But I don’t cook meth: overcoming my own “trailer trash” misconceptions

Guest post by Kathleen
The Simpsons Trailer Trash Bumper Sticker

I think part of growing up is becoming disillusioned with your uninformed, sometimes immature, expectations about adult life. I thought when I became a grownup I could have ice cream for breakfast whenever I wanted, and now that just sounds like a great way to get horrible indigestion. When I was in college, I imagined I would be buying a house in just a few years, or at least living in some fabulous urban loft, because I was going to become a famous classical singer in no time flat. Once my fiancé and I were both out of college and in the dreaded real world, I quickly realized that this was not to be.

We were drowning in student loan debt, had just moved back to our hometown in the Midwest, were shacking up with my parents, and planning a wedding. To top it off, we had just left an apartment in one of the less glamorous California neighborhoods that had, shall we say, a slight infestation problem (I won’t delve further, because I still have nightmares about it) and even that apartment was too expensive.

We were scrambling to get out of the nest — I needed stability and after being crammed in my childhood bedroom for eight months, we both needed room. But we didn’t know where to start.

So we developed three requirements for a new home.

  1. Must be a place we could see ourselves staying for at least five years.
  2. Must be affordable.
  3. Must accommodate our cat.

Sadly, every apartment we looked at we completely hated — either the neighborhood wasn’t good, or it was old and run down, or it was out of our price range.

When the idea of living in a mobile home was first suggested, I scoffed at it. Don’t weird people who cook meth live in trailers? Surely not someone like me.

But slowly, we began to warm to the idea. It would be OURS. We could paint and decorate, and boy was there bang for our buck. Our interest was piqued even more when a five-year-old trailer went up for sale just blocks from my fiancé’s office. It had THREE BEDROOMS AND TWO BATHROOMS. The luxury of so much space secretly excited me.

So we went with our realtor to look at it.

The park was clean, and there was an application process to attempt to weed out all the meth cookers. There was a list of rules for the park involving keeping your grass cut and no cars on blocks. They were kiboshing all the stereotypes I had in my head.

Walking through the trailer, I could picture where our furniture would go. The smallest bedroom was the perfect space for my vanity and keyboard. The kitchen was much larger than the sliver of space we had in our previous apartment. We both wanted to live here. And it would be well within our budget.

The road to actually buying the place was a little more difficult. Financing for mobile homes is not easy to find, but there are a few specialty companies our realtor recommended. The process is much more like buying a car than buying a house, which I guess is fitting, given the wheels. It was scary. We were committing to this place.

I avoided telling everyone except our nearest and dearest the details of where we lived. I even out-and-out lied and said it was an apartment once. There is a stigma attached to mobile homes…

We finally sealed the deal, moved in and got settled. But I avoided telling everyone except our nearest and dearest the details of where we lived. I even out-and-out lied and said it was an apartment once. There is a stigma attached to mobile homes, and even I had preconceived notions about what it would be like and how it would define me.

Shortly after we moved in, I went through this period of feeling like a bundle of failures. I had gone off to California to get my degree, escape my dreary Midwestern hometown and build a fabulous, successful life for myself. And here I was, back to my hometown with my tail between my legs, and living in a trailer. Every disappointment I felt about how my life was progressing (or not, as the case may be) all got tied up in where I lived. Plus, we got a few funny looks and some judgey comments that I took deeply (and unnecessarily) to heart. For months I kept where we lived under wraps, and when I did tell people, it was with a tone of apology, almost always followed by the reasons why we had chosen to live here. I felt the need to justify it.

But after a year of having people visit our home and love it, I just think about how awesome it is to have exactly what we wanted in a way we could afford. We did what made sense to us, and made our home into a place we love.

Comments on But I don’t cook meth: overcoming my own “trailer trash” misconceptions

  1. I love this! Especially because I think I would wrestle with the same feelings of failure before figuring out the problem was all in my head. Also because there’s a trailer/RV park just out of town here, next to the calm, beautiful river, that always looks so peaceful and nice that I secretly think I could live there.

