Rental crisis: How life changed forever for mum and kids forced into a tent

Lucy, 41, was forced to leave her $350-a-week accomodation, giving her no choice but to sleep in a tent with her two children.

On her first night sleeping in a tent with her two children on a rainy night in February, single mum Lucy remembers it being "really challenging".

"It was pretty hectic," she told Yahoo News Australia. "Because I didn't know how long I was going to be there. It was the middle of the wet season."

The mum of two was forced out of her rental property in Kuranda, north Queensland, where she was paying $350 a week for a roof over her head and a bedroom for her children, Asa, 5, and Alana, 7. But with nowhere else to go amid the housing shortage and rent hikes, she landed at a nearby campsite.

Lucy Queensland mum with two kids.
Lucy, 41, was forced into a tent with her two kids Asa, 5, and Alana, 7, when she couldn't find suitable housing in Queensland. Source: Supplied

Moving into tent was an act of desperation

Living in a tent certainly wasn't her first choice.

"There was just nothing available, and if there was, there were so many people going for them," she said of her struggle to find a home. "Being a single mum with two kids I found I wasn't high up on the list of people they want to give the property to."

Out of desperation, the 41-year-old pitched a tent at Billabong Campground in Kuranda, a mountain village she moved to with her kids from Cairns a few years earlier — and suddenly became one of many staying in tents without a permanent place to live.

"It was definitely a struggle both mentally and physically," she recalled. "When you're in a house, you've got your kitchen, everything's right there, you've got everything you need.

"We had a camp kitchen that you couldn't store anything in, so I had to carry everything down to the kitchen and carry everything back".

Campsite on Queensland property.
The family is currently paying $100 a week to stay in a tent on a private property in Kuranda, in northern Queensland. Source: Supplied

Turning point for struggling mum

Lucy, who works part-time as a yoga teacher, was paying $200 a week for her site, which included power and water. And at times she felt unsafe. The time outdoors put the trio in hospital with a harmful staph infection. "It was pretty full on," she said.

Everything changed in April when the family was given the chance to housesit for a friend in Cairns. Being "enclosed" in four walls without nature made Lucy "feel anxious" making her miss her campsite home. Now she happily chooses to live there instead of in a regular house.

"I realised I didn't really want to live in four walls. I don't want to do that now," she said. Today, the single mum welcomed a new way of life for her children.

Lucy and her kids have now spent six months living on the land, but she doesn't consider herself homeless. They've set up camp on a private property paying $100 a week to her landlord.

"We have power and we have water, but we don't have a shower and toilet yet so we're using a bush dunny," she said. "The kids love it. They go to Steiner, a nature school, so it's what they know. "

Kids inside tent set up in Queensland campground.
The current set-up (left) is bigger and more equipped than the original site (right) at the Billabong campground in Kuranda. Source: Supplied

Single mum happy and making ends meet

Life in a tent allows the single mum more financial freedom and more time spent with her kids. "We're saving a lot of money being in the campground and meeting lots of people, there's more of a community vibe," she said.

"If I was living in a house I'd probably be paying $500 a week with bills, and I wouldn't be able to afford to spend $150 a week on organic food or have them in the school that I choose to have them."

The father of her children still lives in a house where the kids spend a lot of their time. They watch TV and play with toys but "I'm not about that" Lucy said.

Since sharing her journey on TikTok the mum, who goes by Lucy Aura8, says she's "absolutely" received judgement with critics saying camp life is unfair to her children. But she says her kids are "really resilient and they can live in any way if it's normalised".

"I feel like a lot of people are in fear of living in this way. There's fear of being outside of the system in any way," she said. "[Living this way] frees me up with more choices."

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