My property story: Chasing the self-sustainable dream

"It's little things like sitting outside and looking at the property and our garden, or letting the dogs run free, that really make us realise we made the right decision."

Beth Coulson, Digital Sales Manager for realestate.co.nz, and her husband made the move from Saint Johns in Auckland out to Pukekawa in December 2018, after almost two years of searching for a lifestyle block to call their own. The big reason for the move? Self-sustainability. Going back to their roots as farm kids, Beth and her husband are on the path to developing a truly self-sustaining lifestyle in their Pukekawa paradise.

But Pukekawa wasn't always on their radar. We spoke to Beth about her property journey and how her new lifestyle is treating her.

House and bedroom

An unexpected destination

South of Auckland had always been the goal - but it wasn't until they stumbled upon what's now their home that they'd ever explored Pukekawa. They knew they wanted to live between the city and Raglan and began their search on realestate.co.nz by looking for properties in the Pukekohe area.

Beth and her husband explored Waiuku and Pukekohe but it was a property in Pukekawa - a nearby region they'd not yet considered - that appeared in a saved search and stole their hearts.

"We've always been finding different properties and sending them to each other," Beth explains. "We set alerts for Pukekohe and eventually saw this property and fell in love."

The property? A 5-bedroom villa with all the character of a Ponsonby home and 10 acres of land to boot. Although the home itself is a bit outdated, Beth is excited to give it a refresh and make it a home. It's what's outside the building that really excites them.

"We have a pond, we just bought sheep - I never thought in a million years I'd own sheep! We adopted 30 chickens from the previous owner and of course we have our dogs. I'd also really like to get some alpaca to graze the land," says Beth. "There's a lot of work to be done but it's all so worth it."

Friendly creatures are just the start - with a small orchard of their own including red and green apples, pears, peaches, plums, feijoa, avocado and an indomitable pile of lemons. This is all a step towards their dream of self-sustainability. They also have a water pump, a burner and plan to get solar panels for off-the-grid amenities.

The icing on the cake? The couple have their own little one on the way, and now they'll have the perfect home to raise their free-range child.

Dog and Chicken

Making the most of a commute

Of course, living out in Pukekawa and working at realestate.co.nz in Grafton, Beth does face a longer commute.

She's making the most of it though, using the extra time in her day to fulfill her New Year's resolution of listening to an audiobook every week or take her morning calls on her way into the city.

"A lot of people do it - I've talked to people who commute from Hamilton to Auckland every day," Beth explains. "Knowing that so many other people do this, and getting to come home to this property makes it all worthwhile.

"If people do make this change, I suggest having a chat with your employer first about coming early, leaving late or working from home - it's been a huge relief to have some flexibility with realestate.co.nz.

"You should also visit the property on a work day. Be realistic about your commute and visit the property during the times you'd actually be going back and forth to the city. It really helps to have honest expectations."

Apple tree and wood shed

Beth's advice if you're thinking of making the move

To anyone thinking about moving to a lifestyle property, Beth recommends you explore the village, find your new cafe and learn what a local Saturday morning would look like for you.

"There were a couple of properties we loved, but we didn't really feel connected to the local area. This is a big one - you'll be spending a lot of time here, making friends and growing your family. Of course, you also need to be realistic about how much any renovations or landscaping will cost and how much work you'll have to put into them."

Beyond this, Beth advises people to make a list of the reasons you're making the decision to move.

"There are always pros and cons, but when I look back at the last couple of months and see why we left the city - seeing our fruit trees and everything come to fruition - it reminds me that I really have made the right decision."

Sheep and flowers

If you're ready to follow in Beth's footsteps and pursue your own slice of paradise out in the New Zealand countryside, your search begins here on realestate.co.nz. Sign up today to save your searches and set up regular property alerts.

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