  2. Good for you! Space, location, and thinking outside the box… what more could you want?

    Before Phoenix really took off as a city, snowbirds and retirees would settle in mobile home parks on the far outskirts of the city, so there are a LOT of mobile home parks here and some are really nice. There are also mining communities up in the mountains where mobile homes far outnumber conventional homes.

    When I was doing my usual weekend tour of a Phoenix neighborhood, I stumbled over a manufactured home community in a working-class area. Most of the houses looked like a long trailer with a shorter trailer and a car port on either side, but the house on the right in the linked picture is also a manufactured home, and I think it’s a cutie. (The one on the left is probably a conventional ranch house.)

  3. So, I spent my high school years in a mobile home park, much like the one you describe. They were scrupulous about the looks. We actually got fined when I was learning to drive because I parked 3 inches into the lawn. We lived in a HIGH rent area and this meant my parents could get out of debt, pay for my music lessons, my brother’s sports, and send me to a private college. Living in a mobile home was one of the best gifts they ever gave us. Of course, we didn’t think that at the time.

    • I think about that all the time. If we ever have kids, all the money we save I would love to give them the college opportunities we didn’t have, so they won’t have to start their adult lives in debt like we did. It’s good to know our kids won’t hate us if we never buy a house!

  4. It’s funny how where you grow up changes your attitude on everything. I lived in a single-wide trailer for the first 14 years of my life. We upgraded to a double-wide thereafter, parking it on the same plot of land. A lot of my high school classmates grew up living in single-wides, and many of those lived in trailer parks. It’s totally normal here. And while that doesn’t mean there aren’t trashy people living in trailer parks, the trailer parks aren’t necessarily trashy.
    That said? I totally understand this “feel like a failure” reaction to moving back home, into a trailer. Moving back home for me would be next-to-impossible job-wise, but also would be a huge damper on my spirit. Everyone around me when I was growing up made clear that success meant moving out of there. Teachers, family members, friends. Everyone echoed the same thing: move away as soon as possible and never look back. Home wasn’t good enough. Trailers weren’t good enough. I hate that particular brand of small town self destruction. If you want to kill your town, tell your young people that they’re a failure if they stay there.

    • It was an awful feeling coming back here after graduation. At first, I was thrilled to have a support system again, to be out of our overpriced disgusting apartment, but soon, it just felt ickybad. The struggle to find a job, the student loan debt, it just felt like all my dreams were crashing around me. But now things are balancing out to a happier medium.

    • “This!” times a thousand. I grew up in the suburbs of a small Rust-belt city. I was in the advanced classes throughout school, and it seemed the unspoken rule amongst us all was the farther away you got, the better. Those who chose to go to one of the local colleges (which are top of the line for medicine and technology) were treated as a novelty at best, usually more like an oddball – “Really? You could have gone anywhere and you stayed here?!” Those who chose to start off going to the community college to save money or stay close to home were just downright pitied. Teachers didn’t outright encourage any of these views, however they made no secret that the job market around here was not as great as it had been when our parents were just starting to Get Out There.

      When I did graduate from a college a few hours away and returned home, then stayed home, I felt like such a loser. I was supposed to have “gotten out!” That was the main marker of success I had remembered from adolescence, and I didn’t have it. I moped around and wallowed in my perceived failure (which of course included other things too, plus a not-so-healthy dose of twenty-something angst).

      I’m happy to say that I’ve found happiness here after all – great friends, a wonderful husband, a sweet dog – and have grown to appreciate all the local color that I sort of took for granted when I was younger. And I try to seek out more that I haven’t discovered yet!

      • What I have learned from living in small towns, (not in trailers, but in some pretty questionable apartments sometimes), is that the people who “stay home,” often don’t. All the people I have met who go on about being “natives,” usually have a summer cabin they go to on a regular basis, and usually travel frequently.

