Young Kiwis' greatest fear
New Zealanders need space, survey shows
Last updated 05:00 28/04/2011
The greatest fear for young New Zealanders is the prospect of living in a city apartment, a United Nations survey has found.
Eight thousand people aged 18 to 35 in 20 countries were interviewed about their hopes and fears, but young Kiwis were the only ones to list a city apartment as a major fear.
The survey was conducted before the Canterbury earthquakes but is being heralded as a guide for rebuilding Christchurch so it is suitable for young people.
The findings surprised Canterbury University academic Bronwyn Hayward, who compiled the results from 132 young Kiwis for the study.
The New Zealanders were asked to name their worst fear, with 34 per cent of respondents fearing city apartment living, 28 per cent fearing a loss of autonomy and 16 per cent fearing financial insecurity.
Hayward said young people feared apartment living because it would cut them off from outdoor pursuits.
She said the fear could be a big challenge for planners and urban designers hoping to lure young people into inner-city apartments.
"It is striking because they could have said anything, and that is what they said. It is certainly distinct from any other country," Hayward said.
"It is a real challenge for a city planner because we know the effects of urban sprawl and have seen the traffic impact of having no city centre.
"It is a huge problem. We are in danger of our planning decisions being led by international expectations."
One Kiwi student wrote in the report: "I would hate to live in a big city in an apartment, totally reliant on modern technologies with limited access to outdoor pursuits."
National MP Nicky Wagner said the findings could affect the Christchurch rebuild.
"The timing is perfect as we are looking at rebuilding Christchurch. We need to rebuild with our eyes on the future," she said.
Hayward said young New Zealanders were generally happier than young people in other countries.
"The positivity is quite remarkable.
"When you look across the 20 countries surveyed, the strong positivity of New Zealanders stands out," she said.
"What is interesting is there is a cluster of young people who feel very strongly that their life is very good.
"People felt very strongly that what they liked about living in New Zealand was their outdoor lifestyle."
Hayward said other countries in the global survey were surprised by the New Zealand fear of city apartments.
"When we presented these findings in Egypt, they said they would love to live in a country where the worst fear was being forced to live in an apartment," she said.
Outdoors essential for young family
Jenny and Mark Harris bought a home in Parklands in December.
The couple have two children, Ben, 6, and Ethan, 3.
Jenny Harris, 30, said they would have wanted a suburban home rather than an apartment even before they had children.
"We would not have been comfortable in a city apartment," she said. "I was raised in a house with a yard and my husband was raised on a farm. A home like this is an ideal place for a lot of couples.
"Also, this is always ideal with two children and a dog. I think being able to play outside in a safe, fenced area is a priority."
- The Press