Is it time caravan parks became tiny home parks?

Published: April 23, 2021

Many grey nomads have long been concerned at the ‘invasion’ of caravan parks by cabins … but worse could be on the way.

With owners chasing the big dollars, the number of sites for genuine travellers has gradually been eroded in many parks with higher-priced cabins ‘stealing’ their spots.

Now, a developer is reportedly snapping up caravan parks to fill them with tiny homes available for low-income households to rent — in what is claimed as a first for Australia.

Lei Feng, director of Preer Property Group, told that he got the idea on a trip to the US three years ago. There are an estimated 24 million Americans living in long-term housing in ‘trailer parks’ … and Mr Feng says it could work here.

He claims the Australian government isn’t addressing the housing affordability crisis and the tiny homes offer a ‘desperately needed solution’.

There are six caravan parks in the developer’s Victorian portfolio so far. The tiny homes are being offered for rent for between $200 and $230, compared to an average cost of $450 to lease a one-bedroom unit in Melbourne.

The developer told that there are almost 2500 caravan parks around Australia, with some owned by publicly-listed companies but most run by mum and dad operators.

“We can acquire those caravan parks as most owners are close to retirement age and start revamping the landscape, start replacing some of the old caravans by putting some brand new ones in that are a little more architecturally driven mobile homes,” Mr Feng told “Our job is to invest in the caravan parks … we don’t want to lock people in a tiny box and for them to never come out, we are going to crank up the quality of housing at the most affordable price.”

Tiny homes save on building costs as they are made in a factory and shipped to site. They are generally about 42sq m, and often include large windows to make the space feel bigger and big external decking.

  • Do you think caravan parks should slowly be ‘converted’ into low-cost housing options? Comment below.
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1 year ago

These parks should not be caravan parks if they are filled with cabins for permanent residents. If this is the case each cabin should be treated the same as units and should be rated individually by the council.

Cheryl Waugh
1 year ago

No I don’t think Caravan Parks should be turned into low cost housing options. It is a good idea but not at the expense of caravaners which since COVID has increased considerably. The number on the road is massive. You could be shooting your self in the foot if you convert to cabins/low cost housing as your town would loose out on the visiting public and income.

Ian Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheryl Waugh

If the Tiny home s are full of people what is the difference to the town if the park is full of caravans with people there is no logic in making that statement.

Sharon Walker
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Martin

The logic is that travellers only fill the parks one or two night spending on food and attractions then move on. A new wave of people then fill the parks spending again. Over and over the town is getting more money spent there. With permanent residents, they only spend once a week on ave.

1 year ago

Interest’s me why people go overseas to have their eyes opened. Bringing back idea’s which if only opened their eyes here, would see exactly that already flourishing in oz.
Caravan parks have been turfing permanent’s onto the street for years to built their own permanent residential housing in designated caravan parks.. reducing caravan sites availability.

Councils love it as more rates available to feed their coffers.
A park builds 10 tiny homes =10pans x pan rate =$$$ a lot more than 10 vans overnight each night of the week.
Add the building fee’s etc.. caravan’s become a side income.
Luckily there are still many parks who are caravan parks.

1 year ago

YES.. If climate change is something everyone wants then TINY is the future. Living tiny means less cleaning,less heating and cooling meaning less electricity and less energy usage. As well as the affordability issue that often ensues when trying to jump on the property ladder.
We downsized 3 years ago and Have settled on mobile home as our TINY lifestyle. We definitely need governments to open more Low cost parks.
They are too many tourist parks we couldn’t get into . THANKFULLY we found a permanent park.

1 year ago
Reply to  Rae

Rae, I totally agree with you.

Rod Gray
1 year ago

And the owners/managers wonder why so many like me, dont frequent high costing caravan parks that actually neglect the travelling public.
They complain about freecamping, low numbers but still never worried about taking business away from motels, hotels or B&B.
It soounds great, but not at the expense of caravaners.

1 year ago

Hardly use caravan parks.
Find using Stationstays better deal .Self sufficent .
can get deals 10 dollars a night, clean places to stay.the ones i have being.cheers roker

Coll Evans
1 year ago

Leave caravan parks alone, why do we continue to erase our way of life and the enjoyment that has been shared and passed down to generations holidays at great places and parks memories that kids have grown up with why do we as caravaners have to suffer and pay rip off prices because some greedy developers want to put mini houses in caravan parks. Can you imagine what these type of places will end up like. The person who went over to the USA didn’t elaborate on the standards of living and getos that may have established themselves.So leave caravan parks alone and go build your tiny houses elsewhere

1 year ago

Caravan Parks are purpose-built for travelers. If this is such a good idea, find any block of land and build tiny houses, and make the rents more reasonable. Do the homeless need to live on the beach or by a river? Probably they need to live closer to services. Something tells me these tiny houses are being built for more expensive tenants, not the poor. Snow job.

Ralf Steyer
1 year ago
Reply to  Angela

Totally agree with what your saying, build them on vacant land where they are needed on on prime tourist areas.
I see it as a money grab by a group that can see there is more money in it than caravaners.

