Living in a caravan - can you survive?
Living in a caravan is something I can relate to... not only have I helped a few of our customers into their caravan homes but i've also dabbled in caravan living myself. So here is my story, get inspired - if i can survive, so can you! Learn from my mistakes and ensure you flourish in your caravan living experience.
The opportunity to build a new home was my version of the lifetime dream. As the time drew closer to this adventure a few challengers understandably presented themselves.
First, how were we going to project manage the build? Working full-time in a busy industry that demands my attention meant I was worried that time away from the build would result in something not closely resembled to our vision. A vision which was close to my heart. A relaxed and welcoming beach home that friends and family could enjoy with us. Where would we live that was close enough to the build site to enable this protection of my vision?
Second was the cat. An overstayer who didn't leave when the kids did, but rather stayed in our care. Now that the families cat was 100% my responsibility, I felt pressured that this 13 year old cat wouldn't survive another move, another home in another location.
Being a part of the motorhome and caravan industry for over 12 years meant mean that I fairly quickly found my answer...
Full time caravan living!
We would find a suitable caravan for permanent living, live full time onsite and most importantly maintain the stability of our lives, including of course the cats!
So my life living in a caravan quickly commenced. I started off positive and excited telling my partner that this could feel like a holiday adventure.... Here we go Hi Di Hi Campers!
Reality quickly set in when we realised that we'd need to move all of our belongings into something smaller. For us and all of our things this just was never going to happen. So we packed our things into boxes, filled the double garage already onsite and decided an additional insulated container was a must.
Moving our larger furniture was an event in itself but lucky for us the faithful boat tractor with a forklift attachment made the transfers across our wet, muddy section a little easier.
Then just like that the old house was gone (demolished to make way for the dream house) and replaced with a double car garage, shipping container and a 2004 5.5m caravan.
Some tips from our experience:
You quickly learn what creature comforts are important when you move from a house to a caravan full-time. Some tips from our time in the caravan might help you to buy the right caravan for living full time:
- The bed is very important - we invested after the first night in a new proper mattress. Not all caravans will come with a proper mattress and a comfortable bed and this is critical. We have always been used to a large queen sized bed and it certainly took time to adjust to the space. With two adults and a traumatised cat squeezed into the small double french bed there certainly wasn't much room leftover!
- Kitchen space- Our caravan was more than likely not the best choice in terms of kitchen space and as a result I found it hard to cook in. It wasn't very functional and we found ourselves eating out much more than usual. Something that is not sustainable for permanent full-time living.
- My final learning curve was the bathroom. During the warmer months we coped with the combined shower and cassette toilet, however as the winter arrived, standing in this enclosed area wasn't my idea of fun and I dreaded the morning routine. Separate shower with a heated bathroom is a must!
- A 22L cassette will need to be emptied every few days so do keep this in mind when making the final decisions (it could be worth keeping access to a sewer-line if you are permanent siting the caravan- all things TrailLite can guide you on).
- Of course if you are keen to learn more about caravanning download our beginners guide to caravanning.
Of course deciding how you plan to use the caravan and then developing some non-negotiables is something we discuss on a regular basis with our customers. It is important to get clear on what they need in a caravan in order to achieve their chosen lifestyle. In my case I didn't follow my own great advise and now, from experience, understand just how important not compromising really is!
Remember not all caravans are created equal and some models, floor plans and brands are going to be far better for full-time living than others. Be sure to speak to a product consultant that understands your dream and your plan. There is no point getting a caravan to full-time live that isn't going to suit the needs of someone making it their permanent home. Ask me questions - i'm more than happy to help!
You will also be pleased to hear that it was a very cost-effective solution - what we paid for the caravan we got back when we sold it. The cat survived and we now have our dream home at the beach where friends and family regularly come to stay and our TrailLite family toot as they pass on their way to the beautiful Kaiaua Coast.