Image design: Archi Banal
Image design: Archi Banal

SocietyOctober 1, 2022

I’m renting at age 44 and I love it

Image design: Archi Banal
Image design: Archi Banal

In the last of our true renting tales, a DJ who pays $650 a week for a central Auckland apartment (sometimes shared with her dad) explains why she never wants to leave. 

I’m 44 and this apartment makes me feel 25 again, it really does. I guess because it reminds me of Old Hollywood or London or New York. It doesn’t feel like Auckland because it has a view of the city from an angle you don’t usually see. I think it was built in the 1920s, there are gargoyles on the outside and a fucking turret. It’s just gorgeous. 

For me, renting is liberating. For a long time I felt really resistant to owning anything at all, even something like a washing machine. Because, psychologically, that stuff tethers you to a place.

I moved to LA when I was 17 and I’ve done three to four stints living there. Because I was always making trips back and forth I had to get rid of things, especially big items. My dad has had stuff in storage for me my whole life. 

I live here alone most of the time and then for a few days every fortnight my dad, who lives up north, comes down to Auckland for his work and shares this place with me.

I love living with my dad. I really look forward to having him here. I get up and make a smoothie for us both; we have dinner together sometimes. We both love the apartment and we’re constantly trying to find little things for it. He found one of those round concave mirrors; I scored an art deco tea trolley… I would have been 17 the last time I lived with Dad but we’re both Scorpios and we understand each other. We have short tempers, we like a bit of a yell, and then five minutes later we’re fine. But we’ve both had to learn not to do that with other people. 

Renting in LA was so great in the beginning, my first place in West Hollywood cost $750 a month. But the rent prices have gone insane over there since Covid, it’s a real deterrent to moving back. It’s become like it is here. 

 In LA, people will paint the inside of their apartment and make a few little changes, as if they owned the place – nobody really does that here. People there tend to live on their own, and there’s rent control so people stay where they are for years and years. You cannot get a tenant out. There’s always one person in the building who’s the building manager and if there’s something broken they can’t really escape you. In a lot of the villas I’ve lived in here, the landlord would come and try to fix a problem but because he wasn’t a plumber or whatever it would just keep happening. The Kiwi DIY attitude, they don’t do that in LA. 

The picturesque villas of Ponsonby, some of which harbour shonky pipes. (Photo: Getty Images)

I first saw this apartment when I came to a party here. I know the owner, and when she moved overseas she asked me if I’d like to move in – I said YES!

I didn’t even own a bed. This place came with all of that stuff, even plates, cups, knives and forks. Just the linen (because I’m funny about linen), the gold chaise longue and the arty flourishes are mine. 

Living with someone else’s stuff would bother me if I didn’t like it, but the woman who owns this apartment has got really great taste. There’s like a quilted brown leather couch and a gorgeous oak dining table, not things I would have picked out myself, but just really nice stuff. There’s a brand new kitchen, probably the nicest kitchen I’ve ever had. There’s a roof terrace that’s just insane. It’s got a big white wall up there for showing movies. 

The thing about personally knowing your landlord is they look after you, and vice versa – you’re more careful and respectful of their things. I’d never have a party here, although the walls and floors are so thick no one would know if I did. Most of these floors contain offices but I don’t hear the people arriving for work. I’m the only person in this building at night time, I can do whatever the fuck I want. 

I guess I’m paying about 30% of my income, but that’s hard to say because my income depends. I tend to DJ two or three nights a week, but it’s obviously affected by things like Covid. My rent’s $450, and Dad pays $250. I know there will come a time when I’ll have to pay $600 for a one-bedroom, and that thought motivates me to buy. But it’s really hard to do if you’re single.

An Auckland DJ can earn in the upper tax brackets, pandemics notwithstanding. (Photo: Getty Images)

There is pressure to buy a house in New Zealand – totally, yeah. Pretty much everyone I know here is having kids and buying a house. I don’t want to rent for the rest of my life. 

My previous renting situation in Auckland was living with the home’s owner, who’s a friend, and that was pretty perfect as well. Although, she was very social and you never knew when you’d come home to 20 people in the living room; or say in the daytime you haven’t had a shower and suddenly there’s 10 people you know outside, sitting around the pool…

You get to a certain age and you just can’t live with other people – unless you’re related to them. I have a boyfriend but I also enjoy my nights alone when I’m just watching TV and being lazy. Or like, the other day I decided I wanted to wear my red heart-shaped sunglasses, but I couldn’t find them so I pulled out my fancy dress box and just emptied it all over the lounge, and then I went out. I came home to stuff strewn everywhere, and you can’t be like that if you’re living with other people. 

Previously I always had one foot here and one foot in LA. I don’t have that feeling anymore. It’s not just this apartment, it’s the state of the world. I miss LA every day, especially the bohemian areas, which seem to have disappeared from Auckland, but I don’t miss the extreme poverty, the gun violence and the general unease on the street.

I’m putting down roots here. It gives me anxiety, the thought of having to leave and find another place. I don’t think I could find an apartment as cool as this in all of Auckland.

Rent Week 2022 runs until October 2. Read the best of our renting coverage here.

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