Auckland’s city centre has evolved from a traditional centre of commerce to a fully-fledged residential community.
More than 50,000 people now call the city centre home, and the population is climbing as improvements to public transport, walking and cycling safety, and open spaces make it a more desirable place to live.
Elizabeth Busch lives in a central-city apartment with son Arno, 4, and husband Axel, and shares why inner-city life is the right choice for their family.
OurAuckland: What has surprised you the most about living with a family in the central city?
Elizabeth Busch: It’s been much better for my son than I thought. When we first bought our apartment, my parents were horrified that we hadn’t bought a house with a yard ‘for the kids.’ In reality, there are so many parks around Auckland. The Domain is nearby, Western Park is on the way to our day-care, and it’s a 10-minute walk to Aotea Square to take advantage of all the amazing free events throughout the year. It’s great.
What are the benefits of living in the inner-city?
The benefits are that it’s easy to meet up with people. We walk down Karangahape Road and all the shop owners know us and have watched our son grow.
It’s a great community and it’s super easy to wander out and attend cool events before or after dinner. We can also ride our bikes everywhere and don’t have to sit in traffic for the commute.
Are there any unique problems that come with city living?
Because we live on K-Road there are simple dangers like a lot of glass on the street after weekends, or the odd drunk or ‘high’ person wandering about. We just have to be a bit more careful. The drawback is that I wouldn’t let my son go out of the building by himself. There is a lot of traffic and sometimes aggressive people on the street.
The city centre is a massively diverse place with many languages and nationalities calling it home. How does this affect living there?
I love it. We go to Myers Park and you will hear 6 different languages spoken. My son has grown up fascinated by different languages, and I love that we can engage with cultural festivals like Diwali by walking down Queen Street.
The central area is currently a hub of construction. Do you think large-scale projects like the CRL are worth it?
Yes absolutely. They will build a train station opposite our apartment and construction will start soon, but I can’t wait to be able to travel more places with my son once the dust settles. It’s a great investment in the future of the city.
Auckland’s inner-city population will continue to grow. What should we be doing to make the city safer for residents there? Is it safe enough already?
We definitely need more support for mental health and homelessness in the city. This is not about ‘cleaning up,’ but about fundamentally supporting vulnerable populations, and developing communities that can provide the support and resources people need to heal from trauma and learn to thrive.
I also see value in working to reduce alcohol consumption and the violence associated with it. Looking out over Cross Street we get some kids in a really bad emotional state at 4am on a Saturday morning. I lived in Germany for five years, and I think we could learn a lot from them about how to support youth to build resilience and developing a healthier relationship with alcohol.
Is it easy to be an active family in the city?
Yes absolutely. I appreciate all the work the council has done in upgrading the parks around Auckland to be playable by different aged kids. The Myers Park upgrade happened just after my son was born. When he started crawling we’d go there almost every day and met a lot of other lovely families.
I am also looking forward to seeing more bike paths. I have a cargo bike that I use to ride my son to day-care, and my husband has a regular bike, but some areas are hard to navigate without dedicated bike lanes.
What is the main thing you would improve in the city?
More community spaces! More support for people who want to build a community around the things that matter to them. This isn’t about government or council doing something, it’s about empowering people to help themselves and their neighbours.
What do we need more of in Auckland by 2050? And what do we need less of?
We need more empowerment of everyday people, creativity in how we approach problems, courage to change how we live, reaching across political/moral divides to achieve positive outcomes for the community. I’d like less black and white thinking, negativity, avoidance of big problems that are going to negatively impact our children and grandchildren.