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I had two kids in high school and a beautiful house on a hill when I got divorced more than a decade ago. Because I couldn’t afford the mortgage, I was forced to foreclose on our home.
I rented a nice apartment afterward, but I had trouble affording it while I was completing my Ph.D. So, I kept downsizing and eventually moved into the lowest-priced rental I could find — for $515 a month — in a neighborhood where helicopters whirred throughout the night.
Apartment hopping lasted for 10 years. By that time, my boys were grown and living on their own. I kept my stuff in storage, waiting for a place to feel like home. Moving so many times took a toll on my physical, mental, and emotional health. Yet I couldn’t even afford to buy a small condo, so I was at a loss when it came to finding a forever home for myself as a single empty nester.
Then I remembered a trailer park in town I always loved. In all the years of searching for my forever home, I hadn’t even considered a trailer. It wasn’t because of the stigma — but simply because it wasn’t on my radar. I didn’t know anyone who lived in a mobile home, so I hadn’t considered one. It seemed like the perfect time to scope things out.
Over the next several months, I drove by the trailer park to get a sense of the community at different times of day, including evenings and the night. Did it feel safe? Was it noisy? Were dogs barking? When I decided I could picture myself living there, I strode into the office to inquire about moving in. I learned I’d have to purchase a trailer outright but rent the land it sat on. I decided to peek at the list of trailers for sale. At first I didn’t see one I liked, so in the meantime, I filled out the trailer park management’s paperwork and got approved to live there.
After that, it was just a waiting game, but as luck would have it, a trailer became available a few months later. Because I’d built a relationship with the managers, they called me first. I immediately loved the trailer, including the size — nearly 1,300 square feet! — and its location, a quiet spot away from the children’s playground. I put in an offer of less than $10,000 and moved in within a month. Now, I never plan on leaving. Here’s why it’s been a great decision.
It’s the perfect amount of space for me.
You might think a trailer home would be short on space, but mine is actually quite roomy, with three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. When I had kids in the house, I liked having two-story homes, but now, I absolutely love having a one-story. (For starters, I never have the excuse that I can’t put away my laundry straight out of the dryer!) I also love parking my car right beside my house, making it easy to carry groceries inside. The rent on my lot began at $400, although it’s since gone up to $500. Still, nothing can beat the value on such a spacious home.
I could customize it to my liking without going over budget.
When I bought my trailer, it was outdated. I didn’t let the floral wallpaper and pink carpets deter me, however. After closing, I renovated the interior, making it my dream space, painting the entire place bright white and adding new hardwood floors. For me, it was worth buying a trailer that needed a little work to make it my own. I just had to remember to set aside a little extra cash for those renovations.
It’s a perfect home for an empty nester.
Trailer parks are an excellent option for families as well as empty nesters. Some parks allow children, but many parks are 55 and over. I’m not 55 years old yet, so I opted for a family park, which I love because I prefer living in a multi-generational community. Trailer parks function like communities with HOAs, so I made sure to read the restrictions before moving in. My park has strict rules governing where you park, how many cars you can have, if you can have overnight guests, and more.
Because I live in a part of the country where I don’t have to worry about violent weather events such as hurricanes and tornadoes, the decision to buy a trailer was easier. Still, trailers can go up in flames more easily, so I do take extra precautions, such as not drying my clothes in the dryer unless I’m home and not leaving my stove when I’m cooking, although these are common-sense practices.
A mobile home is unique because it’s somewhere in the middle of owning a home and renting an apartment. I still pay rent, although it’s minimal, and while I don’t own the land, I own personal property. I especially like that I can easily lock and leave my place and that I don’t have arduous hours of yard work. For me, trailer park living provides both security and ease.
I’m grateful to have found my forever home, and I never intend on giving it up.