LOL, if we could have we'd have gone bigger when we bought in 2010. Our situation was that my MIL gave us basically 2 yrs (2008 to 2010) to buy the rest of the family block off her or not. We looked around at what was on offer and were very tempted with a 110ha bare block roughly half an hour out from Dunedin. By the time we had travelled the route several times in different weather/seasons we had to come to the conclusion that to pay for said block (and all the infrastructure that had to be built: house, haybarn, yards, internal fencing, tracks etc) meant that we had to be within 10 minutes of Dunedin and our jobs. So we bought the rest of the property off her and we paid the same amount for a developed 5.2ha 10 minutes to town as the bare land 110ha block went for.
Eventually we will leave our jobs and sell this place. The goal: to move as far as possible away from people, which will mean a much bigger block well away from an urban centre. We would much prefer to deal with commercial farmers as neighbours than bloody townies who 'think' they know what they're doing....and god forbid you complain about their wandering dogs or kids on motorbikes.
We always had out feet buried deep in the rural soil (And winter mud and cow poo too) and put up with living by those NIMBY townies in town as a means to an end. In town we put up with a cacophony of weed-eaters, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and even the pruning brigade with chainsaws and don't get me started on loud music and the thump of a base on some disgusting modern racket on a stereo at full blast at 2am+
I did fix one lot. when all was quiet at 5am, I decided to mow the lawn! It became real short and well manicured along the boundary! Luckily my elderly nice neighbours were also deaf.
I like the sound of mooing cows, birds singing, roosters crowing and goats complaining and if there is a necessity to mow the lawns, use the weed-eater or chainsaw, or even our chipper shredder, we don't annoy our LSB neighbours as none are very close to us. Yes, some of them are ex-townies, but none have silly pre-adolescent kids on motorbikes. We have a lot of land-banked LSB's near us though and the suburbs are creeping ever closer. The land-banked properties are rented out and the up keep is woefully lacking even to the extent that long dry grass is now looking like a wild fire paradise. If the property developers come along with their over weight cheque books waving at us, we will be tempted to sell out and move. I have interest in property near Dargaville, which may be appealing for a quieter life. Time alone will tell on that one though
30 or so years ago, the Tasman District Council changed the requirements of our Zone C land from 25 to 50 hectares minimum, but this and other blocks around here had already been re-surveyed by their owners into 25 hectare blocks. So we bought this 25 hectare title in 2 separated pieces (and lots of Council road) 6 km from Brightwater and 15 km from Richmond. We paid the same price for it then as we would have paid for a similar house in Richmond, and if we sold we would only be able to buy a similar house in Richmond.
When we bought, the land of most big farms up here was a mess, because the big owners were too busy trying to farm it to have a secondary job. With the life stylers, most of us have or had other jobs to pay for people to do extra work, thus increasing employment. We have also bought items that many big farmers would not bother with, so thus contributed to the economy.
Certainly some have not invested as much into the land as big farmers would, especially fertiliser but now that the subsidies that farming used to have big farmers might not have spent as much on that as they used to do. Most of the LSBs up here are being farmed much more intensively than they used to be, with far fewer animal welfare issues. If we, and all of NZ, had good access to irrigation water we could grow about 5 times as much produce with the same amount of chemical inputs.
Yes, some LSBers are NIMBYs, but I consider they move as soon as they realise that, which is why the average stay of an LSB owner is about 4 years.
When we came to NZ nearly 19 years ago, we wanted to buy as much land as we could afford with our cash, somewhere where i could grow as wide a selection of fruit as possible and have some animals.
We were lucky enough to snap up this 50 acre block at the price we did then. It had been on the market for more than 6 years before we bought it; too large really for a lifestyle block, too small and too expensive for the neighboring dairy farmers to bother.
I love the fact that our house is in the middle of the property - maximum distance from neighbors, who are 'real' farmers, but still have kids with dirt bikes.
We do work our piece of land, but to be honest, the largest junk of farm income comes from the roughly 10 acres closest to the house; that's where we grow our fruit and process it. The animals pay their way - just The fruit growing and processing pays for the maintenance of our smallholding, plus the odd piece of machinery.
