When his third child was born, Mike Wyeth, an Auckland man, realized that life in a big city meant he had almost no time with his family.
He and his wife Amanda Wyeth both worked full time and commuted two hours a day, and most of the time he barely saw the children, Will, now 7, Archer, 4, and Poppy , 2 years.
“I would leave in the morning before the kids woke up and come back after the kids had fallen asleep,” Wyeth says. “I was living on the weekends.”
The couple, both 36, loved the house they owned in Hobsonville, Auckland, one of The Block townhouses from season 7 of the show.
Wyeth says the three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 163m² townhouse was “a beautiful home, in a beautiful location.”
“But we had to get that family balance back.”
They looked south, first to Cambridge and Invercargill where they had family, and settled in New Zealand’s southernmost town.
“My biggest worry was that my career would stall, that there would be no jobs,” Wyeth says. “In the end, everything clicked.”
Someone offered to buy their house in Hobsonville “out of the blue” and they moved south in December 2020, with no secure jobs.
House prices in Invercargill were then “extremely cheap”, says Wyeth, although they have jumped in the meantime.
“It’s probably still half the price of Auckland, with a bigger house and a bigger section. You will get more for your money.
The couple bought a 60s house of 290m², three bedrooms plus an office on a plot of around 800m².
While he won’t discuss the exact price, he says their mortgage was initially “significantly lower” but they have since done a “pretty extensive renovation”.
The average home price last month for Invercargill was $473,893, according to QV. That compares to $973,848 for all of New Zealand and $1,383,668 for Auckland.
Finances, of course, were not the main driver of the move. Life is now much more family-centered.
“The school race lasts 10 minutes. I can start a little later and drop the kids off and Amanda can leave early and pick the kids up.
“Will and Archer have joined the Star Rugby Club. They train on Wednesday night and have a game on Saturday. I can go to their practice at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday.
Last summer, Wyeth was able to coach Will’s cricket team, taking half an hour off work to run the 3pm practices, which would have been impossible in Auckland.
“And they do so much more. Will plays rugby, tennis and cricket. In Auckland, you can only play one sport for it to work.
Wyeth says they go out on weekends, exploring Southland.
“I still feel like a tourist,” he says.
“It’s a remarkable landscape, with Milford, the Catlins, the Southern Scenic Route up to Riverton and up to Milford, Riverton or Orepuki. Many beautiful little bays and beaches.
Wyeth’s career fears proved unfounded. He first got a job on strategic projects for Great South, Invercargill’s promotion and regional development agency, before moving into his area of specialization, private venture capital, for Invest South.
“If anything, it gave me a bigger opportunity to be here with my skills. In Auckland, this space is really competitive.
He likes the fact that his work contributes to the growth of the region by supporting companies looking for capital and expertise.
Amanda also landed a job, with a part-time role four days a week, as a senior human resources adviser for Southland District Council.
But what about the weather?
Common sense – and reports from Niwa – suggest that temperatures in Southland are on average lower than the rest of the country, with relatively frequent frosts and snowfalls, and less sunshine than the rest of Nova Scotia. Zeeland.
Wyeth says they’ve been lucky so far.
“I may be a little biased here, but the summer we’ve just had has been amazing and the winter has been mild. And, as the storms were happening all around New Zealand, we were on simply immune.
“When we got here, I told Amanda I wanted a pool. People joke and say, maybe a hot pool. But [last summer] we had the slippery slides, the sprinklers on.
“As long as your house is warm, it’s fine. It’s cold outside, but nice and warm inside. You cover yourself.