Ok, so what I am about to propose is just an idea. But I think its an awesome idea. Renting in Darwin is a real bummer because rents up here are one of the highest in all of the capital cities. I for one am living in the city and I’m paying 210 a week for one room. For me its not to bad because I literally live next door to work, which means I can walk to work in less then 2 minutes. No petrol, no car parking ticket, no car maintenance, no bike, no nothing nada… What if I could live rent free but it meant I had to live further out from work and I had to drastically downsize. Would I do it? You bet, and here’s how I think you can do it. Caravans and tents are regulated by the NT’s planning laws. Under the planning scheme, if you are a bonafide care taker of a piece of land you can live in your caravan forever, this includes tents. Here’s the clause –
Subclause 2 is where you want to pay attention.
If you can find an owner of a private property who travels away a lot and would like someone to look after his property while he is away but is hesitant to let you live in the house, you can strike up a deal with the owner and tell him/her you that you can be caretaker of their land by living in your own caravan or tent outside of the house. Now I haven’t done the statistics about this, so I have absolutely no idea how many people are actually invoking this clause in the planning laws but if it reads the way you understand it, I think it really is that simple. Pitch your tent or caravan and bobs your uncle.
If it were me I would only live in a backyard that had good coverage from busy body neighbours looking over the fence. While it’s not illegal, the idea does come off a little shady. The last thing you want to do is irk the authorities and make them ban this for everyone.
When I say caravan, you should let your imagination run wild. You already know under the planning laws it could also be a tent, but a caravan could also be a combie van if you really wanted it to be. At the end of every dry season all the overseas gap year backpacking students are trying to offload their camper vans which makes it a good time to find motivated buyers. If you live the minimal lifestyle, you should have no problems living in these conditions. For those who want a bit more luxury and who want to avoid the stigma of being labelled a cheapskate and who dislike the look of a caravan have a look at tumbleweed homes –
Admittedly, they are an American company but the good thing about tumbleweed homes is that they have downloadable plans which you can use to build one yourself. If you do go the DIY route, the estimated price is only $16K!! not expensive at all and much cheaper than your caravan, but considering you are building it in the NT, it might be like 20K once you add the NT premium. If you can build a cubby house, you can build a tumbleweed home.
If this idea doesn’t tickle your fancy, you could always try being a housekeeper for free rent, but that’s another post