        I envy people who are “content,” who never do any of the aforementioned, but because I wanted to see outside of my own sphere, did move about, and cannot imagine not having those experiences.

        As to “trailer” and double-wide manufactured home inhabitants, I always thought it fine. That was until I one of those homes was plunked next door, along, unfortunately, with the types of individuals stereotyped.

        They have absolutely no sense of anything or anyone else around them, so, for example, they will park their truck, with bed down, filled with trash, immediately on the property line, so the stench wafts. They drive over my driveway even though they have a very large driveway. I would say they are clueless, but I’ve experienced just what a con operation this is.

        I’m not pure, but I rather loathe these people who so often go out of their way to dominate. I tried. They didn’t. It isn’t that they have rusted cars and trucks sitting on the property – I happen to think having cars and trucks that are really being used for parts, is just fine. No. I loathe these people. I am convinced they, pardon the expression get tremendous, perverse pleasure from the actions. And, they are sending a clear and obvious message to town administrators that restrictions, even prohibitions on trailers and manufactured homes are in everyone’s best interest – which is a shame. But back to you…

        Inner peace is the only important factor, whether one stays put or not.

    • I think my little hick town is slightly more forgiving. If you NEVER leave you are looked down upon (including me, I will admit). But if you leave for even 6 months or even to another small town 30 miles away, it’s like a whole new world. Nobody judges you for moving BACK as long as you got once once!

    • I totally agree! So many of my friends got upset when I move to the city to pursue my education. But then I move back (and they are all moving away!). I feel lucky to be back in my hometown and be able to see my family and some of my friends on a regular basis. I feel like I am making up for all the lost time when I was away.

      I was away for about 6 years. I moved to the city, lived there and loved it. I moved to another city, and hated it. I moved back to the other city and while I loved it and it felt like home, I still felt like I was running in a hamster wheel. I lived downtown in a city, and it was nice with all the activity. But I still felt so stressed out.

      I moved back home and got a job in my hometown community and I have been much happier. I’ve decided to not let other people’s definitions of a good life get in the way of my happiness. I think that’s the key to moving back and being happy. There is nothing wrong with a small town or staying in the place you grew up in. I have a much better quality of life now than I did before when I lived in the city. So how is that a failure?

  5. I think that the house buying shows on TV have blown expectations of what the average person can afford into a ridiculous standard.
    We need to live within our means and be happy to have our own space, what ever that ends up being for each person.
    It is difficult to talk about the feelings most of us have when we come out of college or university with so much debit and have to turn to our parents for help. My parents have been amazing letting my husband and I live with them until we could afford out own place. It was hard for all of us but we made it work. They were also major contributors to our down payment on our little place.
    My parents moved from the US to Canada when I was little and they struggled for years to be financially stable after making the move to another country.
    We have been so blessed that they have been able to help us out so that we don’t have the same degree of financial difficulty that they went through.
    Our budget for getting in the housing market was tiny compared to a lot of people that I know but we found a house that met our needs and we are thrilled to have it. It is not in the best neighbourhood but it is not the worst either. I could see that some people we know were surprised that we bought in this area but it made the most sense to us. What I have found is that our neighbourhood is pretty decent, we have an amazing park with hiking trails right around the corner, the people are nice, most are older couples or college kids, it is just an old area that has not had a lot of upgrades.
    Congrats for living within your means and finding a way to do it that makes you happy, don’t apologize for that.

    • That’s one thing I LOVE about this site. It’s not about who OWNS (because they can rent etc too) the biggest house, with the most expensive furniture etc. If my 2 bedroom in the “bad” part of town were cooler I’d totally submit pictures- baby crap everywhere and all.

    • “I think that the house buying shows on TV have blown expectations of what the average person can afford into a ridiculous standard.
      We need to live within our means and be happy to have our own space, what ever that ends up being for each person.” – So much this!!!!

