Wellington’s Not-So-Great Summer Flat Hunt
Welcome to The Great Wellington Flat Hunt: Summer Edition! If you’re a student fresh out of the halls, welcome. It’s time for yet another rite of passage. Time to scroll through Facebook posts, peruse TradeMe, hastily throw together a flat CV, and do all you can to snag a roof over your head for the upcoming academic year. It’s just one big annual competition no one wants to be in, and yet so many of us are doomed to take part. Kind of like The Hunger Games if you think about it.
No one can truly prepare you for your high hopes quickly being crushed while searching for the “perfect” place for you and a group of people to live in. And by “perfect”, I mean not too mouldy, and not too many stairs. Although after a few months, your standards will drop significantly and if it has at least one toilet that isn’t growing native fauna and room for a bed you’ll take it, even if the price is ridiculously high.
A year after finding something it’ll be time to do it all again. If you’re unlucky, it’ll be even sooner than that. Some are smart and secure a place in uni accommodation. Some negotiate to stay in the same flat another year. But not all have that luxury and are forced out. Some have dreams of finding something better. Surely it won’t be as difficult this time, right?
Spoiler alert, it will be. Because people forget it’s not just students, but all the Welly citizens needing a new place to live. And so, the hunt resumes. You’ll look at so many walls and once again your hope will start to fade. After a while, your resolve will break, and you will take whatever hovel comes your way.
Rent prices will have also increased. That’s just how it works. For the same price as a nice house that doesn’t need fixing up in Dunedin, you’ll be lucky to get a crappy two-bedroom with a leak in the roof and a bathroom fungus you’ll nickname Gerald. As tempting as it is to go for your absolute limit, remember that bills and food are required to survive. No point buying up large if you starve and/or freeze in a week.
The fight for a home is ridiculous. It really is bonkers that finding a decent place to live is this hard. And here’s the thing, even with all the laws and rules around healthy home standards and whatnot, decent is still a long way off. People are still able to get exemptions claiming it’s “too dangerous” or there’s “no access” to do the bare minimum to make their property a healthy home. They always look annoyingly smug when they tell you this at a viewing. What’s even worse is that there are places up for rent that don’t meet the healthy home’s standard. Because apparently that’s allowed as long as they state it in the listing. If the idea is that all properties need to meet this standard, then it’s failing.
There’s so much that needs fixing. From creating affordable rent to creating livable homes. But doing the latter could mean properties off the market while renovations are done, and that would make the hunt even more cutthroat than it already is. It doesn’t feel like there’s much we can do when we rely on these outrageously priced properties to live our lives in Welly. I don’t want to have to move out of this city just because it’s too expensive, but the allure of decent housing across the boundary line is getting stronger.
At the end of the day, all we want is a place where we can come home at the end of the day, flop down on the bed, and not have to worry the spots on the wall are blooming mould spores. Sighing, you’ll get up and drag the ancient dehumidifier supplied with the flat into the room and turn it on. Some people may like having white noise to fall asleep, but a dehumidifier isn’t quite the same thing.
By Nakisa Wilson