What makes a house a home?

Is it the pile of jandals by the front door, the pitter patter of little steps (animal or human), or even that pot plant clinging to life on the windowsill? 

It’s tough to explain exactly what makes a house a home – although that’s not going to stop us from trying. 

In the 2021 OneChoice Kiwi Family Report, we delve into the lives of everyday New Zealanders to find out a little more about what their home lives look like. Here we explore hot topics such as renting and owning and how the pandemic has affected the property market, as well as lesser discussed topics such as moving from the city to the regions. 

Here’s a little more on what the home nest looks like for everyday Kiwis.

We have one of the hottest property markets in the world. The cost of renting and buying is relatively very high compared with average incomes, which is forcing more and more young people into situations where they rent instead of buying their own home.

Yet, high rental prices are making the rental market almost as challenging as home ownership itself.

The majority of those looking to buy a house right now want to do so in order to stop paying rent (69.9%), and almost half say it’s because they want to get on the property ladder before it’s too late (48.1%).

Nearly everyone thinks the rental market is overpriced – 21.5% think it is somewhat overpriced, and a massive 72.3% think it is very overpriced.

And it’s not like everyone is out there spending all their money on avocado and toast and expecting to purchase in Ponsonby for their first homes. Well over half (58.7%) of those looking to buy are cutting back on expenses in order to save, and a vast majority of 83.1% aren’t fussed if their first home isn’t exactly their ‘dream’ property – so long as they get on that ladder.

According to Statistics New Zealand’s Housing in Aotearoa 2020 report, home ownership is currently at an all-time low, with just 64.5% of households. As you might expect, ownership also skews towards the older generations.

Kiwi families

Families are incredibly diverse, and no two households are ever exactly the same. We did, however, find out some interesting statistics and data during our survey for our Kiwi Family Report.

For example, we learned that 46.6% of married couples lived together before getting married, so half of married couples only found out about their loved ones' annoying habits after moving in together (way to dive in the deep end!).

We also found out that the majority, 58.8% of couples got married before having kids.

But there are also plenty of people who take a different step before having kids – having pets. As much as 28.1% of couples got a furry friend as a sign of commitment before having a child together (and another 4.5% hadn’t reached that part yet but planned to).

And as for what made Kiwi families unique? Aside from our obvious obsession with Marmite, half of us (51.7%) believe that we are more easy going and relaxed. Other popular answers included ‘spending more time together’, ‘not being as fussed with getting married before having children’, and ‘not being as fussed with getting married to commit to their life partner’.

What impact has COVID-19 had on New Zealand’s housing market?

Bucking practically all global trends in 2020, the housing market soared throughout the past year. While this is all part of a greater trend of housing growth, it was especially surprising considering the global pandemic that massively impacted the economy.

However, with many thanks to our country’s excellent COVID-19 response, housing didn’t just putter along or grow a little bit last year – it went through the roof.

In October 2020, REINZ reported that Auckland’s median house price increased by 16.8% from the same time the year before to $1 million, a new record high. In the same release, the group announced that a further nine regions and 28 districts hit record median prices.

Not to mention, that October saw more properties sold across the country than at any point in more than four years (53 months).

From low interest rates to Kiwis returning from overseas and a housing market that had already been on the burner, the pandemic has seen the market go from one high to another.

Our own survey found that the pandemic has even affected how many of us are staying at home rather than flying the coop. More than half (58.6%) of those who currently live with their parents said that the uncertainty of the pandemic has made them plan to stay at home longer.

Additionally, we found that 83.1% of Kiwis thought that New Zealanders returning from overseas would place further pressure on the property market.

Making the move from the city to regional areas

Aside from ditching the beloved avo on toast and dropping their housing expectations, first home buyers are also taking other measures to get onto the property ladder – some of them are looking elsewhere.

We asked our survey respondents if it was something they had considered, or even already done, and found a not insignificant portion of people were relocating.

Almost one in ten (9.2%) had already relocated in the past year or two. A further 4.3% were in the process, and a little over 20% were either seriously considering it or giving it some consideration.

While the largest portion moved due to the cost of living (41.8%), others moved to be closer to family and friends, to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, or simply to get started on a new life away from the city.

Of those who moved, the majority went to an outer or inner suburban area, and just 16.6% moved to an inner-city area.

What does the future of the housing market hold?

Unsurprisingly, there’s certainly a lot of concern over the future of the housing market.

Just over half of Kiwis, 52.7%, said they are concerned over the rising or prohibitive cost of getting into the property market.

The vast majority of Kiwis (88.4%) think that the younger generations are getting locked out of the property market, and almost as many (83.4%) think that the dream of home ownership is no longer attainable for the average Kiwi.

And while the housing market certainly grew in 2020, recent data shows that it hasn’t even slowed down. A REINZ report from August 2021 shows that median house prices across New Zealand hit a new record high, growing 25.2% in just one year from July 2020 to July 2021, moving from $659,500 to $826,000 in that time.

However, there may be positive news on the horizon. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand recently tightened its loan-to-value restrictions, and the Government announced several measures in March, such as increasing the Bright Line Test, in an attempt to cool the heated housing market.

Whether those measures make an impact remains to be seen. In the meantime, be sure to download the OneChoice Kiwi Family Report to see everything (else) we learned about New Zealand families in 2021.