Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

SocietyFebruary 15, 2024

The cost of being: A family that moved south for cheaper house prices

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

As part of our series exploring how New Zealanders live and our relationship with money, we hear from a family that swapped an unaffordable big city mortgage for the call of the South.

Gender: Female

Age: 35

Ethnicity: NZ Pākehā

Role: Government contractor

My living location is: Small (but growing?) town 

Rent/Mortgage per week $1,050 per week, shared with two adults

Student loan or other debt payments per week No other debt

Any major upcoming costs: $1,300-ish to replace an aging iPhone. 

Typical weekly food costs

Groceries: $350 weekly food shop for two adults and two children, $170 for dinner with My Food Bag for two, another $50 per week for small “top up” items.

Eating out and takeaways: Rarely, probably $100 every two months.

Workday lunches: Bring food from home or $10 a week.

Cafe coffees/snacks: $10 per week

Savings: Not sure right now as can’t see the account (deliberately), but as a household we save about $5,000 per month. 

I worry about money: When I know bills are coming out and I need to transfer funds accordingly. 

Three words to describe my financial situation would be: Comfortable, happy, secure.  

My biggest edible indulgence would be… Not food, but kombucha. 

In a typical week my alcohol expenditure would be… $10 – on the 0% alcohol buzz right now. 

In a typical week my transport expenditure would be… $40 on petrol – public transport isn’t really reliable enough here to use it on a daily basis. 

I estimate in the past year the ballpark amount I spent on my personal clothing (including sleepwear and underwear) was… $2,500, for me, excluding other family members.  

My most expensive clothing in the past year was… A new winter coat.

My last pair of shoes cost… $30 – a pair of secondhand boots.  

My grooming/beauty expenditure includes: Hair cuts, skincare, makeup, nails, brows.

And the annual cost would be about: $2,000 (the majority of which is skincare)

My exercise expenditure in a year is about: $100 per fortnight for fitness membership, $1,200 season pass, $300 for related sport gear, $150 bike service. 

My last Friday night cost: $0 – drinks at work, then home. 

Most regrettable purchase in the last 12 months was… A pair of Karen Walker sunglasses that don’t fit right. 

Most indulgent purchase (that I don’t regret) in the last 12 months was: A new ilabb puffer jacket. Never regret spending on warmth when you live where we do. 

One area where I’m a bit of a tightwad is: I make my own coffee every day. 

Five words to describe my financial personality would be: Evaluative, conscious, comfort spender, optimistic, realistic.  

I grew up in a house where money… Wasn’t really talked about so grew up financially illiterate. 

The last time my eftpos card was declined was… Can’t remember.

In five years, in financial terms, I see myself… Hopefully with an additional property for the kids to use when at university. 

I would love to have more money for… Family members that aren’t as financially secure. 

Describe your financial low: A few years ago when we realised we couldn’t comfortably afford the mortgage on our house. We sold up and moved south, which was the cheaper option at the time. 

I give money away to… Charity appeals, children.

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