Chris O’Brien, partner and two ‘cat children’ – Lady and Earl Grey - are happy with their life in midtown. The young professionals who came to Auckland after eleven years in London, managed to buy an apartment in the High Street district 18 months ago.
They get around by bike, and apart from big appliance purchases (Chris says it’s a little more difficult carrying home big boxes on a bike!) life is super-sweet.
Chris hopes Auckland will take a leaf out of London’s book as city centre housing becomes more intensified: “Living above High St, I love the vibrancy of the area, especially with so many great bars, cafes and theatres right on my doorstep. I volunteer as an usher at Basement Theatre because of how much I love their shows.
“That vibrancy is a bit of a double-edged sword though. While there are some great businesses, there are others that care very little for the residents of the area with loud outside-facing music impacting all of those in the area.
“I think of my time in London where pubs would have signs on the outside of them asking patrons to be considerate of residents and keep their volume down, something I haven’t seen in Auckland yet.”
What part of midtown is home?
We live in an apartment off the Victoria Street end of High Street. We are lucky enough to own our apartment. When we were looking around 18 months ago, we found that most apartments were quite small (below 80sqm) and still quite expensive (between $850K and $1m), so we’re pleased with the place we were able to buy.
Do you and your partner own a car?
We don't own a car, and the benefits are not having to worry about finding an apartment with parking, or having to worry about the ongoing costs of maintenance. It's only practical because of the midtown supermarkets though, and the loss of stores like Noel Leeming from downtown has made things a little more difficult to transport larger items.
Do you have bikes?
Yes, I have two bikes and they are my major form of transport for slightly longer journeys in the city. The upgrades along the waterfront have been amazing for that and it would be awesome to have a better link from midtown to those bike lanes.
How are you feeling about the disruption of the construction work ahead, as we regenerate midtown?
Generally positive, knowing about the improvements they will yield as they are completed. My major concern is that in some of the areas of construction, where there is low lighting and tight spaces, I don't personally feel safe anymore. I hope that aspect can be improved.
What do you see as the biggest benefits the city will see when the City Rail Link, and specifically Te Wai Horotiu Station (Aotea), are completed?
I am hoping that it will bring more general people traffic (ideally no cars) to the midtown area, and that will mean stores that have been closing become a better option for retailers (especially some of the laneway malls between Elliott St and Queen St).
I am so excited for the completion of the High Street regeneration also! It will be really exciting to see the space made better for residents.
How easy is it to live with two cats in an apartment? What are their names and what is the secret?
Our cats' names are Lady and Earl Grey (named after the tea, of course.) They are both Ragdoll and, according to the back of their food, they are meant to be ‘sweet and relaxed’. They are anything but sweet and relaxed. Generally though, they are really lovely cats who enjoy finding beams of sun and judging the cars of Victoria Street Car Park and walkers of High Street.
We have had them a little under three years now across a couple of different locations in the inner city: a town house behind Karangahape Road and on Upper Queen Street and now our current apartment off High St. Thriving with pets in the city has become a little easier with working from home as we can spend most of our time with our, admittedly, noisy co-workers, but keeping them entertained with a nice view and toys strewn throughout the house tends to work. The city can sometimes be noisy though and finding your pets somewhere nice and quiet they can escape to in those moments is invaluable.