Ah Auckland. The city of sails, brunching, spending too much on caffeine and pretending like you’re a millionaire. I’ve lived in this metropolis for two years on a student budget and feel absolutely qualified to tell you how I’ve managed to survive. Not just survive but THRIVE. Thrive like the Real Housewife of Auckland I pretend to be.
Fake being rich until you actually believe you are (bank balance, who?)
First and foremost, you cannot expect to be a real housewife/husband in this cruel, cruel city without embracing your new identity. A real Aucklander does not conform to such south of the Bombay Hills norms, like anxiously checking their account balance. There is power in ignoration, and if you believe you are financially well-off (granted you don’t have an awkward encounter with a declined card), you will become financially well-off.
You CAN eat out and not break the bank (and it will be worth it)
The quintessential image that you must portray to the world if you want to truly live like an Aucklander is that you eat out on a regular basis. The one meal that will cement this status is brunch. Brunch is not simply an amalgamation of breakfast and lunch – it’s a lifestyle. Auckland cafés do it best, and that’s just a fact. A decent brunch will normally set you back about $25, which is steep for one meal, especially when it usually consists of the cheapest ingredients known to man (eggs and bread). However, the price needs to be assessed from a different perspective. Because brunch is technically accounting for two separate meals, it can actually be well worth it.
For a brunch fit for true Auckland royalty, you can’t go past Major Sprout. All I’m going to say about that magical place is that they have pancakes with candyfloss, maple syrup AND marshmallows. Essentially the food Instagram of your dreams.
Look like you belong among the Auckland social elite even though your wardrobe says otherwise
First year uni students take note: you have entered the glorious land of student discounts, and it’s time to take advantage of every, single, one. Sign up to UniDays and haul that ASOS wardrobe like there is no tomorrow. Fulfill your champagne dreams on your beer budget with sale racks and op-shops. Even designer labels have amazing end of season sales, so if you spy something you absolutely have to have, refrain from your millennial instant gratification complex. Wait three months and if you still love that beautiful coat that costs more than your weekly rent, don’t fret: it will most likely either be in store at a heavily discounted rate or left on a lonely rack in an op-shop somewhere. Some outfits are worth hunting for.
Be cultured, darling
One of my favourite things about Auckland is all of the art one can consume. Whether you’re musing through the city taking in paintings or going to the theatre and pretending to be an art connoisseur, the art in Auckland is truly a dream. But you argue, with your index finger raised in accusation, how does one afford to be ‘cultured’ when one can barely afford an Uber? Well, let me let you in on a secret, dear reader, there are an abundance of free or low cost shows if you know where to look.
If you’re into comedy, you can’t look past Basement Theatre’s Snort, which is a weekly improv comedy show featuring various notable New Zealand comedians. It will only set you back $12, and you’re pretty much paying for the priceless gift of guaranteed laughter. What’s more, you’ll get to say you saw those comedians in action when you head back home for uni break and spot them making guest appearances on Jono and Ben and 7 Days. (Let’s be real, we only watch ye olde television when we’re back home with the parentals.)
Traditional art consumers (or even you non-believers) will be pleasantly astonished upon visiting Auckland’s (free) Art Gallery. Walk around, take in art you pretend to understand, and I promise you, your brain will thank you for it later. It is truly one of my favourite places in the city, and well worth giving a gold coin donation if you have some leftover funds.
Auckland is also the place to be for live music at an affordable cost. Forget playing upwards of $20 for entry to a sub-par nightclub just to be hit on by some creepy dude while pretending to jam to a DJ you’ve never heard of. Instead, look on websites like undertheradar.co.nz to find an artist playing a show and stalk them on Spotify. It’ll be worth it when they hit the big time and you can tell your friends that you were partially responsible for their rise to fame.
There you have it readers, those were my very best tips for how to thrive in a city full of endless expensive experiences. Spend your cash wisely, and keep in mind that it is often experiences, not things, that will bring you the most happiness.