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Thread: Is it possible to find a warm/comfortable house or apartment?

  1. #1
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    Default Is it possible to find a warm/comfortable house or apartment?

    Hi Everyone-

    My husband and I are contemplating a move to Wellington, and starting out, we plan to rent. However, after reading many of the complaints about the fact that many NZ houses and apartments are poorly insulated, I am starting to worry. I have read posts from people stating that their houses are so cold that they have to wear coats and gloves indoors, while others have said they are only warm if they happen to be in the room where the woodburner or space heater is running. Are all houses and apartments like this? Is it really that bad?

    I have an underactive thyroid and even with medication, I am more sensitive to cold than your average person. I am starting to get seriously freaked out about this and am having visions of my husband and I spending all our time huddled next to the fire, burning our furniture piece by piece to stay warm :-)

    Any advice or experiences anyone could share--positive or negative--would be greatly appreciated!!

    -Sam

  2. #2
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    Hello and welcome.

    Yes, it's possible to find a comfortable place. But the whole general philosophy of houses has been different in NZ (and it's only gradually changing), and in many of them, it's normal only to heat the room you're in while you're in it. This is not 'that bad', or necessarily bad at all. Even in such houses, that doesn't mean that you're hunched over the heat source - you can be perfectly comfortable in that space. And you have heat sources in several rooms, or mobile, that keep you warm as you move around - you just need to think ahead a little. I also tend to feel the cold, but when staying in NZ in winter I didn't wear a coat in the house, but had light layers of indoor clothes. It's different, but not wrong.

  3. #3
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    Thanks so much!

    That is a big help and a huge relief. I have read lots about the lack of insulation and poor construction of NZ homes and while it seems homeowners have options for weatherizing their houses, I didn't know what options were available for renters. It is comforting to know that it isn't as bad as I originally thought--using mobile heat sources and layering clothes sounds like a fairly reasonable solution.

    Are there other issues renters should consider when looking for a house? Are there certain types of construction or heating systems that are better than others?

    Thanks again!!!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by carters View Post
    Hi Everyone-


    ...am having visions of my husband and I spending all our time huddled next to the fire, burning our furniture piece by piece to stay warm :-)

    -Sam
    This made me laugh out loud...sorry

    It has been one of my concerns also

  5. #5
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    Here's a quote from an old post.

    This was me talking about how to tackle sleeping comfortably in Auckland in winter.

    althea had asked...
    Is it really possible to sleep without heating at night in a non central heated, single glazed flat??? I know I'd freeze...
    ...and I answered:
    It depends more on what you get used to, and how you go about things. When we rented a house in the Waitakeres in August, it took us back to how conditions were in most homes in the UK in our childhood, but there were some modern appliances which helped, once we knew what to do.

    This was our routine, coached by Kiwi relatives.

    The bed needs to be made up with several layers, under you and over you, to insulate you and keep your body-heat in. You can always push off a layer or two if you get too warm, then just pull them back over as necessary, but they need to be right there so you don't have to get out and go looking.

    About half an hour to 40 minutes before going to bed, put on dehumidifier in bedroom, possibly heater as well depending on how cold it feels. Dry air doesn't feel as cold as damp air. Also put on electric blanket, or put hot water bottles in the bed.

    Get into your nightclothes in a warm room, so you don't lose body-heat. Your nightclothes need to be a little micro-climate of your own - long-sleeved, long-legged in warm material, worn with socks, and maybe a fleece or jumper. What you choose depends on where YOU feel the cold.

    Just before you get into bed, turn off the dehumidifier (and heater and electric blanket, if used). You can keep the hot water bottle(s) in with you if you want. You are warm yourself, in a warmed, insulated bed, breathing dry air, and should be able to get to sleep. Once asleep, people can usually cope with breathing cooler air as long as their body stays warm.

    In the daytime, you tend to heat the space you are in, and keep your own microclimate warm - e.g. more layers of clothes, warm socks, scarf, which are not so usual indoors in the UK. Dry air feels much warmer than damp, and dehumidifiers are very useful - you run them after using a bath or shower, since there's little point in opening a window if the air outdoors is humid itself. Also, if you're trying to dry washing by hanging it indoors, running the dehumidifier right next to it speeds things up a lot.

  6. #6
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    Rental housing stock can be poor in terms of warmth, but it depends what price bracket you are looking in. New houses are more likely to be insulated, but do not always have a heat source. If you have enough money, warm, dry houses are there.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by carters View Post
    I have an underactive thyroid and even with medication, I am more sensitive to cold than your average person. I am starting to get seriously freaked out about this and am having visions of my husband and I spending all our time huddled next to the fire, burning our furniture piece by piece to stay warm :-)
    Me too! Or rather I have no thyroid, but my ongoing treatment is the same

    Our place is in Chch, and owned, but when we moved in last Feb.. you could tell it was going to be cold come winter. The insulation in the ceiling was so old it was non-existent and the electric blowing thing was going to cost a fortune to run all winter. I do think that the previous owner was either of very staunch and hardy stock, wore hat & gloves or day, or perhaps had an internal nuclear power station to keep her warm!

    But but but.. with new insulation, a new pellet fire and a heat transfer kit, all was rosy in our place last winter. I was fine, the husband was fine, and so was the wee one (actually, we did put a little wall heater in her room too).

    So from that I would just say, check what the rental properties have in terms of insulation and heating. The market shouldn't be as nuts as Chch, but even if it is you should be able to find something set up half-decently. With power bills going up, the cheaper rent of a dodgy home may well be off-set by electricity costs.

    Regards the levothyroxine - bring 3 months' worth with you and get a Kiwi prescription asap, then gradually mix&match tablets from one to the other. The manufacturer of my UK tablets wasn't available here, but the transition sorted me nicely (rather than suddenly jumping from one to another).

  8. #8
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    Based on my own personal experience, yes you can. We live in a lovely rental in Island Bay. We have a heat pump and have probably used that on fewer than 20 days over the entire winter. We did resort to electric blankets for the bed most nights but that did us fine. Our house gets all day sun and has plenty of (single glazed) windows. The one thing I do hate is the condensation that we're simply not used to. Plus clothes that aren't dried on the line or in the tumble dryer often have a "sweaty feet" smell to them which I assume occurs when they don't dry quickly enough.

    But all in all we're very happy in our rental. It was under the budget we set ourselves, scored 9/10 in terms of how well it met our criteria, and we'll happily stay there. To give you an idea, we viewed a house to buy last night. It is a great house and, under other circumstances, I'd be filling out the tender paperwork faster than an auctioneer's bidding! But to buy it could cost us around $700 a month more than staying put in the rental, so we're not going to bid for the house. If our rental wasn't good enough, I don't think that would be the case.

  9. #9
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    We've rented a number of homes: old drafty villa, new plaster, brick and tile, new cedar and now own a weatherboard house. By far the most comfortable was the cavity plaster home. I wouldn't buy one, but it had a gas fire in the living room and was very comfortable. The worst was the villa, followed by the brick and tile (they are only single brick here) and the cedar property. I suspect the cold in the cedar property may have been due to it's position and some 'quirks' of construction. One thing to avoid is a house built on stilts/piles. The wind going under a property takes a lot of heat away.

    We plan to add some insulation to our current home and I expect to be comfortable next winter.

  10. #10
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    Thanks to all. This is really helpful. For those of us that hate to be cold (I am coming from Atlanta after all :-) this is all good advice.

    Sophie, thanks too for the advice on the thyroid meds. The three months head start is good to know!

    Okay, I am feeling a bit better now. Deep breath. I will be warm, I will be warm... :-)

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