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What is a Mobile Home?

G. Melanson
G. Melanson

Also referred to as a “trailer,” a “mini home,” or a “caravan” in Europe, a mobile home is a manufactured home which may be transported via tractor-trailer. Mobile homes are most commonly found in campsites or mobile home parks. The same companies which sell mobile homes will often own nearby campsites or mobile home parks, and may only permit buyers or renters of their homes to lease their lot space. Mobile home residents can also place their home on their own private land.

The mobile home design derived from the travel trailer, which is a small trailer hitched to the rear of a vehicle and most often used for camping. To that effect, the first mobile homes were promoted as the perfect housing solution for those who loved to travel. During the 1950s, however, mobile homes became most commonly used as inexpensive housing units, as they could be made permanently stationary with the installation of a masonry foundation. In the mid-1950s, the 10-foot-wide (3.05 m), also known as the “ten-wide” model hit the market, making the mobile home even more viable as a permanent residence. At this time, the mobile home was also given a make over: pre-aluminum panels were introduced to replicate the exterior of a standard home, and models with bare aluminum skins became less common.

Mobile homes are a form of manufactured housing that became popular during the 1950s.
Mobile homes are a form of manufactured housing that became popular during the 1950s.

As mobile homes continued to undergo various cosmetic changes and upgrades, the “modular home” was introduced. Also a pre-fabricated residence, a modular home is typically hauled in two separate pieces on flatbed trucks. Once the pieces arrive at their destination, they are assembled into a modular home on a concrete foundation using a crane. Unlike the traditional mobile home, a modular home may have two or three stories.

Older versions of mobile homes are more likely to be susceptible to damage caused by strong winds. Certain brands of mobile homes come with hurricane straps, which fasten the mobile home to anchors embedded in the ground. The modern mobile home is most likely to be built from the same quality of materials used in regular homes constructed onsite. Newer mobile homes are also more likely to meet standard building codes and have a lower value depreciation than older mobile homes.

Over the last few decades, many mobile home manufacturers and mobile park owners have attempted to overcome negative stereotypes associated with the term trailer park by using the more politically-correct terms mobile home park or mobile home community in their marketing material. In popular culture, the trailer park stigma is parodied in such TV shows as Trailer Park Boys and My Name is Earl, which both portray trailer parks in a humorously negative light. In addition to mobile home communities for families, some mobile home parks cater to retirees, and are exclusive to residents over 55.

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Discussion Comments


Like the article says, there are many negative perceptions about mobile homes and people who live in them, but you should remember that not all mobile home communities are the same, just like all apartment communities and all suburban communities are not the same.


The way a trailer looks can be helped a lot when you keep the yard clean and well landscaped. The curb appeal of theses types of houses says more about the owners than it does about the way the houses were built.

First of all, mobile home skirting is a must have. Without it, you can make the home look only so good. Regular metal mobile home skirting is not that pricey and it improves the looks of the home 100 percent. I've seen some people plant bushes all around the home and you can't tell whether there is skirting or not until you get right up on the house. This is better than nothing at all.

I know using bricks as skirting is more expensive, but I think it looks the best. However, cement blocks are good too and they don't cost as much as the bricks.


My father always called mobile homes trailers and he didn't like them. He worked in construction for most of his life and he said trailers were just another way for for salesmen to take poor people's money. He thought it should be illegal for people to sale them because they were so dangerous to be in during storms.

Where I grew up, when a storm with heavy winds was in the area the local weather man would say, be sure to get out of the house and find a safer place if you live in a mobile home. Lying in a ditch was said to be safer than staying in a mobile home during a tornado.

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    • Mobile homes are a form of manufactured housing that became popular during the 1950s.
      By: allbylouise
      Mobile homes are a form of manufactured housing that became popular during the 1950s.