More and more people are seeking an alternative to the traditional suburban home.  This has seen a growing demand for lifestyle blocks, hobby farms, and country homes on large sections.

The people who choose lifestyle blocks are diverse.  They move for the prospect of a better life, looking for fresh air, open spaces and bigger properties, that tend to also offer swimming pools, tennis courts and plenty of space for self-sufficient gardens, hobbies, grazing animals, pets and free-range children!

Location is important and a personal choice, lifestyle blocks do mean a commute and you need to consider where the nearest community, amenities; schooling, leisure and entertainment activities are relative to your new home.

Lifestyle properties are also great for children, offering the opportunity to attend a small rural school, with a school bus at the gate, and room for children to play in the fresh air with family and friends, enjoy the company of pets and the responsibility of caring for animals.

There is no doubt that a drive around the outer city limits reveals some idyllic living opportunities.  However, this is different to urban dwelling and can be a steep learning curve for those embarking on rural life.  The key to a successful rural lifestyle block purchase is a careful and thorough due diligence process to identify and understand all of the difference.  Luckily, our team at Rural and Lifestyle Sales are experts and will be with you at every step of the way.

Things to consider on your lifestyle block

Part of the charm of a rural property is that feeling you get approaching the dwelling from the property entrance; whether it’s a modern home, lovingly restored villa or an opportunity for you to extend your DIY passions – the dwelling is a crucial part of the joy of lifestyle living.  Also look for your close neighbours – who often become close friends in rural communities.

Where your home is sited is practically important as well, lifestyle property can be more susceptible to the elements compared with sheltered suburbia.   Take careful note of the building’s orientation for the sun and, if necessary, the likely impact of the prevailing wind on outdoor living areas. 

Generally, the value of a lifestyle block is enhanced by the extent to which it offers peace and quiet, views of the surrounding countryside, mature trees, native bush, ponds and streams as well as any potential for further subdivision.

Additional buildings are common.  Garaging can be separate alongside sheds and storage facilities – all of which will need to be maintained.  Self-contained units are also an attractive additional feature but do check that a council consent has been issued allowing it to be used as a residence.

Fences are a vital part of lifestyle properties. Boundary fencing is essential for containing or excluding livestock and it will be your responsibility to keep your boundary fences to a stock-proof standard – bearing in mind different kinds of stock require different levels of fencing.

Water is also a major consideration.  As a potential buyer check the type of water supply for the property and the storage capacity.  You need to know where the water comes from – rainwater can be collected and stored in tanks with most holding 22,000 litres (5000 gallons).  In areas of moderate to high rainfall one tank may be sufficient for an average family, but two tanks are usually preferred.  Other water sources are bore water for stock and grounds; water may also come from a spring or dam.  Being on a lifestyle property also means at times water may need to be purchased which is an expense not faced in the city.

Equally many lifestyle blocks are not connected to reticulated sewerage schemes and instead rely on septic tanks or sewage disposal systems.  It is important to understand what type of system has been installed, whether it has the appropriate permits or consents, and whether there are ongoing maintenance obligations.  The tank is usually emptied every 3 to 4 years.

If you are looking to purchase a bare land block, services such as power and telephone are usually available at the road frontage but it will be your cost to connect these from the front boundary to your eventual new house.  Many prospective buyers will also want to know whether the property has, or is able to connect to, broadband internet and other types of information and communication technology – this can vary and some parts of New Zealand continue to experience variable access to the internet and cellular phone coverage.

GST can apply on small rural properties.  You need to enquire if the vendor is registered for GST and if the purchase price is ‘plus GST if any’ or ‘inclusive of GST if any’.  You can also seek advice from your accountant and/or lawyer on GST liability.  Whether this applies tends to depend on the size and scale of the lifestyle block being purchased. Mostly, unless it is going to be a reasonably large rural lifestyle block that will be run as a commercial enterprise, it is best not to register for GST.  This will keep your life simple, you won’t need to make GST returns and you will not need to account for any GST on resale of the property.

While living in the country has lots of advantages make sure you check out zoning rules and activities on adjoining properties so that you understand what kind of activities can take place on the properties around you – this way you avoid any unwelcome surprises in the future if your adjacent property is for a commercial use that you weren’t expecting.


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