Tell me about living in a trailer/mobile home

I have been thinking about buying a trailer. Even though house prices are down, the only thing that I come close to buying is a trailer. I don’t want the apartment life because of the sharing walls thing and I don’t want my car in a spot far from my house or just in a spot where other cars can park next to it. Living in a condo requires property tax, which I just found out. A house would be the ideal living situation for me, but I’m not up to paying a lot.

Do you have to pay property tax on a mobile home? I know there is a rental space fee. I hope that the fee is less than renting an apartment.

Would newer mobile homes be more durable? I know old ones are kind of iffy.

I know there is that whole stigma of “trailer trash” that goes along with living in a trailer, but I think it seems sort of cozy. How do you feel about living in your trailer?

My searches online for available mobile homes show me that only 55+ live there. I couldn’t find any that are for people younger than that.

I lived in one after living in apartments and before buying a house, and am happy with the choice.

I bought it, used, sitting on the rental lot in a trailer partk where I kept it. On the plus side, I had my own outside walls (no neighbors through the drywall), a tiny driveway that was all mine, and a lawn.

On the downside, it was pretty shabbily constructed, and the park owner’s tosspot grandson lived on one side of me.

Overall, it was great.

I knew a woman in Wenatchee, WA who lived in a double-wide with her two daughters. It was nicer than any apartment I’ve lived in to date.

I’m going to paste my previous post from another thread, because it was longish:

We live in a mobile home. (Nope, I didn’t imagine this when I pictured my adult life, but that’s life for you.) We own the mobile, which isn’t really mobile, and pay a monthly pad fee. It’s like being halfway between being homeowners and renters.

The advantages are:

  1. Cost. Victoria is very, very expensive and this was a far cheaper alternative.

  2. Independence. No shared walls (sometimes I like to listen to music and do housework, don’t have to tiptoe around in the late evenings, etc.) Even in a townhouse with a separate entrance and a small yard, there were still noise issues–I was very aware of shared walls and stereo/TV usage.

  3. Yard. I like having a yard and garden to putter around in and be outside.

  4. The specific location–we’re in a quiet complex out of the city and away from traffic and noise. Our lot itself backs onto a regional park. I can literally walk out my back yard and into Mill Hill Regional Park. That means the deer, raccoon, bunnies, etc. can do the same in reverse… But it’s the best lot in this park, for me.

  5. Pets. We both really wanted a dog, but wouldn’t consider it if we were renting a condo or apartment. There are other factors that also made it right for us to have the dog, but I wouldn’t chance it as a pure renter.

  6. Not being in a strata. We bought a condo shortly after we married, and went through the Leaky Condo Crisis. I despised the strata, but even without a major disaster, I don’t like stratas, with their petty bickering and endless rules. I also don’t want to have to abide by some of the rules–what you can put on your balcony, the colour of your blinds, and so on.

  7. Home ownership. Okay, mobile home ownership. But since we own it, we can upgrade, paint, etc. but also because everyone else owns their place (no renters here, other than we are all tenants of the park) there is incentive for neighbours to take care of their units and lot.

  8. Age / population. Our park restricts occupants of a unit to a maximum of two people. There aren’t huge families of noisy children, and there aren’t extended families with extra vehicles and so on. Our neighbours on either side are a single man and a single woman. Next to them on each side, is a couple without kids or without kids at home. Low population density is a plus for us; we like it quiet. Also, there’s a good contingent of older folks/retirees. That suits me fine–they don’t party all night, blast music, etc. I don’t mind elderly neighbours at all.

Disadvantages. Well, there are disadvantages, for sure.

  1. Investment appreciation. Apparently, nil. Apparently these things only go down in value, never up, unlike buying a house. Even with the improvements we’ve put in, I don’t expect to make money if we sell. I’d like to sell it for more than we bought it for, but that may not happen.

  2. They are harder to sell than a traditional house.

  3. The park owner can decide not to have a mobile home park anymore, and we’re in trouble. Our municipality has put in stronger protection for mobile home owners, but as land is increasingly expensive here on Vancouver Island and redevelopment has been, until recently, very active, there’s the worry that we might get eviction notices.

Which leads to the problem–you see any new mobile home parks? Not where we live. Sure, we own the unit and can move it–but to where?

