Auckland bashing – it’s getting old

I recently spent a weekend away in Whitianga, where I got a pedicure at a local spa (very luxurious of me).  The young woman painting my toenails mentioned that she was thinking of moving to Auckland and wanted to know what it was like living here – she had seen my address on the spa sign in sheet.

I said Auckland was a great city, and I enjoyed living there very much.  “Oh really?” she said, “because I’ve heard…” cue lengthy tirade about all the things that are wrong with Auckland, including:

  • too much traffic/too many large cars
  • people “can’t drive”
  • people are rude/unpleasant
  • you can’t get good coffee/coffee is too expensive
  • everything is too expensive
  • we all live in shoeboxes
  • too much pollution
  • too many people/too busy

Finally, she said: “Isn’t it full of Indians?”  Kind of flabbergasted that someone would say something like that in this day and age, I replied “Well, it’s full of everyone really.  It’s a very diverse city…that’s one of the cool things about it.”  She seemed unconvinced.

This is not the first time that’s I’ve heard this kind of rant from non-Aucklanders either.  I’ve travelled around New Zealand quite a bit over the years and I always enjoy seeing different parts of our gorgeous country.  However, the Auckland-bashing I regularly hear is getting pretty old.

I’m not sure why people seem to feel the need to tell you how awful Auckland and it’s residents are whenever you mention you live there.  For one, it’s terribly rude.  I couldn’t imagine having guests from another city and ranting to them about how gross I think their hometown is.  The idea of doing that seems bizarre, so why is it okay if your guests are Aucklanders?

Secondly, around 1.4 million people live in Auckland, which is 32% of the country’s population.  I’m pretty sure not all of us are rude and unpleasant (and I bet we’re not all bad drivers either).  It just seems like an awful lot of kiwi’s to hate.

I get that Auckland is not for everyone.  Some people just don’t want to live in a big city, with the traffic, noise and expense.  Of course, one of the wonderful things about New Zealand is that you generally have a choice about where you want to live.  If it’s not for you, there are many other wonderful parts of country to move to – no doubt better suited to your lifestyle.

But for many of us city-dwellers, the positives outweigh any negatives.  For me, living in Auckland means access to a university programme not offered anywhere else in the country; being near family and friends as well as great parks and beaches; lots of fun and interesting things to do; great shopping; a better paying job with flexible hours; awesome cultural festivals year round and being able to experience diverse and interesting communities.  I really do love living here (and yes, I have lived elsewhere).

So – why is it that people feel the need to tell me how awful it is in Auckland, when I obviously choose to live here?

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