The last two weekends have seen the man and me heading out of the city. The first time we headed south and found ourselves in Raglan, a gorgeous wee town with an estuary, world- famous surf beaches, and fish sold straight from the boats to the takeaway on the wharf. Here people smiled at you in the street and insisted that you eat your lunch at their table in the sun because you looked a bit cold. This town  had the man and me remarking ‘My goodness, this would be an awesome place to live.’

Last Saturday we went north to Whangarei to stay with friends. They left Auckland two years ago to live on a small lifestyle block ten minutes from this small city. Before we arrived at their place, we spent a couple of hours exploring the town down by the marina. It was beautiful, with boats gently rocking on their moorings, a park with cycleway and walkway running besides the river bank, and quirky shops, many of which were full of top-quality art and textiles, beyond this. As you walked by people, they smiled at you and said hello.

Later we drove the short distance to our friends. The traffic was light. As we slowly wended our way down their driveway passed the orchard, complete with the hens, the large shed came into view. The man started drooling.

He drooled some more when we got the tour of the shed. There was space.  Enough space for the man to base his business at home. Travel to work would take half a minute! It also had a ride-on mower, a John Deere gator, a woodpile, and a tractor. The man was sold.

Now these things may be cool, but they didn’t make me drool. No, the things that made me drool was the privacy and the quiet. And, of course, the alpacas, and the land complete with vegetable garden and small studio outside. I was sold.

On the way home we chatted. Was it time to leave the Big Smoke for a quieter life? If we moved, would it endanger our semi-retirement plans? The answer was no, they have never relied on where we live.

By  limiting the distance to a two hour drive from Auckland, we could easily stay in touch with Auckland-based family and friends. This was important.

The big question though was: where? Seaside Raglan is as cute as, but it is 40 minutes from a decent sized town. And we don’t know anyone there.

Whangarei, on the other hand, isn’t as cute. It is a small city, with all the facilities cities have. It also has lovely beaches a short drive away and moorings for a boat. There will be more employment options for me. We have friends already in situ and our son, his partner and our grandchild are looking at shifting there, having been priced out of the Auckland market, but preferring the idea of a less hectic lifestyle anyway. An hour away our daughter and son-in-law have a place, and so does the man’s sister.  These things matter.

More thought is needed,  but meanwhile we are checking out real estate.