With a population of over 1.3 million residents, Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and an increasingly popular choice with relocating expatriates from the UK because of the lifestyle benefits that the city and the greater area around it offers – from the employment and schooling options to the cultural and social aspects of life.
Auckland is actually made up of four cities and there are two dramatic geographic elements that dominate life in and around the greater conurbation – namely the volcanoes and the sea. These ensure that Auckland is a stunning place to live with breathtaking views assured. What’s more, because the greater city area is home to almost a quarter of all the citizens of New Zealand, it is certainly a happening and exciting place to live. In this, the Shelter Offshore Guide to Living in Auckland, we explore the city for would-be expats and newly arrived immigrants.
Auckland is made up of Auckland City, home to over 400,000 people, Manukau City, North Shore City and Waitakere City and it also comprises Waiheke Island, the Little and Great Barrier Islands and the Mokohinau Islands which are actually about 100 km from the main business centre of Auckland – so as you can appreciate, it is a vast and sprawling city and one that is home to a vast array of different communities. As a relocating Briton it might be your first choice of location to move to when emigrating to New Zealand. After all, it offers a fantastic jumping off point for exploring the rest of the nation. The one piece of advice we would like to impart though is because the city is so vast and so diverse, don’t commit yourself to buying property in Auckland or even taking a long let because you may well find that the first community you arrive in does not suit your lifestyle choices perfectly.
Auckland City is almost an island – and because of the stunning geography surrounding the conurbation, parts of the greater city area are joined just by thin slivers of land. You are never far from the ocean when you live in Auckland and what’s more, you’re never far from fantastic beaches. The proximity of the ocean coupled with the amount of parkland that the city has in abundance makes the general lifestyle in the city a far healthier and happier one in general than you might experience in a heavily industrialised British city for instance.
Western Springs Park is especially attractive with its lake; nearer the city centre there’s The Domain which is an extinct volcano and which is home to two large glasshouses, a courtyard and a fernery. But wherever you head in the city you will come across small gardens or parks and Auckland is very green. Around the city, parts of the natural bush land are designated regional parks and for those who love the great outdoors, all of these vast areas are perfect for exploration, as are the incredible beaches in and around the city.
If you’re moving to New Zealand and you’re in to culture and history, again, Auckland is a great choice of destination. It has museums, markets, a zoo, sculpture trails and sculpture parks, art galleries, theatres, cinemas and many cultural events across the city throughout the year. For sports and adventure lovers – Auckland is likely to be your paradise on earth. New Zealanders are renowned for their robust attitude to sports and getting out there and getting on with things anyway, but Aucklanders possibly even more so! So, starting tame, there are golf courses in Auckland and from the city you can go on 4track adventures, you can cycle, hike, mountain bike, bungee jump, climb the Auckland Bridge, go canyoning, kayaking, horse riding, sky diving, skiing or diving. Basically, the outdoor and active life is to be embraced if you move to live in Auckland.
When it comes to the property market landscape in Auckland there are vast discrepancies between house prices depending on the suburb or region you prefer. The good news is that the market has been falling and falling quite sharply meaning that anyone moving to live in New Zealand today will get more for their money than they would have this time last year! In May 2008 house sale volumes were also down but house prices appeared to be possibly levelling out. Experts in the market suggest the property scene in Auckland is now stabilising and bottoming out. But it pays to keep a close eye on house prices and to look around at auction properties to see what’s coming to the market and for what price to time a buy in accordingly.
When it comes to transportation infrastructure and driving in Auckland the news is less favourable I’m afraid. For one thing the public transport network is a bone of contention amongst residents and politicians alike! It’s been an argument point for many years with a lot of money required to be spent on improving commuter services for example. Until the money is invested, most Aucklanders use their cars to get around. Which is fine – except that parking in the city is a problem and some of the driving leaves a little to be desired! As with most city drivers, Aucklanders are quite pushy once they get behind the wheel. Don’t react and don’t stress, just go with the flow, put the radio on and forget about it!
In terms of employment, Auckland is the economic capital of New Zealand and the largest commercial centre in the country - all the major multi nationals have offices in the city. This ensures that there is a wide base of diverse employment opportunity and that there is a higher than national average personal median income enjoyed by many professionals who are resident in the city.
Auckland is home to schools, colleges, universities, language institutions and technical institutions. It has some of the best educational establishments in the country and it means that Britons living in New Zealand need have one less thing to think about when relocating and choosing Auckland as a base. I.e., the schools will be of a high enough standard for all children.
Finally the social side of life in Auckland is almost as diverse and exciting as the scenery around the city! Wining and dining establishments are available across the city in abundance and are generally of a high standard, there are all types of cuisine available and these bars, restaurants and cafes are just the tip of the social scene and nightlife iceberg. Aucklanders do work hard but they also enjoy life to the full making the very most of the weekend and trying to stretch it out from Thursday right through to Sunday night if possible!
So in conclusion, Auckland is a great starting off point for all expats moving to live in New Zealand, and for many it is not just the first choice of relocation destination, it is the only choice.