BayBuzz’s Abby Beswick has written ‘Cost of living crisis hits Hawke’s Bay’ in our current magazine. You can read her article online here. To drive home the reality, here’s her close-up look at one family coping with today’s costs.
Thirty-one-year-old Anthony and his fiancee Jessica moved to Hawke’s Bay in April with high hopes. The couple chose the region because they wanted to live close to Anthony’s daughter, while starting a new life and working towards their dream of buying a food truck.
However, things haven’t gone quite as they expected. When the couple first moved to the region they didn’t have permanent jobs and with few accommodation options, they lived in a tent. Initially they got jobs in an orchard but have since secured permanent, full-time roles – Anthony as a builder and Jessica as a machine operator. They’ve been able to move out of their tent and into a caravan park in Te Awanga, but paying for the basics is still difficult, says Anthony who describes feeling financially “imprisoned”.
The couple’s weekly costs include: site and caravan costs, $330, petrol, $150, food, $200, and child support, $150. All of their costs have gone up in the past two years, says Anthony. “It’s a bit of a struggle, even with two of us working.”. The daily grind sees them start work at 6am and 7am, with long commutes and little time or money left for fun. It has taken a toll on their relationship, says Anthony. “It’s been stressful for me and Jess. We used to be so happy and stress free and then the pandemic happened. We’re just trying to get back on our feet.”
Before Covid and the increase in living costs, life was great, says Anthony. Two years ago he was well paid as a builder in the Pacific Islands. He later returned to New Zealand to work as a commercial fisherman and made a home in the far north. He could afford to rent a three-bedroom to himself, while still saving and enjoying regular nights out. “Life was really good. I could afford to live and have fun and a social life,” he says. Earlier this year the couple got engaged and decided to move from their homes in Whangarei and the far north to live together in Hawke’s Bay.
While life hasn’t been easy lately, the couple are grateful for the support they have found. Anthony recently discovered Nourished For Nil and has been visiting weekly to top up their grocery shop. “Just that extra bit we get from there helps out majorly.” When they have a bit of extra cash, they leave a donation to say thank you. And they remain focused on their goal to buy and work in their own food truck business that will utilise their experience in the hospitality industry. “We both decided let’s just accept what’s going on, move forward, grind and just do as much work as we can.”