Living where you work has its perks
Imagine living rentfree just a stone’s throw from Cornwall Park, St Heliers beach or the Sky Tower. Well, it could be a possibility – if you change your job. Reporter Lauren Priestley hit the streets to find out about three lucky Aucklanders’ housing work
Farmer Peter Maxwell is living on what could be the only inner-city working farm worldwide. His is a historic post. Cornwall Park has had animals on it since the 1800s, which makes Maxwell the latest in a long line of farmers.
The farm cottage is included in the Cornwall Park land title which is valued at $48.5 million.
There are about 600 ewes and 50 cattle on the 125-hectare commercial farm so it is a necessity to live on site, Maxwell says.
‘‘Because of security issues with the stock and such, it’s mandatory. You can’t live out in Onehunga or away from the farm.
‘‘If something gets on to Greenlane Rd you can’t get stuck in traffic, you have to be there.’’
Other benefits of having the farm cottage overlooking the park include the lack of commute and ability to pop home for lunch, he says.
And the view isn’t too bad either, his wife Angela says.
The couple moved to Cornwall Park in 2007 after managing a series of remote farms ‘‘in the sticks’’, she says.
‘‘People we know come here and say: ‘ What a lovely place to live, it’s a slice of the country in the city’. And it is good.
‘‘Now the supermarket is only five minutes down the road. It’s things like that. When you live in the country you have to think ahead.’’
Reverend Matt Bruns of St Philip’s Anglican Church in St Heliers agrees living where you work is a real plus.
Bruns and his young family moved to the vicarage in February.
The house, on Tuhimata St, backs on to the church and is just minutes from the beach. It has a capital value of $3.9 million.
But the reality is that the house is not theirs to keep, Bruns says.
‘‘I haven’t got into this job so I can have a house. At the end of the day we can’t leave and take the house with us. It’s not a secret perk.
‘‘We wouldn’t be here unless we felt we should be here: In this role, in this time, in this place.’’
Living on site has benefits but also comes with a challenge or two, the family man says.
The house means Bruns can be an active part of the community and be on hand when the job becomes 24/7 but it can also make the work all-consuming, he says.
‘‘It’s not just about serving the needs of the people inside the walls ... and it’s true that no one can choose when a crisis hits. They don’t say: ‘I’m only going to need help before 5.30’.
‘‘It’s a constant tension, a wrestling match, to maintain that work-life balance. It’s tricky not to bring work home with you because I’m working in my home.’’
And that’s a sentiment that also resonates with Auckland University student accommodation Felicity Jansonius.
The 26-year-old has never had a job where she doesn’t live at work, she says.
She is the resident manager at Huia Residence, a 321-student accommodation building on Grafton Rd and lives across the road in another university hall.
The close proximity to work is the biggest advantage – but there is a flipside, Jansonius says.
‘‘It’s just a 24-hour job. If I get a phone call late in the evening I can just pop in. It’s all hands on deck when a call comes.
‘‘My job doesn’t feel like work so the challenge is reflecting a good work-life balance to my staff. It makes it hard to say: ‘ Do as I do’ when I’m here all hours.’’
Angela and Peter Maxwell love living in the farm house at Cornwall Park.
Reverend Matt Bruns says housing is a bonus – but it’s not forever.
Felicity Jansonius says living on site makes life easy.