Caravan life eases stress

Terena Letham, has no regrets about living in a caravan in Mosgiel. Photos by Linda Robertson.
Terena Letham, has no regrets about living in a caravan in Mosgiel. Photos by Linda Robertson.
Growing financial and lifestyle pressures, and a yearning for freedom, have led Mosgiel resident Terena Letham to spend much of the past four years living happily in a caravan, including at the Mosgiel Caravan Park.

Ms Letham (53) and her partner, Richard Wallis, were previously paying more than $350 a week for a rented house in Concord.

But both were finding the rising costs of living hard to handle, and Mr Wallis, a shift worker, also found it hard to take a break, even at the weekend, because the property had to be maintained, and lawns mowed.

Between them, Ms Letham and her partner have a large extended family, including nine children.

The couple love their children and extended family dearly, but after years of child-rearing decided it was time for a change, Ms Letham said.

''We just felt it was time for us now.''

After discussing it, the couple decided to downsize, cut fixed costs and house-owning chores, and have more time to themselves.

Margaret McConnanchie.
Margaret McConnanchie.
And family members have generally accepted the changes. Some even enjoyed a shared Christmas dinner at the Gordon Rd caravan park.

The couple still likes the freedom, their ability to hitch up their caravan and ''go where we want to go''.

After six months initially living in a small English caravan, the couple decided they needed something bigger and paid $55,000 for a much bigger 8m-long Australian-made caravan.

All the comforts of home include a large, modern television set, electric stove and internet.

And their caravan stay fixed costs are less than half what they faced when they were renting.

Ms Letham enjoys spending some time at the caravan park, where everyone looks out for everyone else and there is a good village feel.

Recently, there were 11 caravans on site.

Margaret McConnachie, a friend of Ms Letham, was also attracted to caravan life by a mix of financial pressures and the lure of freedom.

Ms McConnachie, who is also staying at the park at the moment, previously owned her own North Taieri home but last year found the mortgage payments and other substantial living costs too tough.

And she had moved into a caravan after workplace restructuring cut her working hours and she had found herself temporarily ''on the edge'' financially.

Her working hours have since increased and her overall fortunes have also much improved, but she still enjoys the lower costs and the ability to move on whenever she likes.

Paul Brooks, who leases the caravan park from the Dunedin City Council, said a wide range of people and caravans used the facility.

Caravans ranged in value from $5000 to $200,000. Some people stayed only one night, and some others stayed longer, but they were considerate, and looked out for each other.

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