In the past couple of weeks I have found myself rattling off a list of things that led us to decide to relocate our family to Hamilton. It was a controversial decision – Hamilton, commonly known as The Tron or (arguably) NZ’s Chlamydia capital, hasn’t had the best PR and when we told people we were moving here the response was commonly; “Oh! Cambridge is lovely. And Tauranga’s a nice place to live. Why Hamilton?” And we’d start the spiel. So why Hamilton? Why the Waikato? Here’s the condensed version:
1. We wanted to move North, closer to family in Auckland. We picked North Hamilton, and our current commute is 1hr 20min to Greenlane and that’s only going to get quicker with new roads currently being built.
2. We didn’t want to lose the quality of life we had in Wellington, we wanted a short commute and a well serviced community.
3. School zones. We wanted access to good local schools with good reputation. In our area we have a choice of four decile 10 primary schools and a brand new junior and senior high school is being built a couple of blocks over from us, due to open 2016.
4. Flat land, well laid out, proximity of parks. It was important that the kids could walk/scoot safely to school, we wanted parks and spaces close by for them to play. They’re here.
5. Jobs. We wanted to live in a city with good work prospects.
6. Weather – Wellington is cold 95% of the time, Hamilton’s climate doesn’t rival the Bay of Islands but it is a massive improvement on the Southern slopes of Karori.
7. House prices – we wanted to down size our mortgage but still live in a nice house. Our mortgage size is less than half what it was, our house is a 7 year old, 4 bedroom, 2 living areas, internal access double garage, 700m2 flat section, swimming pool. About as opposite as possible to our draughty, 1920s bunglalow on a hillside. House prices in our suburb vary from 450k – 900k depending on size/spec of house, but they are all modern houses with things like insulation. Also, Hamilton City Council insisted houses were built using treated timber for framing which means we don’t have the leaky house problem Auckland has.
8. Growth. North Hamilton is growing at an exponential rate – there are plans in place for a town centre next to the new high school. The plans include sports grounds, an aquatic centre, library and shops.
9. Raglan. While Hamilton is land locked the Waikato river is hard to ignore, and beautiful beatnik Raglan is 45 mins away.
10. Rainbows. To be fair, this wasn’t a deal breaker and not something I was aware of until we lived here, but I’ve never seen so many rainbows in my life. They’re a wonder of nature and it’s hard not to feel good about a rainbow.
For all those reasons above, we are so pleased we made the move. Of course, everyone has different priorities and different needs and requirements. I honestly believe that Hamilton is NZs best kept secret, but I’m not sure it will stay that way forever, because Aucklanders are being squeezed out of Auckland and they have to go somewhere. I also think that while this area is still developing the prices are affordable – but it would be suprising if they didn’t increase rapidly when the new school and amenities open.
So that’s it, in a nutshell, that’s our story. What’s yours?