Let's be honest: there is a reason so many people like the term "trailer trash." It's because there's a perception that people who live in trailer (AKA mobile home) parks are less-than because of where they live.
And while it might be unfair that people think that way, there's also some truth to their perceptions about what it's like living in a trailer park. Depending on the area, it's true that there can be a lot of gross and potentially dangerous things in trailer parks. The people, for one thing.
But there are also some things about living in a trailer park that really aren't so bad. And when it comes to growing a family, it's important to realize what those benefits are. After all, not every single mom can afford a nice apartment or buying her own home.
Housing is expensive no matter where you live, and just getting by can put a lot of families into debt. And in some cases, families don't have any other option than to move into a dilapidated trailer home in a bad part of town.
That said, here are the ways raising kids in a trailer park is such a bummer, plus a handful of ways it's not quite so bad.
20 Bummer: There’s So Much Judgment
There is a ton of judgment surrounding families who live in trailer parks. But on the face of it, how is it so different than this "tiny home" trend that's recently sprung up? There are typically a lot of family members living in one trailer home, but there are often families of four sitting pretty in "tiny homes" with lofts and barely enough square footage to sit on the floor.
This is one way that parenting in a trailer park is a total bummer because the small space is seen as a negative regardless of how clean or well-kept the home is.
19 Bummer: Trailers Are Seen As Not ‘Real’ Houses
Having lived in a mobile home myself, I'm familiar with all the drawbacks of the structure itself. First, trailers are truly not "real" homes. The walls are flimsy, the foundation is often temporary and rather shaky, and the windows don't usually open properly. Instead, you've got crank-windows that only open to let air and sunlight in, unlike regular homes that use windows as fire escape routes.
Raising kids in a house like this might be okay when they're small, but when they start thundering their way up and down the hallway, you'll be hanging on for dear life and hoping you have some form of renter's insurance.
18 Bummer: Thin Walls Means Your Business Is Broadcast
Those thin walls I mentioned? Not so great for heating and cooling costs, but also abysmal for keeping your private business private. The first time you use the bathroom, you'll wonder if the whole neighborhood can hear (and they just might have). Plus, when your baby is crying at night or your toddler is screaming like a banshee during the day, you'll know the neighbor four spaces down can hear it, too.
Unlike a well-insulated apartment or a house in a rural area, there's no way you're getting away with yelling at your kids, here, either. But you'll also hear other people doing it, so maybe it's a win-win.
17 Not So Bad: It’s Usually Super Cheap
When it comes to application fees and background checks and debt-to-income ratios, you can't beat a trailer park for the cost. Just getting into an apartment can cost you thousands of dollars in deposits and advance rent payments. A trailer park, on the other hand, may cost under a thousand, depending on how you came by the trailer itself.
It will depend on where you live, of course, but trailer park rent is usually substantially less than the going price for an apartment or house rental. In fact, in my area, trailer park space rent is about one-third of what a house costs per month.
16 Bummer: It’s Not Permanent
One of the biggest challenges with trailer park living is that even if you own your trailer (and many people don't), you likely don't own the land it's sitting on. Therefore, you're in the unique situation of paying rent for a space that your property sits in, and that's never a good thing. Because although a trailer has a foundation, the owners of the park could tell residents at any point that they have to leave, and take their property with them.
Plus, mobile homes don't appreciate in value, so it's not like having a stick-built home that will house your family forever and pay off down the line when or if you sell it. Not the most ideal scenario for raising your kids.
15 Bummer: There’s A Reason It’s Cheap
Cheap housing is great, right? But there's a reason it's cheap. Most trailer parks, let's be honest, are fairly run-down and the owners don't do much upkeep. Especially in poorer areas of the state or country, it's common to see a lack of attention when it comes to sanitation or even lawfulness.
That means some families might be offered a trailer to live in that's a great cost, but then it turns out the sewer is cut off or there's an oil leak that makes it unsafe to use the stove. Things like this aren't advertised, either, so it's a gamble when you sign a contract and move in.
14 Bummer: The Neighborhood Might Be Less Than Desirable
Another common feature of trailer parks is that they're in bad areas. It makes sense, given that lower-income areas won't be able to fill luxury high-rise apartments. But it also means there's not a whole lot of cash flow for improvements or upward mobility.
In general, if your family needs to move into a trailer, you probably don't have the economic means to just get a better job or move somewhere else to make more money. Once you move into the trailer park, you're stuck in a less-than-desirable neighborhood with higher odds of having the criminal element living next door.
