't get mad about it—you go somewhere else to find a solution. I would rather see the world than see my own backyard.

Kelly, 23

Do you want to own your own home?
I already do actually. My partner and I bought in October last year. My partner's nana was selling and so we were like, 'We'll grab it while we can'.

Where were you living at the time?
We were living with my parents and saving. We never wanted to rent and pay somebody else's mortgage. We wanted to save and put that money towards paying off our own mortgage.

What did it take to get that deposit?
A lot of hard work. A lot of saving. Now we can't go off and travel and do things like that. I guess for me, the little things I used to buy are really not as important. Owning a house is a huge thing, especially now. I look at my younger brothers and the effort they'll have to make to attain the same thing is going to be huge. My brother is talking about moving down to Christchurch or somewhere smaller so that buying a house can be a possibility for him.

Were you able to buy in the area you wanted to?
Yeah, it was where my partner had grown up. I guess you've got to weigh up the pros and cons of whether you want to own a house in an area you don't want to live in or live in an area you want to and not own your own house.

Did you need your parents' financial support in order to buy?
No. We had that option if we needed to. They were happy to be guarantors but we didn't have to go with that. We managed.

Do you see the house as part of your retirement plan?
Yes definitely. The house is perfect because it's got a flat underneath so that helps us pay off our mortgage too. It's the house I want to have kids in.

Would it concern you if the housing price came down?
Yes because it would bring the value of our house down. But I understand if people can't get in the market, it would make it more accessible for people who need it. But then the people who have paid lots of money for their houses are going to lose out. I'm in a house so I'm lucky and I'm not due to sell any time soon.

Kyle, 28
Retail manager

Do you want to own your own home?
Kyle: I do, but I can't at the moment.

Why do you want to be a homeowner?
Long term investment. I think property is the best way to set yourself up from a long term standpoint. I don't know for sure that superannuation is going to cut it when I'm 65.

What's preventing you getting into home ownership now?
House prices are ridiculous. My partner and I are in Kiwisaver but to get a deposit together at the moment is next to impossible. You've got to be on a really good whack of cash to get anywhere near it. It's still doable if you're mobile—you can move to somewhere like Whangarei or Rotorua and pick up a house relatively cheaply.

Would you consider moving away from Auckland in order to buy?
We've thought about it. My opinion is the opportunities from a career standpoint aren't as good in those smaller towns. If you use Kiwisaver to buy your first house, you have to live in it for the first six months. For someone like myself, who would rather do property from an investment standpoint, it's hard to justify moving out of Auckland to go and buy a house with the objective of coming back in six months time just to start on the ladder.

So you're renting at the moment?
We are. We moved in a couple of years ago. The landlord raised our rent marginally earlier in the year so we looked at what was around and decided we were better staying where we are. Landlords know that no-one can afford to buy so they can charge a bit more rent because most people don't have another option.

Are politicians doing enough about it?
They're trying to get some kind of hold on it. It's difficult when things explode. Once house prices start rising like this you're on the back foot. It's going to take a long time to do anything about it that's substantial enough to quell it. There are definitely initiatives in place, it's just unfortunate it didn't happen earlier. Maybe we wouldn't be in this position.

Rachel, 23

Do you actually want to own your own home?
Not really. It's not something I think about because I can't imagine it. My mum bought her first home when she was 21. She literally bought the house next door to her house and used it as an extension of her bedroom. I could never do anything like that.

Are you living at home now?
No I'm renting, and I think I'll be renting for the foreseeable future.

Do you like renting?
My aunt and uncle only rent and that's cool because they move around a lot. I get that. But it's different to owning your own home. You have a lot less freedom, like our house is really cold and we can't really do much about it. And it's expensive.

Would you like to own in the long term?
Only if I became really rich. Otherwise I think I'd be saving all my money for all my 20s and half my 30s to possibly try to buy a house.

What do you spend your money on?
I guess it's paying rent. I can't pay rent and save for a house, I don't think. I don't know what I spend my money on—concerts and stuff like that.

What do you think politicians should be doing about the housing market?
I don't know how the market works in terms of how to make houses more affordable. I know if prices went down then people with huge mortgages would go into the negative and I understand why that's a problem as well, so I don't know what needs to happen.