It boasts beautiful beaches, a temperate climate and a multicultural population that has fostered an eclectic mix of food, music and art. But is Auckland, a remote outpost in the South Pacific, really the most livable city in the world?
A investigation by the Economist Intelligence Unit published this week it ranked the New Zealand city above Vienna, Melbourne and other previous winners, thanks to its success in suppressing Covid-19.
Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, also made the ranking in fourth place, while four Australian cities made the top 10.
The survey compared 140 cities around the world in terms of stability, health care, culture, infrastructure and a number of other factors.
“New Zealand’s hard times have allowed its society to reopen and allowed city dwellers like Auckland and Wellington to enjoy a lifestyle that seemed similar to pre-pandemic life,” he said. Upasana Dutt, head of global livability at EIU.
The reconnaissance surprised some New Zealanders, who pointed to the port city housing crisis, closed traffic and low wages. Auckland has been around recently classified the fourth least accessible city for housing in the world by Demographics.
European and Canadian cities have slipped into the Economist ranking because of the increased stress on health care caused by the second wave of Covid-19 cases and the requirements to maintain social distancing restrictions.
Compared to many people living in cities in Europe or North America in the last year, Auckland’s 1.7 million residents have had an enchanted existence. In February, the “city of sails” welcomed the America’s Cup yacht race, While spectators are crowded at rugby matches, concerts and other entertainment events for most of the year.
Schools have remained largely open as well initial decision of the authority closing the country’s borders and introducing social segregation restrictions has limited the number of infections in New Zealand to less than 2,700 cases, leading to only 26 deaths.
Friday marks 104 days from now last case of Covid-19 community transmission it was reported, February 28th.
It is not surprising then that more than 40,000 New Zealanders have returned from overseas since the pandemic hit last year, a trend that has pushed the nation’s population to more than 5m by the end of last year.
“I always intended to go home, it’s part of Kiwi’s mentality to go abroad and pick up the experience and bring it back,” said Jane Henley, who has resigned from a job at the World Bank. of Washington to return to Auckland when the pandemic began to spread.
Henley said she returned home a little earlier than expected in part because of concerns about gun laws in the United States. But he has few regrets, citing Auckland’s friendly culture, access to nature and relaxed attitude.
But Henley, an expert in sustainable construction programs, admitted that Auckland has faced considerable challenges including traffic congestion, expensive housing and relatively low wages.
“House prices are similar to London or New York, or at least equivalent to wages. But wages are much lower than they should be compared to the price of houses, ”he said.
House prices in Auckland have risen 21 percent year-on-year until the end of May, with the average house price now at NZ $ 1.3 million ($ 934,000), according to QV, a company of appraisal and real estate services in New Zealand.
New Zealand is struggling with one severe lack of houses, with about 22,000 people on social housing waiting lists despite Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s election commitment in 2017 to address both the housing crisis and inequality.
“The truth is that we have a city on two levels,” said Jan Rutledge, general manager of De Paul’s home, an emergency housing service in Auckland.
“This is a great city for those who have safe housing and a job, but it’s very challenging for those who don’t.”
New Zealand’s successful Covid-19 has boosted its economy, which is expected to grow 2.9 per cent by 2021. Unemployment is 4.7 per cent.
The pandemic has also fueled a boom in film production in the country, with international projects and stars seeking safe conditions and a closed-loop lifestyle.
James Cameron films several Avatar sequels in New Zealand and work continues on Amazon Lord of the Rings television series, with the government granting exemptions at the border to allow crucial personnel to travel in the country. International film productions will generate an expenditure of NZ $ 730 million this year, according to the New Zealand Film Commission.
Cameron, who is Canadian, and his wife Amis told the audience in Auckland this week that they were living full-time in New Zealand and “loved it.”
The film director said that the last four years had been “absolute hell” in the United States during the Trump presidency.
New Zealand has shown the world a different way, Cameron added. “It’s a certain sense of duty to each other, that you’re part of a team, that you sacrifice for each other.”