For those that live in major cities, leaving home after 7am to get to work might cause a wave of panic about getting stuck in peak traffic. Not so for Jo Baylis, who wakes up in Hawera, leaves home at 7.15am, and is walking into meetings in central Auckland a little after 10am.

That’s on the rare days the National Sales Manager for realestate.co.nz doesn’t work remotely from her South Taranaki home.

“Living and working in Auckland just wasn’t easy,” Jo says.

“It was traffic, traffic and more traffic. What should be a 10-minute drive became a 45-minute commute on weekday mornings, and simple things like getting to the supermarket became a real mission.”

In Hawera, none of that’s a problem, meaning more time for family, and a commute that lets Jo look at a picture-perfect mountain for 45 minutes, rather than the bumper in front of her.

“It’s really relaxing and I do a lot of work while travelling, as opposed to commuting.”

The Baylis family – Jo and Craig and daughters Moya and Holly - made the move back to Craig’s hometown in May 2018, looking to spend more time with family.

Jo had been visiting Hawera for years, ever since meeting Craig, and initially thought South Taranaki would be way too quiet for a city girl who had grown up in England and lived in Adelaide and Auckland.

Fast forward to a rapid climb up the corporate ladder to become the first woman in the National Sales Manager role, a growing family and a fairly typical Auckland existence, and the calm that Hawera offered began to make a lot more sense.

“Working remotely from South Taranaki has some real advantages if your career can support it. I feel I can have my cake and eat it too.”

“If you’re looking to move to South Taranaki for more family time, do it while your kids are still at home, and don’t overthink it,” Jo advises.

South Taranaki has now well and truly captured her heart and she has become a passionate advocate for the region. Six months in, and Jo is starting to feel like a local already.

“We were at an Arts in the Park event in Hawera recently, and there were so many people to stop and have a chat with. We bought a painting  by a local artist, and a couple of weeks later a woman walking past our house called over the fence and told me she’d painted it. She thanked me for buying it!”

The Baylis family have gone from a large five-bedroom house in Ellerslie to a “more humble” two-bedroom home in Hawera. While Jo misses her walk-in pantry, she’s now in walking distance to the kids’ school, the vibrant CBD, and close to family.

“It’s so nice to be able to wave the girls off to school every morning, knowing they’ll also be waving to their grandparents as they walk past their house on the way to school,” says Jo.

“Our new home is smaller, but it’s full of family and friends, love and laughter. I definitely spend more money on tea bags than I did in Auckland,” she quips.

Jo does confess to missing the retail options that a city the size of Auckland provides, but notes that New Plymouth and Whanganui are less than an hour’s drive away for when the need for a big city fix arises.
“The sense of community and friendliness here is exceptional. In all the businesses we’ve dealt with people will go out of their way to help.”

The Baylis family love living in South Taranaki and with more time together they have enjoyed exploring the hidden gems of the region, especially the wild coast. Jo recommends Hawera’s Waihi beach, visiting the Sugar Juice café in Opunake and of course Hawera’s Arts in the Park craft and art fair. Jo and Craig own a vintage Chevy and they can’t wait to be part of Americarna in February 2019.

The couple are now looking at starting a business that makes the most of their sales and marketing skills, and can help spread the word about life in South Taranaki, a move that Jo says is both scary and exciting, but will mean she can spend even more time in the region she now calls home.