Gold price

Meet the family-of-four who have lived in a tiny house on wheels for two years

Oct 1, 2022

A couple have revealed how they managed to break into the property market and ditch their lives in the fast lane by buying a tiny house for their young family.

Fatima, 33, and Croyden, 35, Wheeler moved from their pricey rental in Labrador, on the Gold Coast, in August 2020 and haven't looked back since.

Speaking to FEMAIL Fatima revealed the couple's fitness business took a hit in the early days of the pandemic, forcing them to take a good look at their finances.

Fatima and Croyden Wheeler decided to move into a tiny house on the Gold Coast in August 2020 - they are pictured with their son Zephyr, two, and daughter Zola who was born at the house eight months ago

Fatima and Croyden Wheeler decided to move into a tiny house on the Gold Coast in August 2020 - they are pictured with their son Zephyr, two, and daughter Zola who was born at the house eight months ago

The home has all of the living areas on the bottom floor and two loft bedrooms

The home has all of the living areas on the bottom floor and two loft bedrooms

The couple have added a deck and done some landscaping to make the plot feel more like home - the golden cane palms are in pots so can be moved along with the home

The couple have added a deck and done some landscaping to make the plot feel more like home - the golden cane palms are in pots so can be moved along with the home

'We knew we couldn't keep paying this rent, thousands of dollars a month, when all our clients were dropping off,' she said.

Their solution: to pool their funds and buy a $100,000 tiny home which would allow them to live off the grid with infant son Zephyr, now 2.

'It was great for us because it meant we could have our own home, mortgage-free,' Fatima said. 

They then searched for some land to park their new home - sending dozens of requests to people with acreages in their preferred districts.

And to their delight one landowner replied, offering them a prime water-front spot for just $200-per-week which includes town water and electricity.

'The land lease we have is magic, we love being by the river,' Fatima said, 

The bedrooms are connected by this crawl space - which is netted in for safety

The bedrooms are connected by this crawl space - which is netted in for safety

The two bedrooms mean there's plenty of space for the growing family-of-four

The two bedrooms mean there's plenty of space for the growing family-of-four

Since moving to the tiny home the couple have been able to work less - because they aren't paying as much to live each week

Since moving to the tiny home the couple have been able to work less - because they aren't paying as much to live each week

It took three months for the couple to finalise the details, have their new two-bedroom home built and transition away from being highly-strung business owners.

'We are working less and have more time with our family. Croyden is helping a friend with his gardening business and I have got my own business facilitating mother's blessing ceremonies - which is an alternative to baby showers,' she said.

Croyden's experience landscaping meant he could extend the family's living area by building a deck and planting a garden.

'I love living here, I love how easy it is to clean and it is super homely and comfortable.'

House rent rises in Australia's capital cities during the past year 

SYDNEY: Up 17.1 per cent to $766.70 a week

MELBOURNE: Up 6.5 per cent to $547.10 a week

BRISBANE: Up 19.5 per cent to $570.80 a week

PERTH: Up 13.7 per cent to $575.70 a week

ADELAIDE: Up 15.6 per cent to $494.40 a week

CANBERRA: Up 16.4 per cent to $768.30 a week

DARWIN: Up 4.7 per cent to $611.10 a week

HOBART: Up 4.5 per cent to $511 a week

The Gold Coast has also seen a steep increase

The average price of an apartment is $649 per week while a home is $963 per week. This is up from $451 and $587 respectively in December 2019.

Source: SQM Research median weekly house rents data showing annual increases in the year to March 2022

The kitchen looks out onto the deck - the home is plugged into mains power which is included in the weekly rent the couple pay for the land

The kitchen looks out onto the deck - the home is plugged into mains power which is included in the weekly rent the couple pay for the land

Their personal plot is on the river - which allows them to live the lifestyle they have always wanted

Their personal plot is on the river - which allows them to live the lifestyle they have always wanted

The kitchen includes all the mod cons and has plenty of space - a must for the family

The kitchen includes all the mod cons and has plenty of space - a must for the family

Just over a year after moving into the home the family of three welcomed a new addition, Zola.

The baby girl was born on the property in a purpose-built space next to the family's home.

'It was the best day of my life,' Fatima said.

And it appears the tiny home is still big enough for the family-of-four who are thriving.

The couple have a modern bathroom in their tiny home - the key difference is they use a compost toilet

The couple have a modern bathroom in their tiny home - the key difference is they use a compost toilet

They spend a lot of their time outside - which means it can be difficult when the weather isn't good

They spend a lot of their time outside - which means it can be difficult when the weather isn't good

'Our babies love crawling around the loft area together,' she said.

