There comes a point, for some people, when renting seems pointless and wasteful. You are sinking money into a place that will never be yours, and there are many problems, including leases and landlord disagreements that you must deal with when renting.
So if you’ve decided to look for something a little more permanent, you may consider the option of buying a mobile home. With the economy the way it is these days, mobile homes are your most affordable option and based on that alone it may seem more promising. If you are considering buying a mobile home (used ones usually sell for $30k for a newer one down to only a few hundred dollars…) then you may hear the same warnings and advice about living in a mobile home.
It is important to fully evaluate the situation, because a move can be fairly permanent. Yes, in many cases you can buy a mobile home for what you would spend in a month just on rent. But let’s examine what will happen now that you own that mobile home.
Chances are, if it’s really that affordable, the mobile home is in a park. That means several big differences between a mobile home on it’s own land. Sometimes, a double wide on it’s own land, with a basement, can be considered a home. In all other cases, it is considered a trailer. Mortgage companies and banks won’t touch them.
Let’s just say you do have enough money to outright buy the mobile home. If it is in a park, the situation is just like a rent situation, only much, much worse.
You will be paying ‘lot rent’ to the park owners every month, by a dead line. Many park owners charge a late fee if your rent is not paid on time. Even then, the lot rent can still be less than what you would pay in an apartment or house renting situation. So financially, living in a trailer park can be your best option. But freedom is an entirely different issue.
The park owners dictate in the same manner as a landlord. There are ‘park rules’… often involving lawn and driveway maintenance, pets, visitors, vehicles, etc. Before moving into a trailer park, there is usually an application process, and you have to be approved before you can move in. After that, you must abide by the rules. Even though you own that trailer, the park owners can ‘evict’ you from your own home!
Be sure to read the list of rules carefully before considering purchasing a mobile home. If even one rule doesn’t sit well with you, do not dismiss the feeling. Explore all your other options, because although financially renting is more frustrating… living in a trailer park can severely upset your lifestyle and comfort, let alone your feeling of freedom.
There is something else very important to know about living in trailer parks. A park owner can sell the entire park at any time. This means new park owners can take over, and change the rules. Even if you were originally allowed to have pets, new park owners can change the rules and try to make you get rid of your pets. This can be very difficult, and if you already own pets you can fight them on this. However, with those changes in the rules, you will not be able to get a pet even if you had planned on it before the park was sold. This is just an example of the loss of control you will feel when living in a trailer park. New park owners can also raise the rent, change the due dates, and you can’t do anything about it. You’re stuck, and there is no security deposit to collect to help you move to another apartment if you change your mind.
Let’s dig into that a little further. Say you want to move out of a trailer park. First, you have to set the price reasonably. Used mobile homes are very tough to sell, probably for the reasons listed here. The lower you set the price, the more likely you are to sell it. You will probably be losing money, regardless of how much work you put into your home.
Second, you will need to find someone interested in buying your mobile home, and someone that can afford it. Next, that person has to be ‘approved’ by the park owners. Regardless of how simple this process may sound, it is truly the longest and most difficult thing about living in a trailer park… leaving it.
Be aware of the trailer park trap. It’s common advice for a reason. It may sound like a good idea at the time, and it may be your best option. Just be prepared, because when you are ready to move on you will face an even more difficult challenge than just finding a home. And the reality of it all is, you really don’t want to plan on spending the rest of your life living in a trailer park!