Escaping the rat race: Why lifestyle blocks last only so long


The dream of escaping the rat race for a more relaxed life outside the city might be harder in reality, new data suggests.

Figures released by property experts CoreLogic reveal people only hold onto lifestyle properties for a fraction of the time as residential homes.

In Auckland the average suburban home stays under the same ownership for nine years.

Lifestyle blocks in greater Auckland however are sold after four years.

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The same can be seen in other cities with homes in suburban Wellington held for 11 years and lifestyle blocks sold after five.

The biggest difference was seen in Porirua where houses were held for 9 years and lifestyle blocks sold after just one year.

Nick Goodall from CoreLogic said there was a long held belief that some bought lifestyle properties but then realised how much work went into them.

“The potential explanation for this might be people ‘biting off more than they can chew’ with a lifestyle property and it in fact becoming more of a life-steal,” he said.

CoreLogic data showed all of the people who purchased property owners were “movers” that is they had owned properties before.

“Unsurprisingly lifestyle properties aren’t as popular with first home buyers – 12 per cent of lifestyle and 25 per cent of houses were bought by first home buyers.”

Alan Woodford of Ray White Warkworth said he thought perhaps people were moving between lifestyle properties.

“Most of the properties I have sold the new owners stay a long time and the others are moving on to other lifestyle properties.”

“I can make noise whenever I want”

Rhys and Jo Mellor with their daughters Hanalei, 7, and Holly, 10. Photo / Doug Sherring
Rhys and Jo Mellor with their daughters Hanalei, 7, and Holly, 10. Photo / Doug Sherring

Waimauku couple Rhys and Jo Mellor said switching from the suburbs to a lifestyle block could be a challenge – but they haven’t looked back.

The pair had been living in suburban North Shore but decided to give daughters Holly and Hanalei a bit more room to move with the purchase of their 4 acre lifestyle block six years ago.

The family have three chickens, two cats and a dog and will soon welcome two “just born” baby goats Steve and Terry.

They have space for the neighbour’s horses to graze and had two cows – which now fill the deep freeze.

The pair said the lifestyle property can be hard work – especially in the cold and muddy winter months – so understand why it might not work for some.

“If you are not a practical person it could get really expensive,” Rhys Mellor said.

“Fencing is expensive and so is building shelter for the animals so it would cost a lot if you are always paying someone to do it.”

They said a lot of people buy a lifestyle block but still work full time.

“It would be like having two full time jobs if you are not in the position where you work from home,” Rhys Mellor said.

Innoculations for animals, vet bills, tank water and good cheap hay in the summer were some of the hidden expenses.

Jo Mellor works as a practice nurse at the local medical centre but said the commute into the city in peak hours might also get too much for some.

“I work locally so can walk but then even if we did work in the city we get to come home and we are in our little Oasis,” Jo said.

Daughters Holly, 10 and Hanalei, 7, love making hide outs in the trees, have their own secret gardens and say there is plenty of space to play spotlight when they have friends over.

The Mellor’s move to greener pastures also grew their kitchen company Love Indoor Kitchens to include a new outdoor venture.

The workshop space on the lifestyle block kick started the Mellor's outdoor kitchen business. Photo / supplied.
The workshop space on the lifestyle block kick started the Mellor’s outdoor kitchen business. Photo / supplied.

The big deck provided by the lifestyle block was the perfect space for Rhys to build an outdoor kitchen and pizza oven.

From there the idea grew into a business – Love Outdoor Kitchens.

“Out here I have a big workshop with no rental costs and I can make noise whenever I want.”

“We wouldn’t have been able to do this anywhere else,” Rhys said.

The pair said if they did sell their property it would be for a larger one.

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