Feature article

Best suburbs to buy your first home in New Plymouth

The great thing about New Plymouth is that most of its suburbs are affordable for first home buyers.

Taranaki’s attractive main city, New Plymouth, is well known for its fantastic quality of life, where locals can ski in the morning (at Mt. Taranaki) and surf in the afternoon at one of the local beaches. And for urban types used to a certain size city, its town has a real heart and buzz about it.

And the good news for house hunters is, while last year homes were selling like hotcakes with multiple offers, now, most homes are spending more days on market, so buyers can take their time and make a considered decision.

Why a former Aucklander bought his first home in New Plymouth

For Joe, an executive in his late 20s living in Auckland until last year, he’d taken a look at the Auckland real estate market and gone, “Nah, can’t afford it, too hard.”

A stint living again in his hometown of New Plymouth during a Covid lockdown helped him decide that it could offer him a really great quality of life. He’d be doing all the things he loved to do with lots of friends around, and he could afford his first home there without too much trouble.

As someone who grew up in the beautiful coastal suburb of Fitzroy in New Plymouth, Joe had some preconceived ideas about where he might consider buying his first home, but these evolved as his search deepened.

The project manager bought in the suburb of Blagdon on the other side of the city from Fitzroy, paying a bit over $500,000 for a three-bedroom, 1.5 bathroom, brick home.

Taranaki’s median house price was $665,000 in February, up 27.9% on the same time last year, according to REINZ.

Joe has brought his flatmate from Auckland with him, another Taranaki local, to be his lodger, and they like to make full use of the deck at the house when entertaining. Blagdon isn’t far from the coast too, which he likes.

“With many houses in New Plymouth you’re either going to see the mountain (Mt Taranaki) or be close to the beach or both,” the first home buyer says.

View overlooking Oakura Beach, New Plymouth.

Why a first home buyer chose Blagdon

“Blagdon’s quite a cool area, it’s still affordable, there are a few parts of it that are a bit rough around the edges but it’s close to the city, close to beaches, and heaps of friends are nearby,” he says.

Blagdon was a good suburb where he felt he could do a bit of work to the house, and add some value, he adds.

“There are still quite a few houses around here that, with a bit of TLC, could be really nice, “ he says. “If you’re prepared to do a bit of mahi, you can get a good deal.”

Another suburb nearby, which he thinks is worth a look, is Moturoa. It’s close to the city’s Back Beach and, as an old suburb, has houses that present an opportunity to add value for first home buyers, he says.

The neighbouring suburb of Spotswood meanwhile is probably one of the most affordable places to buy in New Plymouth at the moment, he says.

“Like most suburbs, it has its good and bad sides but in the right spots it’s really nice,” says Joe. It has lots of school options and also parts of it are close to New Plymouth’s back beach and Paritutu rock.

Meanwhile, for those who don’t want or need to be close to the city, Frankleigh Park is beautiful and is closer to the mountain, he suggests. It’s more like suburbia than his part of town but the housing is very attractive and it’s got highly rated schools, says the local.

Buyers should consider Westown

Further up the price range but still affordable in comparison with big cities, is Westown, which is a bit closer to New Plymouth’s CBD than Blagdon.

Westown is a big suburb and, as the suburb where Taranaki Base hospital is located, it’s a good place for rentals and it also has a vibrant shopping centre, says Joe.

Bayleys agent, Neale Parkinson, is currently selling a pretty 1920s bungalow in Westown for $635,000 that’s got great potential, he says. The former rental is ideal for a first home buyer to add value and it’s close to a number of schools, both public and private.

The attraction of Westown, says Neale, is a lovely suburb with a real cross-section of housing and ages. It’s very close to the CBD, about 2 km away, and it’s a very straightforward run-in. He says the shopping centre on Tukapa Street has shops, cafes, bars, and a restaurant.

49 Dorset Avenue, Westown, New Plymouth – asking price $635,000.

Inner city living

According to local agents, for those from the country’s larger centres, inner-city living is totally affordable in New Plymouth. Inquiries over $680,000 are being sought for the picture-perfect, historical Fishleigh Cottage at 20 Aubrey St, and it’s very walkable to everywhere, says Tall Poppy agent, Rebecca Bruce.

“The CBD is just an amazing place because of the nightlife and social scene,” she says.