      I feel like so many people (including myself) have put so much pressure on ourselves to meet up with some ridiculous standard! I tried living that life, but realized that what was involved in getting there was not for me. I’m happy for people who have that life and it works for them. But people are different and that is okay! There are plenty of people who rent and are really happy with that, and it works for them! And there are people who live in trailers and that works for them too!

      I think the biggest problem are people’s reactions when you decide to not lead a certain type of life. People get confused and sometimes even angry and highly critical. But I think that is why sites like this are so important. We have a community where there are other people like us (or not like us) who can be supportive of each other’s choices!

  6. My mom has always said everyone has a trailer in their past or future. I lived in one as a wee babe & again in college. My in-laws lived in one as newlyweds. Husband and I have already decided once the time (& funds) is right, we’ll buy land and stick a pre-fab home on it. I’m damn excited.
    Also, does anyone remember when that trailer park in Florida became the most expensive lots of real estate in the country?

    • My grandmother bought a place in the 70’s in Barefoot bay, just north of Vero. It was pretty nice. They had a great pool. The retirees took care of each other since family usually live out of state. It was great for her.

  7. Good for you! That’s awesome that you two have a home that works out best for you. I’ve been through a few trailer parks, and for the most part, they’re very clean and actually pretty nice.

    As for the pre-fab homes, I was surprised at how many options you have for building one (everything from walls and floors to sinks). If my hubby and I didn’t have our car hobby (and needed a garage), we would have definitely went that route.

    • I know! We bought ours from the original owner and she had everything built to her specifications. The only complaint we had was that she didn’t put central air in. But a few window units took care of that. 🙂

    • My sister moved to a part of Texas where just about everyone lives in a “manufactured home” (read: mobile home). They have a little over an acre of land, and so were able to build a large garage for my brother-in-law’s auto body customs business. They also keep 6 chickens, 3 dogs, and 3 cats.
      So, basically, they have their cake and eat it too, by having a manufactured home on a large lot which they own.

      • this is how my in-laws did it too. The land they own is huge, and they’ve done so much work over the years to their home that you wouldn’t necessarily pick it out as a pre-fab anymore. I’d love to live in a place like theirs.

  8. I live in an area where rents are super ridiculous and housing prices are even more so. A double wide in our area starts at $200,000+ and have the same amount of square footage that the condos selling for $500,000+ do. Every once in a while I think about buying a trailer but I don’t know if I can get over the stigma.

    • WOW. That is some pricey real estate. It took me awhile to get over the stigma and I’m still not totally over it. One person who was snotty about it at first lost their attitude real quick once they realized we have more square footage than them. Bigger isn’t always better of course, but it was kind of gratifying to be able to quash their superiority. And home is what you make it. So many friends have come over expecting us to live in a tin can but then leave gushing about how homey our place is. It is what you make it. 🙂

    • Holy cow! We just got a 1700 square foot house for 130k, and there are houses to be had for 110k or below around here. Reading about housing costs makes me happy to be in “flyover country”!

  9. I’ve been struggling with the same issue for two years now. I’m 35 and was able to buy a decent double-wide (a 3/2 that’s bigger than the last house I lived in, but also way older). I just didn’t anticipate the feeling of disappointment that came with it. I wish I could get over the shame, but I can’t. I had a Christmas party a few years back when I lived in a cute little house. Now, whenever someone asks when I’ll be having another party, I shrug them off. I don’t want everyone to know where I live. Only a select few know, and only one – my closest friend – has visited me there because I feel like living in a “trailer” would make me less of a person. I’m disappointed in myself for giving a damn what people think, but damn proud that I was able to accomplish what so many people my age haven’t been able to accomplish yet – becoming a homeowner.

    I think it has more to do with my surrounding neighborhood than my own home. It’s a nice park with some well-kept places, but there are quite a few that also scream “white trash.” (Sorry to put that so bluntly!)

