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Simplicity Living: A new era of affordable rental housing

Published on 04/05/2023

Simplicity Living, the build-to-rent programme of Simplicity, recently opened its first build-to-rent housing development in Point England, Auckland. Stage 1 of this 132-unit development, named Kupenga, was blessed at a sunrise ceremony by local Iwi representatives and Kaumatua.

The opening of Kupenga marks a new era of affordable housing, providing tenants with high-quality homes at reasonable prices.

Shane Brealey, managing director of Simplicity Living, said the project was a win-win for investors and Kiwi renters. The units are priced competitively at between $415-$600, and built to a standard above the building code. "These homes are built to last over 100 years, which is how long we intend to own them." 

Simplicity aims to deliver higher long-term returns for its members via rental revenues and capital appreciation of the homes.

Kupenga, and the three other developments currently underway, reflect Simplicity’s long-term focus on the well-being of New Zealanders.

The Simplicity Living team have designed the apartments with functionality, comfort, style and affordability.  The primary goal is to provide an environment where residents can thrive, knowing they have housing security. And being a long-term owner means we can provide housing security.

Each unit has modern amenities including a full suite of appliances and blinds. They include fibre optic internet, so tenants can stay connected with the world outside while enjoying the comforts of home.

Our build-to-rent model ensures that our properties are always maintained to the highest standards. Our team handles all maintenance and repairs so tenants can enjoy worry-free living

We also offer flexible lease terms to accommodate a variety of lifestyles and needs.

Simplicity Living is committed to sustainability, and our new development reflects that being certified as HomeStar 6 rated by the New Zealand Green Building Council. We've incorporated energy-efficient features throughout the building, such as high performance double glazing, LED lighting and low-flow fixtures. 

Simplicity Managing Director, Sam Stubbs, said the business was thrilled offer more affordable housing without sacrificing quality. 

“Our new development is just the beginning of our mission to provide comfortable and sustainable living spaces for many New Zealanders, while being a great investment too.”

Q and A

Why is Simplicity building houses?

We believe you can make money and do good. It’s what we do %)  

Rental housing can provide reliable returns for members. Our funds currently invest in bank deposits and investment-grade bonds. But returns from bank deposits are low, and returns from bonds can be low too.

And warm, dry, affordable homes in a community can be a ‘fence at the top of the cliff’, helping prevent costly health and social problems.

Like our financial products, we own and control as much of the process as possible so the benefits return to members.

There is nothing new here. Many large pension funds overseas own and rent homes long-term.

How can we build more affordable homes?

Simplicity Living follows a low-cost, efficient building strategy developed by NZ Living founders Shane and Anna Brealey. The couple has already built large numbers of homes, at more affordable prices, predominantly for first-home buyers.

Shane and Anna wanted to provide more New Zealanders with quality rental homes, so they have effectively gifted their intellectual property and time to Simplicity. In addition, all the NZ Living team are moving to Simplicity Living.

Their expertise in building, with an established subcontractor and supplier base are complemented by Simplicity’s ability to fund the developments.

This way, we can build at scale in a very efficient way.

For example, we’re removing the following costs typically associated with a private housing development;

  • Developer and Builder margins (we are the developer and builder and are a nonprofit)
  • Financing margin (we don’t have to borrow any money to build) 
  • Selling costs (we’ll rent directly, with no real estate agency fees) 
  • Property management margin (we’ll manage the properties directly, at cost.

What sort of homes do we offer?

We offer 1-3 bedroom apartments, built to last over 100 years, to a HomeStar 6 standard. Our homes are very warm and dry and built mainly out of brick, concrete, steel, and timber.

All of our developments have available car parks and typically a third of the land is gardens and common spaces.

Our first build-to-rent housing development is located in Point England, Auckland.

To see all our developments visit the Simplicity Living website

Who owns Simplicity Living, and who will manage it?

Simplicity Living is owned by certain funds within the Simplicity KiwiSaver Scheme, excluding its default fund, and the Simplicity Investment Funds, which provide funding to Simplicity Living through a wholesale funding arrangement. 

Simplicity Living Ltd has four Directors, with Shane Brealey the Managing Director.

Our environmental policy

Being environmentally responsible is very important to us. 

We use long lasting and durable materials, like brick, concrete and aluminium. We use recycled material in the concrete to minimise waste, and we recycle as much as possible. We hate waste!

We also build our homes to last well over 100 years to minimize carbon generated by renovation, re-building or demolition. 

We plant native trees in the developments to offset carbon from construction, materials, and transportation. In addition, we plant a native tree every week for every apartment we have tenanted.

We’re aiming for carbon neutrality, with a third party verifying that all carbon generated is offset.