Returning couple was shocked by rental hike
SHARING a home with their son and his girlfriend was the only way John and Melva Harris could afford to pay their rent in 2011.
The couple left their $220-per-week three-bedroom home in December 2010 for a year-long travelling holiday around Australia.
When they returned to Gladstone in November 2011, the couple - who had lived in Gladstone for 18 years - was shocked to find they could not rent a house for less than $500.
They had to spend four months living out of their caravan.
"We considered leaving Gladstone, but because I had a job here and we'd been on holidays, we had to try to work something out," Mrs Harris said.
"We looked at living in the caravan park but a powered site was $250 a week.
"We thought 'you've got to be kidding'. It was so unrealistic," she said.
But because of the industry boom, those were the prices being asked.
At the same time their son was paying more than $500 rent per week for a unit he lived in on his own.
"We sat down with our son - he was saving to buy a house - and we said, 'if we find the right accommodation, would you consider sharing?'.
"We could move out of the van and he could get a chance to save to buy a house."
And so, for the past two years the family has lived in their four-bedroom home in Auckland St.
The family still pays $600 per week rent for the spacious home, but shared among the four of them it's an easier bill to pay.
At their last renewal in April 2014 the price dropped $100.
"We don't expect (the rent to drop again) but we live on the motto that if we look after them, they'll look after you," Mrs Harris said.