    Thanks for your insight. It helps…

    • I know what you mean! I look at some of the older trailers and cringe a bit, because they look run down and not so pretty. You will be so surprised by how open people will be. Some will be jerks, but most, if they’re true friends, will see your home for what it is, a reflection of you and a lovely place. Get your party on! We’ve started having cookouts in our little yard and I’m itching to throw a Halloween party this fall.

      People who live in houses have “THAT” house on the block that doesn’t look so nice or is abandoned and unkempt. It almost doesn’t occur to me, that I AM a homeowner, and in this economy that’s something anyone should be proud of, whatever medium it happens to be.

    • A friend of mine lived in a trailer her parents bought for her and her sister while they were in university. They used to have wine and cheese parties and added all sorts of snooty themes to loosen both themselves up and the people who came. I think it helped them look at their situation with a tiny bit of laughter and a lot of love.

      Also, there is this whole movement of design for smaller, more sustainable housing and while the design and materials are different, the concept is incredibly similar to mobile home parks. Tumbleweed homes has a bunch of small home designs. looking at the stories I’ve heard – they’re not very different from you.

  10. I grew up in a trailer. In rural NC, they are as common as cowpies. There was no stigma involved in living there. The only thing that was a serious issue for me was tornadoes. Growing up, my grandma lived right next door and she had a basement so whenever the weather was bad we went to her house. Still, I was terrified of bad weather and would freak the hell out.

    Now, I’m 36 and live in a trailer again. I always said I’d never live in another trailer, only because of the weather aspect. There is something fundamentally unsettling about knowing the safest thing to do in the event of a tornado is to leave your home and go OUTSIDE and lie down in a ditch. However, my partner bought this place 12 years ago, because he had to find a place to live quick and this was what he could find, and it’s paid for.

    I only mind the weather thing. Otherwise, I could be happy here all my days without feeling like any sort of “failure”. We are fairly self sufficient and not racking up debts like so many other people we know. However, my SO is from Mass, where there IS a stigma attached to living in mobile homes, and he feels like a failure because this is our home. We recently bought a little brick house in town, a foreclosure, and are slowly renovating it so that it’s livable, and I know that he will feel 100% better about our situation once we move there. Personally, I’m grateful to have a roof over our heads one way or another.

    One thing I will say, though, is that here it is REALLY hard to get insurance for a trailer. We have been through three policies in three years with companies who have decided to no longer insure mobile homes in this state. Don’t know how it is in the Midwest. Either way, you’re doing way better than so many people are right now, so there is no reason for you to feel embarrassed or like a failure.

    • I worry a bit about weather too, but tornadoes are pretty rare these parts, even if we are in the Midwest. We were able to insure our trailer through the same company we use for our car insurance so we were lucky there. I am definitely grateful to have a roof over my head. It ain’t much, but it’s mine! Or rather ours. 🙂

  11. This is highly relatable for me. Glad to hear you are coming to terms with your situation and even embracing it.
    I am in a similar boat, kind of. My husband, son and I live in a 31′ Airstream. We keep it at an all year campground most of the time. We just passed our 1 year mark. My thing is telling people, mainly Gavin’s friends’ moms. he just finished kindergarten so I have met many new moms this year. I get “where do you live?” and I start my little explanation. It’s like “well right now we live in an Airstream” “a what?” “It’s a camper basically. It looks like a giant silver twinkie” “Oh I’ve seen them!” “Yeah well we decided to live in one a while. i know it’s a little weird but we love it so it works”.
    See we have a house too but it’s just because we are stuck with it. I bought it before we had Gavin and the neighborhood is not for kids. We are stuck with it for now.
    I love the Airstream. I would love to start WWOOFing in it. I was surprised with myself the first time I had to explain where we lived though. I didn’t think it would make me feel so insecure. I’m pretty much over that now though. :0)

    • My husband and I are also living in a camper (alas, not an Airstream…) while we house hunt. We don’t feel like spending atrocious amounts of dough to rent the apartment that we’d need in the area we have to live…so, we bought this for $1550, fixed it up (had some water damage) and now we’re living in it on someone’s horse farm. We pay him $100 a month to allow us to live here and suck up his electricity. We live in Maine, so we’re really hoping to find a house before frost.

