Lifestyle Property Buyers Guide

What is a ‘Lifestyle Block’?

The term ‘lifestyle block’ can be described as a rural small holding of land and typically includes lifestyle blocks, hobby farms, and country homes on large sections; they are attractive to people who are seeking an alternative to the traditional suburban home.

Who Lives On A Lifestyle Block?

The people who have ended up living on lifestyle blocks are very diverse. They move for the prospect of a better life for their families, away from the urban rat race with today’s social problems. They want fresh air, open spaces, and bigger properties that tend to hold the promise of swimming pools, tennis courts, and large gardens with plenty of land leftover for ‘free-range’ children! People want to have control of their living environment and food production plus the joy of having animals and pets in natural surroundings. Only on a lifestyle block does someone feel free to regularly hug their animals, and give them all a name!

Key Attributes of Lifestyle Living

Location: The key aspects of location relate to: nearness to small town communities; sources of employment, services and amenities; high school, tertiary education, leisure and entertainment activities; being ‘close enough to urban life’ means to be within a reasonable commuting distance.

Place of residence: Lifestyle blocks are places of residence first and foremost, and their cost is largely determined by the kind of home to be found there. If a block of land has a modest home, the same block would sell for more if it had a larger, more prestigious home. Lifestyle properties do vary in regard to land area, floor plan, and outbuildings – each property is unique.

Children: Lifestyle properties offer a great opportunity for children to go to 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.

Environmental Qualities: 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 – all added benefits when purchasing a lifestyle property.

Facilities: Properties that are well fenced externally and internally for grazing of stock is important, along with a good water supply for the house and stock. Stock handling facilities and outbuildings all add value to any good lifestyle property.

Financial Investment: Lifestyle blocks are currently and have generally increased their value at a greater rate than urban residential property. If a block has potential for further subdivision there can be added value here as well.

Lifestyle Property Buyers Guidelines

There is no doubt that a drive around the outer city limits reveals some idyllic scenes. More and more New Zealanders are choosing to make their home on a relaxed lifestyle property. However, trying to get your head around all of the many issues that go with buying and owning a rural lifestyle block can be very daunting to those new to lifestyle living.

The inspection of a lifestyle property involves two main components:

  1. The dwelling and residential area
  2. The land and any features that are relevant to farming, horticulture or other uses.

The Dwelling: When you approach the house from the main entrance, make a note of your first impression. Are there other lifestyle properties nearby? Neighbours can be very helpful and become good friends. 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. (Rural properties are often exposed because they don’t have protection from neighbouring houses.)

Observe the general condition of the home and note any modernisation and upgrading. Inspect all the outbuildings, note the available garaging and how many vehicles can be put under cover.

If a self-contained flat is an additional feature of the property, ensure that a Consent has been issued allowing it to be used as a residence.

Fences: These are a vital part of lifestyle properties. Boundary fencing is essential for containing or excluding livestock. Owners are obliged to keep boundary fences to a stock-proof standard. Different kinds of stock require different levels of fencing.

Water: Water is a major consideration on lifestyle properties. Check the type of water supply at a property along with the storage capacity and continuity of supply. Make sure you know where the water comes from. Rainwater can be collected from the roof and stored in tanks. Most water tanks are constructed of concrete or plastic. The standard size is 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 can be bore water for stock and grounds; water may also come from a spring or dam.

Sewage: Many rural lifestyle blocks are not connected to reticulated sewage 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.

Services: If you are looking to purchase a bare land block, services such as power and telephone are usually available at the road frontage. Bear in mind that it can be costly to get these services connected from the front boundary to the house site if it is a significant distance from the road.

Communication Technology: 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.

GST: Ask your salesperson 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 seek advice from your accountant and/or solicitor on GST liability. This will usually depend on the size and scale of the lifestyle block being purchased. Most agree that 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 (e.g. no regular GST returns) and you will not need to account for any GST on resale of the property.

Zoning and Activities: While living in the country has lots of advantages, many forget that the rural landscape is also a working environment. 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 to avoid any unwelcome surprises.

The key to a successful rural lifestyle block purchase is a careful and thorough due diligence process to identify and understand all of these issues. Our team at Rural and Lifestyle Sales has the experience and expertise to work with you to achieve a positive outcome.