But it isn't always easy - the recent wet weather has meant the family haven't been able to spend as much time outside as usual.

'Rainy days are tough. With two little ones we find it a little difficult to keep inside all day however we have family down the road so we can always go there,' she said.

The mum says the space can also get messy quickly - but that it isn't a big deal because it doesn't take long to clean.

The couple are one of thousands who have moved into a tiny house following the onset of the pandemic

The couple are one of thousands who have moved into a tiny house following the onset of the pandemic

They are able to grow vegetables at home - something Zephyr loves to help with

They are able to grow vegetables at home - something Zephyr loves to help with

Her children are also able to help in the garden and love growing their own vegetables.

Fatima and Croyden have a changed outlook on life now and are looking forward to travelling with their children before they head to school.

They have been able to save money on rent since moving to the plot and will soon set off to Mexico - the starting point for a year of travel. 

Zephyr shows off his room which has plenty of storage for everything a two-year-old boy needs

Zephyr shows off his room which has plenty of storage for everything a two-year-old boy needs

The home is built on a trailer - which means it can be moved to another block if need be

The home is built on a trailer - which means it can be moved to another block if need be

The couples house on wheels was built by Queensland company, Aussie Tiny Houses, which have been making tiny homes for five years.

It sits on a tri-axle trailer and measures 7.2m long, 2.4m wide, and 4.3m high.

The home has a compost toilet, grey water storage and rain water storage.

A similar tiny house would cost about $140,000 more now, due to increased demand and a shortage in labour and supplies across the building image. 

What regulations apply to having a tiny house in Australia? 

At the moment there is no uniform law when it comes to tiny houses in Australia. 

Each state has different rules, and many councils have their own guidelines which must be met.

Some general rules by state are below:

NEW SOUTH WALES

A tiny house can be either: 

A- a small dwelling house under 50m2 built on the lot; or 

B - a small dwelling house built on a trailer (similar to a caravan). 

As the tiny house is built on a trailer it has the capability of being registered under the Road Transport Act. Tiny dwellings can be designed and built using green principles and provide affordable housing whilst minimising the urban footprint. 

They are emerging in varying forms and locations, such as granny flats (or secondary dwellings) to complement existing housing, groupings of dwellings in established urban areas, converted sheds and beach shacks on larger, isolated properties, and in mobile caravan formats.

In most cases, if a tiny house is RMS registered as a trailer, no DA approval is required to put it in your backyard or on your property, if you meet certain exemptions. 

In summary, NSW legislation may permit you to have no more than two caravans, campervans or tents if you plan for someone to stay in them for a short-term (up to 48 hours at a time) for no more than 60 days a year.

 Or you can have no more than one caravan, campervan or tent if you plan to have someone that is a member of your household live in it on a long-term basis, only when you have an approved dwelling house already on the lot. The tiny house is to be maintained in a safe and healthy condition.

 Or you plan to use it on pastoral or agricultural land, so long as it is merely occupied seasonally by persons employed in pastoral or agricultural operations on the land. 

Source: Lake Macquarie Council 

QUEENSLAND

Options include:

1) Setting up in the backyard 

A tiny house on the same lot as a 'main dwelling' can be classified as a granny flat. Granny flats have their own size and structure regulations (set by the local council).

While you'll need to get a granny flat approved by a private certifier, you won't necessarily have to get council approval, which is a huge advantage of choosing this option.

Just be careful that the combined number of occupants in the tiny house and main property doesn't exceed the local council's limits. In Brisbane, for example, only five unrelated people are allowed to dwell on the same lot.

2) Setting up on a vacant lot 

If you build your tiny house on a vacant lot, you'll need to have your construction approved by the local council. This means you'll have to conform to the building codes that apply to regular houses including minimum sizes, smoke alarm rules, plumbing and electrical standards and more.

3) On wheels 

Once your home has wheels it is no longer a 'permanent structure' and instead is classified as a caravan or light truck.

No matter where you roam in Australia, you'll need to comply with the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989.

In addition to this, you'll need to comply with state laws relating to movable dwellings. In Queensland, these include the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 and the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995.

Source: Phoenix Law 

VICTORIA

There are currently three main options in Victoria for locating a tiny house:

1) In a backyard as a 'dependent person's unit'. More commonly known as a 'granny flat', the unit must be moveable and house a genuine dependent.

2) As an approved second dwelling on your lot. This option requires a planning permit as well as compliance with Rescode and the building code. This option is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve as current planning policies refer to dwellings of regular size rather than tiny houses and the creation of tiny house lots would be similarly onerous.

3) In a caravan park — caravan parks are rare in urban areas and often lack amenity.

Source: Hansen


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