The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

How much should I spend on a used mobile home?

Checking out a trailer

Despite parental dismay that we're planning to live in a trailer again, the first phase of our closing trip to Ohio involved hunting for a new mobile home. Well, actually, for a used mobile home.

Trailersteading gives details about our first mobile home, which Ancient trailerwe were given for free since the structure was windowless, ancient, and a liability to the trailer-park owner. Given our budget at the time, that trailer was the perfect choice. But we've since saved our pennies and wanted to move to the next step up. The question became --- how high should we go?

Just out of curiosity, I took a look at the selling price of new mobile homes. These started at $24,000 and definitely seemed like a very bad financial decision even if we'd Trailer bedroomhad the spare cash on hand. If we'd had to borrow to make the new mobile home a reality, the financial situation would have been even darker, involving a high-interest loan. Bad idea!

At the lower end, I was still able to find free mobile homes for sale on Craigslist. One didn't look at all bad...although the listing did mention an infestation of bedbugs. Elbow grease would definitely have made these livable...eventually.

Then there was the Goldilocks middle ground. For $3,000 to $7,000, there are a slew of trailers to choose from. We made a list then started making calls. More on the results in tomorrow's post!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Anna and Mark,

You are making an excellent decision. There is no better housing value on this planet than a pre-owned mobile home. We are continually delighted with ours (cf Trailersteading, 2nd edition) and enjoy it more every day! I never mentioned it during our previous discussions, but in the late 1970s, I worked for a few months delivering and setting up used mobile homes. There is nothing to compare to living in an energy efficient dwelling, with all the modern conveniences, and not carrying a mortgage. Good luck, and happy trailersteading!


Comment by Harry Tue Sep 19 13:38:44 2017

Anna, We lived in a tiny camper (part-time) after we purchased our homestead property almost 5 years ago in December. After multiple discussions, we decided to add a double wide mobile home for our house. It was the most cost effective solution. (And yes, we did read your book for inspiration prior to making our decision.)

Our first limitation was due to trees across the road from our drive and the deep culvert under the drive entrance. This limited what we could purchase - no longer than ~55 feet long and 14 feet wide. Since we couldn't go long, we decided to go wide. We needed space for multiple family members to stay while visiting overnight.

We looked at several dozen homes before we found one we wanted. We set it on a block foundation which is the first lesson learned. We wish we had put a basement under at least part of the home. We could use a basement for storage, a root cellar and a storm/tornado safe space. You will now be in the midwest and a storm shelter of some type is a very important place.

Another consideration was how much space we needed if we were snowed in for a while. Being used to winter in Indiana, we knew we could easily be house bound for a week or more several times during the winter. We needed to be sure we would be happy with the house during that time.

Another consideration was to have enough room in the kitchen to process things from the garden and to cook. I needed space for the food processor, the canners, etc. We removed walls so that we've made a large kitchen/dining/living room out of enclosed kitchen, living room, dining and bedroom spaces. The space is so much more functional now.

One other lesson learned. Our purchased house looked pretty nice when we bought it. By the time it was moved, it wasn't what we thought it would be. We moved it about 150 miles. When it arrived, the kitchen cabinets were no longer usable, the walls were pretty badly damaged due to the way they had remodeled and the moving company caused damage to the wiring and plumbing when they put it back together. (I found "new" appliances, cabinets and other items on Craigs list.) We're still working on repairs but it is coming along.

We're retired and very happy with our homestead. Just wish we had the energy we had 40 years ago. Good luck finding what makes you happy on your new land. Hoping this property turns out to be your dream home.

Comment by Mary Wed Sep 20 00:49:17 2017

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