Why buy in the countryside?
When it comes to the countryside, is there anywhere better than New Zealand? It’s doubtful. Well…unless you believe the readers of Rough Guides that is. Last year, they ranked New Zealand the third most beautiful country in the world, after Scotland and Canada…which we have to admit are pretty decent contenders.
If you’re moving to New Zealand, prepare to be flabbergasted. The country’s landscape is awe-inspiring. At every twist in the (scenic) road, you are confronted with lakes, gorges and mountains ranges so improbable they’re either named The Remarkables or used to depict entirely fictional lands. There’s a reason why so many film directors are queuing up for film their features here – it’s quite literally out of this world.
When it comes to the countryside, is there anywhere better than New Zealand?
From sweeping 90-mile beaches or secluded coves, it’s not uncommon to spot whales, dolphins or friendly penguins frolicking in the afternoon sunshine. There are hot ponds, peninsulas and glacial pools the colour of the bluest sky. Live volcanoes, snowy mountains, lakes more proficient than any mirror when it comes to reflecting the landscape that surrounds them. Need we go on? Alright then…
On the North Island
On the North Island you’ll enjoy a tropical climate, a geothermal landscape and surf breaks. There’s the Coromandel Peninsula, Waiheke Island and Cape Palliser, outside of Wellington, where you’ll find black sand beaches and colonies of lazing seals. Things are just as impressive underground. Beneath the rolling hills and farmland of the Waikato region lies the extensive Waitomo Cave network, home to millions of glow worms.
And on the South Island
Furthermore, in the South Island there’s the Franz Josef Glacier, Mount Cook and Fjordland National Park. And, mile upon mile of vineyards, the birthplace of some of the world’s finest wines.
If you’re looking to move to (debatably) the best countryside in the world, here are some of our top recommendations for moving to New Zealand.
New Zealand’s best countryside locations
For people who want to be near a city
Mangawhai is 100km north of Auckland but couldn’t be any more different. This sandy beach town boasts a peaceful harbour. Here you can spot rare birds and trees, swim safely and try your hand at kayaking or stand-up paddle-boarding. Also, the town’s Pacific beaches make it perfect for surfing. Furthermore, surrounding the town are a wonderful network of hiking trails. Each year the town hosts Mangawhai Walking Weekend, where it encourages visitors and locals to get outside and explore the natural surrounds. Unsurprising really that this laid-back spot is a long-time artists haven. You’ll catch them flogging their wares and showing their work all around town.
For people who want to be at one with nature
Fancy living in a National Park? Moving to Te Anau by the Fjordland National Park is a dream choice for those moving to New Zealand to get outside. The town is based on Lake Te Anau, right at the start of the infamous Milford Track. This trek follows the exact route taken by early pioneers in the region. It has quite the finale…Milford Sound. This is a peaceful place to live, but you’ll encounter many a’ happy hiker embarking on, or heading home from, one of the ‘finest walks in the world’. If you like fishing, you can enjoy days out on the Waiau River, followed (of course) by cold beer and fish and chips.
You will need to speak to a currency and payments specialist about how to get money sent to you in New Zealand. We recommend Smart, rated “excellent” on Trustpilot for money transfer and currency exchange.
By the beach
Russell is a beautiful coastal hamlet located in the Bay of Islands. This is one of the oldest settled spots in the country. Therefore, the architecture is suitably captivating. Russell is perfect for lovers of warm weather and people who like to sail. When you charter a yacht, don’t forget to keep those eyes peeled for dolphins and whales migrating here and there. The action happens around the lovely waterfront area where you’ll find lots of great dining spots. Be sure to check out the infamous Gables Restaurant for the freshest seafood in town.
Picton is another fantastic coastal village, located on the South Island in Queen Charlotte Sound. If you wish to set up shop by the water in Marlborough Wine Region look no further. Picton has a serene harbour dotted with shops selling local crafts. When things get a little too relaxed, you can lace up your boots and explore the 71 kilometres of Queen Charlotte Track. This hugs the coast and offers up some of New Zealand’s most incredible ocean views.
In the New Zealand countryside, most properties are farms, lifestyle blocks or plots of land
What kind of property might you buy there?
In the New Zealand countryside, most properties are farms, lifestyle blocks or plots of land. One excellent aspect of all the space, is that you should still be able to snap up a decent amount of land.
