Living in a mobile home is great from a cost of living standpoint as the upfront costs are much lower than buying a traditional home. But you still need to have some money to do it, so what is the cost of living in a trailer park?
On average, a mobile home park owner will charge $400 per month for the plot of land where the mobile home is parked. Public utilities will sometimes be included in the rent. But if not, those can run as much as $375 per month. There may also be a 1-time setup fee of approximately $100.
But of course, where you live will be a big factor in the overall costs. After all, there’s a big difference in the monthly cost between San Francisco and Jacksonville, FL.
There’s a certain stereotype among people describing residents of mobile homes as being poor. I tend to disagree with that, although certainly from an investment standpoint, mobile homes are usually not a great option compared to a traditional home.
Many have found living in a trailer park or RV a better alternative to spending thousands of dollars to cover rental fees on affordable housing. The important thing is to get a mobile house you can afford, spend less money than you earn, save as much as you can, and ideally, don’t borrow money on that initial investment.
If you’ve ever considered living in a mobile home or trailer park, as we traditionally call it, then this article is for you. I intend to arm you with valuable, credible, and up-to-date information on living in a trailer park.
The number one benefit of living in an apartment is the financial aspect of renting. Rent is generally cheaper than a mortgage. #rent #save #apartments #propertymanagement #tenants #knotify #cheaper #money pic.twitter.com/AE61QVvqF3
— knotify.io (@Knotify_io) May 8, 2019
Is it cheaper to live in a trailer park than buying a home or renting an apartment?
Renting an apartment is almost always cheaper short-term compared to buying a home or buying a mobile home and then finding a trailer park.
I say short-term as the equity you build in a home you are buying has to be considered.
In an apartment, there is very little cash upfront needed aside from a security deposit. But that money you give them each month never comes back to you.
In a home you buy, 99% of the time, it goes up in value.
The home I live in now I bought for $305,000 just over 3 years ago. It’s now valued at $500,000. And a house I bought in 2005 (and sadly didn’t keep) for $350,000 is now worth well over $1,000,000.
That appreciation in value (called equity) is one of the ways people build true wealth.
You can’t do that in an apartment or a mobile home. Even though you typically buy a mobile home, they just go down in value like a car or RV instead of going up in value. And unless you bought a plot of land to park it on, you aren’t gaining anything from the land value either.
Many people have embraced living in travel trailers to its several benefits, the greatest of which has to be its affordability. It depends on your preference as an individual and what you want.
For instance, if you’re looking to settle down long-term, but your income is low, a better choice would be to go for trailer parks since the initial costs are lower, and you don’t have the hassles that sometimes come with apartments.
If you decide to rent a trailer park, then you’d be looking at a budget of $300 to $800 in a monthly payment.
I published a recent article on budgeting money on a low income to help people strike a perfect balance between their cost of living and a reasonable budget. Note that these price ranges depend on the location, as it is with a rental apartment or purchasing a home.
However, suppose you choose to purchase a trailer.
In that case, I suggest you keep your budget anywhere between $70,000 for an essential trailer and $100,000 for a fully customized model to fit your demands, such as laundry facilities and more.
Well, I don’t think so, especially when you consider the difference in the price as compared to the alternative of purchasing real property, like a single-family home, which, of course, is going to likely be 2 or 3 times the price of purchasing a mobile home for a trailer park.
Thankfully, there’s a huge market for decently used trailers, which cost you less.
Depending on the size and location, a used trailer could go for $10 000 to $25,000, which is considerably affordable. Avoid buying a brand new one since they always go down in value.
Creating a budget is an essential factor in choosing your home.
If you’re not so sure about pulling a great budget, do well to check my recent article on the seven steps involved in creating a successful budget. A budget isn’t hard, but there’s a crucial step most people miss.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
That statement is backwards and you know it. People rent because they can’t find a way to own their own home, or they are conned into believing it’s cheaper.
If you just want to be mobile, own a mobile home (a real tiny house on wheels, ideally) and multiple land plots. pic.twitter.com/dwlat1EZOq
— Turil Cronburg (@thewiseturtle) August 21, 2021
What is cheaper, a mobile home, RV, or park model?
Generally, when comparing similar square foot sizes, a mobile home will be cheaper than an RV or a park model RV. However, an RV does have the added flexibility to move on-demand to a new campground or trailer park without transportation costs.
I get it. These three terms may seem a bit confusing since I’ve been using them interchangeably.
It may be suitable to use them due to their similarities since they are all designed to function like modular homes, but they also have their differences. So, before we look at which is cheaper between these three, what differentiates them anyway?
