Ed’s let­ter: City con­ve­nience or close to na­ture in the country? What’s right for you?

NZ House & Garden - - CONTENTS - Sally Dug­gan

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.

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