In general, most lifestyle blocks have slightly less than 10 acres of land. Typically, they are located at least half an hour from any major town or villages. This is a major advantage for those moving to New Zealand – you’ll be able to enjoy being close to town, but certainly not close enough to hear it.
Lifestyle blocks offer those moving to New Zealand an opportunity to be in the heart of the countryside. This means peace and quiet, fresh air, endless skies and large gardens with enough land to grow vegetables. You’ll also be able to invest in some animals if that’s what you dream of doing. Chickens, horses, llamas…or you could even get with the Kiwi programme and buy your very own flock of sheep.
TOP TIP: Many expats buy small-ish plots and then end up wanting more land a few years down the line. As a general rule, it’s better to have too much than not enough. Do bear that in mind when searching for your lifestyle plot.
Rural farming properties
If you’re more serious about farming than just keeping a few chickens and growing some cabbages, you’ll need something bigger. It is possible to buy whole farms, sometimes with businesses already established. Perhaps you already know the tricks of the trade. Otherwise you need to thoroughly research everything involved before making such a life-changing investment.
Plots of land
If you dream of moving to New Zealand to build your perfect countryside bolt hole, it is still possible to buy a plot of land. When designing the property to sit on your plot, you need to consider how much sunshine you get and from what angles. In some parts of the South Island, it can get particularly windy. Make sure there is shelter from the wind. We recommend calling in the professionals to help you design the home you put on your plot. They will be able to advise you on positioning, regulations and everything you need to obtain from the local authorities in terms of permits.
What might you pay?
For a beach house in Russell, you need a budget of at least $545,000 (£281,000). For something more spectacular, secluded and right on the water, you’re looking at $1,000,000 (£515,800).
You can find move-in ready lifestyle blocks with a small amount of land for a starting price of $598,000 (£308,385).
Rural property: need-to-know’s
Before committing to a rural lifestyle block purchase you need to consider:
1 – Sewage
Depending on how remote your countryside property or plot of land is, you may find you’re not attached to the country’s sewage system. This means you have to rely on a septic tank or alternative sewage disposal system. Establish what system is in place and how it operates. Furthermore, double check it has the required council permits and consents. Make sure that the licenses and consents transfer to you in the purchase.
2 – Water
In a similar fashion, always check how you will access water. Your water may be supplied by a well or a bore hole. Mostly, if you just plan on using water for domestic use, you shouldn’t require any permits. However, if you plan on using the land for crops or farming, you’re likely to require consent of some kind. Always ensure your sale contract includes transfer of these consents. If you’re set on the Canterbury region, be aware that water access is limited in the area.
3 – What are the neighbours up to?
Check what your neighbours use their land for before committing to a purchase. The last thing you want is to snap up your dream property, only to discover they house the smelliest livestock known to man. It’s essential to check the zoning rules and activities taking place on neighbouring land.
Getting a good deal is often a question of good planning and research. Download our guide: How to Negotiate Abroad to give yourself a head start.
4 – Covenants
Always check what covenants apply to your land. This is because restrictions are imposed on the way that you use the land. Alternatively, there could be an easement in place that allows your neighbours to graze their livestock on your land, or to use your driveway for their enormous combine harvester. Be sure to read the fine print!
5 – GST
If the current owner of your farm or lifestyle plot is registered for GST – you could end up with a hefty out-of-the-blue GST bill. No one wants that! This is usually only the case for especially large blocks, but it’s worth double checking with your estate agent and solicitor.
6 – Internet access
If you need to access the internet to conduct your business, or to call the friends and family you know you’ll miss so badly, you need to make sure Internet works where you are. The same applies to mobile phone coverage. You can check to see whether your proposed address has internet access here.
How can you make it easier for yourself?
If you have to commute to a job or to get the kids to school, do yourself a favour and don’t position yourself too far away. Driving for an hour and a half each way isn’t how you dreamt you’d spend your new life in New Zealand. If you have teenagers, try and choose a location where they can at least hop on a local bus.
Finally, for those of you who have big plans to produce wine, to raise cows, to brew beer, or to do any specific activity. Make sure you choose the best environment for this chosen activity. Not only is the temperature and climate essential, but you want to ensure you can access the services your business requires.