Real-Life Manufactured Home Communities
First-time visitors to manufactured home communities are often surprised when their stereotypes and misconceptions prove to be incorrect. The Great American Trailer Park Musical, for example, paints manufactured home communities as populated by poor, lazy and badly educated lowlifes. An exotic dancer, the show’s main character, needs “a place to live that’s cheap and private where people got so many problems of their own they won’t much notice mine.”
Who really lives in these communities? Manufactured homes are overwhelmingly occupied by homeowners. These owners must be financially stable according to state laws and park standards. Many households have the funds to purchase homes outright, while those with steady incomes qualify for home loans. Park operators also conduct background checks on new home buyers.
Seniors, in particular, find that manufactured homes meet their wishes. The 2011 American Housing Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau reports that more than 28 percent of manufactured home owners are 65 years old or over. Manufactured home communities provide seniors with resort living at a modest cost. Parks schedule holiday dinners and special events. It’s easy to make new friends there, and low-maintenance properties and small yards allow for independent living. If a homeowner needs a handyman, there are always skilled neighbors to turn to for help.
In manufactured home communities, seniors and families find features that are often missing in site-built neighborhoods. Amenities include recreation halls, pools, playgrounds, tennis courts, putting greens and more. Manufactured home neighborhoods are particularly safe. Safety features include gated entrances, perimeter fences, lighting and 24-hour staff.
Facilities in manufactured home communities can be better maintained than those in surrounding residential neighborhoods. In these tough fiscal times for local governments, public streets, sidewalks and recreational resources are falling apart, but owners of well-built and well-maintained manufactured homes seldom see the decay that can plague site-built neighborhoods.
Manufactured homes no longer fit the “trailer” or “mobile home” stereotypes. Since 1976, manufactured homes have been built according to a national building code and inspection system standards. Factory construction can exceed site-built methods. Over half are double- or triple-wide models, according to the American Housing Survey. These models match or exceed a typical single-family home in many real estate markets. Once installed on a site, manufactured homes remain in place. The American Housing Survey reports that less than 18 percent of all manufactured homes were ever moved from one site to another.[cf]tracking[/cf]
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