Want to know the best suburb to spend your rental dollar?
Want to know the best suburb to spend your rental dollar without forking out more in travel and adding hours to your weekly commute? A new interactive app allows those hunting for a rental property to load income, workplace and living requirements then hover over different suburbs to find the perfect match.
Through the website affordability.org.nz creator Alex Raichev has used current rental data from MBIE, travel information from Google maps and costs from AA and Auckland Transport to create costings for each suburb in Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury.
"It's an education tool that is quite fun and useful because it looks at rent to income ratio but also factors in transport costs." Raichev said. "Transport costs and time spent traveling are big factors in affordability that are often overlooked."
Users can chose house size, flag their workplace, add a partner, parking costs. The app calculates the weekly cost of rent and travel costs in each different suburb, shows the total as a percentage of income and aso reveals the estimated hours spent in traffic.
What decides whether a property is "affordable" or not depends on the users financial targets Raichev said. "If you want to live frugally then you probably want to save at least 65% of your net income, leaving at most 45% for expenses, roughly half of which will go to rent and commute costs, that is, at most 23%," he said. "This could require moving or changing jobs."
Until a few months ago the information was frozen in time because it was based on the 2013 census data. It is now up to date with new data sets and will be refreshed each quarter with new data from MBIE. Raichev also added an optional "commute cost" for users who wanted to put a monetary value on time spent travelling. "Some people hate driving so might say their time in the car is worth $14 an hour so that is factored as a cost. "Or they might count cycling as a health benefit so not put a monetary cost on it."
Affordability.co.nz was developed by transport consultancy firm MR Cagney as a public education tool illustrating the spatial nature of affordability and how big a role transport plays. It was partly inspired by the article "Housing and Transport Expenditure: Socio-spatial Indicators of Affordability in Auckland" by K. Mattingly and J. Morrissey.