Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I have learned so much about mobile home shopping in the last few months, but the most important lesson is that it is less about the home and more about where you park – I mean place it.

You may find a fantastic doublewide, but there may be only one community with an open lot, and then you find out the difference between a “trailer park” and a “mobile home community.” And if you don’t know the difference, drive around and visit some. You will learn very quickly. If you see cars on blocks, old school busses parked next to trailers, homes made of aluminum, honey, you just drove into a trailer park. If you see manicured lawns, modern manufactured homes, landscaped community areas and no junk cars and cars parked on the street, you just drove into a community.

Keep in mind that there are strict zoning rules about where to put a mobile home park … I mean community, so chances are you will be off the beaten path a bit, and near some industrial storage sites. Oh, and don’t forget that all mobile home communities and trailer parks are in the direct path of tornados. So if you are a storm watcher, just follow the tornado to your new home.

I needed to get the tornado myth out there and move forward. Every time I mention my buying a mobile home, someone says, “What about tornados?” I lived in Florida for five years and never saw a hurricane. I have lived in Rockville for two years, and we had an earthquake. If you live your life in fear, you are missing out on so much.
Back to the communities ...
I was out looking at various parks and communities one day during my break between contracts when I passed by a well-manicured community with trees lining the entrance, so I doubled back and pulled in to drive around. There were no junk cars, and the place was immaculate. There were new cars parked in the two-car driveways, and they had sidewalks, and all the homes looked to be younger than ten years old. That was when I decided to drive over to the sales office.
I indicated I wanted to see any homes for sale, and I preferred a new one because I have spent a lifetime living in someone else’s former home. The park manager then drove me down the main street to look at the only new home they had left, and it was the model. My first impression was a good one. It had a deck and a shed, and a two-car driveway that was only fit for compact cars (note to self: put the 1979 Lincoln Continental on eBay).
Once inside, I kind of liked it, but I wasn’t thrilled. It was 820 square feet, but I have to say they were the most efficiently laid out square feet I had ever seen. I remarked that there was little closet space, but the manager pointed out the Amish-built shed that came with it, and there was a true laundry room – not just a closet with a stackable. It also had something apartment dwellers rarely have, a back door! I also marveled at windows on every wall, not just one wall as apartments often have.
There were ceiling fans in every room, a kitchen island with pendant lights, a dishwasher, central air, full size washer and dryer, and being the model, all the windows had tasteful drapes and window treatments. I expected to feel like a giant in a doll house, but surprisingly, I didn’t.
I did ask to see a larger home, and he showed me one, but I was also informed that the only community that had an open space for one was located in Severn, Maryland, and I had seen that park … and it was a trailer park not a community.
I thanked him for his time and asked him to send me the brochure on the model home since it had just been set up and they did not have printed brochures yet with the layout and dimensions. He did inform me that it had six inches of insulation in the walls, floors and ceiling, and triple-pane windows and was Energy Star rated. From my research, I learned that any manufactured home built after 1996 had to meet stricter government codes than stick-built homes. That is what the rest of you live in – stick-built homes.
I then drove home, thinking about what it would be like to live in Jessup … JESSUP?!? Was that where I was? According to the GPS, I was in Jessup. I had been driving around so much that I thought I was in either Columbia or Elkridge. How in the hell did I end up in Jessup? Oh well, who cares?
When I got home, I did what anyone in the 21st Century does. I Googled Jessup. Well, there seems to be, or has been, or still is a prison there. No problem, the criminals are locked up – I hope. And if not, “rough trade” can be fun. At least I knew there would be a tattoo parlor nearby, and once I Googled, I found one.
However, who knew such a place could be so convenient. There was a brand new gym only one mile away, along with an organic market, a “Chinese Take-Away” – as Hyacinth Bucket on “Keeping Up Appearances” calls it, and every Jew needs to be near a “Chinese Take Away on Sunday.” There was a barber right down the street. And the biggest plus was a Super Walmart right around the corner. I could become one of those “people of Walmart”! I also found I would be five minutes from two MARC train stations and only twenty minutes from a Metro Station. How convenient.
Then my phone rang. The manager called to tell me if I made an offer on the model, he would give me six months free lot rental. I asked why, and he said “singlewides” don’t sell quickly, and it was the last one in the community. He also said they don’t like riff raff and I was “good people,” and they wanted good people in the community.
Had I stumbled upon a restricted community? I did see a black man pulling into the driveway of one of the homes. What would they do when they found out this “good people” was a Gay Jew?
I told him I would think about it. I actually wanted a singlewide for two reasons. Doublewides have a ceiling that slants up one way on one side and the other on the other side, so every room looks cock-eyed if you look up. Singlewides have a peaked or cathedral ceiling that is less nauseating. Also, moving a singlewide is a relatively easy process, whereas a doublewide must be pulled apart, floors, ceiling and all. For $10,000, you can move a singlewide cross country. I had done the research.
My only concern was that it was barely 120 square feet bigger than my apartment. But I would be gaining a room I could use as an office rather than my office being part of another room as it had been for 26 years.
Oh my God! Had I lived in apartments for 26 years? That did it. I called the next day and made an offer.
Stay tuned if you think buying a mobile home is easier than buying a stick house.
Laugh now because you are in for a big surprise.

1 comment:

  1. Where is Jessup? It is where Devine had her getaway with the Egg Lady. :o)