Q & A of Downsizing to a Small Trailer
After making The Decision to Downsize, we put our thoughts to action and purchased a 900 sqft single wide trailer in a nearby trailer park. Below is a write up by my husband detailing the “what” and “why” of our decision, and his responses to what many are thinking but only one person would say.
Just like anything in this world, our views revolve around our perception, experiences, and opinions. We have chosen to go against the usual of buying bigger and bigger. We get a lot of sideways glances when we tell people we are buying a single wide. Especially when we are moving out of a much larger 2000+ sq ft 3bdr/2bath townhome with a 2 car garage and a lot of amenities.
We want to rent out our current home in hopes of it becoming an investment property. From what I’ve learned, this will be a long term investment that won’t make any money for quite some time. Not until property values, and therefore our rent goes up, or of course when we pay off the mortgage. The plan is once our townhome home is rented, to pay the same monthly payment against the single wide, so we can pay it off in 4-5 years. This will leave us in a much better position financially heading towards retirement.
We are looking forward to embracing the idea of living a simpler life. One in which we only acquire things we actually use and not a lot of items we want. We’ll have the added benefit of not having to store all these “wants” and the extra free time generated from not having to manage a bunch of stuff is exciting as well. More time to spend with the family or to do all the things that peak our interest.
This is a series of questions I received from my neighbor about our decision to down size our home.
1) Crime is higher in a trailer park, no matter what people tell you.
I’ve lived in a trailer park, a city, the country, the suburbs, and an aircraft carrier. Surprisingly, the place with the least crime was the trailer park. There are good areas and bad areas. I’d be inclined to agree that on a statistical average crime would be higher. We have walked around the community at different times of day to get a feel for it and we don’t feel any reason to be concerned about this community. Results may vary.
2) Kids will be picked on in school for living in a trailer park.
I lived in a trailer park as a kid and I was never made fun of. It was actually one of the nicer homes I’ve lived in. So from personal experience, I would disagree. In the community we are moving to there are a lot of younger families. So there will be quite a bit of children from the community getting on the same bus.
3) New shed costs, which will get broken into when you are away no matter the alarm.
I commute all around DC everyday which was number 1 for most accidents per capita last year. That’s dangerous, I should quit my job. A shed, is the least of my concerns. Plus, I’d trade my shed being broken into over being trapped in a perpetual state of revolving debt.
4) Paying off the single wide loan early defeats the purpose of saving anything you will be throwing that money away due to very high depreciation.
Paying off the loan early saves me $14,677 in interest. Even if it does depreciate, I’d rather pay $15k less for it.
5) Anything renter’s break you will use the money saved to pay for it.
I’d agree that renters won’t take equal care of a home as I would, but I can rent my home above my payment. Things will break and costs will be incurred. However, I am not planning to make money for a long time on renting. Due to the extra income per month and the security deposit, I should have enough left over to cover most expenses.
6) There are always unforeseen expenses.
Sure. Murphy’s Law always applies. Better reason to have to free up extra money per month to thwart his efforts.
7) You will find other reasons to spend money instead of saving it all.
Anyone could, but if I did take this route. I’d have more money to spend.
8) Your investment is your home and the extra payments to it will go along way 10 years from now when you go to another home with a large chunk of change.
A rental property is a better investment than a home. For me to buy my house over the 30 year loan will cost me $133k dollars in interest. Excluding taxes, fees, updates, repairs, etc… One would hope market value would go up on the home and I would get some of that money back in equity. Or I can have a renter pay 90% of all those costs and still recoup 100% of the equity. If the home is paid off then I can begin to make money off rental income and really see a return on investment. I believe minimizing my living expenses and actually investing the money is much better than living in my investment.
9) Including garage, you are going from 2520 sq ft to 900 sq ft. All the nice things you have aren’t going to fit? Pay for a storage unit?
We came to the conclusion that we have way more junk than we have time to deal with. I used to be able to pack all my belongings in the back of a 2001 S10 pick-up, and I loved it. So we sell those nice things to people who will appreciate them.
10) Cost of the transition, there are always costs.
That’s why we are making this a long term goal. Instead of going from home to home in search of where and what we want, we are going to save up so we have buying power and more choices. This will save us far more on transition costs later on, more so than what will cost me today.
11) There is security and safety here(He means my current home). It is not nearly as safe in a trailer park no matter what they are telling you. As a cop I have had more calls in trailer parks over regular homes. The mentality is different.
I like analogies, so I’m going to answer this question with one. I would say that used cars are less reliable and more prone to failure than newer cars. However, that is not always the case. Depending on the cars’ make, model, age, and upkeep, the car could be a lot better than most. The community we found, as far as trailer parks go, is very nice and does not remotely represent the image that pops into most people’s heads. Background checks are performed, people are booted for being a nuisance or causing problems, and landscaping is painstakingly kept up. The management screens tenants and is not afraid to evict unwanted tenants.
12) IF everything goes perfectly, and life is never that way, you will save ~500$ a month, which is $6000 a year. I guarantee at the end of each year unforeseen things will eat into that figure.
That’s exactly why I should free up more capital to handle these unforeseen events.
13) Renters over 10 years will add up in expenses cutting into the $60k you saved.
Sure, but 10 years from now my house could be renting for $400 above my mortgage and I will recoup those expenses faster and faster.
14) Loose 50% depreciation on the single wide and there is a HUGE cut into your expenses.
I prefer to look at the single wide as more of a consumable item, like a car. Most people won’t look twice if I spent $40k on a nice new truck. People would comment on how it must be nice to have and all the many uses it could perform. Sure it will depreciate like crazy, it will require tires, maintenance, insurance, the whole nine yards. But if I get 10-15 years of good use out of the truck, no one would say I wasted my money. Why should my single wide be any different? Except I’d get way more use out of living in something than driving it around and moving things.
15) SHTF* and you walk away from the single wide…then there goes the credit for the future home.
Another good reason I picked a trailer over a house. It can be sold and moved. Worst case imaginable I lose every dollar I put into it and lose $44k. I’ve seen people do a lot worse on buying high priced homes and the market dropping. As far as banks go, it’s no different than a car being repossessed, which is much easier on the credit than a foreclosure.
16) Quality of living goes down and there is always a price to pay for that. Mental/Emotional and at what savings is it worth? I’d say that it would have to be worth more than 500$ a month.
We are quite looking forward to having a smaller home for quality of life reasons. It will give me time to focus on my family, instead of my stuff. I’ve lived in much smaller spaces before, and much larger. I have found that smaller is less stressful than bigger. I find myself looking around my house and seeing how little I use some of my spaces. We see this as trimming a lot of fat.
17) Utilities will go up with a heat pump.
I can’t imagine anything would be more efficient than my current home. We’ve definitely been spoiled by our current setup. I would still expect to save money though, dropping from 2520 sq ft with the two car garage and all these rooms, to 900 sq ft. I’m now powering a whole lot less stuff, even if it’s not as good efficiency wise.
18) Do you enjoy all the people at Walmart when you go there? That is the same mentality as the trailer park.
We are all filled with the views from PeopleOfWalmart.com. When most people think trailer park, the same stereotype usually pops up. Having been in Wal-mart and driven around the new community we picked, I don’t see the resemblance. I see a community of retired people, young first time homebuyers with children, or people trying to live simply. There are no broken down cars, rundown trailers, or trash littered about. I see a groomed community with more personality then where I currently live.
Have more questions of your own? Feel free to ask away in the comments section below!