My new home will be a 20' wide mobile home. A "doublewide".
I do a lot of reading. The term "doublewide" in the fiction I read is reserved for "white trash" in this country. When you read of someone buying a new doublewide you can expect that the next sentence will describe this person as a female - almost always - who is overweight - so far I'm batting two for two here - and who spends a lot of time on the couch munching on snack foods. Well, I do some munching on the couch. Typically she does not work - oh heavens, there I am again - and gets her check on the first of the month. So do I. Only mine is a retirement check, not a welfare check. I have to admit that I think we get a bad rap in fiction.
I have lived in this park for about 22 years. There are single-wides and double-wides here, and I have met several of the people who have lived here over the years. Some of them have matched that description in some respects, not in others. Very few, though. This particular park has more than its share of single moms, with good reason: it is difficult to find any other form of housing single moms can afford, and most of the other mobile home parks in this city are "age-restricted". There are also many families with young children and two parents. Again, they can afford to live here. I believe most of the people in this park have jobs. I used to have a job and I would join the small stream of cars leaving in the morning and returning in the late afternoon or evening. Some take the bus.
I like to joke about being trailer trash. In some ways I certainly am. The condition of my home and yard, f'rinstance, screams "Nobody loves me!". That is, nobody loves my home or my yard, obviously including me. My furniture is Goodwill fodder, with few pieces relating in any way to any others. It was many years before I realized I did not have to buy used furniture all the time and I certainly did not have to "make do", using furniture for purposes for which it was not designed. Yeah, they call this "repurposing" now. I repurposed with a vengeance for many years, but now I eschew that practice.
When I tell people I am getting a new house and explain what I mean by that - taking out the old, putting in the new - they are intrigued, a little, but I swear it puts them off, too. They see me differently when they discover that I live in one of those "trailers". Somehow I slip a notch.
Living in a mobile home park that is owned by someone else is one of the worst living situations in some ways. We tenants have no say on who manages the park. We have no control over maintenance of the park. If we get a manager we do not like we can't just leave. We either have to sell our home or take it with us (which is expensive). Once in, it can be hard to get out. My experience in trying to replace my home is just one example of how hard. If I were selling my own home on my own lot I would not have had to deal with a management company that failed to act for over four months. I would not have had to struggle to find a lender (most lenders don't like mobile homes). If I were looking for a new house I would have a huge choice of realtors rather than a choice between two mobilehome sales companies, one of which doesn't deal with loans.
There are pluses as well. When you own your own home in a park the management never comes inside your home. You can do whatever you like in there. Rip out walls, if you want. You own what's inside but not what's outside - including the utilities. If the electric meter goes bad the park replaces it. Presumably the park takes care of your driveway, too (not very well in my case). The park provides various amenities - in my case a swimming pool, clubhouse, and park. When my children were little I loved having that clubhouse. It meant birthday parties without having to clean up my house or make space for a mob. The pool and park meant the girls could go play and swim easily with their friends. People often have meetings in the clubhouse and a while back an aerobics teacher led classes there.
There are also some interesting aspects of living in a park. We're close to each other yet separate. We can get to know our neighbors or not. I have gotten to know neighbors on both sides and that has meant some convenience for me. Sharing rides, watching cats, that kind of thing. I have learned that I can live this close. I don't have to be a hermit. I have also learned that people are inventive and make things work. People who live here tend not to be rich. So you'll see a community Thanksgiving in the clubhouse or a Santa visit or a Halloween party. People find interesting ways to make little private outdoor spaces, on their porches or in back yards. It doesn't take a lot. I love seeing the ways people get around a lack of space or money and do it gracefully, without complaint. After all, nobody else here is in much of a better situation. I think it's a good example of adaptation. Within our little community we are all similar enough that there is little room for envy.
There certainly is room for gossip. When my children were young and living here they knew the "alternative park". Or maybe I should say "Underground". They knew who was doing what with whom and why. They knew whose dad was in prison and who was about to move out. The knew the condition, inside, of most homes. The children here, you can bet on it, always know more than the adults. Except, maybe, our gossipy manager. I am always hearing about my own lot, my own plans, from others who have been speaking to the manager. Sometimes they know stuff before I do.
These parks are more interesting and more varied than you'll find in fiction. It's a handy device - mention "doublewide" and just about anyone will know what's coming. Too bad that it isn't all that accurate.