The Kiwi Difference

by Osman Parvez

 Now that I've spent a little time in New Zealand (panoramic shot), I've started noticing a few differences. Like Boulder, people seem to pay a lot of attention to real estate, judging by the local newspaper and casual conversation.

I know you've been wondering, so yes, in some places it does indeed look like the Shire from Lord of the Rings. No hobbits though, sorry.

10 differences between homes in Boulder and New Zealand

1. Heating Systems. Homes in New Zealand typically do not have a central heating system. There is no furnace, boiler, or baseboard electric. Instead, many have a fireplace or woodstove in the living room, used to burn off the chill on cool evenings. There's also plenty of interior doors to "compartmentalize" the house for better efficiency.

2. Roofing. The roofs here are mostly constructed of treated steel. A few homes have terra cotta tile roofs, but the majority are "colored steel." It's precoated at the factory, and frequently pressed into shapes that look like tile or traditional shingles. These roofs are designed to last 100+ years.

3. Windows. Double pane windows are rare in New Zealand. Most are basic single pane variety. Newer homes use low E glass. The vast majority of window framing is metal. I asked a friend of the family who works in the glass business why there are no vinyl windows. Apparently, most vinyl windows don't hold up well to the harsh UV here. People don't trust them to last for years and years.

4. Doors. Like window frames, most doors are also painted steel or aluminum. They fit together very tightly and there's no expanding/contracting of doors and frames due to humidity.

5. Switches. Power plug outlets have built in switches, making it easy to disconnect the power without pulling the plug. That's right, no loose, worn out outlets.

6. Yard care. Kiwis seem to be excellent gardeners. I have yet to find a rundown, overgrown, weed choked yard. Doesn't happen. Even in the areas that we've visited which were not doing well economically, the yards were well tended to. Out in the countryside, the landscape is very pastoral with flocks of sheep and herds of cattle dotting the land.

7. Toilets. Most toilets in New Zealand have two flush options. You can choose a half flush for light duty. But for those bigger holiday loads, I recommend you go for the power of a full flush.

8. Real estate signs. The ones here in New Zealand are much better than what we use in the states. They're about 2x larger, printed on corrugated plastic, and feature several interior/exterior pictures as well as the key selling points of the house. Very smart.

9. Sheep. If you have a small spot of land, apparently it's completely normal to bring in a flock of sheep to have them keep your field down. Ag zoning not required. There's a little flock in our front yard right now. A few days ago, mobile shearers (called Shear Pleasure) came by in their little van and sheared them of their winter wool.

10. Developments. There are apparently no mega developments in New Zealand. No Pultes, KB Homes, or Lennar. It's even unusual for a developer to build 4 or 5 homes in a row, at least here in New Plymouth. The vast majority of new homes are "one offs." According to Sandra Tylee, who works in mortgage lending, only 10% or so of new homes built are spec projects. The vast majority are custom built for the land owner.

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The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

Please Note

This document contains forward-looking statements. You are strongly cautioned that investment results are subject to business, economic and other uncertainties. There are no guarantees associated with any forecast and the opinions stated here are subject to change at any time. Always consult your financial advisor before making an investment decision.