    • I lived in an Airstream for a while too, but instead of a twinkie I described it as a big baked potato, lol.
      And honestly it wasn’t bad at all (until our plumbing started to freeze in the middle of winter) and at some point in the future I can see our small family living in it again.

  12. This is fascinating to me since caravan parks are either for vacations or used by Roma/Irish travellers in the UK, because we have more social housing it’s not associated with poor people so much. However, less social housing is being built and house prices/rent in the UK is much more per sq/ft than in the US, so I wonder if it would be a good solution.

    • Yeah, we live in Ireland, and similarly, caravans/trailers are not generally an option among the settled community.

      Reading this article is making me a bit wistful, because it’ll be years before my husband and I can become homeowners, and I’m sort of wishing trailers were more of a thing here.

      • That is a whole different perspective! I didn’t know that trailers weren’t used much in the UK/Ireland. I hope you’re able to meet your homeowning goals soon, and make wherever you’re at now as lovely as it can possibly be!

        • Trailers ARE used in the UK/Ireland, but by Roma/Irish Travellers, not the settled community. Prefabricated homes in the UK (I don’t know about Ireland) are permanent homes built after WW2 to replace bombed-out houses.

          My grandparents (who had vacations in the UK equivalent of an RV for years) lived in their RV for a year after they retired and one of my aunts was horrifed because she thought people would think they were gypsies. So there is a stigma, just a different one because it’s aimed at a particular group of people.

          Also, it’s worth pointing out that people rent in the UK much more than they do in the US. In many parts of Europe, most people rent – in Germany for instance, few people are homeowners.

          • Yep. I live in Germany, trailers/RV’s are only for vacation (with very very few exceptions). People usually rent flats/houses, at least in the bigger cities, because it’s awfully expensive to buy a flat or house.
            I live in Munich, one of the most expensive places in Germany, and people often have to pay 800 Euros (950USD) or more for a really small flat (30 square metres/320 sqare feet) per month. BUYING such a tiny place in Munich would cost around 300.000 EUR or more depending on the area.

            I started to be interested in Tiny Houses, but it’s still really really difficult to have one in Germany, because you need land and a building permit no matter how small it is or if it has wheels.

    • From my experience (in the Belfast area) the trailer parks in the UK are like camp grounds here. They are tow behind RVs and campers for housing. Here in the US when we talk about “trailers” its more of a prefabricated home that can be hauled to the lot by a semi (or sometimes split up on two semis if its a double wide). I think it started with people making houses out of the forms of semi truck trailers. So this is a little bigger than what you would come across in the UK. Most double wides are bigger than my non-prefab house.

      • Right! We do actually have prefab housing in the UK but they are permanent homes – they were built after WW2 to replace houses hit by bombs. They are actually becoming very desirable because of the historical connection, certainly they don’t have any of the associations with poverty that prefab housing does in the US.

    • I’m from New Zealand, and the mobile home communities I saw on my recent trip to the US were very unusual to me. Here, caravan parks are almost exclusively used for short term stays, by people who are travelling around the country on holiday. The ones I saw in the US didn’t look particularly ‘mobile’ either, they seemed quite permanent.

      • We still have the RV parks like you are used too, but people rarely live in them. It’s people traveling like you said. “Trailers” started as an affordable housing option built out of the trailer parts of semi trucks. They are still an affordable option for people like the author who just aren’t at a point where a multi story house with a basement etc is not an option. They are pretty permanent but you can hire a trucking company to move it to a different lot since in most parks, you own the home but not the land it sits on. They get a bad rap in the US because, as an affordable option, sometimes you get not the best of characters living in them. But in the area I’m from (rural West Virginia) I would say 25 -50% of the population live in a trailer either on land they own or in a park or allotment.

