Mandurah woman stops renting and turns central Mandurah caravan park into dream home

In the midst of a global pandemic, the rental market is more unpredictable and unstable than ever. Many are seeking an alternative way of living.

Mandurah resident Cathy Young was tired of being a tenant. After renting for a number of years, she found herself at a turning point after her two older children moved out of home.

LIFESTYLE: Cathy Young found herself open to a new lifestyle after her two older children moved out. She bought herself a caravan. Photo: Supplied.

LIFESTYLE: Cathy Young found herself open to a new lifestyle after her two older children moved out. She bought herself a caravan. Photo: Supplied.

"I was renting with two of my older kids. One was at university and the other one was working," Cathy said. "My son ended up moving to Kalgoorlie and my daughter was just about to finish uni and move."

Cathy and her children were living in a four-bedroom house with a pool and five lawns to mow.

"It was never ending work," she said. "I was working six days a week, sometimes seven - and then I had this house to maintain. I never had a day off."

One day, when Cathy was scrolling through social media, she saw an advertisement for an on-site caravan for sale.

"I saw the ad and I thought... huh... I could do that. I'm on my own, the kids have moved - what do I need a whole house for?"

Cathy said buying a caravan had never been on the horizon for her before.

"It had never even entered my mind before I saw the ad," she said. "I went to go see the van. I didn't actually buy that one, but I bought a different one not long after."

When she first moved, Cathy said she set her van up at a small site that had a tiny garden. "It's the best thing I ever did. I started to enjoy my days off," she said. "I'd walk in, do about five minutes of housework and be done."

A few years ago, Cathy moved her van to a larger site at a central Mandurah caravan park with a huge garden - where she built a deck and a patio space.

FREEDOM: Cathy has built a big deck and patio where she can enjoy time outside, soaking up the sun. Photo: Supplied.

FREEDOM: Cathy has built a big deck and patio where she can enjoy time outside, soaking up the sun. Photo: Supplied.

"It's amazing. I am always renovating - I've stage by stage gutted out each section and made it new. I've built things, painted, moved things around."

Cathy said perhaps her favourite part of the lifestyle was the community.

"The site where I live is incredible," she said. "We call ourselves the party group."

Cathy explained that her little community loved to have Friday night drinks, barbecues, birthday parties and get togethers.

"Sometimes there are 10 of us and sometimes there are 30 of us," she said. "Everyone is welcome to come and go as they please. We all know when everyone's birthday is. There's always someone to talk to - it's the best."

Last year, Cathy had to stop work for medical reasons - and her new lifestyle made the process so much easier.

RENOVATOR: Cathy has designed her garden and van just the way she likes it, making it a home she loves to come home to. Photo: Supplied.

RENOVATOR: Cathy has designed her garden and van just the way she likes it, making it a home she loves to come home to. Photo: Supplied.

"I don't know how I fit it all in - with how much I worked before," she said. "I haven't gotten bored yet - there is always something to do or something to renovate."

Cathy said the community was different to most residential communities.

"We cook for each other sometimes - we ask if anyone needs anything. You choose how involved you want to be, you can be as social or as private as you like."

She advised anyone struggling in the rental market to consider buying their own caravan to set up at a site. "It's a little nest egg - it's yours and you can do what you want with it. And when you want to go away, you just lock it up and go."

Cathy has built a beautiful life for herself. Her days are spent completing projects, seeing friends and enjoying her space that she has customised just the way she likes it.

"The only thing missing in my life will be a fur baby (dog) to enjoy this great lifestyle with me," she said.