We wanted to have an answer to the question "I'm fed up with my awful commute and I'm never going to save enough for a deposit on a house. What are my other options?"
Our project was inspired by team-mate Martin's NZ City-based Social Progress + Lifestyle index from 2014, which in turn was based on the international Global Social Progress index (GSPI).
We have taken data from a wide variety of governmental sources, plus some non-governmental sources, to compile the index. The categories broadly relate to the ones used in the GSPI, but as NZ is a fairly homogenous country in some aspects, some categories were removed as they did not allow us to differentiate between the towns in the index. For instance, maternal mortality in NZ is approx 2 women per year, so this cannot be usefully used to compare individual cities or towns.
We have added categories that speak to the quality of lifestyle that New Zealanders aspire to. Climate is a part of this, but housing affordability also plays a role. If your housing costs are high, you have less remaining income to attain the lifestyle you aspire to.
Our index is customisable: users can add and remove categories and towns that they are not interested in, and the full index is recomputed based on the selected data. This allows someone with e.g. job offers in several towns to compare just those towns.
So if you are asking yourself the question: "I'm tired of commuting in Auckland and I'll never be able to buy a house here, to where can I move?", then our index can help you with the answer.