  13. a dear friend just moved out of her mom’s double-wide to live with her hubs in the UK. and i gotta be honest, that thing was pretty nice despite the clutter (but that was a user issue, and not a symptom of the house). the neighborhood is quiet, neighbors actually know each other, there is a pool and clubhouse on the property, and people toddle around on golf carts. the place is adorable.

    i say good on ya for doing what works for you.

  14. A lot of people here are talking about double-wides. Honestly, I find that with the double-wides that look like houses, unless you know what to look for, most people REALLY can’t tell unless they’ve lived in one. Also, some people keep the outside of their trailers crappy-looking on purpose. (At least in upstate NY) It keeps the taxes down. My brother’s looks really crappy on the outside, and really clean and modern on the inside.

    Right now I’m in an apartment, but I really REALLY want a house in about five years or so. It breaks my heart that my boy and I likely won’t be able to afford one. It’s been my dream for years, but everything’s just so expensive now, and we don’t even make 30,000 a year with both our incomes.

    So yeah, I get where you’re coming from. 🙂

    • If you are living in a rural area like upstate NY, I highly suggest you talk to a realtor about getting a USDA rural incentive housing loan. We couldn’t afford the rent for a two bedroom apartment around rural PA and ended up qualifying for this loan. Our monthly payments are $300/month less than the apartments, we had no down payment, and we now are the proud owners of a 3-bedroom house on 1.5 acres.

    • Keeping the outside looking rough might also make people think that there isn’t much in there worth stealing :). I’d happily forego aesthetics for that extra little bit of security.

  15. Coming from a country where living in campers/caravans year round is basically unheard of (they make ones with bedrooms now?!) i would LOVE to see a home tour from one of you guys in your trailer!!!

    • One of our quirks in the U.S. is that a “trailer” rooted in a mobile home park is not really the same thing as a “trailer” that roams the highways. They started out the same, but took different evolutionary paths.

      The highway-roaming kind of trailer, like Sarah Reed’s Airstream, still makes for pretty compact living.

      The “double wides” people mention can be moved, but you can’t drive around in them. They’re essentially just manufactured units that don’t have to be built stuck to a foundation. The older ones tend to be boxy and look more like highway-roaming trailers on the outside but like conventional homes inside. The newer ones are often designed to look just like conventional tract homes on the outside, too. There’s one on display at the Arizona State Fair each year, and people ooh-and-ah over how homey it is.

      That said, would love home tours of either sort!

    • Here, we call a stationary manufactured mobile home a “trailer” and a tow-behind or motor home usually designed for camping is a “camper”.

    • That is a common misconception I’ve come up against. I have wheels on my house, but it would be quite a production to move it anywhere. It’s very similar to a house in a lot of ways, but very different in a lot of others. It I have some projects I want to finish but I am planning on submitting a home tour one of these days.

  16. My best friend in middle/high school lived in a trailer, and I loved how cozy it was (and how they could repaint the kitchen whenever they felt like it, which we couldn’t do in our rental). The neighborhood had everything from that one probable-meth-lab to a really nice, intensely landscaped trailer with plastic deer in the yard.

    • Our neighbors have a HUGE deck on the side of their trailer. Another laid brick in their yard for a beautiful patio. A family across the park from us planted a beautiful garden. It’s amazing what people can do.

  17. My husband and I are living in a camper while we house hunt. Rent where we’re at for the size apartment that we need (actually, for the number of parking spaces that we need) would be ridiculous, so we decided to buy a camper and live in it for the summer on a horse farm.
    It’s cozy, but doable. We’ve considered buying a trailer that’s on a good plot of land, and then living in the trailer while we build a house……but (as others have mentioned) getting financing or insurance for a trailer is prohibitive. So, it’s the camper for now. We’re kind of rolling with the camper stereotype… we have a pink flamingo next to our deck (the deck is make from free lumber and his parents’ old queen waterbed frame), potted flowers, and I’m on the lookout for a dream catcher wind chime with a wolf on it.

