A total bargain? Chris Havre's $280,000 'glamping'-style island tent. Image: Colliers Real Estate

Melbourne Man Finds Genius 'Loophole' That Outsmarts Australia's Brutal Housing Market

Run to paradise.

Writing about Australia’s housing market can sometimes be a truly masochistic exercise if you don’t have a property portfolio. House prices are sky-high, wages aren’t keeping up with them (or even inflation), and it’s an issue that’s spreading beyond our cities and even into regional markets.

So when a feel-good story about someone beating the system crosses our desk, it’s refreshing. Almost as refreshing as an island paradise. Speaking of which…  One clever Melburnian has beaten the odds and secured himself a piece of Australian waterfront paradise for a sliver of what it’d cost to do the same anywhere on the east coast. Although it’s not necessarily that simple…

Chris Havre, who works in the construction business, spent $280,000 on an 8,000sqm block of land on Prince of Wales Island, the largest island in the Torres Strait, off the tip of Cape York in Far North Queensland. The property’s only dwelling is a safari-style semi-permanent tent and it has no electricity, water, waste or sewerage system – despite this, he’s laughing, and he has a good reason to be doing so.

“It’s a pretty good tent, but you’ve also got to look at the land and the location and I thought to myself, ‘that’s a pretty good deal’,” Havre told ABC News.

“At the moment living in Melbourne, everything is so uncertain about what COVID is going to mean for us. It’s good to know that if we are able to fly freely around the country, we don’t have to leave the national border to go to a place like that.”

Images: Colliers Real Estate

Havre’s right that it’s a pretty good deal. According to Statista, the average price for one square meter of greenfield land in Melbourne (i.e. undeveloped land) is around $819. So if Havre wanted 8,000sqm in his hometown, it would set him back $6,552,000, or over 23 times what he paid for his place in the Torres Strait. And that’s just the greenfield land price – if he wanted developed, waterfront land, he’d be paying perhaps three times that figure.

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And all the things that would normally be a negative about such an isolated location – no shops, no amenities, an outdoor toilet, boat access only – are positives for Havre, who’s up for the adventure. (That said, the tent has solar panels, battery storage as well as satellite NBN connection, so it’s not completely off the grid).

“It’s a unique part of Australia; it seems to be a whole new world up there just waiting to be discovered.”

“There is no shop on the island so you have to eat whatever you can grow or whatever you can catch… It’s a very different way to live and that will suit some people.”

Power to him, we say.

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