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Thread: Home truths on NZ living

  1. #1
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    Default Home truths on NZ living

    Confirmation of what we have already guessed, from the NZ Herald .
    Mother Bear

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    Default Home truths on NZ living

    Kiwis more patriotic than Poms, less than Aussies
    1.00pm Wednesday June 28, 2006



    New Zealanders are the world's ninth-most patriotic people, according to a survey.

    The United States, where Stars and Stripes flags are commonplace in back gardens, politicians regularly play the pariotism card and anti-terrorism legislation is even called the Patriot Act , unsurprisingly topped the poll. It was closely followed by Venezuela in the survey by the National Opinion Research Centre at the University of Chicago.

    Australia came in fifth in the study of 34 democracies. As in the US, where anything perceived as unpatriotic is often labelled 'un-American', the name of the country has come to symbolise Australia's supposedly shared values - commentators and politicians talking of 'un-Australian' behaviour.

    Britain, where national identity is most often associated with the soccer teams of the four home nations, was 11th in the poll. But it could move up the list if Gordon Brown, finance minister and possibly the country's next Prime Minister, has his way with the introduction of a national day.

    People in the survey rated how proud they were of their countries in areas such as political influence, economic success, sports and history.

    The organisers said ex-colonies and newer nations were more likely to rank high on the list. New Zealand ranked highly for pride in sporting achievement - second, behind Ireland. The country also ranked third for pride in the arts and literature, and fourth for pride in our armed forces.

    Top 10 rankings:
    1. United States
    2. Venezuela
    3. Ireland
    4. South Africa
    5. Australia
    6. Canada
    7. Philippines
    8. Austria
    9. NEW ZEALAND
    10. Chile

    Others:
    11. Great Britain
    12. Israel
    18. Japan
    19. France
    24. Russia
    27. Germany (West)
    31. Korea
    34. Germany (East)

    - NZPA, HERALD ONLINE STAFF
    Mother Bear

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    Middle-New Zealand feels pinch
    Sunday July 16, 2006
    By Miles Erwin

    Skyrocketing household costs are squeezing even comparatively wealthy New Zealanders out of their homes. One Auckland debt advisory service said it has been inundated with enquiries following rises in household bills and petrol prices. And it's not just people on lower incomes struggling to make ends meet.

    Pam, of Auckland Central Budgeting, told the Herald on Sunday she is seeing people on $100,000 a year. 'We have people on $2000 a week who can't survive. They're definitely feeling the pinch with the increase in petrol and energy bills.' She said some middle-income families have only $40 a week left after paying their bills. Increased power prices, council rates and fuel are the main culprits.

    According to Statistics New Zealand, energy bills have gone up 4.6 per cent since last year. Fuel costs are a whopping 23.5 per cent higher, and local authority rates are 7.6 per cent up on last March. Households charged for water face a bill 13 per cent higher than last year. This compares with overall wage increases of only 3.3 per cent.

    The high cost of housing is part of the problem. Ms McKenzie said many families have recently bought expensive houses and are juggling a hefty mortgage with the ever-increasing costs of running a home. She describes these people as living on the edge of their finances. 'People have over-committed themselves. A marriage break-up or redundancy can really throw people. Because of the value of the house, you can keep borrowing against it - now a lot of people don't have the equity because it's all borrowed.'

    Mortgagee sales are on the rise - a trend noticed by real estate agents. Paul Humphries of Barfoot and Thompson said top-end mortgagee sales are becoming more common. 'We are seeing more higher-value houses in mortgagee sales this year and a decrease in cheaper houses. That's been really quite noticeable.'

    Bank of New Zealand chief economist Tony Alexander said there has been a significant increase in the number of mortgagee sales. He said the main problem for middle-income New Zealanders struggling to meet budget is local authority rates. 'People are getting especially concerned about rates because there's nothing you can do. You can drive less, you can eat fewer anchovies, you can buy fewer CDs. But with local authority rates there's nothing you can do but shift house.'

