My property story: A simpler life in South Taranaki

"This house represents what we came down here for - which is time for family - and I have family coming in the back door for cups of tea or just to drop by. Because of that, this is more of a home than a five-bedroom showhome in Ellerslie ever was."

Jo and Craig Baylis seemed to have it sorted. They both worked successful sales careers (Jo is the former National Sales Manager of realestate.co.nz) and had renovated what they believed to be their forever home. The couple weren't caught up in the rat race - they were beating it and loving every second. It wasn't until a visit to Craig's hometown for a funeral that they realised they wanted something a little more.

This was the catalyst that led Jo and Craig to their new home - and new life - in Hawera.

Various pictures

Making the big decision

Although it was a sad occasion, one thing really stood out to Jo and Craig on that pivotal visit to Hawera: Everyone was really relaxed, enjoying life and people seemed to have time for each other and for family.

"Neither my husband nor I have a single bad thing to say about Auckland - we absolutely love it! It's a hive of activity full of choice, variety and culture, but we got to a point where we realised that actually we don't go out to dinner as much as we like, and we don't necessarily go to the movies or concerts," says Jo. "So we thought, 'why were we living this life when what we really wanted was probably a few more walks along the beach and more time spent together as a family?'. Today, I'll pick my kids up from school, we'll go food shopping and my 12-year-old daughter will help me prepare dinner.

"I really thought I'd miss Auckland, because I'm a city girl, I'm social and I absolutely loved my job at realestate.co.nz, working with so many passionate and driven people. It took me longer to make the decision than my husband or my kids - the kids were sold as soon as they found out they'd be getting a puppy! But now that I'm here, I don't even have time to miss it."

Family and house

A serendipitous family home

Jo and Craig started thinking they'd own an investment property in Hawera, but that quickly turned around when they found the small "two-and-a-half bedroom" home they live in now.

"My husband went out on the deck of his parents' place where we were staying and just said 'Jo... that house over the road is for sale'. I went straight onto realestate.co.nz and looked through all the pictures of the house that were available," says Jo. "We then teed up an appointment with the agent through the details on the listing. The house already had an offer on it - but that didn't scare us. We put a backup offer in and we were lucky enough to get the house."

Now, Jo and her family are loving life in Hawera. They've stripped out the clutter from their lives, made some minor renovations to their new home and have recently opened a retail store, South Naki, on Union Street.

To anyone considering moving out of the city, Jo's advice is simple: "Do it now".

"The hardest thing is making the decision, because it's so easy to just stick with what you know because it's what you're comfortable with. But I already know all my neighbours, I've met half the people in this town. This morning I've done the housework and walked across green meadows while the dog ran around the cows in the pasture. Now I've made this change, I don't know what I was so afraid of.

"Ultimately, you can do something and if it's the wrong decision, you can just make another one, right?"

There's so much waiting beyond the limits of your everyday life. If you're ready to find a new home outside of the city, sign up to realestate.co.nz today to begin your search.

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