Richard & Nicola's Story

Hi, I am Richard Drake. I live here in Mangere with Nicola, my wife and our three sons Oliver, Thomas and Peter aged 6, 5 and 1. I work as an Organisational Development Advisor at Auckland Council.

Hi, I am Nicola and currently I am a stay-at-home mum. I am on leave at present, but when at work, I am a Triage Nurse in the Emergency Department at Middlemore Hospital.

Richard: “Seven years ago we were living in Greenlane in a little unit in a block of four thinking about what is next for us. It was okay, a bit damp and small, but a rental and not really what we needed. So, I started looking around, we decided we didn’t want to keep paying rent. It was dead money, and I had a map of Auckland and I drew a circle starting from the centre and over time I made that circle bigger and bigger and bigger to see if we could find something we could afford.

At that time, I was working for a church in the city, Nicola was working as a Nurse, and we had our first child. I started to feel really down about housing affordability. The more I looked at houses we might be able to buy, we were moving further and further away from where I worked at the time, and where our friends were, and where our sense of community was at that time.

We felt stuck. The sort of house we could afford was going to be old and poor quality and would require lots of maintenance. We had decided we wanted to move towards home ownership.

Friends of ours around that time had a bad experience, were asked to move out of their rental property with very short notice so this was part of what drove our decision to make a change.

Having a family was important to us. We could have coped in the flat with one child but our vision of our future was to have more stability and some space. We thought when we first heard about the Housing Foundation that it had to be a scam. I saw an ad and it was really simple and plain. I remember thinking it’s got to be a scam, it can’t be real. I really like to look things up and so when I checked out Housing Foundation and I saw a press release from the Beehive and then realised there was credibility there.

I was surprised to find that this idea of shared equity is actually real and decided then that I needed to find out more. It was hard to understand at first. So, I called up the number and within a week someone came to us and was willing to explain how it all worked.

We had to read through some documents, and we had to look at our resources and get all our finances in order. It was a pretty big checklist I felt. It was a big job, but I felt pretty determined to give it my best shot.”

Nicola: “It was all a bit scary for me and overwhelming. Neither of us is from Auckland and where I come from buying a house is something you do for the rest of your life, and I didn’t want to be stuck”.

Richard: “I had work and I had home life but I made giant check lists and all of my spare thoughts and time was devoted to making this happen. It is a life that we imagined, and we wanted a flourishing family life. The drive to get through this checklist came from all the investigation I had done before I came to the Housing Foundation. I had spent a lot of time looking and it was pretty grim out there. People warned us against it saying the property market was going to collapse. Once I realised the Housing Foundation was genuine it made me very focused on getting the work done to join their Shared Equity Programme. It was the only way we could see to move towards home ownership based on the income we had at that time.

When we moved in here, the house itself and moving location from Greenlane to Mangere, provided a platform for re-evaluation and changes in our life. We did move further out of the city than we had wanted to. It broke a lot of our habits. It was an amazing opportunity to look at what we wanted. My job wasn’t taking me in a direction I wanted to go.”

So, Nicola went back to work full time nursing and I became a stay at home Dad and did some retraining and additional study. We had security. We were blown away that this house was so well insulated and dry and we had the space we needed. Once I completed my 4 years of part time night classes I got a Master’s degree and it opened doors, allowed a career change and an improvement in job satisfaction and earnings. We then swapped roles again.

Nicola: “It was an unexpected opportunity for me to advance my nursing career and that time allowed me to get a higher paid position. It has also been great for our relationship because we both have an understanding of what it takes to look after pre-schoolers. We have been here six years in September 2017. We have lovely families in this street. Our kids play with kids across the road and jump on their trampoline and we have local kids in here playing Monopoly or playing together down at the reserve.

We realise that we are really lucky to have found the Housing Foundation.

We are also really mindful of how we spend our money. We are not really buying into consumerism in the same way we see others doing these days, like holidays in Fiji, but we have a house. If we didn’t have this house, it would have been foolish for us to have a third child, but with the space and security we have, it all makes sense. Now we have full ownership it’s just amazing. It has been hard work but we got here in the end.”

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