  18. When my Grandma ended up moving into an over-50s mobile home park after living in a big house on a hill with a big garden, we all could hardly imagine it.

    It turned out to be awesome – the house looked a little iffy outside, but inside it was really beautiful. Nice floors, nice wallpaper (okay, my Gramma added those, but still). She even had a nice garden that was waayy more manageable and she enjoyed having normal neighbors (her age in this case) she could play cards with, etc.

  19. I am going to pass this on to my Tubsy. Next year we will be married and I will be finishing graduate school.
    When we talk about places that we may want to live, he rejects the idea of a mobile home community immediately. He is hung up on the stereotypes. He is genuinely afraid that as a black woman I would be targeted by the occupants in the communities. I am having a hard time trying to convince him otherwise. He won’t even look.

    • I don’t know where you guys live, but here where we live it is very diverse. We have all different races of people living all around us in this park, and it’s not at all unusual to see interracial couples and families. People are overall really chill and friendly to each other, kids play together, neighbors hang out. It’s nice. On the other hand, some friends of ours moved into a “swanky” apartment community and had problems with some resident idiots because she was black and he was white.

  20. I’d rather live in an inexpensive trailer and have money to travel and do fun things with my friends and family than have some swanky place to occasionally impress people with. As long as you feel safe and secure in your little neighorhood and are financially ok you shouldn’t worry about what people think.(People’s perceptions of you don’t help you pay the bills after all.) And just think of how many people would love to be able to afford to go on nice trips but can’t because their mortgage is too high.

  21. My husband and I bought a double wide on 3 acres. We both were a little nervous but it was in our price range, plus we have the land if someday we want to build our own house. Plus, if we go that route, we’ll just continue to live in the double wide while it is being built.

    It needs some work, an older woman lived her before us and made some… questionable design choices but it is newer than anything we could have afforded. Now, we can pay our student loan debt down (there’s plenty), we’re paying less for our mortgage than renting and I can stay home with our child and not feel guilty. We ended up going through a big bank for our mortgage and while there were more hoops to jump through (inspection and appraisal), it was still relatively easy to secure the loan.

    Glad it is working out for you. After I get rid of this hunter green carpet, I’ll be happy with our decision too =)

  22. Wow…this is EXACTLY how I am feeling right now. In two weeks I will be moving to a single wide and back to my small little hometown in Indiana. I have struggled!! I’m divorced with three kids. One is out on her own and I have two teenage boys. I have NO help what so ever from their father. I have a good job at a university, but finances are alway, always tight. I’ve been renting but need to move. It was suggested that I buy a trailer and move into my cousin’s trailer park. It’s a very small park and kept pretty nice…mostly older folks. I scoffed. My kids scoffed. But, as I looked at other options, I realized it was the only thing that made ANY sense. It would be mine…I wouldn’t be throwing my money away. It would be the right size; not too big, yet not too small. The price is perfect. I’ve come to terms with it and have actually become excited. I’ve been reading blogs about trailer life and been seeing what people do with them. They can be a very homey comfy place to live. I still haven’t told many people though…and feel a bit embarrassed still. Maybe once I’m there, I’ll get over it. The term “trailer trash” has always made me mad. My kids used to use it to talk about the people that lived in a park outside of the town we used to live it. The town was snobbish and the trailer park is where the low income people lived. There was a lot of crime there. But I alway got upset when I heard people say that. One reason is because I knew there were people who were there, not because they chose to be there, but because of circumstances. My circumstances have brought me to where I am…will I be ashamed or embrace it? Trash is not where you live, but how you act. There’s lots of “trash” living in mansions these days. So, anyway…thanks for this article. It helps to know I’m not alone.

    • It’ll take time, but soon enough, it feels like home. My neighbors are all nice, there are families here, there are kids playing in the street and in the field behind the park. It will take some time but it’ll fade away slowly. You’ll always have people who stick up their noses, but when you do something that makes sense to you, and have a place to sleep at night, what more can you ask for?

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