Opinion: New Zealand property market wasn't easy for our parents either

OPINION: Sometimes, I look at the property market and wonder if it's still possible to buy a house in New Zealand if you're under 30. Or 40.

I read stories about Baby Boomers gloating over their massive property portfolios, while complaining about the younger generation's work ethic.

Like many young people, I've moved back in with my family so I can pay off my student loan, and save for a house.

I'm lucky enough that my parents don't charge me rent, but it's still difficult to save for a deposit, especially with rising property prices.

But is intergenerational warfare a thing? Did our parents actually have it easier?

I interviewed my father, Mark Palmer, about the difficulties he faced buying his first home.

"I was fortunate enough in my early 20s to get a secure and well-paying job," he says.

"My wife and I bought a house for $50k in 1985 and did it up. We sold it and spent a year and a half in a caravan with a long drop toilet so we could afford a new house.

"We used this as leverage to buy other properties in the 90s. It was really scary as we had close to $800k in loans. This is probably normal now but back then it was a real worry."

Personally, I don't own a car, don't travel overseas, and I try to watch my spending. However, houses in Auckland seem to increase in value each year by over ten percent. This means the yearly increase is well over my salary. This makes it harder to buy, and every year, it seems like I'm further behind.

I was too young to remember living in the caravan as a baby, but hearing about living with a long drop toilet showed me that getting on the property ladder wasn't easy back then either.

My friends who have bought houses have all gotten married, then bought outside Auckland where they can afford a place with their double-income.

Others have moved to New Zealand's smaller towns where living is cheaper, or overseas in order to earn more money and come back.

But my parents have made sacrifices too. I remember my father leaving early on Christmas Day to go and work to support us.

"I've been at my job for 35 years now, and I've had to work night shifts, weekends and holidays so we could pay off loans. We still have a mortgage which I was hoping not to have going into retirement," he says.

"I guess we were the lucky generation with plenty of employment opportunities and affordable homes, but it took hard work, sacrifices and a lot of risk and worry."

Both of us are worried about the future, and the effects of housing prices on New Zealand.

I wonder how longer we can maintain a system that drives our young and talented away.

"I can't help thinking that if wages don't improve, the Kiwi dream will be beyond the reach of everyday workers," my father says.

But I'm not giving up. I hope that one day in the future I'll own a place of my own.

But I know this will only be possible for me because of the sacrifices my parents have already made. And not everyone will be that lucky.

Scott Palmer is a Newshub digital producer.

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Email
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Viber Share to WhatsApp Share to Email