Living Mobile: One Woman’s Life in a Mobile Home

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A couple of years ago, at the end of a significant relationship, I felt a desperate need to make a new nest of my own. I didn’t have much money, and I live in an expensive town where even an unremarkable, 500-square-foot con­­do­minium costs more than $125,000–not that I like bland, compressed condo­miniums to begin with.

I worked at a private university, and I knew many of my coworkers lived in the half-dozen trailer-park communities tucked around town. My ingrained assumptions and prejudice, however, wouldn’t let me consider this as an option at first, even when very respectable, intelligent, creative, and accomplished friends and acquaintances wholeheartedly encouraged me to give it a try.

When I finally did take a look, I was surprised at what I found. The trailer I ended up buying was almost new with high vaulted ceilings, large and plentiful windows, spacious rooms, and a fine sense of privacy situated on a corner lot next to open space and a creek. New manufactured homes, as they’re called, feel like their stick-and-brick-built cousins inside, and they’re no longer designed to be mobile. My kitchen had brand-name, ­reliable appliances including a full gas stove and range–perfect for a cook–as well as a luxurious spa-like tub where I spent many hours soaking in the healing spirit of hot water. The walls were made of drywall, and I had a great time painting every room in rich colors that reflected my unique tastes.

My home was built to be energy efficient–in fact, above code for Colorado, where it can get cold and snowy. Last winter when the local energy company raised our rates twice, the highest electricity and gas bill I had was about $115–not bad for a three-bedroom home with 1,280 square feet. Typically, my energy bill ranged between $45 and $75 a month, depending on the season. Admittedly, I kept my thermostat low and preferred to wear a sweater if I felt chilly, and I had no air conditioner or swamp cooler. But between the insulation, some well-placed shade trees, and inexpensive ceiling fans I installed in each room, my home was cooler than most and very comfortable in the summer.

My trailer became a safe refuge tucked away from the hustle and bustle of town, and I found living with other trailer dwellers refreshing and grounding. My neighbors came from many countries–Bosnia, Holland, Mexico–and they were quiet, friendly, clean, and generous. It was like living in a diverse cohousing environment but with more privacy and personal ownership. And as a single woman, I felt very safe.

Two weeks ago I sold my home to travel for a while, to feed my wanderlust, and soon to start over somewhere else. I was fortunate to sell my home quickly, and I even made a little money when all was said and done. My home wasn’t mobile, but I am–and now I’m ready for the next adventure.