    Escalating household costs leave less for the finer things in life. Restaurant patronage is down, pubs are short of drinkers and hotels are struggling to fill rooms.

    Bruce Robertson, chief executive of the Hospitality Association, said the industry is down about 10 per cent on last year. And the 'churn rate' - the number of people leaving the industry - is at a high, around 22 per cent. 'There are more properties turning over and that's because people are finding it tough. We've seen a lot of money disappear into the petrol pump and power bills,' he said.

    Alistair Rowe, chief executive of the Restaurant Association, agrees. "What we are hearing from industry is it's pretty quiet. If you're putting $90 into the petrol pump instead of $50, something's got to give. 'They won't go for a coffee and they won't go for brunch. People just don't have the disposable income to spend,' said Mr Rowe.

    And if it wasn't for big hit New Zealand films such as The World's Fastest Indian and Sione's Wedding, the country's movie industry would be suffering, too. Joanne Watt, chief operating officer at Village SkyCity, said the movie audience was about the same as last year, with the Kiwi films giving the industry a welcome boost.

    The big squeeze will have serious economic effects on families who will face the choice of cutting back on expenditure or watching their savings whittle away. But with a reported household savings rate estimated to be minus-18 per cent - the lowest among developed nations - Mr Alexander said there's only one likely outcome.

    'If people's income are being squeezed, they will look at cutting back their casual spending - or they'll dis-save. That's the New Zealand way,' he said.

    Family sick of living in the rat race

    It's been a hellish 12 months for the Barretts - mum Dawn had a skin cancer operation, then a car accident. Last week dad Mark had an operation on a carcinoma. Dawn's brush with cancer forced the family of five to re-evaluate what's most important in life. 'It was a bit of a struggle. We got in such a rut - just to pay bills and work,' she said. 'We weren't putting anything aside and just felt we were sick of living in the rat race,' said Mark.

    So Mark cashed in his 20-year super scheme to reduce the mortgage and have a holiday. 'We thought: 'let's not be a slave to our mortgage and spend more time with our kids'.' Dawn's illness pre-empted the changes. 'We considered downsizing the house. Or we might have gone back to Christchurch, where it's cheaper.' Most of the Barrett earnings go on the kids - Felix, six, Max, four, and Toby, two. Mum and Dad's only indulgence is takeaway pizza once a week.

    Mark works in insurance and Dawn works part-time at Auckland Hospital. Their combined yearly income is about $85,000.

    Article curtailed due to lack of space.
    Mother Bear

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    Annual inflation hits four per cent
    11.00am Monday July 17, 2006

    The annual inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose from 3.3 per cent to an unexpectedly high 4.0 per cent in the June quarter, Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) said today. Inflation for the quarter was 1.5 per cent. Both figures were above the predictions of economists who took part in a Reuters poll.

    The median of their forecasts for the annual change was 3.7 per cent and for the quarterly change 1.2 per cent. This is the fourth consecutive quarter the inflation rate has been above the 1-3 per cent band the Reserve Bank is mandated to maintain by the Government.

    The biggest contribution to the CPI this quarter came from transportation which was up 5.5 per cent as a whole, with petrol prices up 14.7 per cent and international air travel up 7.1 per cent, SNZ said. For the year to the June 2006 quarter, prices for petrol and international air travel rose 32.2 per cent and 8.7 per cent respectively.

    The annual increase for petrol was the largest since the June 1985 quarter, when petrol prices were up 35.4 per cent. Had the petrol price remained unchanged from the June 2005 quarter, the annual increase in CPI would have been 2.9 per cent, SNZ said.

    In other areas, housing rose 1.2 per cent in the June 2006 quarter, with prices for buying and building new dwellings up 1.4 per cent. For the year to June, prices for buying and building new dwellings was up 5.0 per cent.

