Independence is about more than a holiday.
It’s about being able to live life on your terms.
For many of us, the first few feelings of independence hit when we hit that great teenage milestone – earning a driver’s license. For many years, the edges of our world and our independence continue to grow and expand through high school until we moved out on our own.
But the heady feelings of freedom don’t last forever.
Eventually, as we age, we need more help. Maybe we cannot drive. Maybe we need people close by in case of an emergency. And, with some 10,000 Americans retiring every day since Jan. 1st, 2011, more and more of us can expect to deal with the struggles to maintain some independence as we age.
Today, one in six seniors lives in poverty or have less than $10,000 in the bank. One of the biggest challenges facing them, a group more likely to live alone than with a partner, is the question of where will I live?
Many are recognizing the advantages and affordability of turning to manufactured homes. Not only is it cost-effective, but it also is a great way to maintain a significant amount of independence without sacrificing safety.
Already more than three million seniors call a mobile home or trailer their personal home with more every day eyeing it as an option to the affordable housing crisis and to avoid a more restrictive nursing home.
Why do manufactured homes work so well for seniors?
- Location, Location, Location – Park communities exist across the country, although they are more common in the south and southwest. A big trend in communities is to create spaces specifically tailored and exclusive for senior citizens. The age requirement fluctuates between 40 to 55 to 65 years old. Senior citizens have the freedom to live where they want, especially if they need/want to live near friends and family but not WITH friends and family.
- Low maintenance – Unlike site-built homes, manufactured homes create a much smaller to-do list. It’s easier and convenient, especially if you purchase a newer model. Who wouldn’t rather spend a few minutes straightening up some dishes or dusting knick-knacks over hours of tough and sweaty yard work? Freedom from chores is a big incentive.
- The price is right – Manufactured homes, bottom line, cost less than site-built homes. This is a critical piece of the puzzle for senior citizens, many who are living on a fixed income and may have high costs in other categories, such as medicine and doctor’s visits. In 2010, a city survey found seniors in mobile homes spent a smaller percentage of their income on housing than renters or homeowners, even though their incomes were lower, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Impressively, mobile home park residents spent substantially below 30% of their income on housing. That’s not to say there aren’t a wide range of homes available. Prices swing widely based on the model, year and features included. Some seniors live in homes resembling spacious townhomes while others feel quite comfortable in an older manufactured home with two bedrooms. Regardless of the price, these residents spend less on housing.
- The world is going tiny – Senior citizens, especially ones looking to live alone, don’t need a four-bedroom townhome. Many are quite comfortable with two bedrooms. Some have even leaned into the Tiny Home craze by selecting a home that’s less than 400-square-feet. Instead of shucking money into a larger property, the residents retain control and independence over their often-tight budgets. Then, they can spend their money how they want to spend it instead of shoveling it into a money pit.
- Amenities – The bonus to living in a park community is that you have your private space but access to so much more. Often, many communities will include a community gathering spot, swimming pool, and laundry facilities. Those catering to senior citizens often have standing bus or van rides to pharmacies and local stores. That’s a huge plus to someone who cannot drive anymore but doesn’t want to move into a nursing home.
- People – But it’s the people who really make the community. Parks often host bingo, crafts and other activities to keep its residents’ young and active. Humans, after all, are social creatures. We need interaction and support and manufactured housing communities provide this in spades. “One of the longest-running studies of aging, conducted over a period of 34 years in Alameda County, California, found that among the predictors of healthy aging are: not smoking, moderate drinking, having five or more friends, avoiding depression, and walking for exercise,” according to an article in UTNE Reader. “Older people who do two out of the three last activities (friends, avoiding depression, and walking) are more likely to spend their next six years in a sort of golden old age, without becoming dependent upon others—or, god forbid, nursing homes—for the basics of daily living. In other words, sitting on the porch, drinking and yakking, is exactly what the doctor suggests. (It’s also good for all that residents can drink without driving.)”
- Family – Not to belabor a point, but we aren’t talking about people being neighbors in these communities. They are family. Consider Margaret, whose health required her to stay at the hospital for several weeks, according to the same article. Her daughter was reluctant to let her go back to the community. “But when she saw the parade of visitors, some carrying food, she realized Margaret was likely in the best hands here,” the article reads
Retaining your independence as you age is a challenge, one we will all face. Mobile park communities make it possible to retain that independence without endangering yourself, and it’s a decision that more and more seniors are making.
Come find out more about mobile park communities here.