1493602302544 - On the ladder: How can I get on the ladder when I can’t afford to rent?

On the ladder: How can I get on the ladder when I can’t afford to rent?

Buying your first home has never been tougher. In this series, Stuff talks to Kiwis who’ve made it onto the property ladder and others who, by choice or not, are still renting.

OPINION: I am a 20-year-old university graduate working in a full-time job in the industry of my choice yet I’m still living at home.

Is it because I’m lazy or trying to live off my parent’s dime for as long as I can? No. I’m still living at home because I simply can’t afford to move out. 

When I was younger I imagined that 20-year-old me would be close to finishing a university degree and would be out flatting with a group of friends while squireling away savings for a first home. 

In reality, I’ve graduated from university and am living at home for a year in an attempt to save enough money to flat in Auckland whilst paying off a student loan. And how are my savings for my first home going? Don’t make me laugh. 

READ MORE:
* On the ladder: one house, two homes

* On the ladder, part 4: First home at 21, now they have 3 at 25
* On the ladder: First home at 15 could be a record 

Trade Me’s Property report for 2017 revealed that the median weekly rent of a one to two bedroom home in Auckland is $440 (up 2.4 per cent from 2016). The average price of renting a four bedroom home isn’t much better at $580 per week (or $145 per person if four live together).

So when I hear stories someone buying their first home at 15, it’s safe to say that I, like many others I know, feel more than just a little disheartened.

Before I go any further: no, my parents don’t pay my bills and yes, I do pay board.

My parents aren’t millionaires (they’re actually renting themselves) and I don’t go on shopping sprees or drinking benders every weekend – in fact I’m saving more than half of my income.

When I was in university I interned every chance I could and at one stage was working two jobs (one of which involved me working a 9pm to 6am shift a few times a week, going home to sleep for two hours and then heading out for a full day of classes at university).

But I am lucky in one respect – not everyone has the option to live at home. I was fortunate enough that my parents were in a position where they were able to accommodate me through my university days and have allowed me to live at home for the year that has followed. 

My interning efforts also miraculously turned into a full-time job while many of my peers are either unemployed, freelancing or working in a career that wasn’t in the industry they studied for. 

Don’t bother suggesting I move to the regions. My job and future opportunities simply don’t exist there. 

In many cases my career path and financial situation sounds like a dream come true, but if I can’t afford to save towards a home or can barely manage weekly rent, how are those worse off than me supposed to manage?

In a recent Facebook post, Green Party candidate Chloe Swarbrick wrote that “for renters, the focus isn’t on scrounging up enough to buy a house, but simply trying to put a roof over your head – let alone finding a home that is warm, dry, and well maintained”.

I couldn’t agree more. 

The 2013 census revealed that around half of New Zealander’s over the age of 15 lived in rentals, but with rental prices going through the roof in our major cities and cases of 40 people turning up to scheduled flat viewings, even renting a home is a dream for some.

Many of us can only hope that something changes soon, because at this stage, my peers and I will be dreaming about “getting on the ladder” for a long, long time and maybe even forever.

* Natalia Didovich is a home reporter for Fairfax New Zealand.

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