Ed’s letter: City convenience or close to nature in the country? What’s right for you?
Nothing could be worse than a weekend spent weeding the garden or mowing lawns. That’s the opinion of apartment dwellers Damien Hiquet and Claire
Zhou, who also find the thought of chores like putting out rubbish depressing. With all that housework to do, Claire says, they would hardly see any of their friends.
It’s a valid argument and, as the housing crisis and traffic gridlock bite in our cities, greater social connectedness is a key selling point for a new intensified way of living: easy-care apartments with shared parks and pools mean we spend more time with our friends and neighbours.
Damien and Claire are a poster couple for this lifestyle: their apartment (page 90) is a polished metal and marble gem in Auckland’s Manhattan-style Metropolis building; their lifestyle is rich in quality time with friends.
Sounds fun. And sensible. But, as this issue of the magazine shows, convenience and community connectedness are not the deciding factors for many of us when it comes to choosing a home.
The Stevenson family, for example, who admit to “a massive lust for open green spaces”, put up with the commute to live in rural Taupaki on the fringes of Auckland (page 70). “There’s not one day when I don’t feel grateful for being here,” says Eloise, who struggles even to leave home for a holiday. The Stevensons’ idea of fun is more about connecting with nature than with neighbours: horse riding, forest walks, just sitting and looking at all that green…
And then, they say, there are the stars. Eloise talks passionately about the view of the stars from her new home – and anyone who has ever looked at the night sky from the wilderness will understand what she’s on about.
Sometimes I stand outside after dinner at our Taupo bach and look at the stars. The longer you look, the more you can see: billows of faint milky light into infinity and beyond. And you think about all those zillions of suns and planets, and your life is jerked into perspective. It makes you ponder the big questions: What’s out there? Where do we fit in? What’s the best way to live our little speck of a life? Is it, for example, more important to connect with one another, or to connect with nature and remind ourselves of our place in the scheme of things?
Big questions, those. We don’t promise to answer them in NZ House & Garden, but our stories in this issue might just start you thinking.