You might not have heard of Camplify, but you are likely soon to see the name more often.
Camplify is a commercial service that hires out motorhomes and caravans across Australia. Over the past decade, it has become a popular way for caravan owners to rent them out when not using them themselves.
Over the past couple of years, though, the demographic of those doing the hiring has significantly changed. Usually targeting holiday-makers, Camplify is increasingly being used by victims of disaster – in particular, floods and the pandemic.
The floods that devasted north-east Australia earlier this year have displaced many from their homes. Some have returned. Others are unable to do so because their former residences remain unliveable.
For some, the solution has been to rent caravans or motorhomes. And for the owners, those caravans and motorhomes have provided them with a financial boon.
The Camplify website tells owners they can “earn up to $10k per year”, but for some owners $10,000 has turned out to be a lower limit.
One owner, Karen Stutt, has collected $35,000 in rent in just two years. Another, Karen Price, has earned $6000 in three months – or $24,000 a year – more than double the figure spruiked by Camplify.
But it isn’t just flood victims who are making use of what has been described as Airbnb for caravans. The pandemic has driven traffic to caravans and motorhomes in two ways.
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The first of those could be considered somewhat of a good news story for all involved. As a result of international border closures, many Australians have sought out alternative holiday itineraries. A solid proportion of those have opted for the caravan or motorhome option.
It’s a win-win situation for hirer and owner.
However, others taking up the caravan option as a result of COVID are doing so because it is their only affordable option.
Just last month Mission Australia reported that almost one in 20 young people (aged 15 to 19) were homeless for the first time during the pandemic. This is a significant increase on 2017 figures, when almost one in 25 young people had been pushed into first-time homelessness.
That situation is probably better summed up as ‘win-survive’, rather than win-win.
Any measure that helps alleviate homelessness is obviously a good thing. But caravans and motorhomes are, for the vast majority, far from being a long-term solution.
Just last month, YourLifeChoices reported that, despite an escalation in homelessness, more than a million Australian homes remain vacant.
Despite that staggering figure, the country’s rental market is feeling the squeeze and many potential renters unable to find a house or apartment. Michelle Weston, from the Caravan Parks Association of Queensland, believes better solutions need to be found.
“I think the government needs to step up and look at how they can fill some of those gaps,” she said.
In the meantime, if you are lucky enough to have a caravan currently sitting idle, you might have an extra income stream waiting there for you.
Have you rented out your caravan? Or have you been forced to hire one? Why not share your experience and thoughts in the comments section below?
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