This post was most recently updated on February 17th, 2020
I never thought I would find myself homesteading in New Zealand. Despite growing up on a 5 acre block, I never dreamed of being able to afford my own homestead!
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In a bid to reduce our overbearing mortgage, after crunching some numbers hard, we decided to sell our beautiful new dream home and look for something cheaper. Below is our story about how we got started with our very own lifestyle block and the homesteading way of living.
If you would like to find out more about who we are – check out our About Page
Where do you start learning about homesteading in New Zealand?
You can grow some vegetables inside, or if you have more room, learn how to grow a super productive garden.
AND please join our Facebook group!
What are we hoping to achieve with our NZ homestead?
Our biggest aim was to drop our mortgage from $420k to $300k or less. We very nearly managed it, however, due to some debts we owed parents from our previous builds, we went slightly over $300k.
We are fortunate enough that we had the ability to move home to my parents place with the kids and the dog for as long as we need once we sold our house, so there was no great rush to decide what we would do next.
We were looking on the outskirts of town so we could get the 1/4 acre minimum that we had decided we wanted to start homesteading in New Zealand on a small piece of land.
What led us to 10 acres half an hour out of town?
The up side to homeschooling is that location became very flexible. We were happy to do a renovation, and with our budget we would have to if we wanted to stay in the city limits.
But unfortunately the houses around were very disappointing for the amount of money we had to spend, and of course the downside to a reno is you have no idea what you will find until you start!
We started throwing the idea of building around again, with the dream of building VERY cheaply.
Our aim would be 190k or under for the house and landscaping, allowing 100k for a section. We didn’t quite manage this but we got very close – but everything we spent more on, we chose to do so to get longer lasting items eg. concrete not plastic water tanks etc.
My mother suggested a barn/shed conversion, which after doing some pricing, looked promising – this is what we ended up building. We love it!
We started looking at sections in and around town for $100k – they were terrible! Steep hills, shady windy spaces, damp – you name it, they had it.
We decided that although we had chosen not to go north of the city over the motor way, that we would venture out that way and look at the sections available any way, as it was only a 15 min drive north of the city.
On our travels we met a man that had just built a 9x9m house in 2013 for $80k and this gave us real hope! We talked to him for a while, and though the section wasn’t for us, we felt the trip was greatly encouraging.
We started looking south of the city along the coast road for sections and found a few 20-30 mins drive away that might work, one 5 acre block in particular was on the market for $120k.
When we got there I noticed the section across the road we had also been looking at online, but it had no address listed on the ad so we had given up on it.
While we were there we also looked at the 10 acres, we fell in love with it. AND it was significantly cheaper than the 5 acre block.
We made an offer and got it for $95k, which is a huge bargain even for a half hour drive out of the city as it’s rateable value is $138k.
It has a spring/pond and gully with native bush growing down it. 2 clear acres at the top and 8 acres of gorse down the hill. We always said that if we could get a 1/4 acre of good land for under $100k we would, the rest is simply bonus land really.
What did it cost? How did we save money building?
We have spent closer to 240k on the build – but this includes $15k in landscaping/digger costs, $30k on water tanks and a septic system and $5k getting power hooked up, so our actual house only cost us $190k.
I bought some old industrial lights off Trademe (NZ version of Craigslist) for the kitchen. When I met the lady I bought them from, we got talking and I discovered they had just done the exact thing we wanted to do, and for a grand total of $75k no less! She gave me the name of the shed company they used etc and invited us to go out and visit them.
I bought a house lot of second hand, double glazed windows, a giant euro slider, a bath, vanity, internal and external doors, a laundry tub and a shipping container all secondhand from Trademe.
Our woodfired stove is the center of our living space, and it is the best $8,000 that we have spent. We use it to heat the hot water, heat the living space, run radiators in the bedrooms and I use it for cooking and baking in. Plus it looks amazing!
We got shed plans from a kitset shed company and got my father-in-law (a draftsman) to alter to include the windows and doors, sewerage system, water, fire etc for the shed building consent.
While waiting for the house to get building consent we spent quite a bit of time out there removing the 17 pine trees at the top of the section (bonus firewood).
Gus the dog and the girls are loved playing in the wide open spaces with big sticks!
My advice to you if you want to start homesteading in New Zealand.
The first thing I would say to you is don’t give up your dream! I know money can be limiting, but anything is possible if you look at things the right way. Cheap land does still exist in NZ, you just have to be willing to move to where it is.
Instead of thinking there is no way you could do this, ask “how can we make this happen?”.
There is no reason that you can’t start learning and applying some of the old timey homesteading skills now, even if you live in an apartment in the city! Grow food where you are. Either inside, or in your garden. Turn your town property in to a food forest! Get some chickens, and learn how to grow a garden.
Buy bulk deals on fruit and vegetables and preserve them for later.
Make contact with some like minded people, Facebook groups are a great place to start, my Homestead Anywhere group has a LOT of local kiwis in it! Come and join us!
And when something breaks, use your youtube and some tools and give it a bash fixing it yourself! In 2018 I have personally fixed our freezer, dishwasher, washing machine and chainsaw. THANK YOU youtube!!
It can be overwhelming, just choose one thing you want to work on first, pick ONE skill and learn and perfect it first. Then move on to the next one.
Life on the homestead isn’t easy, but it is very rewarding and we LOVE it out here.
Update: July 2016. For our current land layout plan you can read about it in the permaculture zones post.
Update: June 2017. Our house is finally finished on the inside! We saved around $15,000 by insulating, lining and varnishing the house ourselves. I love the homely rustic warmth that our house has.
Update: September 2018. We are absolutely loving our life out here. We have added a tunnel house and a concrete patio, and are looking in to solar panels. Just this week we actually discovered our bottom boundary (it was covered in gorse!). Sadly our cow was moved to the freezer due to a disease outbreak in our country making it impossible to borrow a bull. Our dairy goats are my fave, they are such sweeties. The gardens continue to grow and improve.
Update Feb 2020: We have added boer goats, kune kune pigs and a food forest! We have also joined Youtube, you can follow us here.