Rent and mortgage payments make up the majority of our monthly outgoings and in many locations around the UK, this can even account for over 50% of our bills. It's no surprise that families and individuals are looking for other housing alternatives, from van dwellers to shipping container “cities”. Caravans have always been a popular choice for British holiday-goers, but could you move into one permanently?
There are many people around the UK who already live in caravans and have done so for decades, even before the modern, luxury caravans that are now available. It offers an interesting reflection on the type of changes that caravan living could bring to your life. Allowing you more disposable income or even gaining you increased levels of downtime by reducing the amount of household maintenance you need to carry out.
While you may jump at the idea of gaining more time or increasing your ‘pocket money', there are several factors to consider carefully before you decide to move into a caravan.
Location is a key point to consider when looking at caravan living as there are laws in place across the UK that restrict hitching up a caravan in any open space. These restrictions can even extend to land you own, often requiring permission from your local council before you can set up even temporary caravan accommodation.
There is a whole range of caravan sites across the UK, ranging from coastal locations to city outskirts, however not all of them will be available for residential lodgings. Holiday sites, for instance, are only open an average of 9-11 months of the year, meaning that even if you could live on-site, there would be several months you are expected to vacate. These sites won't allow you to use the site address as a residential one either, so you won't be able to receive certain post or be eligible for the electoral roll.
Additionally, licensed residential park homes have been designed for permanent living and will have better resources available to residents over a park set up for temporary holiday accommodations. Residential sites must also follow The Mobile Homes Act, most recently amended in 2013, which offers protection for residents against dramatically increased pitch fees or site rules that may interfere with reselling their residential caravan.
Caravans have evolved over the years – gone are the days of half size cookers, sinks and showers; instead, modern-day static caravans have a whole host of luxuries on offer, from full-size kitchens, well-equipped bathrooms and spacious dining areas.
You'll also have to consider the loss of storage space that comes with caravan life and may need to adjust to a more minimal lifestyle. While caravans can offer a true home-from-home feeling, there are still compromises which may need to be made.
Depending on the calibre of your caravan, you may find yourself without typical home heating. Although many static caravans have the option for central heating to be added, there are some older models (and touring caravans) in which this wouldn't be practical.
Turning to electric heaters can increase your bills, particularly if you are living in a static caravan in winter where heat is required almost 24 hours a day. If you are looking at purchasing a sited, second-hand caravan, enquiring with the owners about their current heating system can be a good way to get an idea of your future bills.
While it doesn't reach unbearable temperatures very often in the UK, hot, muggy days can feel a bit suffocating without good air flow. Make sure the caravan you are considering has good ventilation options to prevent stuffy, uncomfortable summers.
While there are plenty of bills associated with a house, it can be easy to overlook the extra fees that come from caravan living. Site or pitch fees are the costs residents pay to the landowners to rent the land their caravan is sited on and can increase yearly. Additionally, when you come to sell your caravan, a 10% commission fee is payable to the site owner.
So, you've decided that caravan life is the life for you and your family and you are now looking for caravan sites. However, there is one more decision to take into account. Do you want to live in a static caravan or a touring caravan?
Static caravans will always be the cream of the crop, although semi-permanently sited (moving a static caravan can be an expensive process) static caravans are larger with full-size amenities. When buying a second-hand static caravan that is already sited, you don't need to worry about organising hook-ups for water or gas either. Additionally, static caravan residential parks are considered safe communities with all the necessary facilities on site.
Conversely, touring caravans offer more flexible living. As long as you have safe, legal parking to stay overnight, a touring caravan can be a lot more adventurous. Depending on your schedule, you could potentially be in a different place every night. The compromise is adjusting to smaller conditions, having to top up water supplies and having to dispose of your own wastewater.
While there are other factors that may sway your decision on living in a caravan, these are the determining aspects that can often make or break your choice. Living in a caravan isn't suitable for everyone but to some, it is the opportunity of a lifetime, where every day feels a little bit like a holiday. Otherwise, living in a caravan could be a temporary option for those looking for a change of pace, needing to downsize or just wanting to save a bit of money. Start planning your caravan life today!