Tiny home on the road: Aussie family-of-five living mortgage-free after downsizing to a caravan

Tiny home on the road: Aussie family-of-five living mortgage-free after downsizing to a caravan
  • PublishedJune 24, 2024

‘Living on the road turned out to be more affordable for us than having a fixed home.’

Jack and Amy Bell have been on a never-ending road trip with their three kids for five years now.

And the Queensland family-of-five have no plans to stop travelling anytime soon.

So far, Amy and Jack have clocked up more than 150,000km in their caravan exploring every part of Australia with daughter Elsie, 7, and sons Henry, 5, and Ralph, 3.

To fund their permanent holiday, Amy, 30, and Jack, 31, sold their home and kept an investment property as a “back-up plan”.

Over the years, the family have sustained their adventures by running a full-time shopfitting business along the way.

Jack takes care of the tools, while Amy manages the office side of things while homeschooling the kids on the road.

The Bell family have been traveling around Australia for the past five years.
The couple with their children Elsie, 7, Henry, 5, and Ralph, 3.

“Living on the road turned out to be more affordable for us than having a fixed home,” Amy tells 7Life.

Prior to travelling, Jack worked full-time as a shopfitter while Amy was a teacher’s aide.

The couple decided to hit the road and explore their own backyard because they wanted a break from their busy lives.

“We had been managing a mortgage since we were 18, a full house renovation, working full-time, getting married, and raising two children. It was time for us to enjoy some quality family time after years of hard work,” she says.

The pair sold the Gold Coast property they had renovated and used the funds to purchase a caravan.

“We also kept an investment property in Brisbane as a back-up plan,” Amy says.

The family quickly discovered living on the road was much more affordable for them than having a fixed address.

The family quickly discovered life on the road was more affordable for them than having a fixed home.
Over the past five years, the family has travelled more than 150,000km exploring every state in Australia.
Over the past five years, the family has travelled more than 150,000km exploring every state in Australia. Credit: Jack & Amy Bell

“As we work and travel, we pick up opportunities for work all across Australia,” Amy explains.

“Instead of Jack needing separate accommodation for work, we all travel together in our caravan — eliminating the need for a mortgage payment.

“This new way of life has opened up incredible possibilities for our family.”

Over the past five years, the family has travelled more than 150,000km — exploring every state in Australia multiple times.

However, the couple says downsizing to a smaller space was challenging at first.

“Downsizing to a caravan took some time to get used to, especially with young children and spending so much time together as a couple,” she says.

“After we completed our lap of Australia, we decided to upgrade our set-up to live on the road permanently.

Fishing has become a big part of the Bell family’s life.
What makes the challenges worth it is ‘waking up to a new location every day,’ Amy says.

“We now have an Isuzu truck that is divided into two sections.

“One side is equipped with all the tools needed for our shopfitting jobs, while the other side is set up for travel, complete with a fridge, drop-down kitchen, and plenty of fun stuff for the kids.

“We also upgraded our caravan to a spacious 23ft Lotus, which handles off-road adventures like a dream.

“One thing Jack struggled to give up was his boat. With the truck, we have the option to carry a decent-sized boat on top.”

Amy says fishing and exploring in the boat have become integral parts of the family’s travel experience and they “couldn’t imagine travelling without it”.

“Downsizing to a caravan has changed our perspective on life,” she says.

“We have realised how little we actually need. When we eventually settle down, we plan to opt for a smaller property that requires less cleaning and maintenance.”

Three-year-old Ralph loves exploring on their family adventures.
Three-year-old Ralph loves exploring on their family adventures. Credit: Jack & Amy Bell
Amy with Elsie, Henry and Ralph at the beach.

When it comes to budgeting, Amy says it can be a challenge as their weeks vary greatly.

“Some weeks, we are focused on work and spend minimally, while other weeks involve long drives and stops to explore along the way,” she says.

While there are challenges on the road, the family have found ways to overcome them.

One of the hardest parts was not being close to their loved ones.

“Missing family is one challenge but they often visit us, making those reunions extra special. Technology has also been a great help, allowing us to FaceTime and stay connected,” Amy says.

“Managing appointments can be a challenge, but with Telehealth we have weekly Zoom appointments.”

The family have clocked up more than 150,000km in their caravan.
The family love to explore the ocean in their boat.
The family love to explore the ocean in their boat. Credit: Jack & Amy Bell

What makes the challenges worth it is being able to wake up to a new location every day.

“Whether it’s an ocean view or mountains, there’s always something new for the kids to explore and have fun with,” Amy says.

A typical day for the family starts with coffee, getting the kids ready and then an hour of homeschooling.

“The kids like to make their own breakfast and then get dressed,” she says.

“We enjoy some TV, have breakfast, and then dive into homeschooling.”

Amy homeschools the kids, before they spend the rest of the afternoon adventuring and swimming.
The family wake up to a new location every day.
The family wake up to a new location every day. Credit: Jack & Amy Bell

Once school is over, the family pack their bags and head off in the truck or boat to explore.

“We have lunch packed in the truck fridge, so we’re always prepared for wherever the day takes us,” Amy says.

If they have work to do, Jack leaves early and Amy and the kids take the morning at a slower pace.

Amy usually takes care of household tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and gathering content for their social media while the kids often play with friends or head to a swimming pool.

The family have no plans to stop travelling around Australia any time soon and says the past five years have “flown by”.

“We still have many more adventures ahead of us, but we also have a few remote places on our bucket list that we’re excited to visit,” Amy says.

Next on the family’s list is to explore Western Australia in more detail.

“It’s the state where we’ve spent the least amount of time, but it’s also the largest,” she says.

Henry with a fish he helped catch.
After an hour of homeschooling every day, the family go exploring.
After an hour of homeschooling every day, the family go exploring. Credit: Jack & Amy Bell

The couple already have an investment property renovation project lined up in Perth over Christmas, which they are looking forward to.

By sharing their story, the family hopes others are inspired to follow suit.

“Our advice to families considering a travel adventure is simple: just go for it,” Amy says.

“The timing will never feel perfect to leave behind the normalcy of everyday life, but the memories and experiences will be worth it.

“Don’t over plan and instead enjoy wherever the open road takes you.”

SOURCE: 7NEWS

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