The Cost Of Housing: to Rent, or to Buy- Regional Data

One of the cornerstones of managing money is to focus on the big three. The three areas in your life that you spend the most money on. They are housing, transport, and food.

If you optimise these three aspects you of your life, you can really speed up your journey towards financial independence. Note I deliberately didn’t say you need to save or cut spending on these three aspects- you need to optimise them.

We don’t all want to be living in a cheap tiny home, running to work, and living on beans and rice. You need to optimise each of them to suit your lifestyle, but do it in such a way that you have extra money left over for investing.

There are plenty of ways to save on food costs. And there are also ways of saving on transport. I won’t dwell on them here- but would urge you to check out the true cost of owning a car– as I believe many people are in denial about how much it costs to own a car.

In this post, Iā€™m going to break down some statistics on the median cost of housing throughout New Zealand- median rent and mortgage payments- to try and see which has a bigger effect on cashflow- paying a mortgage, or paying rent.


Regional median house price

First, let’s look at the median house price throughout New Zealand

The median house price is reported by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand in their monthly reports.

  • Highest Median House Price: Auckland ($877,200)
  • Lowers Median House Price: Southland ($280,500)

Regional median household income

Next, let’s look at the median weekly household income

The weekly household income shown in the above map is for a household made up of one full-time median male income, and 50% of one female median income. Both are in the age range of 30-34. Any additional Working For Families income is also included.

Incomes are before tax and retrieved from the Statistics NZ.

  • Highest Weekly Median Income: Auckland ($1,832)
  • Lowest Weekly Median Income: Otage ($1,464)

Regional Weekly Mortgage Payments

Now, let’s look at the median weekly mortgage payment.

The weekly mortgage payment here is based on a 30-year mortgage and a 20% deposit, and a 5% interest rate for the median house price in each region.

  • Highest Weekly Mortgage Payments: Auckland ($869)
  • Lowest Weekly Mortgage Payment: Southland ($278)

Regional median weekly rent

And, let’s look at the weekly median rent.

The median rent is based on recent bond applications to the department of housing and building’s Tenancy Bond database.

  • Highest Weekly Rent Payments: Auckland ($529)
  • Lowest Weekly Rent Payments: Northland ($235)

To Rent or to Buy

Auckland tops every area of housing- highest median house price, highest median weekly mortgage payments, highest median weekly rent payments, and highest weekly household income.

Southland has the lowest median house price, and hence lowest mortgage payments, Northland has the lowest weekly rent cost, and Otago has the lowest weekly household income.

The chart below shows whether you would be better renting or buying in terms of the effect on your cash flow. If the value is negative, renting is better for your cash flow, and if the value is positive buying is better for your cash flow.

Comparing Mortgage and rent payments- you’d be better off renting in nearly all regions.

Everyone’s Situation is Unique

Now, I know many people are going to have comments on what I just did here- but before you do so- remember this was just an interesting visualisation of data for me.

There’s obviously a lot more that needs to go into the decision on whether to buy or rent. And whether you can actually manage to save the deposit to even have the option to buy.

Either way- they both can be good options for you depending on your situation. Personally- I have been ingrained with the idea that you need to purchase a house to get ahead- but in more recent years- I have been starting to change my thoughts on this. Especially with all the maintenance I have to do on my house, and keeping the garden maintained on weekend.

Did you enjoy seeing housing and income data visualised on the maps above? Do you think renting is better than buying? or is buying the best option? Let me know in the comments.


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