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Hamilton really might be the city of the future!

20th May 19

Saddled with the weight of its moniker "the city of the future", encroaching seas may lend Hamilton's tired nickname its due.

Instead of automatically clinging to the country's edges, basing our lives at the foot of waves, New Zealand's often derided inland cities, like Hamilton - even Palmerston North - may become more attractive as the perils of climate change hit our coastal centres.

In July, insurance company IAG, which owns AMI, NZI, State Insurance and insures 1.7 million New Zealanders, will move to more risk-based pricing.

Insurance companies have always priced on risk, but they can now take a more detailed approach to pricing, with more data available to assess risk on a property by property basis, Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton said.

Climate economist Belinda Storey said some locations will lose insurance completely within the next 20 years.

"There's only so much you can do to hold back the sea.

"There are going to be locations where insurance retreat at the coast is inevitable. Whereas in a place like Hamilton there will be more opportunity to do things to make your buildings and your roads and your public facilities more resilient to hazards."

Cities that have stable hazards, or hazards that are escalating in risk quite slowly, are likely to become more attractive, she said.

It's not that Hamilton will get off scot-free, Storey said, it could be hit by more extreme rainfall, surface flooding or heat stress.

But it is much less vulnerable to destructive storm surges.

"If you had a job that pays the same amount in Hamilton or Wellington, but you know that your insurance costs are going to be significantly greater in Wellington, then that might start to influence your decision making."

Storey said there is very early evidence of "climate gentrification" internationally, which could mean movements between streets, suburbs or even cities.

Parts of Miami where properties are based on slightly higher ground are experiencing a modest increase in value relative to similar houses in lower set locations, she said.

"In a handful of cases it will involve an entire city but in most situations it will involve parts of a city."

However, she said there could be movement between cities that are geographically close - like Tauranga and Hamilton.

"Tauranga has had very significant growth in the past 50 years but it has a significant chunk of risk from tropical cyclones that hasn't yet been incorporated in the market.

"It might be that some locations on the coast are overpriced, where Hamilton is appropriately priced or much less overpriced relative to a risk."

People are attached to living near the sea, to the extent they are likely to stay there as long as it is safe, or they can evacuate safely, she said.

However, higher insurance prices - or lack of insurance all together - will likely affect the viability of getting a mortgage for your home.

Grafton agreed.

"Where people choose to live depends on a large number of social, economic and environmental factors not just insurance and how it is priced.

"Taking a long view, you have to ask whether a bank would want to provide a 30-year loan on high risk properties in light of climate change effects," he said.

Hamilton Mayor Andrew King said the city's low risk of environmental and natural disasters mean if people or businesses want to "de-risk", this is the place to be.

But, he said, we don't need to wait for Hamilton to be desirable, it already is.

"We are the city of the present, we are the city of now."

Hamilton, embedded in the Waikato basin surrounded by hills, is protected from the harsh winds most coastal areas experience, he said.

The beautiful fertile lands nearby, surfing beaches a stone's throw away, river walks, a lake, interconnected cycle ways - it's all here, he said.

And "the lifeblood of the city", its river, which he foresees as a future transport hub.

"I believe one day we'll be sitting on our rocking chairs watching water taxis and water ferries go by on the river."

Until then, inland city life continues to keep worries about ominous seas - and nightmarish insurance premiums - at bay.

 

* For the full article, visit www.stuff.co.nz

 

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Filed under Hamilton / Waikato \ Real Estate

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