Thanks to the Councils greed, our piece of paradise becomes more valuable each year . However, if we needed to sell up and move into town - which we would only do if health forces us to - by the time we've paid the real estate agent, the IRD and all associated handouts, we'd only just be able to buy a house in town - and that only if we're not too demanding.
In my experience, the Monster NIMBYS with the loud voices are the ones who buy 10 acres of lawn, employ a guy who comes in and does the 'garden', and have longstanding feuds with the neighboring farmers.....
Well, my other half purchased our block 12 years ago, 5 acres bare land, no water allocation. He built a 4 bay pole shed - then relocated a house here 10 years ago. 5 acres was good for his needs then, and the price was right. Now, there are a few nimby's nearby, due to a neighbour getting round the '5 acre minimum parcel size' by making a 3 section 'subdivision' next to us. The parcels are 1.8 - 2.2 acres and a couple of km's from our village. These are what I call 'why bother sections', they should be on town/ city fringes only- not marching across productive farmland like a plague of locusts*. I would like to purchase an additional 30+ acres, but we are now land locked by other lsb's- and likely to end up with another nimby subdivision on our other boundary. So, our options are stay put and lose our privacy/ peaceful location/ or move. We like being able to raise our own animals for breeding & eating. We love the views & the serenity, 95% of our neighbours are wonderful- we love our community. *From my experience and observations.
For me, this topic has hit a bit of a nerve
One example I can give you is that of my manager - he and his wife bought a lifestyle block at Bayview, just north of Napier, with a big flash house on a hill and ~ 1.7 Ha of land. I'm pretty sure that they would rather have bought a smaller block of land as he seems to always be cursing the amount of yardwork and upkeep that the land around the house requires (he would rather be out on the water fishing!).
Your planner will probably disagree with me, but I think that a huge problem is our zoning rules (maximum and minimum sizes for LSBs plus restrictions on creating new subdivisions), and of course the restrictive covenants that seem to apply to most new housing subdivisions these days...
I think that another significant factor is that land is seen as "investment vehicle" (with a general expectation of tax-free capital gains at a rate faster than inflation), rather than as a natural resource to be used for housing, for growing produce, and as a place for conducting other activity. I'll argue that with the enormous vested interests in the status quo continuing, there is a strong desire to "protect the value of our investments" by maintaining an artificial scarcity of land (some subdivisions even advertise "restrictive covenants to protect the value of your investment"!)
An activity that I see here in Hawkes Bay, where one is permitted to subdivide a 1 to 2 Ha lifestyle block off of a "farm" no more often than once every 3 years, provided that at least 20 Ha of "farm" remains after the subdivision, is that people with the money will say buy a 30 Ha block, lease most of the land to a farmer, build themselves a house, and then 3 years down the track, subdivide off the lifestyle block that they built their house on and sell the remaining say 28.5 Ha "farm" to the next person, who will do the same thing, and so on, until you have a handful of LSB and a 20 Ha "farm".
The unintended consequence of this, is that instead of subdividing smaller (less than 20 Ha) blocks near the city for lifestyle blocks, we subdivide larger blocks further out, meaning that those who buy a lifestyle block but work in town must have a longer commute than would otherwise be required if their lifestyle block was closer to town, thus increasing distances travelled by car (traffic and wear on rural roads, exhaust emissions, etc).
The restrictive covenants that apply to most of the new residential subdivisions specify things like minimum floor areas and ban the use of cheaper building materials (even though said building materials may comply with the building act and regulations). If you want to say buy two adjacent sections, build a small house on one and have a big back yard for your kids / garden / dog / etc you are out of luck. So instead, if you can afford it, you might buy an LSB which will probably be further away from town...
I also understand that the difficulty in gaining consent to create new housing subdivisions creates an artificial scarcity which inflates land prices. In the 1970's, when Mum was a secretary, and Dad was a fitter turner, both in their 20's, they were able to buy a section in Henderson (Auckland) and have a brand new ~ 100 sqm 3 bed house built on it. I am told that it cost about 2 1/2 years of Dad's pay. It makes me angry that today, a typical ordinary couple in their 20's, gainfully employed in Auckland, is now pretty much priced out of the market
So, in a healthy property market, I'd expect the highest land values per unit area to be in the centre of the city, with land values decreasing as you move further away from the city centre. As a result of this, I'd expect the highest density building to be in the city centre where land costs are highest, decreasing as you move away from the city centre eg high rise building in the city centre (shops on the ground floor with offices / apartments above), then the likes of terrace housing / town houses a bit further out, then stand alone houses further out again, then small lifestyle blocks on the edge of the city, then larger lifestyle blocks, orchards and market gardens out a bit further, and then large extensive farms and forests well away from the city (where land is cheapest). I believe that our planning rules are frustrating this.
