Pros and Cons of Living in a Small Mobile Home

You’ve heard it all the time…”Don’t buy a mobile home because they go down in value!”. But are there any good reasons to buying and living in a mobile home? Is a manufactured home always a dumb financial decision? Will you hate the small space? From our experience of living in a single wide for several years, here are my pros and cons of living in a small mobile home.

Quick Overview of Pros and Cons of Living in a Small Mobile Home

Pros of Mobile Home Life

  • Affordable housing option during remodel or new house build
  • Second house on property – mother in law house or rental option
  • Cheaper option for a second home on property
  • The smaller space makes it fast to clean
  • Simple living; reduces consumer mentality
  • Lower remodel cost

Cons of Mobile Homes

  • Value goes down…sometimes
  • Lot or land rent
  • Moving fees
  • Unconventional loan options
  • Not as much storage as a regular home
  • Limited quiet areas

Background of Our Mobile Home Living

Three years ago, we purchased some property with a decrepit farmhouse, dreamy old barn…and a 1979 mobile home in the back. Our joke was that if the farmhouse renovation took too long, we would just move into the not-so-appealing single wide for temporary housing. Haha. Ha. hhhaaaa…. We moved into the single wide mobile home with 780 square feet.

Thankfully, the carpet had been updated from the shag (except for the closets). But, honestly, that is pretty much the only thing that was going for the ol’ girl. She was so ugly, we had to give her a name. So she became “Bertha.” (Sorry to all the Bertha’s out there.) To this day, our kids don’t say “We’re going home.” They say, “We’re going to Bertha.”

After a hard month of non-stop renovation, we took Bertha from two inches of sewage backup in the bathtub, severe mouse infestation and dark, depressing paneled walls into a home that we now love and enjoy living in with our family of five. 

Our renovations so far have totaled $6,400, We have updated and fixed the following:

  • Painting ceiling and walls
  • Painting kitchen and bathroom cabinets
  • Painting kitchen countertops
  • Sticky backsplash tile in the kitchen
  • Wallpaper in the bathroom
  • Blocking all mouse entry
  • Updating ductwork and blocking unused returns
  • Fixing the furnace and air conditioning unit
  • Some electrical rewired (half the outlets were not working, and the electrician found charred electric wires underneath)
  • Digging and installing new sewage line
  • Fixing some plumbing
  • Painting roof with insulating sealant
  • Reinsulating the walls
  • New siding
  • Tearing off and rebuilding a new deck (it’s still not great but at least it won’t fall down)
  • Replacing rotting bathroom subfloor and installing laminate flooring
  • Replacing a broken window
  • Building small window and door awnings

The big question is, was renovating and living in a single wide mobile home worth the expense or a waste of money? After my pros and cons of living in a small mobile home I will delve into why we have loved our mobile home and why it has been a great financial decision for us.

Pros of living in a small mobile home

Affordable housing while we remodel (or if you’re building a new house)

Since our farmhouse remodel is down to the studs, it’s really not an option to live in the house. We were living in our house in town for a while and driving to work on the farmhouse, but that was a pain, not to mention keeping up with two sets of housing bills. A mobile home allows us to live on the property but away from the renovation. Mobile homes on property are a great option if you need a long time to DIY a remodel or new build, especially if you want to be close to the building site.

A mother-in-law house or rental property in the future

We have not crossed this bridge yet, but we always wanted a second home on our property to have available for aging parents, guests or a rental option. I’m not sure how we will use it in the future, but we have a second home in our own yard to use however we need.

Cheaper to remodel older mobile home than building new (second) home

As we continue to update our single wide, our constant thought is should we sink more money into this or just build a small house someday? Our conclusion is that we will most likely not have an extra $60,000 – $100,000 to build a small new home, so spending a bit of money updating our mobile home saves us money in the long run, making it a good investment.

Faster cleaning 

Obviously a small living space doesn’t take as much time cleaning as a large space. I can clean the whole house really well in a couple hours. A quick clean up takes 15 – 20 minutes.

Forces us to declutter regularly 

We don’t have extra space. If we don’t use something, we get rid of it pretty quickly. And that is freeing to not have a lot of clutter around our own home at the end of the day.

Realize how little stuff we need

I love the simple life of living in a tiny house with less space. We now realize how little we actually need or even want. Our small space makes us consider purchases more, invest in the items that we’ll love and use and lower our consumer mentality.

