Friday, February 19, 2010

The Optimist Bucket List - Item 8

Having never bought my first house I guess I should say that that is the goal for Item #8 on my Optimist Bucket List. My adult life has included addresses in New England, the West Coast, the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Southwest regions of the country. I know where I want to spend the rest of my working life but the question has always intrigued me as to where I would like to spend my retirement. More to the point, why wait until retirement? Why can't I have a second home to enjoy while I'm working as a vacation getaway and where would it be?

The first time I went to Greece I almost immediately wondered what it would be like to live or vacation there on a regular basis. I said the same thing about Scotland while right here in the United States I've considered Florida and Wyoming.

Then I went to New Zealand. I'd been traveling there for six years when I figured out that it would be a great investment if nothing else. I booked a flight down in March of that year and made appointments with local realtors to see suburban, ranch and undeveloped tracts of land. My head spun with questions as the plane roared on through the night to where I dreamed of making my second home.

The suburban home was no great shakes and while I loved the 13 acres and working barn that came with the country home I flat out told the realtor that no American would ever buy the house as it was built. The owner was a contractor who designed the place himself but with five bedrooms it only came with two full baths - and he was the father of four daughters!

The realtor and I sped north of Auckland for the last property on the list, undeveloped rural dairy land being sectioned and sold off by the family. Not even a paved road came with it but free use of a local quarry for all the stone I could use. Nice. What really sold me on the property though was the 85 acres of land which revolved around a natural amphitheater in the form of an extinct volcano cone.

Already terraced and facing west it was begging to be developed as a performance space, a vineyard or just a multi-level garden from which to enjoy the sunset.
Add on to that were three fresh water streams running through the land, one of which featured a 200-foot waterfall. A waterfall in my back yard!!! I'd have to build my own house on the land and ask the current owner to do something with the dairy cattle placidly grazing all around but the price, even in writing, was too good to be true. I had only two problems to figure out before I pulled the trigger: what the tax implications would be in owning foreign property and whether or not I could get the NFL package that far away!

I told them I would be back soon with a final decision on the entire idea if not that property in particular. That would have been September, 2001.

Gotta go.

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