Retired couple finds short-term letting of their family home allows them to explore NZ.

Jennifer Bayley and her husband Paul are enjoying a dream retirement – and it's far easier than it sounds.

Three months ago they hooked their caravan up to their car, waved goodbye to their Tauranga home and headed off on an adventure to explore as many of the "quaint corners" of New Zealand as they could.

They've recently been camping in Mokau, Taranaki, where they have been going for long walks, reading books, chatting to locals and enjoying the views of the black sand beaches.

They can afford their idyllic tiki tour thanks to the fact their home has been rented out through Bookabach for a series of short-term lets: "It doesn't fund everything but it certainly makes a difference and allows us to go off travelling," says Bayley, an interior designer. "You couldn't do this if you were relying on NZ Super."


Although the couple only retired earlier this year after Paul sold his flooring business, they have been renting out their home for the last six years. They hit upon the idea of earning extra income this way after a trip to France seven years ago, during which they rented private houses.

"It's quite special to stay in someone's home rather than a hotel – hotels can be quite limiting and you can't cook for yourself as you can in a house. We treated everywhere we stayed really well – and we thought people might do that to our house if we rented it out."

Initially, they weren't sure how they would feel about strangers living in their home and using their things: "But we're used to having lots of people in our house – we've got six children and 10 grandchildren – and it turns out we are okay with it. We actually like knowing people are sharing our home and enjoying it. We get some lovely comments, which makes it all worthwhile."

The house is at the higher end of the scale, costing around $800 a night. Located across the road from the harbour, it has five bedrooms and sleeps 10 people. The Bayleys bought the property – in a previous life an ice cream shop – 17 years ago and, with the help of architect son-in-law Brendon Gordon, completely transformed it.

"It was pretty much a complete re-build – all that was left of the original house was the concrete pad," Bayley says. The home is tastefully decorated and they leave most of their possessions out when they rent it out, including Jennifer's collection of designer glass.

"Anything absolutely irreplaceable is put away – we have locks on our cupboards now – but we've found our things have been respected by people who stay here."

Other changes to make the home visitor-friendly include having king beds in three of the five bedrooms that convert to two singles. They've spent a lot of money on bedding, so guests can enjoy feather duvets, pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets – "not polyester bobbly sheets," says Bayley.

The Bayleys also leave a bottle of wine from Amisfield Winery in Central Otago for guests to enjoy on arrival.


While they are away for extended periods, Jennifer's former PA looks after the house, preparing it for the next set of guests.

Before they retired and could travel around the country for weeks at a time, Paul and Jennifer would stay in their caravan a short drive away at the Mount Maunganui campground whenever the house was booked.

"Nobody would have realised we were leaving for work from a caravan. We actually loved it, because in the caravan, the living is easy. It has everything you could wish for – including a comfortable bed, shower, toilet and great oven – housework is minimal and there are no lawns to mow because someone else does it."

Summer is their busiest time, with steady bookings between December and April. The house also tends to be booked out during the AIMS Games for intermediate school aged children, held in Tauranga every September.

Bayley finds Bookabach, which Bayley finds very easy to use: "We like it because the booking is instant, they are great to deal with and they promote your property well. They also deal with the payment side of things which is good too."

There are some downsides to letting out your home, says Bayley. They had to replace their wastemaster after a guest put chicken bones in it and a bathroom was flooded after a child left a tap running: "But 98% of people are really good, and they look after the place well."

The home is often used for family reunions but the most frequent guests are brides getting ready for their wedding.

"The wedding groups are the most fabulous guests and the brides like to have somewhere nice to get ready from. We've had a few grooms too.

"I know not everyone will be comfortable with having people staying in their home but it has worked out really well for us. We love to hear how much people enjoy it and it's giving us the freedom to see the country while we still can."