Home Sweet Singlewide

Okay, I’m probably the only person on the planet to say this, but:

I’ve wanted to live in a singlewide for a long time now. It became a dream, one of those odd little ideas you grab hold of and find yourself unable to let go, an idea you keep worrying like a puppy with a squeaker toy.

So here we are, in a singlewide of our very own!

This is the largest single move we have made to simplify our lives. And if you are working on simplifying your life, the best move you can make is to somewhere more affordable and closer to your work.

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, real estate was the safest investment you could make. That has changed. There’s nothing quite as shocking as discovering that you owe far more on your home that you could possibly get out of it. Double the agony if you’ve lost your job and can’t afford to pay the mortgage.

Watching that kind of financial misery play out over and over again taught us that we didn’t have to keep our home. We were able to sell out and buy a far, far cheaper mobile home…and you know what? We are happier here!

Okay, now on the the FAQs!

Q: Aren’t mobile homes tacky?

A: Well, yeah. They pretty much are, if you buy an older home.  If you are the kind of person who can’t live without crown moulding, you may not be able to stand the idea of an older mobile. If, on the other hand you find an affordable deal on a mobile that makes your future much less stressful, that’s pretty heady stuff!

New mobile homes are another story. My daughter and son-in-law once bought a small (600 square feet) mobile home that featured “real” windows, drywall, and nice crown moulding in the main living areas. They then removed the “strips” on the drywall in the bed- and bath- rooms, painted in decorator colors, and took a wild turn and painted the kitchen cabinets as well. The place looked fantastic, like a real HOME, albeit a small one. The cost? About that of an average new car.

Our mobile home is kind of old style. It’s a 1997, which means it still pretty sturdy, but is starting to show wear. The previous owners, friends of ours, had upgraded it by adding a nice floating floor to the kitchen, and painting over or wallpapering all the orginal “trailer” wallpaper. The result was nice, but not exactly US, so we’ve been working to make it more “us.” There is still a lot of work to do, which is a good thing, because I’ll let you see it as we do it!

Q. Don’t you miss living in a real house?

A. No. Our home has a funny little feel all its own. It feels like a cross between a house, (with our nice kitchen floor, our standard appliances, our wainscoting and our replacement doors,) and a camper (the little plastic sinks in the bathroom, the tiny little strips of trim that stand in for mouldings.) My husband can replace those things as we have time, energy and money, but they don’t bother me. They actually kind of amuse me. Am I warm? Dry? Is there enough food and toilet paper in the house? If I have the basics, the rest is gravy.

That said, some paint colors just depress me, and we can’t have that. I needed some areas to be lighter and brighter before we ever moved in, so we did do a little painting.  🙂

Q. Isn’t it ugly on the outside?

A. Oh YEAH. It’s pretty hideous!! Newer trailers have vinyl siding and look pretty much like unimaginative little ranch houses. Old, metal-sided trailers look like….old, metal-sided trailers. There’s no hiding that kind of ugly, it just IS. We would like to install a metal roof and vinyl siding, but we’ll have to see how the money goes. If things don’t go well, we could simply paint the metal. (I’ve been reading about how to do this, and recommendations range from MAJOR sanding, priming and painting to simply painting with a series of Rustoleum cans from WalMart. o.O)

Q. What about underpinning? Do you have that plastic stuff that gets holes all in it when a weedeater hits it?

A. No. Once again, we were pretty fortunate. The previous owner had cinderblock underpinning installed before we ever moved in. (Bonus points: my husband was the one who layed the block, long before we ever thought about moving here.) The block still needs painting, stucco or rock to look nice, but it’s far more solid than the plastic stuff!

Q. C’mon, really…don’t you hate it?

A. No. I really think it’s kind of charming. And my friends seem to think the same thing…they’ve been pleasantly surprised by the place.

Q. What’s up with mobile home “glamour baths”?

A. Man, I wish I knew. Apparently mobile home designers in the 90’s thought that singlewide buyers wanted very large bathrooms with a lot of windows and mirrors.

I think this is pretty much the funniest thing in the world.

At 50, I don’t want a mirror in front of my bathtub. I have a hard enough time looking in the mirror to brush my teeth! And I certainly don’t want to have a window in front of my tub. Some things we REALLY don’t want to share with the neighbors!! Our first “major” makeover to our trailer was to close up the “glamour bath” area of one bathroom, making room for a small walk in closet. (We still have a double bowl sink area, toilet and shower.)

Q. Where are the pictures?

A. They’re coming, they’re coming. That’s for a later post. (Read: I am too lazy to do it this evening.)

For us, buying a mobile home was an excellent financial decision. We are quite content…but like any homeowners, we know there will be maintenance and updating projects to come.

What do you think? Have you ever lived in a mobile home? Have you ever considered it? Has the economic crunch changed your view of what makes an acceptable home?


7 thoughts on “Home Sweet Singlewide

  1. Betsy,
    I am in total agreement with your statements regarding mobile home living. I wouldn’t change much about our home sweet singleness either. Loved reading this post.

  2. I have owned & lived in a mobile home, since 1978. Got a new one on the same land in 1991. It is now paid for, including the land. I love MY home. No, I don’t think they are tacky. (it is what you make it) No I don’t miss living in a REAL house. (a house is a home, and this is my home) No, I don’t think they are hideous. I do what I can to keep it up, and besides: (it’s mine) As far as underpinning, I had the “plastic stuff” until I could afford block underpinning. “The plastic stuff” fulfilled it’s purpose until I got something better. I hope you don’t feel too bad, “stepping down” from a house to a “TinCan” lol enjoy

  3. I have a dream of living in a tiny little shack somewhere where the scenery is prettier than my house, with just a few good thrifted finds, just space big enough to cuddle in and a place to put my art supplies, and land enough to grow some things and perhaps have a few chickens clucking around. Glad you were able to downsize and realize your dream! I know EXACTLY what you mean about getting an idea stuck in your head that won’t budge. 😄

    • Katie-I’m assuming you’ve seen Tumbleweeds houses? Those teensy houses on wheels? Soooo cute!

      There are also some prefab 400 square foot homes that were sold as vacation homes…really a kind of upscale tiny singlewide. I tried multiple times tour one and couldn’t find the shop open to get a walk-through.

      I’ve had several friends say they wanted to get an outbuilding and retrofit it to live in. My hub is a builder and could easily do that…the trick would be getting permits. The Tumbleweeds houses are on wheels because most places won’t give permits for too small of a dwelling. Would LOVE to build small homes as a business!

      On the chickens…just need to keep ’em off the porch. I’ve had to tiptoe thru some droppings to get in some folks’ back doors!

  4. I’m another who (voluntarily) left a “normal sized” home and moved into a singlewide. I know just how you feel when you describe the cozy feeling of living in a “cross between a house and a camper” — in a good way! : ) Please share pictures to inspire the rest of us as we pursue similar paths. And, more practically speaking, do you have any trouble keeping it heated in winter? I don’t know where you live or what you use to heat it, but where we are (SW VA) it can get very cold and windy!

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