Not overwhelming in maintaining 

Every traditional home has maintenance. Since this single wide mobile home is small, often that maintenance takes less money and time.

Lower remodel cost

Replace the siding of a house is costly, but replacing the siding on our single-wide mobile home wasn’t that overwhelming or expensive. When we want to make updates, the cost is a lot more manageable.

Cons of living in a small mobile home

Value goes down…sometimes

This is the main point you hear against mobile homes. The resale value goes down! That may be true or it may not. For newer mobile homes on small lots, I’m sure the value goes down. But what about moving a mobile home to land? By putting housing on land you own, it may actually increase the value. And you may be able to get a cheap used mobile home and make inexpensive renovations to make it a nice place and affordable type of home.

Lot or land rent

We have the benefit of owning the land where our mobile home sits. If you have to pay lot or land rent, it would be a different situation since you don’t completely own your home. State and county laws in our area are screwy, so the mobile home you own can’t be moved to a new location from the lot you rent. So you’re stuck. Crazy. Make sure you know the local laws before you rent a lot.

Moving fees

Yeah, you can’t actually move a mobile home yourself. Paying a mover can be $20,000 plus. So make sure you factor in that crazy cost in your purchase. (Oh, and sometimes movers can’t move homes across state lines! A friend of ours found that out the hard way.)

Unconventional loan option

Apparently, borrowing on a mobile home is different than a traditional loan for a traditional house or even a manufactured home on a concrete foundation. Interest rates may be higher. Make sure to check with a banker before you get too involved in the buying process.

Just a small mess takes up a big portion

Tiny homes may be quick to clean, but it is just as quick to mess them up. I walk into the kids’ room, and it looks like a disaster zone. Since the room is small, I can’t walk anywhere with even a few toys out.

Not always a space to get away from the noise

We are big about quiet times in the afternoon for our family. But with a napping baby, a work at home mom and two energetic kids, it is sometimes hard to find a place for every person to have some space. It’s not impossible, but you need to be creative.

Not energy efficient…thin walls don’t hold in cool air

Newer mobile and manufactured homes are more energy efficient I’ve heard. But I wouldn’t know because our single wide was manufactured in 1979 and is wildly inefficient. We have made a ton of lifestyle and remodeling changes to lower our energy bills. But in the end, our walls are just thinner than traditional houses and don’t keep in the cool or warm air like they should.

Little storage

I guess you could say we save money by not having a Costco membership. Because buying in bulk is out of the question. You definitely have to be creative when it comes to storage space in a single wide mobile home. (Double wide mobile homes would be pretty similar to a house.) Having a storage shed or unit is definitely helpful.

Conclusion: Would I choose to live in a mobile home again?

Yes! We love our space here. I would honestly be fine with living in a mobile home indefinitely if it meant we could live in the country. The only drawbacks I have for our mobile home is how high our energy bills are (I believe a newer mobile home would be better). And also, if we were to live here when the kids were older, we would need three bedrooms instead of two. But, honestly, tiny house living in the country has been like a breath of fresh air for our family.

With that said, I would probably not suggest mobile home living under the following circumstances:

  • You have to pay land or lot rent
  • Purchasing a new mobile home (the depreciation for brand new manufactured homes is just too great for my liking)
  • Have to pay exorbitant moving fees
  • You are on a tiny lot (this is just my opinion, but I want at least a bit of yard. Ideally, a mobile home would be on at least an acre of your own land. But some people may like the sense of community offered by mobile home parks and mobile home communities.)

If you’re on the fence about the benefits of buying and living in a mobile home, do a ton of research for your area. Mobile home costs, land cost, rent, moving cost all vary so much across the country. These extra costs would be the make or break factors. But if everything lines up so that it is truly a cheaper option than a stick-built house, then go for it. 

Living in our own mobile home has been a great choice for our situation, and we look forward to how we’ll be able to use this second house on our property in the future.

Read more about living in and renovating a single wide mobile home below

25 Ways to Make Your Older Mobile Home More Energy Efficient

Mobile Home Mid Century Style Kitchen Makeover Before and After

DIY Mobile Home Remodeling Ideas

Pros and Cons of Painting Kitchen Laminate Countertops

Pros and Cons of Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Pin for Later Pros and Cons of Living in a Small Mobile Home


Our Vintage Bungalow

Howdy! I’m Tammy, and I’ve lived most of my life stretching a low decorating budget through garage sales and DIY renovation.

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