William Frost
1 year ago
Reply to  Ralf Steyer

That’s damn good sense. Prime beachside and the likes is for holidaymakers that only get a few weeks a year to live the outdoors lifestyle.

1 year ago

And they will wonder why caravanners seek to free camp at the cost of caravan parks and local communities that disallow free camps.

1 year ago

This may sound like a new idea, but many caravan parks that we have stayed at for a few nights have had permanent residents. Usually it is an old immobile caravan with permanent annexe and small garden surrounding. In one or two parks, we have been the only travellers. Tiny houses are really just a variant on the cabins and caravans used in many CPs. What is of concern is the potential reduction of caravan spaces available in the regions that caravanners want to visit. Simple supply and demand should balance out the needs of permanent residents versus travellers.

Lesley Halligan
1 year ago
Reply to  StewG

Tiny houses are not a new concept, just a new name … I have friends who have an old caravan on site and they have added a permanent annex over the caravan and beside it … not much different from a tiny house and they did that 10 years ago

1 year ago

It may be feasible to put permanent dwellings in major city suburbs for permanent renters, but anything else should be left as short term spaces for people on holidays. After all, they’ve spent a considerable sum of money on their own accomodation & just need a reasonably priced spot to park it and use the amenities.

1 year ago

I lived in a caravan as kid in England and there was a real community atmosphere within the ‘park’.There were many ‘permanent ‘ caravan parks in the 50’s and 60’s which I’m sure produced low cost housing for people-like my family -who couldn’t afford to buy or rent a house.

Sharon Walker
1 year ago
Reply to  Jen

There is a need for community parks but not at the expense of travellers who also need a place to stop. There are many travellers permanently on the road too. Caravan parks are for campers.

1 year ago

caravan parks should be legislated as having a maximum % of on site semi /permanent accommodation that meets standards for hotels and motels, the other % for caravans as in the name caravan parks.

1 year ago

And if there are going to be tiny homes, where would they be built and who would build them?. Oh, that’s fairly obvious. Overseas with very limited local labour and wages to the locals. If they were to be built locally, I’d support the concept. As others have said, it’s not a new concept but we do not need to establish ghettos and sub standard social environments.

1 year ago

Once upon a time there was a requirement in many Local Government areas that the maximum stay i any caravan park administered by Council was three months then the resident had to move his van for at least one month before returning. That gradually became overlooked when the bean counters looked at off season vacancies. Perhaps this rule could be revived for all existing non permanent sites and all future parks

1 year ago

“The dogs are parking..err..barking___but the caravan move$ on.” ;^ )

Do you ever get the feelin’ you’ve been gypped in your travels? Hit the road by all mean$….but don’t do ya *block* coz it ain’t wurf it!

Jean Froggatt
1 year ago

Perhaps there needs to be a law passed that specifies the number of sites within a cp that can be used for cabin/tiny home. Say for instance 50% of sites must remain for travellers.

1 year ago

My husband & I are caravaners & have been traveling this awesome country for 9 months every year then go home for 3 months. It’s great that we can afford to do this, but there are many out there that cannot enjoy this cannot afford this lifestyle, with the astronomical rents that landlords are asking, so why not have parks with tiny houses that are more affordable to rent and less money with their utilities. I applaud whoever is doing this, because the government sure isn’t helping. I cannot fathom why some people seem to look down on ‘permanent residents’. It might not be their fault that their circumstances have changed. Everyone should have a bit of compassion and empathy for those less fortunate people

Lyn Robertson
1 year ago

50/50 cabins and caravan spaces for tourists.

Ron Micallef
1 year ago

Assuming that these “houses” need to be connected to all the services, the infrastructure cost would be the same wherever they are built. I think that every town that has a caravan park probably has a golf course. Why not redesign the Par4 or reduce the course from 18 to 9.? That would easily solve the problem , especially as the developer could pay some of the costs. There are probably many other parcels of under utilized land on the councils books which could also be used. I suggest an audit in each area before any permits are issued Otherwise , all those lucky enough to have a van may as well leave it in the driveway.

Evan robertson
1 year ago

We have avoided many parks due the high rate of permanents due to their reputations as full thefts and domestic violence. Is this going to just create more of these? We have also stayed in a couple where requirement is to move every three months ( seasonal work areas) and found them cheap and useful. The idea of cheap affordable housing is good but I think should be separate from caravan parks and zoned in housing area.

Martin Hall
1 year ago

 Mr Feng said, ‘Our job is to invest in the caravan parks’. But he really means by developing the US trailer type parks here in Australia, his business can make huge profits from mostly low socioeconomic people. These trailer parks in the US have a reputation of being ghettos full of unemployed and troubled people. Be it drugs, mental problems, antisocial behaviour, parolled ex prisoners. These people may never afford to get out of a trailer park.
These type of parks will gain a bad reputation and should never be allowed to be used by touring caravans and probably should be correctly labelled ‘Trailer Park’ as a warning!