A mobile home refers to a caravan or prefabricated structure with beds, a bathroom, kitchen, and living quarters. Mobile homes are built on steel chassis, with wheels fitted on their sides to be hauled to a permanent site.
A recreational vehicle, abbreviated as RV, is a trailer or vehicle equipped with living quarters and designed for accommodation. On the other hand, a park model is also considered a recreational vehicle that is uniquely designed to provide temporary accommodation for recreation, accommodation, or seasonal use.
While mobile homes and recreational vehicles are considered great options for low-scale accommodation, they differ in price.
To have a successful mobile home purchase, one must understand the various sizes involved.
A single wide mobile home is usually 324 square feet in width and about 8100 square feet in length. The double-wide measures about 400 square feet wide and 8100 square feet long.
The average price for a single-wide mobile home is around $45,000, while a double-wide goes for $88,000 with an upfront cost in some cases.
You can get a regular or a park model RV in between these figures, but it will be a used model in most cases. When you combine the expense of maintaining an RV, such as gas and parking space, mobile homes are a cheaper alternative.
Each time a new owner buys a mobile home park, residents face monthly lot rent increases as much as 80%, often causing displacement and homelessness.
— 9to5 Colorado (@9to5Colorado) February 8, 2022
Do trailer parks have HOA fees?
Typically, joining an HOA community implies owning the mobile home AND the lot.
However, there are rare cases where residents pay HOA fees and lot rent without owning the home. There are other cases where people live in mobile homes without joining the HOA. But for the most part, you can’t purchase a property without joining the association.
Before we go into the details of the answer, let’s begin by explaining what HOA is.
It stands for Home Owners Association and is an organization set up by developers of a housing area, a condominium, or in our case, a mobile park.
The HOA is responsible for the daily running, management of common and shared property, protection of the park owners’ property values, and provision of services to residents.
If you’re asking if trailer parks have HOA fees, yes, they do. In most states, HOA fees for mobile homes are within the range of $200 to $300 per month.
The HOA fee depends on certain factors, such as the housing cost in your area of residence, the HOA of your specific park, the facilities available to the community, and the services provided.
The HOA fee is used to maintain and upgrade the mobile home communities and their facilities. Most HOAs tend to split the money into two parts: one for the general monthly maintenance, while the other goes to a reserve fund.
Some of the services covered by the HOA fee include the following:
- Pest control
- Trash removal
- Water and sewage maintenance
- Utilizing small yard spaces for Gardening
- General maintenance cost
You can see the residents tend to benefit a lot from these fees as it tends to take away some of the responsibilities of the mobile homeowner.
— Debra Crews (@botanicalstouch) February 2, 2021
Why do manufactured homes not hold value?
One major difference between mobile and traditional homes is the fact that mobile homes depreciate in value. Mobile homes are more like a car than a house in this regard. The value of a property is particularly important when it comes to buying and selling.
When a property does not hold value, we say it depreciates; and this is just a simple accounting term that describes how much an asset has been used over time.
Depreciation in the context of a mobile home implies that your home will not sell for as much money you spent on buying it.
There are several reasons why manufactured homes depreciate, some of which include the following:
- They tend to be poorly built compared to traditional homes
- The lifespan is much shorter than a traditional home
- As they are prefabricated, they are harder to repair than a house made from wood, stone, or brick.
As with almost everything in life, mobile homes will suffer a degree of wear and tear through the course of their lifetime. Wear and tear not properly attended to over a long period will lead to complete discarding of the property.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development says the expected lifetime of mobile homes ranges from 30 to 55 years.
Wear and tear could mean different things.
These include damaged fixtures, leaking plumbing systems, Damping, Worn outsides, scuffed floors, and many more. Cases like these are where HOA comes to play as they tend to reduce the depreciation rate of homes with regular maintenance and upgrade.
Obsolescence and efficiency are other major causes of manufactured home depreciation.
Manufacturers understand that materials will eventually wear off with regular use, and so they tend to produce newer products and materials as better versions of the previous models.
The use of obsolete architectural and décor styles could lead to the depreciation of manufactured homes.
Poor people live in prefab houses. They’re called trailers. The problem is they’re often subpar and still not as affordable as they could be. Land isn’t cheap even if you just rent a slot in a trailer park. Lots of rural areas overcharge on utilities too. pic.twitter.com/7O9tiPXDtB
— Christopher Pirtle (@Chris__Pirtle) August 5, 2020
How much are utilities in a trailer park?
Utilities are essential in mobile home living, as it is with every other form of accommodation, and that’s why we must go through the basic and most common utilities found in trailer parks.
Water utilities – Average of $71/month
Trailer parks are usually hooked up with water from the city. The lease should contain who’s responsible for the payment of water and other utilities.
This will include both freshwater and wastewater.
