Residential park homes have become something of a property phenomenon in recent years, with almost 44,000 parks scattered across the United States and over 3.3 million senior citizens living in Mobile homes (according to HUD). They offer an inexpensive housing options, peace of mind and a sense of community to residents, making them an attractive retirement option. Before you take the plunge and retire into a mobile or RV home park or community, there are several things to consider.
The affordability of a mobile park home makes them even more tempting for retirees, considering that the median baby boomer has only $150,000 saved for retirement as of 2021, with an estimated 35% of baby boomers having zero money for retirement. There are other ways to make retirement savings last.
Before deciding whether a mobile or RV park home could be the ideal place for your retirement, you’ll need to look at the advantages they offer besides potential drawbacks. Here are several things to consider before deciding whether park homes might offer you the comfortable retirement you deserve.
1. What does the Mobile Park location have to offer?
You need to survey park sites with care and accept that it may take you a long time to find a park you like. A good park home site should offer residents a peaceful and relaxing environment with beautiful views, an array of activities created for senior citizens or retirees such as pools and parks, and the convenience of nearby shops and restaurants. Be sure to look at age restrictions too, as you would want a location that caters to senior citizens or retirees over the age of 55.
Many retirees also need to continue to hold some type of job, whether part or full time. Or maybe gig work or a side hustle. This in effect means that you want the mobile home park to either (1) be located near somewhere you can find a job or (2) ensure it has access to high speed internet access or technology that will not prevent you from earning an income. As some park homes may be very rural or require a decent sized commute to get to somewhere where you can find a job. Always keep employment in mind, or find how retirees can make more money.
The best parks are typically located near sites of outstanding natural beauty and boast a wealth of features such as clubhouses, swimming pools, gyms, libraries, sports halls, and fitness centers. The features should cater to activities that a retiree wants!
2. Monthly Rental Costs and Fees vs. Buying a Home
Look into the cost, as far as whether you want to lease or buy the land for a home. As rental rates may be a few hundred dollars per month to a thousand dollars or so per month for a gated community with lots of amenities. Be sure to review and contract for monthly fees and what the rate of increase in said fees is and if there are “caps” to them. As if the monthly fees are a few hundred dollars per month and have no maximum cap on them, that increases can be tough for a retiree to afford.
If you decide to purchase a mobile home as a retiree, keep in mind the up-front purchase price and the monthly fees. A basic mobile home may cost around $60,000, a dibble wide around $120,000 to $140,000 and a triple-wide around $250,000. Of course the price will depend on what features you put into the home. In addition, even if you buy a mobile home, you will still need to lease land and pay any monthly fees (see above).
3. What security arrangements are in place at the Mobile Park Home?
All reputable park home sites that cater to retirees prioritize security with main security gates, 24-hour controls, and a secure perimeter to keep residents safe. Crime rates are practically non-existent, meaning you can buy a park home knowing that it is all going to be secure and well looked after even when you travel. On-site office staff will happily do things like feed your birds or check the post, giving you peace of mind.
Note mobile park homes are often safe to live in. University of Illinois in Chicago and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report no statistical difference in crime rates between mobile home parks and other homes. In fact, apartment communities have higher statistical overall crime rates, and the crime rate is about 5 to 15% higher in apartment communities. While no studies have been done on home parks for retirees, it is safe to assume the crime rates will be no different (if not lower) then other park homes.
4. What maintenance requirements are there?
Before deciding whether to retire to a park home, it’s important to think about long-term maintenance requirements. It’s best to think of park homes as very high-spec bungalows with solidly constructed floors and ceilings, a high energy-efficiency rating, and very low maintenance costs. You can choose to either buy a park home from an existing owner or have one custom-built to meet your needs.
A general rule for any home is to budget 1% of the cost of the home to pay for repairs each year. So if your home costs $200,000, plan on spending up to $2,000 a year for maintenance. Even if you do not spend the entire 2K in a year, it should be allocated//saved for future park home repairs.
Keep this in mind as financial help to pay for home repairs is not easy to get. There are resources for low income seniors or retirees, but the assistance comes and goes and is dependent on many factors. Never county of help if you are a retiree – budget for repairs on your own. Learn more on government home repair programs.
Some parks offer homes that are specially constructed for owners with mobility problems. Park homes can be modified with wider doors or higher plug sockets to help make life easier. Factor in ongoing maintenance costs before making a decision about the type of park home you want to buy.
5. Which property management company monitors the site?
Most park home sites are managed by a property management company that looks after the upkeep of the properties and the communal areas like the tennis courts, swimming pools, parks, and roads. Costs vary widely between different parks but whichever park you choose you’ll be paying an annual site fee. The fee will also include any amenities, such as community pools, clubhouses, senior centers, etc. Plan on spending at minimum $100 per month of the management fees.
Therefore, it’s important to do due diligence on the management company before deciding whether to buy a park home. Look at the company’s history and track record.
6. What sale options are available?
Park homes typically don’t make good financial investments in the way that conventional homes do. While you can own the property itself, you don’t own the land on which it is situated. However there can be some exceptions for high end mobile park homes for retirees. But note if you own the land (bought it) the upfront costs you need to pay for housing will be higher.
While this makes park homes cheaper to buy or build than normal properties, it means that they are depreciating assets. That’s why you need to consider available sale options before deciding whether to buy. Most park site owners deduct around 10 percent of the final sale price when owners sell their homes, so it’s something you’ll need to think about carefully.
Park homes can offer the chance to live somewhere beautiful, safe and convenient during retirement without the stress and hassle of owning a home. But before making a decision, it’s important to consider the five areas above in detail. With the right planning and foresight you’ll be able make a sound decision and reap the benefits for years to come.