20 Aubrey Street, New Plymouth – asking price $655,000.

“From the Aubrey Street property, you’ve got parks, the coastal walkway, an array of different cafes, boutiques, and shopping. Everything is on your doorstep and you can go to the wharf too,” says Rebecca.

The Tall Poppy agent says there are so many good parts to New Plymouth, you could live anywhere and each area has its own great characteristics. The older houses tend to be in the city around the port where the whalers came in, she notes.

Lemon Street in central New Plymouth, is another street she recommends, near Pukekura Park and Bowl of Brooklands.

20 Aubrey Street, New Plymouth interior.

A two-bedroom unit near Pukekura Park in popular Shortland Street, Vogeltown, is meanwhile currently up for sale with some very stylish features and an alluring $649,000 plus price tag. Grace Hornby of Metcalfe Real Estate says it’s appealing to first home buyers who want a low maintenance home, security, and lock ‘n leave.

It’s close to everything, with Pukekura Park just the next street over. It’s safe and very quiet so would work for a single person looking for these features too.

The more aspirational Fitzroy and Strandon

If you love Fitzroy in New Plymouth, known for its beautiful beach, a smaller home might possibly be in your budget if it goes up to $1.2 million. Strandon, nearby, might have some opportunities too.

Professionals’ agent Sam Masters says Strandon has “blown up hugely” in the past 5 to 10 years. However, the entry-level there would still be around $800,000 which wouldn’t scare many Aucklanders or Wellingtonians away.

Sam is currently marketing an attractive three bedroom, one bathroom, character home in Strandon, just 500 m from Fitzroy Beach and the local shops. He’s looking for inquiries over $795,000.

Sam also recommends Lower Vogeltown, Brooklands, and central New Plymouth to people used to living in a big city, giving special mention to Shortland Street and Victoria Road. A property priced at “offers over $789,000” at 2 Norman St in Lower Vogeltown is worth a look for first home buyers. And it’s just a 500 m walk to beautiful Pukekura Park.

2 Norman Street, Vogeltown, New Plymouth – asking price $789,000.

A town that can accommodate a variety of needs

Newcomers to New Plymouth want to experience a real variety of living and the city is able to deliver this, says Ray White agent, Amy Avery, who has helped a variety of out of towners with a $700,000 to $1.2 million budget to buy in her city. She says one purchaser wanted a lifestyle block which they found by Egmont Village, 12 km out of town. Another couple from Hamilton bought in Westown, moving to the city for work.

At the moment, Amy’s selling a very pretty villa in the CBD at 302 Devon St West, and it's drawing the crowds from Auckland and the far North, she says.

“You can walk to work, it’s the location that people like,” says Amy. She expects the well-located home to get a very good price as she was fielding offers early and a figure of $1 million-plus is likely.

302 Devon Street West, New Plymouth.

New homes in New Plymouth

If it’s a new home that you have your heart set on, and you’re operating at the upper end of the $700,000 to $1.2 million budget, then Bell Block is the best New Plymouth suburb to start your search. New homes will start from the late $700,000s there. You’ll also find new planned infill housing in Spotswood, Merrilands, Vogeltown, Westown and Welbourn currently on Trade Me.

You’ll pass Bell Block as you come from the stylish New Plymouth airport into town. It’s just 6km northeast of New Plymouth and is connected to the city’s popular coastal walkway.

Bell Block is home to The New Plymouth Golf Club (Ngamotu Links) and The Links subdivision is the most expensive housing development in Bell Block.

Glenn Green of Harcourts Team Green is a fan of Bell Block and it’s where he lives.

72 Aratapu Street, Waitara, New Plymouth – asking price $729,000.

“People don’t realise that Bell Block is just four minutes away from New Plymouth and has amazing newer homes. It even has a beach not many people know about,“ he says.

If your job is in town then you’ll have a drive-in on a four-lane highway in the morning but you’ll be close to the Valley Mega Centre with more shops to come so you’ll be well served for your weekend DIY and stock up.

According to Professionals agent’ Sam Masters, there’s also a big subdivision in Waiwhakaiho which is the next suburb over from Bell Block but closer to town. Your budget will have to start at $1.1 million to get your foot in the door there, he says.

Another part of New Plymouth where you can find new homes is Hurworth, 8km south of the city, says Sam. The family-friendly area has house and land packages on offer and the established Fernbrook subdivision there has a near new Signature home currently up for sale with an asking price of $1.15 million.

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