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HOME & AWAY: NEW ZEALAND:NEW ZEALAND may not attract as many Irish as its Aussie neighbour, but its more temperate climate, stunning scenery and lower cost of living make it an attractive option for young people and families who are looking to find a new home Down Under.The most popular areas for new Irish arrivals in New Zealand are Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, followed by Queenstown and Dunedin.
The biggest factor influencing the price of property to rent or buy is demand, with homes in the cities costing more than twice those of rural areas. Auckland is the largest and most expensive city, with prices soaring for properties close to the sea or in sought-after grammar school zones (see schoolzones.co.nz).
Residential property prices rocketed between 2002 and 2007, with increases of between 10 and 15 per cent per year, but statistics from Quotable Value Limited, a government-run property information service ( qv.co.nz), show that the market has stabilised since the peak five years ago. Values rose by approximately 3 per cent last year, but remain almost 3 per cent lower than 2007 levels.
“The media here has a fascination with the property market – they talk about housing booms and busts, but it has been stable now for a number of years across New Zealand,” says Ciaran Lowney of the Irish People Living in New Zealand social network.
“The exception is a few central suburbs in Auckland, where houses have being selling well above the asking price. The media have portrayed this as a new bubble, but it is confined to small areas which are skewing the overall numbers.”
According to QV data, the average price paid for a residential property over the past three months was $397,000 (€237,000) nationally. Properties in Auckland fetched $523,000 (€312,000), with those in Wellington averaging $443,000 (€265,000). Homes in Christchurch were below average at $382,000 (€228,000), and in smaller cities like Dunedin, prices were much lower, at around $265,000 (€158,000).
Lowney says that while buying a home can be a worthwhile investment for those who get permanent residency and intend to stay long term, the majority of Irish are arriving on a one or two-year work visa, and will rent rather than buy.
Periodic tenancies are common, where no fixed time period is specified on the lease. New arrivals who are uncertain about where they want to live should look out for this type of rental, which will allow you to try out a property or area without making a long-term commitment.
Tenants need to give the landlord three weeks’ notice before vacating a property, which means that short-term lets are technically possible on a periodic lease.