Countryside diary, part one

In October year before last we visited our old friend living near Raglan. Previously he was telling us he was going to leave his IT job in Auckland, pay off his mortgage and move somewhere in a countryside. Finally he did it: he quit his job, sold his house in the city and bought another one with a decent land section in a classical New Zealand outback.

Originally our friend was looking for a house in one hour driving from Auckland and was very interested in Wellsford however, changed his mind later because of high price rises and as a result, bought a house in Waikato regeon. Actually today I just want to show you a few pictures from a village and share a few thoughts with you. So, feel free to press Share buttons below – if this post becomes popular I’ll create a new tag and post countryside diaries on a regular base.

Chapter one. “The House”

We left Auckland as usual, after 8PM to avoid Friday traffic jams, arrived to the village around 10PM, unboot the car, had a cup of tea and went into bed accompanied by cat’s croaking and logs crackling in the fireplace. To be honest, sleeping in a village house after two and a half years of living in 1.5 million city was quite unusual – can you imagine, you come to the window, open the curtains and you see nothing, just top of the trees in the nearby forest and heaps of very bright stars on the sky.

Surprisingly we slept very well in a new place after having a night road driving.
So as soon as I woke up, I got my camera and continued making a pictures. Actually the house was built in 1940s and represents a renovated classical weatherboard itself or, to be correct, two joined weatherboards. Despite a recent renovation, you can realize you are entering an old house with the old wood smell, creak of wooden floor, old wall clock, furniture and other old attributes.. Some windows frames still have original forged lockers!

The fireplace. There are different CO2 normatives in New Zealand depending on a size of your land section. As far as I know, the owners of 2 hectar land section don’t have to worry but all the rest recommended to use special fireplace with a better filtering system. If you missed that somehow – New Zealand private houses don’t have central heating system. For example, night temperature during winter months in the regeon our friend is living can go down to 0 celcium degrees which may lead to water pipes freezing and blockage. On the left – there is a cat door, embedded to a glass window.

Bathroom: a shower, a bath, sink and a toilet you can’t see at the moment. It is 8AM now but it is as light as a day because of the sun tube installed on the ceilings which is quite common in New Zealand. In addition to electric lighting, a very powerfull heat lamp is installed all together with ventillation – as you remember, winters in New Zealand are very wet, consequently mold can be growing very fast in a bathroom.

The sink and famous double water tap. I find them quaint, and in fact, you can be more precise about what water you actually want. Also, they never fail; you just replace the rubber washer occasionally to prevent dripping. However, these taps are so short so I think it’s literally impossible to use them without plugging sink stopper. If yout think that double water taps common in old New Zealand houeses only you are wrong. There was double water taps in a toilets in a previous office our company used to rent for two years. The building itself is quite new and was built around 10 years ago. And I trully don’t understand why some New Zealand offices still have them. They are very outdated in my opinion. In fact, you can be more precise about what water you actually want. Also, they never fail; you just replace the rubber washer occasionally to prevent dripping Anyway, let’s get back to our sheeps!

The “sheep” woke up and was waiting for something tasty to munching on. P.S The mountain you can observe on a background is a private. Can you imagine that? A whole private mountain!! o_O We’ll definitely hike at the top of that mountain someday, I promise.

A deck, bbq and a few chairs you can seat on and observe one million dollar view.. What else do you need if you have just retired?

A view of the house from backyard. Very simple but nice. On the right you can see australian eucalyptus or gum trees. On the left there is neighbours hills with a few cows and horses.

A water tank with rainwater. The majority of New Zealand countryside houses do not connected to central water system, don’t have wells and hence have to collect rainwater. The water from these tanks is pumped to the house water tap by an electric pump. These two contain approximately 40,000 littres of water.

There is a small filter on the output of the water pump. My friend checked it a number of times, but there is hardly anything in it. He have also looked into the tanks through the inspection hatches on top. Hardly any debris on the bottom. He guess his crude mesh system for catching leaves before they get into the down pipes from the gutters must be working. He periodically cleans those out. The sewage goes into a septic tank under the paddock where Bertie lives. Hopefully he doesn’t mind.

Another view of the house, my Subaru and a garage with shed I would call as “my dream workshop”. Despite the middle of October, my Forester still has a roofrack attached to the top and I still have a hope we can organise another snowtrip and finally close this year’s winter season.

And now the thoughts I wanted to share:

  • For a man who spent most of his life in a city appartments I do like an idea of living in a spacious house with a descent land section, big enough for having a few sheeps or calves
  • Keeping in mind New Zealand house crisis, buying a first home in Auckland is almost impossible so, I find an idea to buy house in countryside very attractive. For the same amount of money you could spent buying a studio in Auckland you can buy a village house with a descent land section. Breath a fresh air, have a fresh milk and so on
  • I have no idea what will happen with New Zealand house market next five years, but I think we don’t have to expect anything positive. Especially nothing good will happen to those of you who didn’t get on a property ladder yet. I’m not ready to pay a mortgage for a cardboard house in Auckland for the next 30 years. Call it whatever you want but I trully believe that New Zealand dream has gone. Buy an apartment? I have used to live in apartments for most of my life and I’m not interested anymore, thank you
  • I’m totally disagree with a common stereotype “only farmers live in a coutryside”. Some of my friend’s neighbours are people who moved to the village from a city just because they love countryside life style. Some of them still commute to their work in Hamilton every day. Of course there are a few farmers living in this area too. Very busy, very smart and very hardworking people who earns quite well in my opinion. Some of them have additional business not related to the farming. And by the way, there are no beneficiary people in a village or may be it’s just because I haven’t met them yet
  • I have checked with my manager whether I can or I can’t work remotely and I got it approved. Now, wish a good luck to me, trying to convince my wife to move in a village. She still have to finish her Uni degree by the way.
  • Actually one of the main concern of living in a New Zealand countryside she has is there is no central water carriers
  • Another concern I’m worried about is very slow internet. I’ll tell you what – some New Zealand regeons do not have GSM network because of terrain features. For example, there is was no GSM network near our friend’s house when I made these pictures because of the mountains. He had a landline phone and a special device retranslating GSM network up to 30 meters which was long enough to receive a call or text message while he was working outside of the house. Now he has Vodafone coverage – they built a new tower
  • Another concern is remoteness from townships and cities. For example, our friend’s house located in 15 minutes driving from the nearest supermarket. Imagine you wake up in the morning and say: how about having omlette for breakfast? Then you realise you ran out of eggs and you still don’t have chickens and you not really keen drive 19 kilometers to the township. So you have to skip that until next shopping you do once a week or let’s make it honest, once a fortnight. This is why most people have “chooks”!
  • Medicine: a closest hospital is located in Hamilton, which is approximately 30 minutes driving in a car
  • Education: there are not so many opportunities in a rural areas. Just to give you an idea – there is a primary school only in a village nearby our friend’s house. So, you have to go Raglan or Hamilton every day to get your kids to the high school or colledge

That’s it, folks! Grumpy Francis Bacon the cat is sitting near dining table and awaits for his meal. Ask your questions, post comments. Any activities, which can relief existential crysis of author, temporary living in a countryside during the long weekend is much appreciated.

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Ivan Grigoryev's Blog
Living in New Zealand. Blogging about the country, beautiful places, everyday life.
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