Sunday, December 16, 2018

Ask Arthur 2018, Part 2: Living where?

Today’s questions in this year’s “Ask Arthur” series are all about living places, where we are and where we might live. The first question comes from Facebook friend Andy, who I wasn’t able to meet up with in real life before he an his family moved to another part of New Zealand, proving, I suppose, that even close geographic proximity doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to make the move from Facebook to real life. At any rate, Andy asked:

Now that you and Nigel have weaned yourselves off the North Shore, and are happily ensconced in Auckland's southernmost frontier, have you ever considered making a clean break, escaping Auckland altogether, and taking up life in the Provinces?

As it happens, we actually did that already. I don’t talk about it on Facebook, nor very often on the blog, and for no particular reason. I just don’t. But in 2010 I published a post called “The country life” about the couple years we lived in Paeroa, in the Waikato, just south of the Coromandel. Living there was good and bad, as anywhere is.

In 2006 we moved back to Auckland’s North Shore (where we’d lived since we got together in 1995 up to 2003). We’d realised that we weren’t really “country” people, and that we valued close proximity to the stores and such that we wanted access to.

In 2017, of course, we moved to Auckland’s southernmost area, the former Franklin District. Our house now is still in Auckland, but it’s far enough out that it’s around 25 minutes’ drive to any larger area with supermarkets, hardware home centres, etc. Yet we also have a small hardware store and a Four Square five minutes away, along with several cafes and an awesome takeaway shop. Where we live now is kind of the best of both worlds—more rural, country-style living, but with city amenities close by.

That sounds kind of perfect, and, in fact, we do like the area a lot. However, we’ve come to realise we might like to live a little more rural so we don’t have such close neighbours. Nothing grandiose—no more than a hectare (two and a half acres). We couldn’t have known that when we moved here, though it would have been helpful if we had.

One of the things that will make us move sooner rather than later is the clock: I’m about to turn 60, and Nigel’s just a few years behind me. By the time he reaches 60, I’ll be retirement age. If we’re going to make such a move, it’d be better to do it sooner rather than later. But if we do, it’ll likely be in this same general area.

Longer term, as we get older still, we may need to move closer to city services. However, by then Auckland will have moved closer to us, so we may not need to. That’s entirely speculative at this point—ask me again in ten or fifteen years.

The next question is actually related. Roger Green asked:

Will New Zealand disappear because of climate change? And if so, approximately when?

No, it won’t, but coastal areas are vulnerable for a whole lot of reasons.

Earlier this year, a study from HSBC found that New Zealand is one of the five countries least vulnerable to climate change. That’s somewhat deceptive, however, because while most of New Zealand will be fine, some coastal and low-lying areas definitely are vulnerable, and one part of Wellington was found to be particularly vulnerable, according to a report last month.

The biggest threat isn’t so much rising sea levels as such, but the fact that storms are becoming more severe more often. Coupled with more frequent and more severe droughts, and the possibility of worse wildfires, things could become difficult for people here. There will also probably be the rising possibility of tropical diseases as the country warms up, and there may be shortages of drinking water.

However, I’m not likely to be among them, since the worst effects are due closer to the end of the century, probably well after I’m dead. Even so, we’ll see worse storms and other weather events within our lifetimes.

Around the country, preparations are already underway. The Ministry for the Environment publishes resources, especially for local governments, on their page “Adapting to sea-level rise”. In addition, local councils provide flooding data as part of the LIM (Land Information Memorandum) report, and that includes areas that could flood in a “once in a hundred year storm” (the sort becoming more frequent).

There may come a time when coastal settlements will have to be abandoned, in part because no one will be able to get any insurance. A high percentage of Māori live close to the sea, often on ancestral land, and they will be disproportionately affected by loss of coastal areas. However, wealthier parts of cities will also be affected, because they’re often close to the water’s edge, or on cliffs overlooking the water.

The area of Auckland we’re in won’t be affected by sea level rise, even if it’s far higher than expected, because we’re farther above sea level. Most of the country is in the same situation, fortunately.

Roger also asked:

If you were to live in the US again, where would that be?

The short answer is, I have no idea. When I thought about this last year, my answer was either Hawaii or California. At the moment, I’m leaning more toward Hawaii.

I’d rule out Chicago, despite my personal connections and history, mostly because of the weather. I now hate the very idea of those winters.

Having said all that, it’s still highly improbable that I’d ever live in the USA again. But, if that remote chance came to pass, I think it would be Hawaii.

Thanks to Andy and Roger for the questions!

It’s not too late to ask a question: Simply leave a comment on this post (anonymous comments are allowed). Or, you can also email me your question (and you can even tell me to keep your name secret, although, why not pick a nom du question?). You can also ask questions on the AmeriNZ Facebook page, though some people may want to keep in mind that all Facebook Pages are public, just like this blog. If you’re on Facebook, you can send me a private message through the AmeriNZ Page.

All posts in this series are tagged “AAA-18”. All previous posts from every “Ask Arthur” series are tagged, appropriately enough, "Ask Arthur”.


Let the 2018 asking begin – The first post in this year’s series.
Ask Arthur 2018, Part 1: Perfect place


rogerogreen said...

I go away for a day and you have FIVE posts!

Arthur Schenck said...

And four in one day…