Sarah and her husband Gavin in their New Zealand property (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
For this week’s What I Own, we are taking you halfway around the world to New Zealand.
Sarah lives in New Plymouth with her husband and three children. The family relocated from the UK seven years ago.
They have a house they rent out in the UK alongside the four-bed property they own in New Zealand, which includes ample living space and a huge garden with a pool.
Here’s what Sarah said about her home-buying journey…
Tell us about yourself
Gavin and I are both 37, we have been married for 13 years and we have three children aged 11, eight and five.
I am a management accountant but I lost my job during the first lockdown we had here – so I’m being a mum and enjoying time with the kids. I’m also looking after our YouTube channel (@thecrazy4some), which documents our lives. Gavin makes hospital beds and runs his own martial arts gym.
We are based in New Plymouth, New Zealand but moved from the UK seven years ago.
The couple moved to New Zealand in 2013 (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
Whereabouts is your property? What do you think of the area?
We are in a suburb of New Plymouth, Taranaki, which is in the north of New Zealand. We love the area, it’s really family friendly and the kids’ school is within walking distance. The beach is close by, there’s a awesome bike park nearby and children have friends close by.
When did you move in?
How much does your property cost?
This property cost us $415,000 New Zealand dollars, so £215,800 at today’s rate.
How much was your deposit?
$61,000 (NZD), so £31,720.
What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?
Around $3,772 (NZD) or £1,961.96.
The couple have three children together (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
How did you save up for your deposit?
We still own a property in the UK that we could not sell before we moved – so it’s now rented out. We bought that when we were young, however, the deposit came through saving.
We got lucky and bought when the market was not too high here in 2015 and found a lender that let us buy with a 5% deposit, that was the first house we owned here, that then went up in value so we sold and built an amazing five-bedroom, three-living, two-bathroom house.
However, we had to sell as the location did not work and we bought this house to renovate, as it was in the location we wanted to be.
What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?
At first it was hard as our credit ratings were in the UK and trying to get enough deposit together as well as renting and bringing up children was tough. But we got there in the end. Plus the interest rates, until recently, were always a lot higher than the UK – so affordability was hard.
The process of applying was similar to the UK, really.
Where did you live before this?
We bought our first house in 2005 it was a two-bedroom terrace in West Yorkshire, we sold that and bought an end terrace that had off-street parking, a garden and a garage in 2007, this is where we started our family and we still own this house which is rented out.
We then moved here in 2013 when I was offered a job. Then we bought our first New Zealand house at the start of 2015, we then built one in 2017 (as we had an extra baby so needed a different layout), and finally we bought this in July 2019.
What made you want to buy rather than renting?
We have rented but it’s a tight market with both renting and buying. Owning our own place and being able to decorate was what we wanted.
There’s lot of space for a hot tub and pool (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
How did you find this property?
An online real estate website.
How have you made the property feel like home?
This property we have decorated throughout, there’s still got bits to do – we have put new carpet throughout plus a wood burner and heat transfer system. And there’s lots more to do including the kitchen and two bathrooms plus the outside. We also added the swimming pool and spa but want to add decks around them.
The couple have a few more plans for their place (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Yes, it has four bedrooms and multiple living spaces, plus a good size garden.
Do you have plans to change the property?
Yes, just further renovations to modernise it.
Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?
Just that it was outdated and hadn’t been decorated for a long time, so we have been gradually updating.
(Picture: Sarah Hughes)
What do you want people to know about buying a home?
We did it young so we have sacrificed a lot, however it has been worth it as since we bought this house it has gone up 36% as prices have sky-rocketed lately. My advice is get a good deposit if you can and pay off extra on your mortgage, to get debt-free earlier.
If anyone has any questions on our journey they are free to contact us via our YouTube channel – I’m sure with lockdown lots of people are probably considering a move.
What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?
Hopefully, but I am missing work so that could mean a relocation in the future – but for now our future is here.
Shall we take a look around?
So much living space (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
There are three living rooms in total (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
Lots of room for play (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
A three-in-one room (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
Roomy (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
For family meals (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
Master bedroom (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
One of the children’s bedroom (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
The third bedroom (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
And the fourth (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
Bold blue (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
A large utility space (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
A garage-meets-gym (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
Look how big the garden is (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
A change from the UK (Picture: Sarah Hughes)
How to get involved in What I Own:
What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email [email protected]. You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important.
If you’re renting, you can take part too! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but all about renting. Again, if you’d like to get involved just email [email protected].