How Much Does it Cost to Live in a Trailer Park?

electricity running at trailer park at night

Have you ever considered the costs of moving to a trailer park? 

They aren’t what they used to be. Over 20 million Americans live in trailer park communities. Stricter safety codes and new manufacturing techniques have increased the quality & safety of these homes.  Your cost per square foot can be one-third to half of a traditional home! 

Read on and discover some of the many reasons for and against retiring to a trailer park neighborhood. This article focuses on the expenses involved with trailer park living.

Trailer parks can be a very cost-effective way to make your retirement savings last longer. We are going to take an in-depth look at the costs involved and break those costs down into two categories. 

  1. Upfront Costs
  2. Ongoing Costs

Upfront Costs of Trailer Park Living

Your biggest upfront cost (no surprise) is the cost of the trailer itself.  It’s important to understand that trailers do not qualify for your typical home mortgage, so you will need to either pay cash or consider other forms of financing. You can look into some USDA or VA loans as a possibility.  

You can consider dipping into your IRA or 401K for a down payment. Most of these plans offer penalty-free access to your retirement funds if you are using the money for payment on a home. In these cases, you will be borrowing the capital from yourself and then paying yourself back over a period of usually 5-15 years. 

While the most typical layout for a living trailer is known as a ‘double wide’ there are also single trailers available for less money.

single wide trailers

Single Wide Trailers

Depending on the location and finishes you can expect a single-wide trailer to run in the neighborhood of $40,000 to $70,000. The average size of a single wide is 600 to 1,000 square feet with 1-2 beds and 1-2 baths.

Double Wide Trailers

Double Wide trailers are the most popular and come in anywhere between 1,000 and 2,1000 square feet.  A common double-wide would be 2-3 bedrooms and usually, they have 2 baths. Double-wide trailer costs start at $100K with higher-end units running up to $125,000 as of this writing.

One downside to keep in mind is that manufactured homes typically do not appreciate in value like the typical home.  They would be more like your automobile that loses value over time.  It’s common that you can expect your manufactured home to provide up to 30 or 40 years of living.

Ongoing Costs of Living in a Trailer Park Community

In addition to purchasing your trailer, you can expect several ongoing expenses, some of which are typical to any home and some more specific to trailer communities.

  1. Property Taxes – These are lower than your typical single-family home usually less than $200 per month.
  2. Utilities – Electricity & Internet Costs are usually in-line with traditional homes. Plan on $300 per month for all utilities
  3. Lot Rental – Rental fees can run between $200 – $1,000 per month
  4. Lot Fees – Plan on $100 to $200 per month in lot fees – this covers park maintenance

You may consider purchasing your lot when you purchase your trailer. This is usually a good idea if you have the money to do so and plan to stay in your trailer for more than 5 years. 

Take a look at this explainer that compares the difference between owning versus renting your pad:

It is important to note that if you own your lot, you will pay additional taxes on that lot. If you decide to go with renting your pad, the lot owner will pay those taxes, so it can save you some additional cost if you stick with a pad rent. The video shows an in-depth comparison of owning vs. renting your lot.

So, as you can see it’s essential to develop a budget if you want to consider the total cost of living in a trailer park. More recently some park operators have been increasing lot fees and rent at much higher rates than ever before. 

Some states have introduced bills to keep rentals and fees in alignment with inflation or a cap on the number of annual increases operators can impose on residents.  Colorado legislators introduced a bill in 2022 that would cap costs associated with trailer park fees.

In addition to this, most states have a governing board or oversite committee that helps trailer park residents with disputes and code enforcement. 

To get a look at the building requirements for manufacturing, please see the federal register website here.

Summary of Costs

Is it cost-effective to retire into a trailer park community?

trailer park

While there are lots of factors, we recommend doing your own local research. Costs can vary a great deal depending on location and the type of trailer that will best suit you. Beware of lot fees and rental and confirm in your contract if there is a cap on the amount these items can be increased annually. 

Related: Mobile Home Retirement Communities in Tennessee