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Young TikTokers are normalizing living in trailers and trailer parks: ‘THIS is how we all afford inflation’

Mobile homes have a long history of being stigmatized — but now, more young adults are using TikTok to share what it’s like living in mobile homes and mobile home communities.

Their videos show that today’s trailers can include modern upgrades like soaking tubs and spacious front porches, as well as a more affordable option for housing and stability in a fluctuating home market.

The housing market struggle

Mobile homes might look more enticing because buying traditional homes is a significant challenge for many would-be homebuyers right now. According to research from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), interest rates have doubled from 2020 to 2023, and perhaps even more significantly, the first-time homebuyer quarter index — a number that signifies how feasible it is for first-time homebuyers to purchase a home based on the price, down payment requirements and interest rates as compared to relative average incomes — has changed drastically too. In 2020, the first-time buyer index was 111.9. In 2023, it’s 61.4.

And while the median average income for first-time homebuyers hasn’t changed much over the past three years, going from around $54,000 to just above $59,000, both the average cost of a home and monthly mortgage payments have skyrocketed, the NAR adds. In 2020, according to the NAR, the starting home price was $255,000, with an average monthly payment of just over $1,000. In 2023, that same home now costs $342,200 with a monthly payment of $2,012.

While buying a house is a challenge due to high interest rates and prices, the cost of renting is also at a historic high, reports Forbes. That means paying a mortgage over rent could still be more financially prudent. The problem? Most traditional homes are unaffordable for many young adults — which is why some of them are turning to mobile homes and mobile home communities as a solution.

“If you guys are looking for a place to live in this awful year of 2023, maybe I’m onto something here,” noted Alexis Poland (@a.haunting.in.colorado), a single mom who fixed up a trailer she found in a small town.

Poland shared the before and after of the trailer she renovated, adding that she had taught herself how to DIY a lot of the projects through YouTube. Social media has also helped spark the movement towards tiny home living, with renovations and hacks making mobile homes even more appealing than they may have been in the past.

“THIS is how we all afford inflation,” Poland captioned her video. “I feel unstoppable!”

“Find yourself that disgusting little place and fix it up,” she summed up. “My life is so much easier after moving into this trailer.”

How much does living in a trailer cost?

Mobile homes, which are manufactured homes, can vary in cost but are significantly less than conventionally-built homes. For instance, Preferred Homes, a company that sells modular and manufactured homes, states that the 2021 average price for a single-wide home in Michigan was $108,000, while a traditional stick-built home was $273,661.

Mobile homes can still come at a cost if the resident lives within a mobile home community because, in addition to a mortgage, living in a mobile home community requires paying rent on the land your home is on. Unlike a traditional home, for which you typically purchase the land and the home together, purchasing a mobile home in a community only gives you ownership of the home structure itself, not the land it sits on.

Land rentals can vary, but nationwide, they average around $400 a month, which may or may not include utilities, such as water, electricity and trash pick up.

TikToker Janeris Marte (@justjaneris), who shares her story on her social media platforms of choosing to live in a mobile home community in order to save money, explained in a TikTok that her lot rental is around $1,000. But she added that lot rental also includes access to many desirable amenities, such as a community swimming pool, tennis courts, basketball court and playground.

Plus, Marte pointed out that they pay “millions less” than other families in the same zip code, enabling them to have affordable housing “in a great school district” and freeing up their income for other activities for their children, like cheerleading and tutoring.

“It’s definitely a great alternative if you want to live below your means and you want to be able to save money to invest into other things, which is what we did,” she said.

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