Complete with a gas fire, TV and a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom, Joanne Searle's RV, or recreational vehicle, ticks nearly all of the same boxes as your average house.

But it comes with less than half the price tag.

"The rent is so reasonable, you couldn't ask for anything better, some people spend probably more on wine and cigarettes than we do rent," Ms Searle says.

It's a year since she sold everything and set out on the road for a more carefree lifestyle.

"When the housing market was all going ballistic in Tauranga I thought oh, as you do, I might jump on the bandwagon of that, cause our street was turning quite rental too."

And her house was snapped up in just two weeks.

"I came out of that thinking that was fantastic, we've made a good deal on that."

But then reality set in.

"It did feel like I had lost a bit of a security blanket."

Ms Searle had sold a new, stylish home.

"But I just thought, oh I am over it."

Over being a part of the current housing market - and she's not the only one.

Committee member of the Hawke's Bay branch of New Zealand Motor Caravan Association Yvonne McHenry says she has witnessed more and more people turning to this lifestyle.

"I think it's maybe the cost of things, because things are getting really tight now, you know your rates are going up and to buy a house you're paying a lot more now."

Staying at a caravan park can be as cheap as $3 per night - for more permanent residents they can pay as little as $160 a week to rent their park.

Mrs McHenry says many, like herself, see it as an opportunity to travel around New Zealand cost effectively, and come back to their home base. Others, like Ms Searle, have chosen the caravan life as their permanent residence.

"It's good because they don't have any nooses around their neck they don't have any rates to pay, insurance on the house, all the things, power, maintenance, all those sort of things," Mrs McHenry says.

Ms Searle says her power bills are not even half of what she used to pay in her previous home.


She says she wasn't in a state of "financial devastation" when she sold up in Tauranga.

Seasonal work drew her to Hawke's Bay and initially she had set out house hunting.

Finding things were "highly priced for what was available" she even considered buying a section, looking as far as Waipukurau.

But it quickly became clear there were more opportunities for her to choose the caravan life.

"[I] absolutely love the lifestyle that we've chosen, to me when we first did it, once again it was pretty spontaneous but it felt right...I walked in the door and thought oh my gosh, I love it and things just fell into place."

"[I'm] not interested in buying another house because we've got everything we need in here."

And for Ms Searle that's exactly the type of lifestyle she has set up for her retirement - low maintenance, less stress and nothing to do with New Zealand's current housing market.

Made with funding from