Q & A


The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions. Click here for full Terms of Use.

I want to buy a ‘Lifestyle’ or ‘Hobby Farm’. What are the things I need to think about from the outset?

It’s vital that you develop a clear idea of how you want your lifestyle farm to enhance your life.
  • Make sure you have realistic expectations when considering the move to a rural area. Consider the surrounding rural infrastructure like communications, roads, agricultural supplies, and general support services and how these available services will support your day-to-day living
  • Be realistic about your own abilities. Will you be able to manage the land you’re purchasing or will you require help?
  • Maintain good lines of communication with your real estate agent. You might be searching for your lifestyle block in an unfamiliar area. First National real estate agents have good knowledge of local rural areas and will help you to find the right lifestyle property match for your needs.
  • There are legal obligations and Council by-laws for you to consider when running a small food growing or farm business.  These obligations cover animal care (identification, tracking / tagging systems), weed and pest controls, and effluent disposal methods.  There are also Council planning restrictions and building codes to consider.  Ensure that you seek legal advice if you are unsure of any of your obligations.

We plan to buy a rural property in the country and sometimes use it for long weekends with the kids. We’ll live in the city the rest of the time. Will it work?

Your personal approach to life and the daily routines you like to follow will determine whether a mix between city and rural lifestyle living will work for you. 
  • The lifestyle block you buy should ideally be under two hours travelling time from your home. Longer travelling times between locations can become a trial for children, and thus diminish everyone’s enjoyment.
     
  • If you can’t make it to your rural property every weekend, due to sporting or other commitments, you’re unlikely to achieve the full enjoyment of the rural property that you envisaged.  Visiting your property only occasionally may also lead to more maintenance and gardening required when you do visit.
     
  • Make sure the rural property has the capacity to be rented out short-term, without expensive renovations.  If there are periods when it's not convenient for you to use it, you can immediately generate some rental income.
 
  • If the property isn’t connected to the main council water supply, make sure it has reasonable water storage capacity so that you don’t arrive to an empty tank on weekends. Have the tank cleaned regularly to ensure water safety.
 
  • Consider security carefully. Farm houses and rural properties that are not regularly occupied can be the target of thieves. A well secured rural property with basic furniture and appliances is the safest way to go.

What’s important when buying larger farms?

If you’re thinking about buying a full-scale working farm, consider these factors…
  • You’ll need to understand local planning guidelines concerning zoning, permitted uses, animals, land care (controlling noxious weeds & pests). The local council will be able to clarify your questions
  • Check fences, sheds, water pumps, dams, drains, bores, irrigation, water supply, tanks, house and general infrastructure meets your needs and ascertain whether they have council approval
  • Soil and water – do they meet your required standard or need further tests?
  • Markets – will you need to transport livestock or produce to markets? Consider the distance and costs involved
  • Be realistic about your knowledge and skill set
  • Weeds and pest infestations can be expensive to eradicate. Check neighbouring properties, access roads, adjoining state forests and water sources. Ask an agronomist if you have concerns before buying a rural real estate or a farm.

How do I choose the most appropriate countryside location?

To choose the ideal countryside location, make a list of what facilities and lifestyle options you want, rank the options in importance and then research the alternatives that meet your needs in that location. Some things you may want to consider are:

 
  • Family & friends – How close do you want to be to your family members and friends? If you move location and would like to see these people regularly, you’ll need to factor in driving distances or flight times.
     
  • Cost – Property prices and the ongoing costs of living are important considerations. Determine how much you can spend each week on your mortgage and living costs. Forecast your likely future sources of income and expenses to narrow down your alternatives..
     
  • Services and infrastructure – What services do you think you’ll need in the countryside?  If you need health services, social groups, sports clubs, gyms, or hobby clubs, consider whether these are available where you'll live.
     
  • Life quality - What do you want less of in life? I.e. Crowds, heat/cold, high prices etc.  Your move to the countryside should aim to improve your overall quality of life.
     
  • Time for enjoyment - What do you want to do more of now that you’re out of the city?
     
  • Employment - What employment opportunities do you need?  Can you work part time in an office or at home, or is full time employment the only option for you?  Distances to your workplace and client locations should be considered.
     
  • Schools - Will you need access to pre-schools for young children?
Your local First National agent can help with your research, and get things started.

How can I be sure that countryside living is right for me?

Living in the countryside is not for everyone.  It’s worth taking time before you purchase a rural property to make sure that the move will be right for you. Once you’ve narrowed down the most promising locations, try the following:
·         Plan a long weekend (or more) and spend some time in your dream town. Make sure that you enjoy the area, the amenities, and could see yourself living there for the medium to long term.


·         Get to know the surrounding cafes, pubs and businesses and talk to the locals. This is how you’ll quickly find out what type of people live in your potential new community and whether they’re like-minded.


·         Kiwis are a friendly bunch so ask around about the climate, lifestyle, local attitudes and anything else that interests you.
 
·         Browse through local tourism leaflets and magazines for local attraction ideas.


·         Walk through the various local shopping centres, and decide if they offer the stores that you need in order to function and live in the area.


·         Have a real estate agent show you some different types of properties.  Contacting a First National Real Estate agent in the area you wish to live in is a good idea, and you'll find them knowledgeable and helpful. Contact us now.


