Mobile Home Rental Rates
Throughout the country, approximately 20 million Americans currently live in a mobile home community or trailer park. The vast majority of these individuals identify as low-income and, as a result, a mobile home is significantly more affordable than a traditional apartment or house would be. That said, the costs associated with living in a mobile home can add up quickly, particularly for a family living on $15,000 or less per year.
For this report, I've focused on researching not only the average rent paid by mobile home tenants, but also the cost to purchase a mobile home outright. Additionally, I've researched pricing structures for trailer park, trends in the industry, and comparisons between the cost of a mobile home and that of a traditional house or apartment.
Despite extensive research, my colleagues and I were unable to identify any database which catalogs the average rent for a mobile home broken down by zip code, or by any other geographical marker. While this information may be available if searched by individual zip code, this would pull the request out of scope. Should you want us to follow that research path, please feel free to submit additional requests on that subject.
COST AND RENTAL RATE STRUCTURE
While I was unable to identify any database or report which catalogs the average rent for a mobile home in various zip codes throughout the United States, I was able to compile significant research on the nationwide averages.
On average, trailer parks in the United States charge residents between $250 and $300 per month for the plot of land their mobile home is parked on. This cost does not include the cost of the home itself; and if a resident doesn't own the home they live in, they're likely to be charged an additional $200 to $300 per month.
Alternatively, individuals who purchase their mobile homes outright are likely to pay between $10,000 and $20,000 for a used home; or about $37,000 for a new, two-bedroom mobile home. Comparatively, the average cost of a two-bedroom home in the United States costs about 10 times that number, at $300 to $400 thousand for a "starter home."
While that difference in price is noteworthy though, it's also worth pointing out that the average resident of a mobile home in the United States is earning a third of what the average United States salary is. Specifically, the majority of trailer park residents earn less than $15,000 per year; compared to the average United States salary of just over $44,000.
In addition to these costs, residents also face extremely steep costs should they choose to move, making it significantly easier for landlords to increase rent on the space where a family currently resides. On average, it costs about $5,000 to move a mobile home. However, if a family is moving their home a significant distance, that cost can reach as high as $10,000 to $25,000.
In addition to the cost of having your mobile home hauled from one location to another, disconnecting and reconnecting utilities can cost a further $1,000 per home.
Finally, mobile homes require a foundation just like any other home, and this can cost an additional $10 to $15,000 should a family move their home. Because these costs add up so quickly and are typically insurmountable for a family earning less than $15,000 per year, the majority of individuals living in a trailer park are unable to move should their landlord raise the rent, making residents more vulnerable to absent or overpriced landlords.
As mentioned above, the average mobile home costs between $10,000 and $40,000 depending on whether it's being purchased new or used. Alternatively, the average cost of a "starter home" in the United States is between $300 and $400 thousand.
In addition to the costs associated with purchasing a mobile home though, the rent is also significantly less than that of renting an apartment or house. Specifically, the average rent in the United States is just under $1,000 per month. Comparatively, renters in a trailer park can expect to pay between 20 and 40 percent of that number, with rent costing between $200 and $400 per month, depending on whether the resident is renting just the land, or the house itself as well.
TRENDS IN THE INDUSTRY
While the mobile home industry is not nearly as well-tracked as the "traditional" housing costs throughout the United States, some trends are noticeable. For example, in the past trailer parks were traditionally owned by a family who also resided in the development and, as a result, were very involved with the community. However, beginning in the 1990s, developers began purchasing these properties and raising the cost of rent. "Trailer parks’ appeal to these investors is simple. Millions of Americans struggle with rent payments, but still want a lawn. For them, mobile homes are the cheapest form of housing available. At the same time, it’s rare for someone to build a new mobile home park, because no homeowner wants a trailer park nearby. An industry with healthy demand but a fixed supply attracts the country’s capitalists."
Because of the change in ownership from small families, to large corporations and developers, the cost to rent space in a trailer park has risen. While no specific numbers are available, it's important to note that residents have very few options to respond to rising costs. As referenced above, the cost of moving a mobile home is almost always insurmountable for low-income families and, as a result, their only choice is to stay where they are, agreeing to pay the rising costs associated with their land.
To summarize, throughout the country, approximately 20 million Americans currently live in a mobile home community or trailer park. The vast majority of these individuals identify as low-income and, as a result, a mobile home is significantly more affordable than a traditional apartment or house would be. That said, the costs associated with living in a mobile home can add up quickly, particularly for a family living on $15,000 or less per year.