I think that where one lives should be a lifestyle choice, not a mandate of a planner - ie do you want to live right in the centre of the city, where entertainment and everything you could want to buy is within a short walk or public transport ride from your door? or do you want to live out in the countryside, surrounded by nature, where you can grow your own food and partake of activities that are not appropriate in a densely populated city? of course this is a continuum - some will want to live somewhere between these two extremes (apartments, town houses, stand alone houses, small LSB, large LSB, extensive farms, etc).
Finally on zoning and covenants, I understand the sense in ensuring that neighbours land-uses are compatible with each other (eg most people would not want to live next door to a rendering plant), but I think that zoning and covenants "to protect investment values" as opposed to "neighbourhood amenity" (rendering plants, etc) is wrong, especially while we have an ongoing housing affordability crisis...
"Funny you should mention that", Geba. We are in the throes of moving back into town, something we always planned to do when our ageing bodies signalled the need for a less physically demanding style of living. I am hoping NOT to lose too much of the daily life that has made our last 12 years so enjoyable, so raised beds will replace paddocks, dwarf fruit trees in tubs our orchard, etc.
One thing I will miss is our wonderful neighbours; but we have a lot of friends in the city too -- that area will possibly, overall be a gain.
Essentially, what I am hoping is to take the 'boy' out of the country without taking the country out of the boy! It is something I've had to do several times before, with varying success...surely, it's a state of mind; easier surrounded by trees, pastures and birdsong, but not entirely due to them? anyway, I am hoping so!
preparing for a move to town, we have taken on an allotment in town which has free water, tools provided, good social events and handy picnic tables. The soil is amazing, being silt loam a mile deep and bordered by walnut trees.
This hits a nerve with me as it involves one of my pet peeves....
Somebody will say 'lifestyle farmers are (something bad)'
I say "What about (lifestyle farmers who aren't bad)?
They say 'They're not really lifestyle farmers.'
So we can't win. A lifestyle farmer is the definition of a useless, loud, inconsiderate jerk.... Any lifestyle farmers and don't fit that definition, which would be most of us, are not lifestyle farmers.
Also....while I'm ranting....what about those of us who want to work with animals but also want to follow careers outside commercial farming? Is that so bad?
Lifestyle farmers, like it or not, bring a lot to the rural community and to the agriculture sector as a whole. We buy energisers and fertiliser and quad bikes and feed and use local services such as hay balers and lime spreaders. We also may farm up to 30% of the beef cattle in NZ.
Obviously there are bad lifestyle farmers but that's true of any group.
Thanks everyone, much appreciated.
Other verbal comments I've gathered have included "We bought as far away from town as we could afford to go" and (from a 'real' farmer) "The ten acre blockers put in much more time and effort on a smaller space than I ever would and their places look well kept and prosperous".
General consensus - there is MUCH much more to being on an LSB than any supposed desire just to take up space, which I thought was an unlikely assertion anyway.
I've always referred to our block as a 'small farm' rather then a LSB because thats what it is and thats what we do - we have a little herd of beef cows and a flock of rarebreed sheep - all of which we take just as seriously as any big commercial drystock farmer.
Where we have moved to here in the Kaimais - there are virtually none of those 'Lifestyle Blockers' as described above (they are in the areas closer in with better views lol!) up here we have people living off the land - whatever size, horse people and horticulture, organic gardeners, animal lovers etc. etc.
Back in the '80s I interviewed an elderly couple outside Wanganui who had just been named national smallfarmers of the year. Their hillside was an impressive mix of vegetables, woodlots, and exotic semitropical fruits.
I asked the usual question: "How do you handle the charge that you're taking farmland out of production?"
The gentleman replied, "I'd like to see the commercial farmer that can match my production on this land!"