High school teacher Axel Willmer and wife Cathy looked "everywhere" for a property after the family's earthquake-damaged Bexley home was written off, but finally settled for a house just 3km from their former address.
The Willmers are among former red zone owners buying homes in familiar neighbourhoods, contributing to a strong Christchurch property market.
Data released in the NZ Property Report - a monthly report compiled by property listing website Realestate.co.nz - showed 962 new properties were listed in Canterbury in December - a 4 per cent decrease year-on-year. Asking prices also fell 4.1 per cent last month.
However, Christchurch regional REINZ director Tony McPherson said the market was still "pretty strong" with increased confidence in TC3 sales - many in lower priced areas.
"They are now becoming far more representative of the total sales for Christchurch."
Mr McPherson said many former red zone owners wanted to live in familiar areas.
"These people are tending to want to try and get as close as (they can) to where they used to live."
In the Willmer family's case, Mr Willmer's wife is from New Brighton and with one daughter at Avonside Girls' High School and another at Canterbury University, the family didn't want to stray far from friends and family.
"We like living by the sea and the fresh air," Mr Willmer, a teacher at Mairehau High School, told The Star. "We didn't want to move too far away. Having friends and family in the area makes all the difference."
With their Arncliff St home written off in the February 2011 earthquake, the Willmers had no choice other than to relocate.
But finding a suitable property proved a lengthy and frustrating task.
"We started looking at sections but they were very expensive," Mr Willmer said. "We looked everywhere but we couldn't find anything under $200,000."
The cost of building a modest $300,000 house on top of the section price put a new home beyond the family's budget.
They reverted to looking for an established home and eventually paid "top dollar" - $445,000 - for a Cygnet St, North Beach, property, which was "more than we expected to pay".
Mr Willmer said he believed their new property would have fetched about $410,000 "in a normal market" but they were bidding at auction against two other interested parties.
The family moved in just on a year ago.
Nationally, the property market began the new year with an ease in asking prices, but registered the lowest number of properties for sale on record, with new listings dropping over the traditionally quiet month of December.