It took nearly a decade for Frank and Michelle Timmins to cast off their city anchor. For a long time, the couple considered themselves city people, living in Auckland and holidaying in a succession of baches north of Auckland and at Coromandel. They'd live their city lifestyle Monday to Friday and chill out at the bach on weekends with their three sons.
For the past nine years, their holiday spot has been Omaha, an hour's drive north of Auckland's CBD. They love the mix of laidback beach-and-fishing lifestyle, and the civilising benefits of wineries, markets, cafes, a golf course and a cinema. Their first holiday home in Omaha was a bach at the more established northern end of the spit. But after five years, another bach came on the market nearby, and the self-professed gypsies wandered over. It had been owned by two families, so was set up with two complete master suites upstairs, each with an en suite and walk-in-wardrobe. With two additional bedrooms downstairs, a soaring, light-filled open-plan living room catching all-day sun, and a choice of outdoor living areas, it was a better fit for their needs, while still being a short stroll to the beach and estuary.
Frank was sold on the high-stud garage for boat parking, the filleting shed and the boat ramp at the end of the street. "I fell in love with the shed, and thought, 'This is me'."
So they bought it. Though only about 7 years old, it needed finishing and tweaking. Frank and Michelle have developed the exterior and outdoor area, adding schist features, concrete tiles and a Colorsteel roof for a modern, solid look, while installing a fireplace, new joinery and double glazing to make it a year-round home.
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Inside, they've recarpeted and repainted, while preserving an eyecatching sloped rimu ceiling above the living area. And as they transformed it from a bach to a stylish home, their perspective on life also evolved. Earlier this year, Michelle says, she finally got her head around moving permanently out of the city.
"It's hard to get out of that rat-race in Auckland," she says. "It's that Auckland mindset that you need all these 'things'. You need to do what everyone's doing. But we realised that we don't need anything we can't get here -- I call this a mini-Hamptons of New York. And if we really need a shop, Albany is only about a 45-minute drive.
"Here, we've got the best beaches, and we've got them all to ourselves. It's not like Takapuna or Milford, where you have to share it with every man and his dog."
So, in February, they transitioned from city people to beach people -- and they've since discovered a whole new side to the community, with regular social events, sports clubs, dog-walking groups and more.
"Once we made the move we realised how many people live here permanently, and how social it is," says Frank. "It's just like a village."
Now they've found the promised land, they're staying put. But with two of their three sons overseas and the youngest at university, they're downsizing to a smaller property nearby, so they can continue to live the dream while creating more opportunities to travel.
Says Michelle: "We're ready for another chapter in our lives."