Unconventional ideas for your next home

Collage of a woman pointing to a shipping container as an unusual property buying idea.

Spring property season is usually the time of year when home buyers see more listings hit the market. But some of those listings can come with an…unusual character. 

And since one of the best ways to break into the housing market is to expand your idea of what your first home can be – especially if your budget is tight – these strange offers are worth considering. 

You may have to go through a mortgage broker to get a home loan lender willing to finance your unusual dream – and negotiate with the local council over planning, zoning, and heritage restrictions. But it’s all certainly possible!

So in the name of broad horizons, here are some delightfully out-of-the-box properties to check out this spring.


A country Australian church.

Vintage and renovated churches have popped up on property sites in recent years. A fascinating alternative to a traditional brick-and-mortar building, a church often comes with beautiful surroundings, plentiful gardens, and high swooping ceilings – and can be cheaper than a traditional home in a country town. 

Not to mention these heritage buildings have lots of history. If you don’t mind the religious associations, a church can be an intriguing idea for a new home. 

Pub or hotel

A country Australian pub hotel.

Many old-school pubs have come onto the property market to make a splash. The best pubs have owner accommodation already installed, along with local heritage charm and the potential to be run as a business or rented out for holiday bungalows, making them an interesting property investment idea. 

The price tag might be slightly heftier than a normal home, but considering what you get with the property, it’s certainly a creative idea for someone keen on a project.


A woman in an Australian cafe.

Similar to the hotel life is the cafe. Many have unfortunately gone out of business in the last three years, but someone’s loss is someone else’s opportunity. A cafe usually comes with bright front windows, plenty of space, and sometimes multi-stories and living quarters. 

If you like the idea of a place brimming with history and creative potential, but are a little leery of a pub, a cafe makes an interesting option for investors and owner-occupiers alike.

Shipping container

A shipping container home.

An intriguing and surprisingly cost-effective way to downsize, shipping containers have emerged as a sustainable alternative to new home builds. They can be well-insulated, energy-efficient, and surprisingly elegant, as well as come with all the modern conveniences we love. 

You’ll need to get creative about how you use your space, but if the goal is to economise, a shipping container definitely drives the point home. For this one, unless you’re buying an existing container, you may have to consider a construction loan alongside a regular mortgage for the land.


An Australian houseboat at sunset.

Real estate has expanded to the waterways these days, and houseboats have become a bit of a trend. A houseboat is usually moored to a specific marina and has fees and regulations associated with its maintenance, but so long as you obey the rules, it’s definitely possible to live on a watercraft long-term. And boat loans are a thing. 

Capital cities like Sydney and Brisbane may come with heftier permit fees, but if you live more rural, a home on the water can be a refreshing change of pace. A holiday all the time!

Also, if you’re worried about living without essentials like indoor plumbing, don’t worry – they  (typically) have all the amenities. Plus, you can set sail whenever you want. Sunset with prawns, anyone?

Compare home loans in the table below.

Compare home loans - last updated 9 December 2023

Search promoted home loans below or do a full Mozo database search . Advertiser disclosure
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    Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, Refinance Only

    interest rate
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    Initial monthly repayment
    6.15% p.a. variable
    6.15% p.a.

    Enjoy a competitive variable interest rate from Up. No application, monthly, annual, redraw, or discharge fees to pay. Up to 50 free offset accounts available. Up home loans are only available to owner-occupiers buying or refinancing in major Australian cities. Up is 100% owned by Bendigo Bank. New joiners get $10 by signing up to the app using code UPHOMEMOZO. (T&Cs apply) Mozo Experts Choice award winner.

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    interest rate
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    Initial monthly repayment
    6.14% p.a. variable
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    Package benefits across Home Loans, Visa Credit Card, Personal Loans and Term Deposits. No package fee for the first year. No application, settlement or redraw fees to pay. Quick and easy application. Free CoreLogic RP Data property reports. *Terms, conditions and lending criteria apply.

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    LVR<80%, Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    6.14% p.a. variable
    6.43% p.a.

    Get a competitive variable rate with ING’s Mortgage Simplifier. Free extra repayments, no monthly or annual fees. Freedom to make free extra repayments or redraws. Winner of Australia’s Best Essential Bank in the Mozo Experts Choice Awards.


* WARNING: This comparison rate applies only to the example or examples given. Different amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan. The comparison rate displayed is for a secured loan with monthly principal and interest repayments for $150,000 over 25 years.

** Initial monthly repayment figures are estimates only, based on the advertised rate. You can change the loan amount and term in the input boxes at the top of this table. Rates, fees and charges and therefore the total cost of the loan may vary depending on your loan amount, loan term, and credit history. Actual repayments will depend on your individual circumstances and interest rate changes.

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