South Auckland first-year teacher BROOKE HANNAH describes the reality of working and living in Auckland as “mind-blowing”.
My “original” plan was to complete University, find a great school to work in, visit my folks on Sundays for roast, buy a home and watch the Highlanders basically kick butt. Everything was going so well right up to the moment when basic economics told me there just aren’t enough jobs in my hometown. Given the shortage of teachers in the Auckland area, and coupled with myself being young, single and with no kids, I became a prime candidate, a soul willing to forgo all that I knew.
It happened though; I did land a great job in a school that has shown me the meaning of diversity, rich in culture, great kids and more importantly an opportunity to find myself as a teacher.
Hang on, nobody told me though that opportunity comes at a cost and in my case the cost to just live. Like many other single teachers that I have encountered so far, the talk, the concerns, the reality of working and living in Auckland for us all can simply be described as mind blowing. Although a beginning teacher’s salary is moderate, in the Auckland scene it keeps me above the bread-line. Rent, rent, rent controls the greater portion of my salary, then there is petrol which diminishes rather quickly due to the snail pace traffic that I battle on a daily basis. How families with two or more children manage to make ends meet is beyond me, and given my situation, my heart goes out to them.
I really enjoy my job. I’ve made new friends and the feeling of independence is liberating. But wait, I feel that I’m slipping away from the utopian vision that I once held of how life would pan out. If Auckland was a place where I could afford to settle down, buy a home and start a family then that would definitely be an option but right now it is not, as I simply can’t afford to live here long term. I mean really, who can? My whole future is ahead of me, but it won’t be in Auckland.
Auckland teacher TAYLOR ADAIR from Balmoral School says the struggle is real.
Never did it enter my mind that teaching might end up being a career that I couldn’t sustain or couldn’t afford.
I’m only in my third year of teaching. I’m fully registered and should be ‘living the dream’.
I didn’t enter this profession for the salary – no one in their right mind would. You become a teacher because you love teaching, because you have a passion for seeing children become the best versions of themselves and seeing their joy at discovering the world around them.
However, I’ve been asking myself lately whether the amount of time, heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears I put into this job are balanced with the amount of money that goes into my bank account each fortnight. As the burnout sets in, so does the feeling that maybe one of my other passions would be a better career choice and might allow me to afford the deposit on a house in the only city I have ever called home.
Even as someone who has been saving her whole life, I won’t be able to buy my own home in my own city. Not “until I’m…”, or “unless…” – I just won’t. Not in this profession, not even when I reach the cap of my salary.
No wonder people are fleeing the profession in search of a higher pay for a lower workload; no wonder they are fleeing the city so they can afford to live and do what they love.
If I leave my job next year to pursue further study, in a different field, I worry that my school won’t be able to find the right person to fill my position. Schools will have to stop hiring people who fit their pedagogies and style, and just start hiring whoever walks in the door. This will only end badly for schools and teachers alike. Schools suffer when staff don’t buy into their vision, and staff suffer when they believe in something different than what their school stands for.
As someone who doesn’t want to leave my home, my options are quickly dwindling, and the draw of leaving the profession is growing. I’m not the only one, the statistics are shouting that quite clearly, and I hate to think what the future of education in Auckland will look like if this trend continues.