    Household operation was up 1.4 per cent in the June quarter, with the most significant contributions a 3.0 per cent rise in the price of electricity and a 4.5 per cent rise in telephone rental and connection prices. For the year to June household operation was up 2.1 per cent, with a 6.3 per cent rise in the electricity price a significant contributor.

    That was partly offset by lower prices for television and video equipment, down 18.3 per cent, SNZ said.

    SNZ's Food Price Index was up 1.0 per cent in June and 2.9 per cent for the year.

    A 6.3 per cent rise in the subgroup fruit and vegetables in June drove the overall rise in food prices, with an 11.5 per cent rise in the prices of fresh vegetables for the month driven by a 25.7 per cent rise in the price of potatoes and 71.7 per cent rise in the price of broccoli.

    Meat, fish and poultry was up 1.3 per cent in the month, including fresh chicken up 9.5 per cent. For the year, fruit and vegetables were up 9.1 per cent, with meat, fish and poultry up 3.5 per cent, restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food up 2.6 per cent, and grocery foods, soft drinks and confectionery up 1.2 per cent.

    The annual inflation rate was the highest since December 2000 when it was also 4.0 per cent. The quarterly increase was the highest since a 1.8 per cent rise in June 1990.

    Goldman Sachs JBWere economist Shamubeel Eaqub said the latest CPI rate would reinforce the Reserve Bank's view that official interest rates should be held at the current 7.25 per cent level.

    Both underlying inflation trends and inflation expectations remained uncomfortably high for now, but Goldman expected them to moderate in time for interest rate easing to start next March, Mr Eaqub said.

    The domestic economy was expected to cool further as the impact of monetary policy tightening filtered through the economy, but with NZ dollar depreciation and ongoing elevated international crude oil prices, tradeable inflation was likely to remain high.

    - NZPA
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    Default Home truths on NZ living

    First thing me and my young one learnt at school was the NZ national anthem.........it opens every assembly with everyone standing and singing!!

    My young one then asked if England had a national anthem.......he's 8. I explained in world cup and olympic terms and he replied.......oh I thought that was a sports song.

    I didn't have the heart to tell him that in England, if all pupils were requested to stand for the national anthem, the teacher concerned would probably get the sack!!!

    Roll on the triple star of the freeland

    Fisheress

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    DawnMarron is offline Oh Masterful One
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    Default Home truths on NZ living

    Fisheress, how do you find the cost of all of the above as compared to the UK? Do you feel like you're living hand to mouth or do you feel that compared to UK you're still better off - all things considered? Sorry if these seem personal questions but I'm interested to see if New Zealanders are baulking at such steep rises in things because they've had it so good for so long or whether the cost of living in NZ really is becoming difficult to negotiate.
    We've had to struggle financially for years and years now, there's nothing more stressful and anxiety ridden than wondering where the next mortgage payment is gonna come from or wondering how the hell you're gonna make ?20 feed 5 people until some more money comes from somewhere.
    We're coming over with a modest sum of cash from our house sale (hopefully) and hope that this will be enough to set us up out of reach of worrys grasping fingers but, there seems to be a lot of NZers struggling to make ends meet at the moment!

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    Default Home truths on NZ living

    I've recently gone through my bank statements for the last six months to work out when I'll be broke ::) (must get a job), and have found that we spend about $3,000 a month on living expenses, before rent and the kids private school fees.

    Food, clothing, stationery, dentist, insurances etc. comes to about $2350 per month, utilities (electric, telecom) come to an average $335 per month, and petrol has increased from $140 per month to $204 per month.

    There are the four kids and myself. The food bill is big, but 75% of the time I only buy what is on offer. Here you need to keep an eye on the prices otherwise you can find yourself paying a ransom for that head of brocolli or cucumber when it goes up in price due to it being out of season or a shortage. Clothing is generally bought at The Warehouse as it is the only shop in our town (apart from boutiques) which sells clothing.