·         Check before visiting the location for internet reviews of the area and its services.  These can be useful guidance on what to expect when you arrive.

What do I want to farm?

There are many different kinds of farms in New Zealand.  Traditionally known for sheep farming, New Zealand now has a large number of dairy farms, producing milk (and resulting products like butter and cheese) for domestic and export markets. Other New Zealand farm types are beef farms (raising cows and bulls for their meat), deer farms, pig farms, poultry farms, and horticultural and fruit growing farms.
When choosing a type of farm, consider the amount of work required with each farm type, and the lifestyle (and financial) level you hope to achieve.  A poultry farm, for example, may require less daily effort to maintain and run than a dairy farm, which requires cows to be milked daily, but it may produce less income.  You should consider whether you'll work alone on your farm or employ others, and have an understanding of how the markets for your products will grow or shrink over time.
It's also important to think about the kind of farming you would likely enjoy the most.

How do I choose the most appropriate lifestyle block location?

  • Climate – How much sunshine do you want each year? Do you want to be able to curl up in front of the fire when it’s snowing, or do you need to be close to the beach?  Choose a property with the best climatic conditions for you.
     
  • Privacy – Do you want your lifestyle block to be out in the wilderness and away from others, or do you want some neighbours nearby to interact with?
     
  • Sport & Recreation – What local sports and recreational facilities would add appeal to your choice?  Do you need gyms or swimming pools nearby?
     
  • Shops – What shops and supermarkets are nearby, and are their prices competitive? How will you restock other supplies, and how often? 
     
  • Price – Is the price of the property affordable for you? Be realistic about what type of property you can afford, to avoid financial stress later on.
With your wish list in hand, look for properties that meet most of your requirements. Talk to your local First National rural real estate agent to save time and hassle.  Our rural real estate agents are specifically trained to help you find the very best lifestyle block or rural property at a price that meets your budget.

What sorts of questions should I ask myself when buying a Lifestyle Farm?

Before you buy a rural Lifestyle Block, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Is your property within reasonable travelling distance from a town and services?
     
  • How much time and effort can you devote to learning about your chosen farming or food growing activity?
     
  • Do you have sufficient disposable income to adequately support the wellbeing of livestock - including any feeding and medical treatment?
 
  • Are there any other successful lifestyle blocks or hobby farmers nearby who you could learn from and share ideas with?
     
  • Are your family willing to support your lifestyle block farming activities?  Even a small hobby farm can be hard work and time consuming.
     
  • What level of income, if any, do you expect from your property?
     
  • Weather is a factor to consider when farming.  Good farmers prepare for bad weather by storing foodstuffs in summer to use in winter, storing water in winter to be used in summer, and so on.  Are you prepared for a crisis?
  • Do you have the right training and skills in mechanics and farm safety to operate and maintain small farm equipment, or will you need to upskill yourself?  Contact your local farmers co-operative for advice.
     
  • Is your chosen farm activity well suited to the landscape and capability of the land you’re looking at?
     
  • Is there enough water available at your prospective lifestyle block to carry out the farm activity you have in mind?  Is the water supply of suitable quality?
     
  • Are all the public services (electricity, gas, water, sewage, phone, and Internet) you require already provided to the lifestyle block property? If not, how much will it cost you to connect the property up? Or is it an area that will always have limited services?
     
  • Are there any soil erosion issues on the property?  Can they be fixed?  Soil problems can be expensive to rectify. To protect yourself from this risk, you could ask a soil engineer to carry out soil testing, prior to your purchase.

Where in the country do I want to retire?

  • Family & friends – How close do you want to be to family members and friends? New Zealand is a small country and most places are only a short flight away. If you’d like to see certain people more regularly, you’ll need to factor in driving distances.
     
  • Cost – Property prices and the general cost of living are important factors. Determine your budgets, and then forecast your likely future sources of income and expenses to narrow down your alternatives.
     
  • Services and infrastructure – What services will you need in your retirement? i.e. health services, social groups, sports clubs, hobbies, seniors clubs etc. Do you have a car or will you use public transport?
     
  • Improved Lifestyle - What do you want less of in life? i.e. crowds, heat / cold, high prices etc.
     
  • Hobbies - What do you want to do more of now that you have the time to undertake pursuits? i.e. travel, hobbies, sport, DIY, gardening etc. 
 
Talking to your local First National real estate agent can help with your research, and is a great way to get things started.  Contact us now.
 

What are some of the specifics to consider with Lifestyle Farms?

You must understand local planning guidelines concerning zoning, permitted uses, animals, land care (controlling noxious weeds & pests).

The local council will be able to answer your questions but also…
  • Make sure fences, sheds, water pumps, dams, drains, bores, irrigation, water supply, tanks, house and general infrastructure meets your needs and ascertain whether they have council approval
  • Soil and water – do they meet your required standard or need further tests?
  • Markets – will you need to transport livestock or produce to markets? Consider the distance and costs involved.
  • Weeds and pest infestations can be expensive to eradicate. Check neighbouring properties, access roads, adjoining state forests and water sources. Ask an agronomist if you have concerns.
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