House Hunter: 'We want to teach and buy in New Zealand'

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The Independent Online

THE PROBLEM

THE PROBLEM

Martin and Claire Sweet write: "We are two newly qualified teachers who have started thinking that we'd like to live somewhere other than the UK for a while. In order to continue with our careers we'd like to move somewhere that is English-speaking. Lately we've read and heard so much about New Zealand (and not just because of The Lord Of The Rings) that we are thinking seriously about moving there.

"We would like to know more about the whole process of moving to New Zealand as we're not sure if many British people go there to work. Many teachers we meet over here are from New Zealand. We would ideally like to be in a good location where we could find work, hopefully in local schools, and we hope that teachers are as in demand over there as they are in this country. Are there restrictions on UK nationals who want to buy there?

"At this stage we don't think that a move would be permanent. We may decide to return to the UK one day, but buying somewhere abroad and then selling could help us to get on the property ladder back in the UK.

"What is the property market in New Zealand like and how much could we expect to pay for a starter home? We'd like to have details on a range of properties so that we can judge what we can afford. We've heard that many Brits are investing over there, even if they are not moving, so perhaps we've missed the market. We've got details of a few agents but would like to speak to someone with a greater overview, with branches all over the country, so that we can compare prices."

THE ADVICE

Tony McEwan, marketing consultant and director of estate agent Ray White, replies: "In the past year we've seen a huge increase in enquiries from people wanting to move to New Zealand. It's not just British people, but expats are coming back, too. And Americans and even Australians are coming to have a look at what they can get for their money here.

"It is a very good place to invest in property; it's an extremely stable market and there's always steady growth. If you just wait for 12 to 18 months, you're always going to see good capital gains. British people find our property amazing value. There's not that much available right now at the very bottom of the market, but you can still find a decent starter home for as little as £50,000. If you have £150,000, you can buy a substantial property in New Zealand, and £200,000 could get you a fantastic property with a lot of land attached, so you're going to be very well off here.

"I'm not surprised that there is such current interest in New Zealand as we have an amazing lifestyle out here. Wherever you are, even if you are what we call inland, you're never too far away from the coast. And compared with overseas, many things are less expensive here and people have access to everything. I don't think that we have the vast differences in class that you have in the UK.

"As for finding work, there's a lot of employment around at the moment, whether it be skilled work such as teaching or unskilled labouring work. There's a lot of construction work happening and generally there's an air of prosperity around.

"Ray White is the largest real estate franchise in Australasia - we cover the whole of New Zealand and can cater to everyone's needs. Whether you want a regular family home, a working farm of 900 acres or commercial properties, our agents can help.

"The buying process is relatively simple for British buyers as long as they can get their money into the country. There's not a huge amount of paperwork involved and you only need what we call the Overseas Investment Commission's consent for certain properties, such as if you're buying a working farm. We've picked three properties that may suit this couple in the Otaki area, which is good for access to Wellington and Palmerston North. They all offer great value.

" The Lord Of The Rings may well be attracting more people but we were doing very well before that."

www.raywhite.com

THE SOLUTION

Property one: Marine Parade, Otaki.

Price: NZ $340,000 (£123,300).

Agent's details: This is a perfectly refurbished cottage on Otaki's Marine Parade on the Kapiti Coast. It has three bedrooms and has been completely renovated both inside and out.

Property two: Te Rauparaha Street, Otaki.

Price: NZ $198,000 (£71,800).

Agent's details: This three-bedroom house is in a central position close to all amenities and a golf course. It has been fully renovated and includes a double garage, workshop and large driveway.

Property three: Aotaki Street, Otaki.

Price: NZ $135,000 (£49,000).

Agent's details: This period house has loads of potential but needs renovation. There are three bedrooms, the structure is sound and the house sits on a good-size plot.

THE VERDICT

"We are really pleased with the response we've got from Tony - all of these properties are incredible value. It's amazing to think we'd struggle to find even a tiny flat in London for £150,000, yet in New Zealand we could buy what looks like a huge property for a similar amount. At these prices it would be foolish to waste more money on rent and even if we bought and lived there for a couple of years before selling, it would help us get a deposit together to eventually buy in the UK. We believe that this would be worthwhile financially.

"As for the properties we'd like to get the very best value for money and agree with Tony that buying somewhere that we can renovate is a good idea. We don't mind the idea of installing a new kitchen and bathroom if this would significantly increase the house's value. We've now logged on to the website and seen many other properties that look attractive and affordable, so our next step is to research areas and possible employment out there."

If you would like House Hunter's help, write to House Hunter, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail with full details: househunter@independent.co.uk

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