Caravans, Tiny Houses, Boats and Grey Nomads

May 29, 2020

Living permanently in a caravan in a caravan park

On census night in 2016 almost 11,000 people in South East Queensland identified as living permanently in a caravan; mostly in caravan parks. This is in addition to tourists and other visitors (who have a home elsewhere) who are staying in a caravan or tent on census night.

If this interests you, you can either buy a caravan and move it permanently to a caravan park or buy an existing caravan located on a permanent site. Site costs in caravan parks vary significantly, so do your research. Think ahead – do you think you might like to try a few parks? If so make sure your van is roadworthy and easy to move. The community and management in each park will also be different, so trying a park for a while is also a great idea before you make a firm decision. Tenancy Laws in Queensland cover permanent residents in caravan parks, whether they are renting a site only or a van owned by the park.

Tiny Houses

You will see these popping up on social media and TV – quirky beautiful little homes, often incorporating lofts and decks that offer a more stylish alternative to a traditional caravan. If the home is on wheels, then you will most likely be limited to caravan parks as a place to park your home and live permanently. Living permanently in a tiny home on your own land or a friend’s land could be problematic in most local government areas throughout Queensland. If the tiny house does not have wheels, then it could be installed as a secondary dwelling.

Grey Nomads

Another group of caravan dwellers are grey nomads, who are living for long periods of time (sometimes permanently) in their caravans or motorhomes and travel from place to place. For some people this is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream to get out on the road and slowly visit all that Australia has to offer, free from the restrictions of maintaining a home.

For others buying a caravan or camper van provides a way of touring, visiting friends and relations and possibly pursuing house sitting and seasonal work. Social media has enabled the development of an extensive grey nomad community across Australia which facilitates the sharing of information and advice.


Living aboard a boat permanently, either in a marina or whilst travelling, is another option that many people dream about. Many of the issues surrounding this form of housing are the same as for caravans. Costs, however, are generally higher, especially for maintenance and insurance.

Know Your Rights and Responsibilities

As with all options careful research is needed. Key questions to ask:

  1. Am I looking for somewhere to live permanently or do I want to travel around?
  2. Do I want to live in this community? Have I looked around at what else is available?
  3. Do I understand the legal arrangements? What security do I have?
  4. What will I do if the park I move to stops allowing permanent residents?
  5. What will be the total cost of maintaining a caravan or motorhome (registration, maintenance, repairs, insurance, fuel)?
  6. What will I do if I can no longer keep travelling?


Discovery Holiday Parks

This is one example of a directory of Caravan Parks and sites available and can assist in narrowing your search for a site on an on site van or cabin.


A site for private sellers to advertise caravans on permanent sites. Caravans on permanent sites are often sold on this site - be cautious and have a trusted friend with you to investigate any options.

Camp Around Australia

This is one example of a directory of Caravan Parks and sites available and can assist in narrowing your search for a site on an on site van or cabin. An online directory of caravan parks showing parks, availability, cost and general conditions.

The Grey Nomads

This is one example of a site directed to Grey Nomads offering all sorts of information about moving around and where to stay An online directory of information for Grey Nomads. The site also profiles a number of members identifying the range of people who have adopted this lifestyle.

APIA Insurance

APIA is an insurance company however they provide a range of information including an interesting information for grey nomads on the “Pros and Cons” of becoming a Grey Nomad outlines a range of issues relevant to adopting the Grey Nomad lifestyle.


There are a range of free or very low cost camping sites around Australia. Facilities and conditions vary from site to site. A subscription (one off) based phone app with information on camping areas and other low cost accomodation around Australia.

Online camping at various price points on private land.