Foxes Grand Designs: One Year On
Hard to imagine we just had our one year anniversary since moving to stunning Mangawhai! One year on since I ditched the big smoke for greener pastures, with one of New Zealand’s most beautiful beaches on tap, whenever we fancy. So how have we found it? (Amazing) Did we come in on budget? (Yip) Is small town living driving me crazy? (No way!) Answers to your questions and more….
So the build went smoother than I could have ever hoped for, my home was completed one week early and we came in bang on budget – which it should, because I had a fixed price contract, but still, there were no major surprises which can often be the case at the end. Some things I had planned on doing after we moved in, I had to get done to get the code of compliance (the deck, tiling around the bath etc.) which meant that my budget had to stretch further, and other things had to wait. Curtains being one of them!
Even though we finished early, I had arranged actual moving day well in advance because of vacating my rental, so it didn’t make too much of a difference there. But we were in for Christmas! I spent the first few weeks making myself feel at home; kitchen shelves went up, artwork went on the walls and temporary curtains (being pegged up sheets) went up and planning could start on those finishing touches.
Before we moved in, I’d settled on the types of window treatments I wanted. Then I got a quote and that all went out the window. I didn’t get real curtains in the living room until we’d been in about 6 months, first I fitted blinds to my bathroom, office and the windows that got the morning and evening sun, because our house is HOT. North facing and double glazing, holy moly. Then I finally got my living room curtains; double track with a sheer layer of 100% linen in the softest grey. And just this week, we got blinds for the bedrooms to control the sun. I had ready-made curtains from our old rental, but they just couldn’t control the heat.
Exterior decking was painted our first Summer to protect the wood (fence, still to be done). A garden-ish has gone in and promptly died, well, most of it has. We’ve had such a dry Summer after a very wet Winter that nothing could really cope, bar a few super hardy plants. I just say I’m going for a minimalist look. An air conditioner/heat pump has gone in this past Winter and has been amazing. I still have a list of things to do as long as my arm, but that’s just one of the joys of having your own place…. sort of.
So, what about life up here?
That, really has to be the best part. Initially when we moved in I went into full on hermit mode. I got anxiety about leaving the house just to get milk. I felt like a total outsider when all I wanted to do was fit in and be part of the community. What didn’t help is that I moved at the start of the busiest time of year, when all of Auckland descends on this small town. It magnified the situation, and I tried not to leave the house if I didn’t have to, luckily there was plenty to do around here.
After that initial shell shock, and the place became quieter, people started to recognise that you probably lived here. People would smile at you more, remember your coffee order at the local cafe, give you recommendations for services or people that could help you with certain things. It didn’t feel as alien. My daughter was settling in at the school and making friends, she absolutely loves it here and makes me regularly promise that we won’t ever move back to Auckland.
I set up a local business networking group so I could meet other women in business around me, I’d already ‘met’ a few people via Instagram to get the ball rolling. Work began to flow in and I was again busy while developing for myself a good reputation as the ‘go-to’ designer in town. Business has been so great, it really couldn’t have gone better if I’d wished for it. I’m busy and I’m working with some amazing local businesses, and still have one or two clients in Auckland.
More recently, I’ve made a really lovely group of local friends, all women who have moved here with their husbands or partners in the last year or two, all wanting to create a brilliant lifestyle for them and their kids, and all of them so wonderful and kind that I can’t remember what it was like before we all met.
We have a couple of amazing restaurants, some excellent cafes and very well-stocked shops. You can have your supermarket shopping delivered. Tank water tastes amazing. The local gas station just got 24 hour pay-at-the-pump installed (so flash!) and the Saturday market is a great place to stock up. The beach is still there and it’s just as beautiful as ever, although I hardly ever go and totally take it for granted. I swear we have more sunshine here than anywhere else in the country. And Auckland? That’s just a short drive away and I can get to Albany in an hour, if I need to for a meeting to catch up with a friend.
So all in all, making such a huge life shift was a total gamble, but for me, it really paid off. Leaving Auckland, while it was hard to get my head around at first, moving here has been great for so many reasons. I now have a beautiful home that I love, Grace is happy as a clam, business is going great and I’ve got wonderful people in my life that I’m proud to call my friends.