So you want to downsize? Well here are a few things to think about when deciding WHAT to downsize TO!
Should you buy an RV or a Mobile Home? Let’s begin this discussion by addressing a few technicalities. Most people hear the word Mobile Home and get scared. They immediately picture a desolate small trailer park with run down mobile homes, and perhaps an elderly gentleman leaning on his 80’s Ford truck with a shotgun embraced in his arms. That’s far from reality. In fact, the term “Mobile Home” is no longer even used.
In 1976 HUD developed new codes for manufactured (Mobile) housing. The term “Mobile Home” is now refereed to manufactured homes that were built prior to 1976 when the building codes did not exist, and the homes were not built as strong or with better quality materials. We are talking about prefabricated housing that is mostly assembled in factories and then transported to sites for use. Today we call these Manufactured Homes.
The reason the term has changed is because when these homes initially became popular in the 1950’s, and were often moved multiple times during their life. Now-a-days, these homes are almost always built, transported to a location, attached, and remain at that location for an extended period of time, if not for the duration of their existence. So in essence, they’re not really being “mobile”. This is another reason why they are more often referred to now as manufactured homes.
Fun Fact: It’s estimated that over 20,000,000 (20 MILLION) Americans, that’s 1 in every 25 people, live in a manufactured home!
The question we’re asking now is whether to buy a manufactured home or an RV. This is a question we asked ourselves for nearly 2 years. We wanted something smaller, but we were not quite sure what we wanted it to be.
The differences are obvious. RV’s require something to tow them behind, such as a truck or large van. RV’s also require a place to put them. This could be an RV park with water and plumbing connections. Most RV parks have monthly options too, so you could set up and pay a monthly fee to just stay on that site as long as you’d like. The PROS of buying an RV are that you can move whenever you want. You can literally pack up and move to another state, travel the country, see the world, and never stay in one place all the time. There are hundreds of families doing this. Amber and I follow several of them on Youtube and they’re having amazing experiences. Of course your work schedule has to be conducive for this, i.e. you have to be able to work from the road.
One of the largest CONS to RV life would have to be that IT’S EXPENSIVE!!! Amber and I looked at a lot of RV’s, from Travel Trailers, to Fifth Wheels, to Toy Haulers, and all were different sizes with different amenities. Some were $15,000, and some were $75,000. The out of pocket expense of having an RV is a lot up front. AND you also have to have something to pull the RV with, especially if you’re going to travel with it. So now you have to add the cost of a vehicle to that overall total, that is if you don’t already have one that could do it.
It doesn’t stop there though. Now you have to add the cost of site fees. This is where the money starts to add up. Here in Oklahoma we have a couple of friends who have or are living in their RV’s full time. Some have land they park it on, and some stay in RV parks month to month. If you’re opting to stay in an RV park, you better be prepared to shell out over $400 PER MONTH!!! Of course there are other ways to get around this, like looking online for people willing to let you park your RV on their land for a couple hundred dollars a month. I’ve seen people get RV parking for free in exchange for work while on the land. But the point is, for someone getting into the RV life full time, it can get very expensive, very quickly.
Another option I’d like to mention is the tiny house on wheels. Amber and I also looked at these. These can be expensive, but you basically get a beautiful miniature home on wheels. We’re talking less than 400 square feet usually. With 3 children, this quickly fell by the wayside, even though I absolutely love tiny homes on wheels, and I want one for a guest house and to travel with. I may even build my own in the next couple years… We’ll see.
Back to the discussion… Because Amber and I were trying to limit our financial output, and the RV life would not accommodate that, we started looking into manufactured homes. We did our homework and learned that manufactured homes are not as scary as people think they are. There are a lot of myths circulating around about manufactured housing, and we will talk about some of them in an upcoming video. Hopefully it will help change your mind about the idea of living in one.
On our search for living small we came across the manufactured home that we are in now. We were blessed in that it has a great big yard, backs to a greenbelt, and is in an awesome school district. We’re surrounded by a mix of stick built homes and manufactured homes, which offers a nice balance. But we’re all far apart due to the large lot sizes of around 1 acre. The other benefit to manufactured homes is that some of them come on land and are already “attached” to that land. This means they are already hooked up to electricity, water, and sewer. This helps with value, taxes, and more, which I’ll also do a video on at a later date.
The most important thing with it being attached is that if you ever decide to build a stick home later, you already have the utilities on the property and do not have to pay to have the utilities brought onto the property, which can be costly depending on the property and location. Another benefit to buying a manufactured home is that they can be relatively inexpensive. If you buy one with land you will obviously be paying more. But the homes themselves can be equivalent to the cost of an RV, depending on the size and amenities you want with it.
If you love to travel, have the financial means to be on the road most of the year, and you really want to live a mobile life, I would say sell your house and buy an RV! You could even buy a converted Van and become a part of the ever growing Van Life community! If you’re looking to live with a smaller footprint on this world, and in life, but you aren’t quite ready for the RV/Van/Tiny Home Life, consider a manufactured home. I think you will be pleasantly surprise when doing your research just how affordable, comfortable, safe, and energy efficient they can be.
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