  1. …and we can’t really move the unit. It’s 1974-era doublewide, with a new drywall ceiling and carpeting. I seriously doubt you could take it apart and move it successfully. The carpet and ceiling wouldn’t be the same, and I doubt that once put together, it would really come apart. It’s not really mobile at all, and neither are most of the others in the complex, with renovations and additions. And there is a pretty little bridge you cross as you enter the park–single lane. You couldn’t move this out of here in one piece either.

  2. There is a stigma attached to living in this kind of housing. I hate, hate, hate “Trailer Park Boys”, the expression “trailer trash”, off-hand disparaging comments about living in a trailer… Even though ours looks like a house, and the neighbours are all very non-trashy. Okay, some of the little old ladies have a few gnomes in the yard, but you’d see that elsewhere, too.

  3. I’m sure newer units are nicer, in fact, I know they are, because 10 new ones came into our park over the last year. But ours is kind of… crappy. The walls are hollow, the cabinets and fittings are cheap, nothing is standard (e.g. door sizes, bathtub size, even the hot water tank is an oddball size) and hard to replace/repair. Upgrades we’ve made are cosmetic and affordable: paint, carpet, lino, dishwasher, ceiling. But it’s not worth it for us to put in a new furnace, roof, etc.

  4. No sense of ownership of the land. We have all the responsibility of lawn/garden maintenance, but it still bugs me that it’s not “my” land. It’s my home, but I don’t own the ground it sits on. We should probably have the driveway repaved, but I don’t feel like spending the money, because we don’t ‘own’ the driveway and why should I? (Pout.)

  5. Pad fee includes water, sewer, garbage/recycling pickup and stuff like that. So we don’t have to pay those utilities.

That’s about it for now. If you have any questions, PM me.

In our case, keep in mind, we’re early 40s, hope to be in a house eventually and Victoria, BC may be a lot different from where you live–Florida, right? (It doesn’t show location on the compose screen.) Some of the drawbacks we experience may not be drawbacks for you. Some of the advantages like having a dog and a yard may not matter to you.

But I’m happier here than in a rental condo on a noisy intersection, that’s for sure. If the owner wanted to retire and not have this park any more, it would be awesome if we could go into a co-op kind of deal and buy our lot. Even though I don’t like stratas, I’d seriously love the opportunity to buy the land the unit sits on.

We pay a monthly pad fee and yearly property taxes.

You realize if you buy a house/condo, the property tax is typically wrapped up in your mortgage payment, right? It’s not like once a year you need to come up with a pile of cash all of a sudden. It’s just part of your monthly mortgage payment.

I do have property tax, but it’s comparatively small: about $179 per year, IIRC.

Living in a trailer sucks, and I can’t wait to get out of it. The biggest drawbacks for me are:

  1. No garage (I realize that not all houses have garages either).
  2. No basement (I need more storage space).
  3. No equity - these things only go down in value.
  4. Lot rent - I’m losing money every month paying lot rent.
  5. Fear of a tornado killing me and Mrs. Homie and my cats. That is a very real concern in the part of the country where I live. In fact, on March 12, 2006, an F2 petered out about 3/4 mile from my trailer. Had it kept going… well, Mrs. Homie was in the trailer at the time, and she probably would have died.

We live in a mobile home in southern california. Its a newer one (a '99). Personally I love it because we could never afford the kind of room that we have in a normal home.

The problems are crappy plumbing, we have had ongoing issues with leaking faucets in the bathtub and shower (I can’t fix plumbing to save my neck, but my neighbor always takes care of it for us).

You will need to have it re-leveled periodically due to settling (normal issues).

Like Savanah said, everything is pretty much oddball sizes in the older homes. I know that mine has a normal sized water heater and pretty much all the fixtures are normal sized.

The walls are hollow, but there are studs, just not at the normal distances that real houses would have.

About the taxes - It depends on your state/city/etc but here it is based on the age of the home. If it is older then a certain year (I can’t remember but I think its the early to mid 80’s) then you pay vehicle registration on it. If its newer then that you pay property taxes. We pay about 340 a year. Now remember this is california most homes are in excess of 1-5 grand a year in property taxes. They base it on the adjusted value of the home. Since the same home would sell for more or less depending on the park they find a baseline value of the home itself that does not include the park (a nicer park would sell for more, while a shit hole would sell for less). We bought for 92 grand but our taxable value is around 33 grand.

