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Auckland is a great place with plenty of activities and much of the population originating outside of New Zealand. People from all over the globe come to live here, and no wonder – this modern, beautiful, and fast-growing city has firmly taken its place among the top-ranked cities in the world.
If you also consider moving to Auckland, first you should learn some facts about life there. Moving from one place to another is always a difficult task and it is twice as difficult when you move to New Zealand.
Do not misunderstand, New Zealand is an amazing country with truly spectacular nature and high living standards but, at the same time, it is a remote place with its specific traits that can surprise you where you do not expect it.
So, we have prepared this list of important aspects of life in Auckland to make your first weeks as a newcomer to this city a little easier.
1. Life is really expensive
Prepare to change some of your living habits because life in Auckland is really expensive, housing rates are appallingly high, and even shopping for food may be wallet-busting. The cost of living in the city has risen dramatically over the recent 5 years.
Some good advice is looking for accommodation outside the city and paying attention to discounted products in supermarkets. Auckland is not a place to be brand-loyal unless you want to go broke. Strategic use of special offers and timely visits to big sales can actually enhance your quality of life here.
Auckland is famous for its eating places offering splendid dishes from all possible cuisines, and the average price for two courses and a drink in a restaurant is about $30. Going to a movie will cost you from $16 to $25 depending on the day of the week. Parking in the downtown areas is as much as $16 per hour.
You can rent a nice tiny studio in the city center for about $350 per week or get a room in a shared house for about $200. If you need accommodation with several bedrooms, you will have to spend a significant amount of money. Renting a house in a good suburb is over $1000 per week.
2. Housing is challenging
Housing availability and prices have been a big issue in Auckland recently. It is expensive to own a house and as expensive to rent it. Buying prices for houses start from $600,000 NZD and prices for rent – from $2000 NZD per month.
Compared to houses in other countries, houses in or near Auckland are often quite small (for example, a regular three-bedroom house is often not bigger than 80 sqm), so do not expect any kind of luxury for this price.
Due to this unfavorable situation in the real estate market, it is better to stay in rented accommodation for a while – until you get to know the city and understand in which district you would like to live – and only then consider buying a house. Moreover, Auckland is a long and narrow city and, having made a bad choice, you can end up spending hours commuting to work or getting children to school every day.
Here is a bit of advice relating to choosing a district. If you would like to walk to most places and avoid the horrible traffic situation, Auckland Downtown is the best for you. West Auckland is a good option for those who are looking for a cheaper area. If you want to live in a more modern and “shiny” district, then consider the North Shore. If you want to reside in a place that has character, you may like places like Kingsland, etc.
3. The public transport network is poor
Of course, there is public transport in Auckland and it includes even ferries, which can take you to the islands, but in comparison to other big cities in the world, the public transport network is really poor here. Getting to various places in and outside the city can be difficult if you do not have a car, so learning to drive and getting a car is critical for living comfortably.
Running a car will cost you around $120 (compare with $60 for pubic transport from Monday to Friday) but it is worth it. For a big family, it is better to have several cars to make sure you do not have to spend half a day getting everybody here and there.
4. Traffic is horrible during rush hours
Another problem is that roads in Auckland cannot cope with the city’s traffic and sometimes you have to spend 1-2 hours waiting in a traffic jam if you’re unlucky to be driving during rush hours at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Since there are not enough dedicated lanes for public transport, buses can get stuck for a long time, too.
There is also a train network in Auckland but it covers only certain areas.
Probably, the best way to deal with the transport situation in the city is to show the best of your prudence when it comes to choosing accommodation and to buy a house in close proximity to the places you visit regularly (work, school, etc.)
5. You may go through 4 seasons in 1 day
Auckland boasts a very warm climate with warm, humid summers and mild winters. It never gets too cold – even in the winter months, which have a lot of rainfall (the coolest and wettest month is July). Auckland is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand, with about 2060 hours of sunshine per year.
However, the weather can be treacherous in its own way here. It can change in an instant and do that repeatedly during one day, giving you the experience of spring, summer, winter, and fall – all within a few hours. So prepare to layer your clothes to be ready for whatever it may have in store for you each day.
6. No one is safe from sunburns
Another important thing you should do to protect yourself from the weather in New Zealand is wearing sunscreen. Even if you come from a hot sunny country, do not disregard this rule in your first weeks because many newcomers from Australia, Africa, or Caribbean countries have already suffered from the strong UV in New Zealand. So caution in this matter is never too much in Auckland.
7. People are extremely sociable
In their free time, Aucklanders like to gather in cafes/bars/restaurants or make short trips with their families and friends. It is also common to go out in one company with people you barely know or have never met before – this happens when your friend invites their sister who brings her colleague who brings their partner…
New Zealanders really like to communicate and make new acquaintances. Conversations to random people at bars – or even at stoplights while waiting for a signal change – are also quite common.
If your co-workers are planning a social event, you are expected to join in. It is okay to pass it once or twice, but if you never spend time with them, your behavior may be considered offensive.
At the same time, most people in Auckland are friendly, helpful, and show high tolerance for other cultures. If you become an active member of their community, you will make great friends and get so much back.
8. You should keep your distance
People are friendly and you are likely to feel a very light and airy mood virtually anywhere in Auckland, so getting settled and making new acquaintances is not going to be a problem. Nevertheless, there is one peculiar feature you should always keep in mind if you want to avoid awkward situations.
When you communicate with somebody who is not your close friend, keep everything at the surface level and do not share your problems when they ask how you are. People are just trying to be polite. In fact, they prefer to stay out of other people’s business.
Of course, this does not refer to one’s closest friends and family members.
9. Laid-back attitude to life
Relaxed living, calm and positive outlook are marketed in New Zealand to death and you can feel it in every aspect of everyday life – from what people wear to their business efficiency. If you grew up in a place with a different character where people strived to do ambitious things and expected others to share that aspiration, you may need a long time to get used to Aucklanders’ common laid-back attitude.
Moreover, sometimes you can face passive aggressiveness if you stand above the rest of the crowd but that also depends on the maturity of the people surrounding you. For example, there are higher chances to go through this unpleasant experience at school or university.
10. Some of the beaches are dangerous
Each time you decide to spend your day on a beach picnicking, sunbathing, and swimming, you should exercise caution – beaches in New Zealand, including Auckland, are spectacularly beautiful, but not all of them are safe.
There are areas with strong rips and currents where even locals do get sometimes into trouble. It is better not to go alone and choose safer places for swimming. Ask people or Google which of the beaches can be dangerous, always exercise extreme caution when you are in the water, and keep a close eye on your children.
This is true not only for Auckland but for the rest of New Zealand as well.
11. Auckland city life is awesome!
Well, Auckland can be difficult at times but it is definitely one of the best cities in New Zealand – or maybe in the world – and is well worth it! It is really a special place for guests, new citizens, and natives alike. Friendliness is everywhere – people start conversations with strangers in the streets; everyone greets the bus driver when getting in and thanks him before getting out; strangers are often ready to help you even if you do not ask them.
The streets, buses, subway trains, and stations are all immaculately clean and the ecology in the city is great – Aucklanders are lucky to breathe clean and fresh air. The scenery is lush and green, the ocean with the islands are spectacular, and – surprisingly! – there is no wildlife that can kill you. No cougars, bears, alligators, snakes, or really dangerous spiders.
Auckland is a relatively small city, with a population of just over 1 million, but it has all the good things of big cities such as splendid restaurants, big sports events, live concerts, modern shopping malls, a wide variety of entertainment options, etc. Big city life and quiet suburbs are conveniently close to each other in Auckland.