A Brisbane woman, who said she was sick of paying rent on an apartment she never spent any time in, now calls a house truck – one she’s dubbed ‘Harry’ – home.
Chrissy Junge, 28, isn’t a nomadic newcomer either. She may have been living her freewheeling life for close to two years, but she also holds down a full-time job.
Here, Ms Junge tells why she decided to pack up her life and live in a van ‘on a whim’ – and how she has been surprised at how easy it was.
While her rent on her one-bedroom apartment wasn’t out of her price range, Ms Junge said that part of her decision to leave was that she spent so little time there.
‘I was always out either staying at friend’s houses or camping and when I did come home it was just to water my dead plants and blow the dust off everything,’ she explained.
Ahead of her decision to leave her flat, Ms Junge said she started carrying around a few things with her in a backpack including a toothbrush and a change of clothes.
‘I started to feel a bit freer and wondered what it would be like to have a bed with me as well,’ she said.
The 28-year-old said she toyed with the idea of getting a tent or setting up home on a ute but eventually settled on the idea of buying a van.
Ms Junge’s first purchase in May 2015 was a AUD $4,500 avocado green 1997 Nissan Urvan E20, one she said she wanted to keep forever.
Though she loved her new life in her vintage van, she said, unfortunately, her home affectionately known as the Tortoise, turned out to be a ‘lemon’.
‘I kept getting it repaired and it went through three engines in nine months,’ she said.
Ms Junge revealed she spent a total of $12,000 over the course of the van’s life, and in the end sold it for parts for a mere $1,500.
But rather than call it quits after the setback, Ms Junge simply found another four-wheeled home, a 2000 Mazda T4600 truck she bought for $13,000.
She flew to Adelaide to collect the truck – one she affectionately dubbed ‘Harry’ – and made the 2000 kilometre journey back to Queensland – alone.
The adventurous Ms Junge said it was her first real taste of life on the road, and one that left her wanting more.
She revealed the truck was an empty shell at this point, and far from the comfortable home she’s since created.
‘In the beginning, I didn’t have lights, running water or a bed, she said.
A friend helped get started on her ‘renovations’ by building a loft-style bed, and from there she said she was set.
The self-taught builder, plumber and electrician has since fitted out her home with windows and has insulated the walls to keep Harry cool.
All up she revealed she’s spent close to $5,000 and is not finished yet.
Her home sports timber flooring, a 300-litre water tank, cabinets, lighting and stylish touches like wallpaper and curtains.
While Ms Junge embraces a nomadic life, she also holds down a full-time job as a manager in a pet store.
But every night she said she makes the effort to drive somewhere different, just for the pleasure of waking up somewhere in ‘nice in nature’.
‘I usually park at beaches, forests, lakes or boat ramps. I sometimes stay at overnight camping grounds or occasionally outside friends’ houses.
‘If I have the weekend off I will drive over to the Sunshine Coast and sleep on the beach, I pretty much do whatever works with my plans.’
Though ‘Harry’ hasn’t been fitted out with a composting toilet or a shower yet, the 28-year-old is familiar with campsites around the city which have facilities, and there’s her gym membership which she said is always good for a long, hot shower.
There aren’t many downsides to Ms Junge’s life, however, she did admit there had been the occasional night where she’s felt a bit nervous.
‘I did have a bit of a scary thing happen recently when I was parked on a dirt road. A random car pulled up to me in the middle of the night and started squealing.’
Ms Junge explained that because of the truck’s design she couldn’t get into the front seat to drive away. But because she takes self-defence classes she’d armed herself with a few handy objects – just in case.
‘I do have locks on all my doors as well so it would be hard work to break in,’ she said.
Ms Junge maintains her decision to move into her mobile home wasn’t financial.
‘I was to live my dream,’ she said. ‘And it was something I really wanted to do.’
From time to time she said she house-sits for friends but said this wasn’t enough for her to think about leaving her life.
‘If I stay more than a week or two I get quite antsy and I just want my freedom again.’
While Ms Junge plans to stay in Brisbane for now, she said she’d like to travel around Australia in her house truck and possibly turn her experience into a documentary.
Those considering embracing a similar lifestyle, Ms Junge said the benefits continued to outweigh any discomforts.
‘Sometimes I feel like a millionaire,’ she said before adding: ‘I will wake up and be right on the river or right on the beach and I can hear the waves.
‘I can just open the doors and have a cup of tea and read a book.
‘And I can’t even think of how much happier I could be,’ she concluded.
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