And yes, I would do it again in a heart beat. Just make sure that you find out about rent control in your area. Our space rent has gone up from about $450 a month to $675 currently (in a 5 year period). While places with better rent control would only go up about 3% a year.

Before you purchase a mobile home, ask yourself what you would do if the trailer park was sold to a developer. (I’m assuming you won’t be owning the land the mobile home is sitting on.) Can you afford to lose the entire cost of the mobile home? Because despite the name, they’re really not very mobile.

The biggest problem with mobile home ownership is that far too often you’re getting the worst of both worlds: the initial expense and ongoing upkeep issues of a house, together with the insecurity of a renter. If you can’t afford to buy the land the trailer will be sitting on, think long and hard before you ‘invest’ in a mobile home!

You can move them if you are forced to but sometimes it’s hard to find a new spot , especially on short notice. The spot you find might cost a lot more than where you are now. Also it’s not cheap to move one.

**Do you have to pay property tax on a mobile home? ** You pay some kind of registration fee, like you do for your car.

Would newer mobile homes be more durable? Yes and no. Some are built to a better standard than others.

I know there is that whole stigma of “trailer trash” that goes along with living in a trailer, but I think it seems sort of cozy. How do you feel about living in your trailer? I lived in one from 1989 to 1993 or thereabouts. I was a single mom with two small kids. I couldn’t afford a house, and I wanted my own yard. It worked out very well for us. This was in a large park which had a swimming pool, laundry, etc. I’d do it again.

I’ve heard that many mortgage companies are getting out of this practice due to f-ups and lawsuits. We have to scramble twice a year for our taxes, the winter is the worst.

Lived in one for 7 years. ( 10 X 56 ) Would again if necessary. I will not live in a double wide or any manufactured housing (not really a mobile home despite what people call them, if you can’t legally pull the whole thing with one truck at one time IMO ) on a rented property. ( trailer park )

I actually would look at the bigger travel trailers for just the two of us and look to buying a small chunk of land. But if I had to live in a particular town for whatever reason, I would go this route if I just could not take apartment living.

Is it strictly a $$ problem or are their other issues with space or location? If you need a garage and storage space and can’t do the ‘storage units’ route, I would not look to go small. If you are doing it for a woman, you’re not going to win unless it is her idea to start with. Decide what you really want - can afford and just do it.

I have no direct experience, but aren’t mobile home notoriously known for cold floors & leaking roofs? Neither of these things sound good in BC.

Really? You don’t have an escrow account?

I haven’t had escrow for taxes and insurance since 2002. My mortgages have been through a credit union.

I don’t have an escrow account for my mortgage. When I took out my original mortgage I was given the option of having one or not. In all the subsequent refinancing I was never pressed to have an escrow account for insurance or taxes. My first house had an escrow account for taxes and insurance.

I escrow my taxes, but not my insurance. My mortgage lender gave me a choice of whatever I wanted to do. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to do it, for taxes at least. Makes it all nice & easy, I never even think about property taxes.

With homeowner’s insurance, for whatever reason we decided it was easier to just pay it with our other insurance, so that’s not escrowed.

I’d be a little bummed if I couldn’t escrow my taxes. One more bill I’d have to worry about.

My retired mom and dad lived in a singlewide, then a doublewide, in Northern Illinois.

Really, the new ones are not bad. They’re not drafty, leaky, etc. However I don’t think they’d be good for raising kids. A lot of the hardware, like hinges and knobs, are cheap and probably wouldn’t withstand much rough housing.

I think Illinois requires a registration every year, but it’s nothing compared to property taxes. They told me that for awhile at least, Illinois prohibited the building of new parks, however.

Back when they were snowbirds, they had a tiny one in Florida. One nice thing they had there was a full screened in porch. They didn’t have to stay in the cramped confines all day…they could sit out, even if it was raining (so long as it wasn’t blowing). If you’re in an area where you don’t have to worry about snow piling up, a roof over the cement could expand your living space inexpensively.

Moved to IMHO.

While there are factual answers to be given, opinions belong in IMHO rather than General Questions. Since this one lasted a day in GQ, let’s give the [del]trailer trash[/del] owners in IMHO equal time. :slight_smile:

samclem Moderator, General Questions

I thought the 3% was a state limit?