An increasing number of Aucklanders are turning to inner-city apartments. Seen as not only a cost-effective alternative to the city's soaring house prices, apartments are also a lifestyle choice. The population of the CBD has increased by 10,000 in the last two years so we decided to speak to a couple local residents to get their take on what it's really like to live in the heart of Auckland.
There's an entire generation of Kiwis who have spent the last 20 years watching the cast of Friends hanging out in their trendy New York apartments living enviable big city lives. This reference to popular culture is not intended to glamorise apartment living, but rather serve as a reflection of where Auckland is headed.
Prime Minister John Key recently said that young Aucklanders and those looking to downsize should look into buying an apartment.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei has said that most young Aucklanders she speaks to would be more than happy with an apartment for their first home and that they have long given up on the traditional family home on a quarter acre section.
It's fair to say that apartments hold a large appeal to a decent chunk of an increasingly cosmopolitan Auckland population.
The numbers back this up. Just over 2,500 apartments have been sold off the plan in Auckland so far this year, of which over 1000 were in the CBD. And there is very little of the current Auckland apartment pipeline available, with only around 1,700 of the upcoming 8,600 units still available for sale.
Kathy Ross, who lives in an apartment on Albert Street and is a member of the Auckland CBD Residents' Advisory Group, says the popularity of online homestay network Air BnB is leading to people owning apartments for longer because it makes it easier for owners to live somewhere else and rent out their apartment while they're gone.
Apartments in Auckland have traditionally been targeted at investors but in recent years the focus has shifted to owner-occupiers, bringing with it an increase in the quality of apartments.
Kathy has been living in the CBD since 2011 and in the last few years has seen a marked improvement in the city's amenities.
"The Britomart City Farmers' Market has been a great addition to the inner-city community. Open on Saturday mornings, and Sundays during summer, it's a great place to get fresh local produce. But more than that it's become an integral part of the city," says Kathy.
Roaming through the market or relaxing on one of the giant bean bags on Takutai Lawn sipping an organic coffee with live music in the background and the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the air has become a favourite local pastime.
Another great way for people to get together is through meetup.com. The website helps you to find people or groups with similar interests to you and arrange a time to meet up. You can find just about any interest you can imagine on there and Kathy says it's a great tool for people living in the inner city. She's a member of four different hiking groups and is regularly part of groups as large as 60 people that meet up in the city then carpool together to go on hiking trips.
Ease of accessibility
Thirty-seven-year-old Warren Wilson has been living in the CBD in an apartment block on Day Street, just off K Road, for the last three months.
Originally from Kenya, Warren has lived in various cities around the world and has been pleasantly surprised at how accessible everything is here.
"The nicest thing for me is the proximity of everything. Auckland for me has been quite an easy city to get around. I love getting on the bike, cycling through the alleyways and discovering little food/eatery places. It's got quite a strong Asian culture here, so you can get a lot of great Asian food - I found out where to get authentic Korean pancakes and dumplings."
Auckland transport has been creating cycleways and walkways to make it easier to get around the city which Warren has been benefitting from.
"One of my favourite parts of the day is cycling down Queen Street, all the way down into Britomart. I love it! I love coming into work like that!
"It's a pretty clean city. They've taken a lot of care, taking care of a lot of things like availability of parking and stuff like that. It's got a nice vibe, I'm enjoying it much more than I would have thought."
Staying close to nature
Living in the city is normally associated with saying goodbye to green, open pastures but Warren has found quite the opposite.
"Albert Park and the Auckland Domain are just so peaceful and tranquil. And I love going on the ferry to Waiheke or Devonport. I feel that from the CBD it's pretty easy to reach out and touch a whole bunch of different things. I'm actually finding the CBD's got a really cool vibe to it."
If you're interested in learning more about what it's like to live in the city, drop by and see us at 2 Kitchener Street between 1-3pm any day of the week for a chat.