I was recently asked to provide comment on a fantastic article by Jo McKenzie-McLean looking at social issues stemming from Queenstown’s housing situation. My comments highlighted evidence of Queenstown’s burgeoning housing problem leading to a commuter belt forming.
Here is a bullet point summary of comments I provided to Stuff:
- The number of jobs across Queenstown Lakes District rose 7.1% in 2018 to total 28,272.
- Jobs growth has averaged 8.0%pa over the past five years.
- Population growth in Queenstown remains high, but has slowed recently as the district becomes increasingly unaffordable to workers. Statistics New Zealand estimates show that population growth across Queenstown Lakes District was 5.7%pa in 2018, down from 6.9%pa growth in 2017.
- In 2018 the average house in Queenstown Lakes District was worth 20 times the average income from the typical Queenstown job. Five years ago this ratio was 14. Nationally the average house is worth about 10 times an average income.
- The average Queenstown rent in 2018 soaked up 51% of income, while five years ago it soaked up 40% of income. By comparison rents nationally are about one third of income.
- Population growth has recently accelerated in nearby townships and a commuter belt is forming. The population of Cromwell expanded 6.0% in 2018, while Kingston’s population increased by 7.4%.
- Data from the 2013 Census showed that 6.7% of Cromwell’s working age population commuted to Queenstown. Applying this proportion to the 2018 population estimate for Cromwell would suggest that at least 220 people commute from Cromwell to Queenstown daily. Judging by the number of cars driving the Kawarau Gorge each morning, this would seem to be a conservative estimate.
- Data from the 2013 Census shows that 25.5% of Kingston’s working age population commuted to Queenstown. Applying this proportion to the 2018 population estimate for Kingston would suggest that at least 56 people commute from Kingston to Queenstown daily.
- Both Kingston and Cromwell have significant pipelines of residential development ahead of them, which could lead to further commuter traffic from Kingston and Cromwell to Queenstown. In the case of Cromwell, there are significant emerging local employment options, but job prospects in Kingston are few and far between.
- Analysis of administrative data housed by government shows that Queenstown Lakes District residents are increasingly moving out of Queenstown and into Central Otago. Over the four years to 2017 there were net losses of 198 people from Queenstown Lakes to Central Otago, with 96 of these people moving in 2017 alone.
The full article by Jo McKenzie-McLean can be found here.