City: Dunedin, New Zealand
Geographical Location: Otago Region, South Island
Population: 116,600 in the city proper; 124,800 in the territorial region
Size: 98.5 square miles (city), 1279.5 square miles (territorial region)
Weather: 6 out of 10. Winters are cold (and there is pretty much no central heating) but it rarely snows or gets below freezing. It rains a lot in the winter. It does get warm (and fairly hot in the summer, I’m told). It really does embody that NZ slogan of ‘4 seasons in a day’, though.
Food: 6 out of 10. Yummy Asian options. Good burger joints. Nothing in the way of good Mexican (but it’s NZ, what can you expect?). Fabulous Saturday farmers’ market at the train station (year round, as far as I could tell).
Walkability: 8 out of 10. Plenty of good sidewalks, and I never felt unsafe walking around anywhere from the Octagon north (even by myself at 3 am).
Bikeability: 6 out of 10. There were plenty of people biking but I didn’t see any bike lanes. Center City and the Uni area is pretty flat, but if you went outside of that you’d be dealing with some major hills.
Public Transportation: 5 out of 10. There’s just the bus, and it is hard to figure out. I had problems with it… I walked everywhere, though.
Vegetarian-friendly: 5 out of 10. Many places had meat-free items but there were few whole restaurants that were veg.
Beauty: City center: 7 out of 10, Areas around the city: 10 out of 10. Some lovely old architecture and a wonderful botanic gardens were gorgeous. Down in the uni flats, not so much. But you don’t have to go far to get to some of the most amazing views I’ve seen.
Museums: 5 out of 10. There weren’t that many museums but most of them were free or cheap.
Cool Shops: 6 out of 10. Plenty of opshops (that’s a thrift store) but that’s about it.
Free Stuff to Do: 4 out of 10. There were some things… but a lot of stuff cost a little money.
Great Outdoors: 9 out of 10. There were the botanic gardens and several hikes within walking distance, and if you had a car there are tons of hikes you can drive to.
Cleanliness: 3 out of 10. Especially on a Friday morning, it could be pretty gross – beer bottles everywhere… I would never walk around barefoot. I did find the ubiquitous graffiti rather charming.
Cost of Living: $$ out of $$$$. Quick TradeMe search revealed some 2 bedrooms in the city center for the equivalent of $1300/month USD. Food is also not too bad, though it always looked expensive due to exchange rates…
Tourist Congestion: 1 out of 5. Now, I wasn’t there in the summer but it’s not really a tourist destination as much as a lot of other NZ cities, so I can’t imagine it’s bad at all. If we’re talking drunk uni student congestion, that is pretty high…
Safety: 5 out of 5. Like I mentioned earlier, I really never felt unsafe in Dunedin. A major plus.
Overall Thoughts: I absolutely loved Dunedin when I lived there for 5 months, but I don’t think I’d want to live there again. It was a great base for travel but the sheer amount of drunk people you see was sort of overwhelming. It’s pretty, but it’s dirty. I’m sure there’s better spots to call home in NZ.