Gas utilities – Average of $63/month
Natural gas finds use for many reasons in the mobile park. It can be used for heating stoves, ovens, space heating, clothes dryers, etc.
Electric utilities – Average of $114/month
Electricity bills are responsible for the power that is supplied to the park through outlets, lighting, etc.
You may also want to install a septic tank on your property unless you have the option of connecting to a local sewer system.
Installing a septic tank may vary depending on far away you are from the city, but the initial cost for basic septic tanks goes for $3,000, while more advanced options can span up to $20,000. It’s important you take your time and do your research to get a proper estimate on how much it will cost you before making your choice.
The breakdown of utility expenses in running your property would be similar to this standard:
- Water: $71
- Natural gas: $63.34
- Electricity: $114
- Trash and recycling: $14.05
- Broadband internet: $60
- Streaming services: $45
Total cost: $367.39 / month.
Living in mobile homes and trailer parks, depending on your choice, one may not necessarily need to opt for all of the bills listed above, but if you find them essential for your daily living, then you should go for them.
However, to get the best out of mobile home living, you must maintain a proper tradition of saving money on your utility bills by using these services only when needed.
Decided to paint the mailboxes a few weekends ago on my husband’s newest acquisition: A mobile home park in Hillsboro, Kansas. pic.twitter.com/e6jaBET2xr
— C.A. McJack (@a_mcjack) June 21, 2020
What state has the cheapest home lot rent?
The US state with the cheapest lot rent for mobile homes is Kansas or South Carolina, with an average of $200/month.
We’ve been talking a lot about mobile homes, trailer parks, and all, but one essential factor that cannot be left unattended to is home lot rent.
Most of the time, when you purchase a mobile home, it doesn’t come with land, so you have to pay the park owner for the piece of land where you intend to place your mobile home for a specific period of time.
However, it’s important that you carefully read through the lease agreement with the mobile home park regarding what your lot rent will cover. You don’t want to be signing up for services that you could enjoy for free.
Generally, the home lot rent in the country varies from state to state.
California, for example, being a higher-priced state, could have lot rents going anywhere between $300 to $500 due to the high standard of living. Home lot rents are very considerably cheap, and the difference between a rental apartment and a mobile home may be over a thousand bucks, and that’s a lot.
Based on current mobile home listings, below are some states and their mobile home lot rent:
- Kansas: $200
- South Carolina: $200
- Pennsylvania: $330
- Florida: $400
- Nevada: $450
- Washington: $450
- California: $600
From the list above, it’s clear enough that home lot rent for mobile parks depends on the location as well as other services attached to the land. Even with these price variations, mobile homes are still the most cost-effective housing alternatives in the United States.
Relaxing outside their trailer home, Sarasota trailer park, Sarasota, Florida. pic.twitter.com/WgLQyltd2S
— Depression Era Photos (@USHistoryPhotos) August 29, 2021
What is the best state to live in a trailer park?
Living in a trailer or RV park is generally okay in the United States, but there are three states known to be the best for full-time trailer park living: Florida, Texas, and South Dakota. States like Washington and Nevada are also good for living full-time in trailer parks.
One thing common to the states of Florida, Texas, and South Dakota is that they are all income tax-free.
I added Nevada and Washington to the list because they have wide-open spaces, making it easy and cheaper for you to find space for your home. This makes sense because more space implies more land options for your trailer park and less restrictive zoning.
Another essential factor for determining the best place to live in a trailer park is the weather and climate of the area.
Considering the fact that you’ll be living close to the ground, it’ll be in your own interest to pick an area with a mild climate. Florida, Texas, South Dakota, Washington, and Nevada state with one of the best weathers since they have relatively warmer winters and lack any harsh weather conditions to live with.
View and scenery are yet another factor that puts these five states on the list of the best places to live in a trailer park. These states’ views and national parks are a sight to behold every day, and that’s a factor worthy of commendation.
Overall, the cost of living in a mobile home in mobile home communities is inexpensive compared to housing costs and monthly mortgage payments on a traditional home, especially when you factor in property taxes.
When it comes to choosing between living in a trailer park, buying a home, or renting an apartment, it all depends on the lifestyle you want and what kind of monthly payments you want.
We also looked at home lot rents available in cities in the United States, the national average cost, the average mobile home cost, and how many average owners of mobile homes tend to spend.
Ultimately a low cost of living and a decent income is one of the keys to financial freedom.
But can lower-income people really reach that? Yes, they can (I grew up very lower middle class and only graduated high school and now make 5-figures a month from blogging. Want to know more about financial freedom and how you can achieve it?
Check out my recent article on the keys to financial freedom. Just click that link to read it on my site.