    I hope my figures are not frightening ... we could cut back on some things, but we also do not have to pay council taxes, water rates etc. which others may have to pay.

    [smiley=icon_biggrin.gif]
    Glenda
    In NZ since June 2005
    Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness - Chinese proverb

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    I think food here is just as expensive as at home......and yet I earn less than half that I did in the UK. I hate shopping there, but I go to Pack and Save as it does work out cheaper......and like Glenda, I usually buy what's on offer.

    Fruit and veg and meat is definitely cheaper at the small local shops. Good quality clothes aren't cheap either, but then again, Kiwis rarely dress up to go out!

    Rent is $470 a week for us. When my hubby was back in England, me and the 2 kids survived on my wage of just over $3000 a month. I managed to pay the bills, buy petrol and food, and extras like swimming lessons, school fees and uniform etc but any luxuries like birthday presents were not affordable.

    We definitely have to think before spending now whereas at home, I just bought what I liked when I liked!

    We've just bought our own house, so things should get better as we'll be mortgage free quickly........we've got a small mortgage that won't take long to pay off.........I'll update on how that's going when it starts.

    To put it in a nutshell, we were wealthy enough in the UK to buy anything we wanted outright .....but still had 23 years of a huge mortgage to pay.

    Here, we're not wealthy, but more or less own our own 4 bed house by the beach. We each have a car........one 2nd hand and 1 brand new.

    I work on the bottom rung of the primary school instead of near the top so I don't have meetings til 7.00pm 3 nights a week.......if it's sunny,I take my work home and do it when it's dark! At the moment, hubby doesn't work........so we are using savings for luxuries but soon we will have 2 incomes.

    Entertainment can be cheap/free here..........especially when the sun is out.....so we save loads there.....ther's always something to do.

    I'm not as wealthy as my friends back home in monetary terms, but as far as lifestyle goes, I have definitely got the best deal!! I've also got used to watching my money too.........it hasn't done any harm.... a bit like when you buy your first house and you're frightened to death of not being able to pay the mortgage.......and it soon begins to get better. I'll never be rich, but I'm free to spend my time and money as I please! Quality!

    Fisheress

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    DawnMarron is offline Oh Masterful One
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    Default Home truths on NZ living

    Thanks Fisheress, answered all my questions at once - just what I wanted to hear! It's the quality of life and the lifestyle we're coming for. We're not bothered about being wealthy - why start now? - here we both work when we want, doing jobs we both love to do, have loads of time to see each other and the kids, we choose what work we want to do when. We could both work more and that would make things a lot easier financially, but we choose to work less and spend time together as a family more - that's the choice we make.

    We have a huge mortgage but as long as it's met and we have what we need then we're OK. Those extras you mention are so much more appreciated when they seldom happen. My 2 older kids (15 and 10) actually cried last Christmas when they received the gifts they'd asked for because they realised how much it had taken for us to get them for them. Refreshing don't you think?

    We've never had the privilege of being able to have what we want when we want it and living in the middle of the forest in beautiful countryside we're used to getting our entertainment and our exercise for free (omitting a coveted trip to the theatre occasionally).

    So, all in all, sounds like all should be well in NZ. We'll be heading out with more money than we've ever had in our lives, although gaining that has taken a lot out of us in other ways but brought us closer as a family. Looks like NZ may offer us the equilibrium we're hoping for.It's like having that wonderful feeling of coming through a very trying time, slumping into a huge, comfy armchair and exhaling in relief, knowing that the next time something testing comes along ( as it surely will), you've got an even deeper resolve to dig into should you need to.

    Who ever wanted an easy life?! [smiley=icon_eek.gif]

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    It sounds like you've been practising already Dawn!

    With that attitude, you're NZ move will be a real success!! Hope your journey to the Kiwi lifestyle happens as soon as you wish it too!!

    Good Luck
    Fisheress

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