Lance A Freeman
1 year ago

It seems that whenever someone proposes a free camping site with facilities to most councils it is the Caravan Park owners who object the loudest and quickest. This is understandable, it is after all their livelihood often with large investments involved with high maintenance costs. Yet the travelling Nomads seem to be saying that they do not want what the parks are offering and always grumble about the nightly costs imposed by them. I accept that there is a difference between the Grey Nomad and the family holiday seeker and quite a few parks have now become resorts catering for the latter in order to maintain a business. Unfortunately, this usually means even higher nightly rates giving the Greys more cause for grumbles. If park owners can secure permanent income from tiny house units and there is a demand for them, then perhaps councils may encounter less resistance to establishing more and better equipped free/low cost overnight stay areas. Win/win all round I think if handled properly. Resort-style parks for the holidaymaker, cheap accommodation for the lower-income or minimalist renter and safe facilities for the short stay traveller bringing the nomad dollar to the region. It needs coordination but with a bit of thought, everyone could benefit.

1 year ago

Is there much difference between tiny homes and permanent caravans? It’s possible that with today’s drug climate such types of housing could quickly become a nightmare to police.

Helen Stransky
1 year ago

I totally disagree wth making these caravan parks into tiny houses. An recent example is the Oasis in Windang where pensioners have been given 3 months to get out of their homes because they have only paid for their homes and don’t pay for the land. They have lived sometimes for over 20 years and now within such a short time they are forced to move and why. The Chinese like their pandemic are spreading. They have bought the property like the Darwin Port, like the island off Queensland and like everywhere you go they are the plague and taking over with or without their tiny houses and forcing us Aussies out of our homes because our government sooooo weak and won’t stop it because as other comments are made…… it means money. Do not let this happen and as commented we will create a loss of homes for our precious residents and ghettos for this environments as well. Let’s start looking after the pensioners who have paid their taxes all these years and thought they had their home for life. Lest We Forget.

Keith Whittaker
1 year ago

I fal to understand why more tiny container homes are out developed with shipping containers becoming ever cheaper. They are used a lot in Asia as apartments

1 year ago

It’s actually all down to local councils who do or do not permit tiny homes, cabins or only registered toable vehicles and tents. Councils have te power of yes or no.

Amanda Hunt
1 year ago

Personally, I think the Tiny Home Movement is here to stay, having now lived in our 24′ Motorhome for 3.5 years I understand the attraction, not only for those who for work or family reasons need to live in or near the major cities and struggle to pay Australia’s exorbitant rents but also those for whatever reason have found themselves priced out of the market or homeless, Tiny Homes gives them an opportunity to have or own a dwelling and pay minimal rent to “park” it somewhere. I agree that Caravan Parks are not the place for tiny homes (though a lot of the permanent dwellings in many Caravan Parks would possibly be better serviced by an attractive looking Tiny Home) Unfortunately our Government unlike others overseas has not had the foresight to provide and allow for Tiny Home villages. A large block of land on the outskirts of towns could provide a number of like minded individuals to start a Tiny Home Area or Eco Village. If councils would come on board Homeowners with large properties acreages farms etc. could earn some income from renting out some of their land. Lots of Tiny Home Dwellers want to be off grid, eco friendly, self supportive etc. Seems like a win win situation Farmers could have someone help out on their property, watchover it while they are away and even Homeowners in the city with large areas of land could benefit from having tenants without having to build granny flats or the like! Being full time in our Motorhome we now realise we do not miss all our belongings still in storage most of which our kids won’t want when we expire!

1 year ago

“large properties acreages farms etc. could earn some income from renting out some of their land.”

And when the land owners interests change? Same scenario as low income permanents and pensioners being turfed out since they do not own the land. It’s not a win, win situation and never will be.

We toyed with the thought of a 6 site Tiny home village, max stay 14 days, a Tiny experience to take away and contemplate.

As a permanent dwelling suggestion I don’t think a weekly rate of $230-$250 pw+ utilities+ maintainance is within the means of a single pensioner. There are a whole lot of grey nomads who are in reality homeless people who have found a way to have dignity. Having no, or very little, super effects more women in particular at this point in time.

Through our endeavours to turn our tiny village into reality I know that even $250 pw at the end of the day is an understated pie-in-the-sky figure. Mr Feing may be dreaming of gov subsidised rent if he calls it a housing solution. He also does not seem to be aware that Australia was full of trailer homes plugging the gaps for want of affordable housing – they were called caravan parks. You know, the ones council’s began regulating to prevent permanent dwelling followed by the cabin feaver trend. Only real way is subdividing land into well… Tiny lots. Then you can bet your bottom dollar that getting tiny rates and tiny utility supply fees is never going to tinywell happen.

Not a viable solution at all.

Eva Munton
1 month ago

Yes, but not just for grey nomads. We have a single mum with 3 kids going to live in a caravan park, but because of rules of only being allowed to stay for a certain amount of time means that they will have to move around constantly


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