Living in a Caravan - a 'Tiny House'
The ‘tiny house’ movement is a recent phenomenon brought about by high property prices – houses, even at a basic level, priced beyond the means of so many people in this country. This has particularly affected young people and single people who need to find a home of their own. Because property prices are so high this has a knock-on effect on rental charges too as property owners need to receive a sensible income from their property on which they may be paying a mortgage.
For caravanners, the ‘tiny house’ is nothing new; it’s only the name that’s new, not the concept. Going back in time there have been people living in caravans since they were invented – the original gypsies, or Romanies (originally from Romania) who lived in caravans drawn by a horse long before the days of cars and 4x4s. If you’ve ever read books written by Enid Blyton you will recall that the Famous Five went on holiday in a horse-drawn caravan (although they didn’t live in it). You can still rent horse drawn caravans, complete with horse, today.
In fact, there are a huge number of people who still live in their caravans – permanently, not just for holidays, and there is a lot to be said for doing so. Now, you might just think I’m writing this without any experience of living in a caravan. This is not the case as we all lived in our caravan for ten months when we returned from working overseas and were homeless. Yes, two adults, our son and, later, our baby daughter immediately after she was born in hospital.
Now, I’m not saying this was easy at all, far from it, but it was, and is, certainly possible, as we and many thousands of other people have proved – and continue to do so.
When it comes to purchasing a 'tiny house', I've noticed that many of these 'tiny houses' cost considerably more than a good pre-owned caravan – and sometimes more than a new caravan. Many of these 'tiny homes' are nowhere near as well equipped or as well insulated as a caravan so for me a caravan is the most sensible option.
Of course, it is also easy to list the factors against caravan living but much the same could be said for ‘tiny house’ living too. Whatever you’re living in requires that you have somewhere to put your home, and that isn’t necessarily cheap. If you can rent a small plot of land from a local farmer it may be fairly inexpensive but you still need to obtain water, electricity, gas and dispose of your waste – both sewage and rubbish.
For caravanners, the obvious place to park your caravan is on a caravan site which will have all the facilities you require. Even so, site fees won’t be cheap and may be even more than renting a building as your home – although your total outgoings may be a lot less.
Unlike a fixed ‘tiny house’, the greatest advantage of living in a caravan is that you can take your home with you wherever you want to travel – or you have the option of leaving it in one place where you may be able to negotiate a lower site rental for a long term stay – or rent a ‘seasonal’ pitch.
We met an Englishman who lived in his caravan, permanently, on a site in Germany. His site fees were very low because he was a resident there all the time and he also helped-out with running the site and doing maintenance work. He was a very helpful chap and being fluent in German was a great help to us when we needed something technical for our caravan – he came with us to the store and spoke on our behalf.
In 1990, I met a couple who’d been living in their caravan for 12 years. They spent the winters in southern Spain, then toured Europe during the better weather. They said the great thing was that they could wake up in the morning and one of them might say “Let’s go to Italy” and off they would go. What a wonderful way to live. They said it was the best thing they’d ever done and never regretted it for a moment. I hope we can do that one day. That really is my dream. In fact I love my caravan, my tiny home.