Stepping inside the home for sale down a quiet cul-de-sac in the Waikato coastal town of Raglan was the end to Milly and Ethan Shanley’s house hunting journey.
The young couple had been searching for their forever home by the seaside; a place that would give their daughters Lila, four, and two-year-old Flora memories of growing up near family and having adventures on the beach.
“I’d always dreamt of raising our girls in a small community and being more closely connected to nature and the outdoors,” Milly says. “Plus, my sister and her family moved to Raglan in 2018; they paved the way for us.”
Making the move from Hamilton to the west coast gave Milly and Ethan the best of both worlds; they have kept their jobs in the city 45 minutes away, a tolerable commute, and they get to enjoy the much more relaxed lifestyle of Raglan. Another crucial factor in this equation was that the couple fell in love with the house.
Several features sold them – high ceilings, glass ranch sliders providing great indoor-outdoor flow – and most importantly, extensive views sweeping out across native bush and the Raglan Harbour.
“The harbour views and the beautiful, lush reserve our home overlooks is what made me say ‘I want it’ as soon as I set foot through the door,” Milly says.
That was earlier this year, after a seamless selling and buying process. “It really felt like it was meant to be. Our oldest, Lila, is five at the end of the year and we wanted to make the move before she started school and so we could be settled in a new location before another big change,” Milly says.
Raglan is known for its idyllic landscape. Harbour-side living provides vistas of peaceful bays framed by picturesque native bush. The family’s modern, north-facing house is a ‘sun-trap’ in winter.
Welcoming in the outdoors are large windows and wide ranch slider doors that open up from every bedroom and living space onto an expansive deck that wraps around the front of the house. Elevated on ten-metre-high poles, the open living and dining spaces are an entertainer’s dream; Milly can host guests while keeping an eye on the girls playing nearby.
The Raglan community is tight-knit, with residents making a conscious effort to look out for each other – another factor in the couple’s decision to relocate. “We have always loved the vibe here; it’s a small place with a lot of soul. Our street is home to many other young families who our girls can play and grow up with,” says Milly, who’s spent many weekends and summer holidays exploring the town.
She’s relishing having a permanent base, too – already adding her own style and finishing touches, including having a local painter transform the internal walls within the first week of moving in. “We went with warm, neutral colours throughout to freshen it up and to complement the existing tones.” Future renovation plans include staining the deck, adding on a garage and utilising the poles and large space underneath the house to add more rooms.
“There is nothing we don’t like; the house makes for easy living. In time, we’ll make some changes and upgrade a few things but there’s no rush,” Milly says. For now, it’s about soaking up the sunshine, sea air, good vibes and all that makes Raglan a great place to call home.
Reported by Monica Tischler for our AA Directions Spring 2020 issue
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