It’s not uncommon these days to find people looking for a sea change. City life is busy, hectic and for many, downright irritating. They want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and move to the country for some more space. The rural or acreage lifestyle is considered by many to be more peaceful, more relaxing, and simply a less complicated way to live. However, it’s not without its pitfalls if you don’t know what you’re signing up for.
Here’s all you need to know about buying rural or acreage land in New Zealand, and some mistakes to avoid.
Why consider rural or acreage land?
Many people dream of moving to a more relaxed lifestyle away from the city. Everybody’s reasons are different, but one of the major considerations is cost. Generally, your dollar stretches further when it comes to buying land in the country. You’ll get more space for less cost, which leaves you more money to build your dream home.
Some people simply like the laid-back nature of rural living. No busy streets, no traffic jams, less people, and a bit of distance between you and your neighbours. Living in each other’s pockets is something we’ve become accustomed to in the city, but it’s really not for everybody.
Another popular reason is retirement. You’ve done all you need to do in the city, and it’s time to enjoy the rest of your life in a peaceful environment.
Whatever your reasons for considering rural land in New Zealand, here are some things to be aware of before you make the leap.
Planning and local covenants
All councils have different rules about what you can and can’t do on your land. These are known as covenants, and they govern a range of things such as the size of property you can build through to fencing requirements. These rules might also state whether or not you can farm the land or possess livestock.
You might also encounter some areas that use ‘setbacks’. These are essentially in place to protect people from things such as herbicide and chemical fertilisers, and also to prevent overcrowding. Basically, you might find that you’re not allowed to build within a certain distance of your property border, so this is important to know when planning your build.
Access to water, sewerage and electricity
In rural areas, things work a little differently than the city. If you’re used to simply moving into a home and having instant, easy access to water, sewerage and power, you might be in for a shock. We’re certainly not saying you’ll be without these things, but getting connected is a bit of a different process. For example, you may not have access to the town’s water supply, in which case you operate on tank water.
You’ll also need to ensure that any water and sewerage systems you install meet the standards for the local area. The local authorities are your best source of information here, to find out exactly what’s required. Basically, if your land isn’t already connected to these services in some way, it can cost a little more to get set up, so factor it into your budgeting.
Are schools easily accessible?
For families with young children, schools are always going to be a consideration. Firstly, you want to make sure you actually like the school in your new area. In rural communities, there aren’t as many schooling options, so it’s worth checking them out before committing. Alternatively, if your kids are going to keep going to school in the city, are you able to drive them there every day?
The same goes for local schools. If your property is a bit out of the way, you might find there’s no public transport, so you’ll need to get used to playing taxi!
Are you prepared to travel?
Travel doesn’t just apply to schooling of course, and this is the reason many people find it difficult to live away from the city. When you move to a rural area, you’ll be more removed from the things that city life offers. Cultural and sporting facilities, events, even your family and friends. Are you prepared to travel for all those things you’ll inevitably need or want to attend?
Rural life doesn’t mean you need to move several hours away, of course. You can find acreage land that’s still a reasonable distance to bigger towns, but it’s certainly a consideration when planning a lifestyle change.
Consider local amenities
Finally, take a look around the area before you buy land. Smaller, rural communities usually have most of the essentials. Groceries, pharmacy, doctors, schools, recreation areas. But naturally the choices are limited compared to bigger towns and cities. So, make sure you’re comfortable that everything you need is close by, especially if you don’t want to travel back to the city frequently.
As with any move, doing your research beforehand makes for a much easier transition, and by making smart choices you’ll be able to enjoy your new life on acreage land.