We all know that buying a first home is a challenge. Especially in Auckland where prices are what they are.

So it makes sense for people buying a first home (or second) to turn their attention to other locations where house prices are lower. Like Wanganui…

Wanganui was recently touted as an attractive place to buy a house because, well, they’re cheaper down there. That’s true. Apparently, Wanganui has a lot going for it too. 

I’m familiar with the headwaters of the Wanganui River and as far as trout fishing is concerned it’s world class. The irony is that the headwaters are about 300km away from town.

The thing is the Big Smoke has a lot MORE going for it. It’s why people flock to Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, etc and they stay. Admit it, there’s more opportunity to tap into. A natural consequence of that ‘popularity’ is that house prices are higher. 

To prove I’m not a blinkered Jaffa, I present to you the case of Queenstown.

The permanent population in that district is small at about 30,000. It’s reasonably hard to get to. It’s cold. You won’t get much change from $1M for a house there.

Wanganui is also small and reasonably hard to get to. Not as cold. Permanent population of about 45,000 in the district. House prices are about $300,000.

The difference?

I don’t need to tell you that Queenstown has a hell of a lot more going for it than Wanganui. 

My point is that a cheap house and less traffic isn’t everything.

Being close to friends and family networks. Having a job to pay the bills. The chance to advance your career. Good shopping. Decent internet. A diverse range of restaurants and entertainment options. Good schools. Easy access to hospitals. Airports with decent and direct travel destinations.

All of these things are more likely to exist where the population is high. And where house prices are also high. Essentially, you’re paying more for convenience… and options.

I’m a small-town boy from Opotiki so don’t accuse me of beating up on our little towns. I have fond memories of the place but I’m not going back there. What the hell would I do? Not much call for a mortgage broker down there. You might reach the same conclusion.

Small town living works for some, but it’s not a cookie-cutter solution to Auckland’s housing antics. So if you’re planning to turn the romantic notion of small town living into a living reality, know what you’re buying into, and potentially striking yourself out of. It can be very hard, if not impossible, to make the jump back into the Auckland market a few years down the track when you’ve had enough. So take a think long-term. 

Maybe it’s a great option for you and yours – want to know what you could have in hand to buy elsewhere? Get in touch for some sound mortgage advice.

About Campbell Hastie

Cam is one half of Auckland based mortgage brokers, The Go 2 Guys.

He makes a living by sharing what he knows about mortgages with people, arranging mortgages for people and then insuring people.

He doesn't claim to know everything about mortgages himself which is why he teamed up with David Mercer — hence the ‘2’ in Go 2 Guys.

He writes posts regularly on his blog and has been told he has an ability to share his knowledge in a simple and sometimes memorable way.

Feel free to comment and ask any questions. Contact Campbell Hastie m: 027 697 7789.

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