13 Not So Bad: There Can Be A Sense Of Community
Despite all the negatives about the neighborhood (and possibly the neighbors), many trailer parks do wind up having a great sense of community. This is especially common in parks that house a lot of young families. Kids get together and form friendships, people share common areas and keep them neat, and there's always a playmate or a neighbor up for some gossip.
Of course, this isn't true in all trailer parks. In some places, it's exponentially better to just mind your own business. But for families who end up in a more family-friendly park, it's not as bad as the alternative.
12 Bummer: Nosy Neighbors Know Everything
Remember I mentioned thin walls and neighbors hearing everything? Well, not only are the walls seriously thin, but the trailers in parks are often placed very close together. More return on investment for the owners if they pack twice as many trailers onto the property, right?
The issue with that is everyone is so close, it's impossible not to overhear other people's business, or having yours spread. Every time someone sneezes, the guy across the street will have something to say about it. Anytime someone's car starts, you can hear it, and you know when they need a tune-up. Plus, anytime someone cusses, you know your kids will hear it.
11 Bummer: Residents Miss Out On Amenities
While lots of apartment complexes and urban neighborhoods have great play structures and grassy parks and safe areas for families, trailer parks typically don't. It's not usually in the management's budget to clear out an area for kids to play or install a pool or even a basketball hoop.
Residents living in trailer parks can expect to miss out on all kinds of amenities, including laundry facilities and covered parking. And while it might work while your child is an infant, it's not exactly ideal for growing kids. Not to mention, you'll wind up with a bunch of children hanging out at your house if you give in and put play equipment in your yard.
10 Bummer: The Cops Probably Know Your Kids By Name
It's not entirely a negative thing to have your kids known by the local authorities, right? After all, it's good for them to get to know law enforcement and understand they're here to help. But living in a trailer park, the cops probably know your kids by name because of how often they're patrolling and see them outside playing.
So sure, it gives parents peace of mind to see cops in the neighborhood, but it's also worrisome because what warrants the police presence? Even if you never hear of a crime, you'll always be wondering what the cops are so interested in and why they're cruising by on the daily.
9 Not So Bad: Less House To Keep Up
Housekeeping is every mom's least favorite part of daily life, right? Well, the good news is, when you live in a mobile home in a trailer park, there's not a whole lot of house to keep up. It's funny to think about, but most trailers have one bathroom at most (less scrubbing!) and the bedrooms are typically pretty tiny.
Especially when your kids are little, that's less for them to get into, plus fewer places to store toys, meaning you won't be overrun in your tiny home. There are negatives to the size aspect, too, of course, but a small home isn't all bad.
8 Bummer: Less Room To Grow Your Family
You'll notice I mentioned that a small home is great for when your child or children are small. Less square footage means less space for babies to get into things. But as your kids grow, you'll likely start to feel a bit cramped living in a trailer. The rooms are small, the closets are even smaller, and the hallways are so narrow you have to turn sideways to carry a sleeping toddler to bed.
Plus, don't discount the fact that boisterous kids can easily bonk their heads on the ceiling while jumping on the bed and pop a hole in the roof. Or, conversely, angsty teenagers slamming a door and yanking it off its hinges.
7 Bummer: Rules And Restrictions About Your Lot
People who live in properties covered by homeowners' associations will know this one well. Living in a trailer park often means there are rules and regulations about what you can and cannot do in your lot. Of course, many people don't follow the rules, but for the more conscious ones among us, we're not down with the many fines and potential eviction that will come with breaking them.
So if you follow the rules, you'll need a permit to install an AC, a permit to replace your beat-up stairs, a permit to have a washer and dryer unit put in, and special permission to place a carport or even pop up an inflatable pool in your yard. Bummer.
6 Bummer: You’re On Your Own For Home Repairs
Along with paying for permits and applications for changes to your lot, you also have the responsibility of making repairs to your own trailer in most trailer parks. Unless you're renting it from someone (which most trailer parks don't even allow), you will have to handle any roof leaks, decaying stairs, rickety foundations, or smashed windows all on your own.
And if the draw of living in a trailer park is the low cost, you should still be prepared to sink some cash into fixing your trailer over the years. After all, those things don't get better with age, and your growing kids will likely incur some damages.
5 Not So Bad: It’s Not Usually Hard To Get In
This one's both a pro and a con in different scenarios. For most families, it's pretty easy to get into a trailer park. You probably make enough money if the rent is low, there's often a simple application, and managers or owners often let things like past convictions slide. For families, that's a plus, because it means a (hopefully) safe place to live in a hurry.
Of course, there's also the fact that just about anyone can get in if they prove they can pay the rent. This means you may have some quirky or downright creepy neighbors to contend with.
4 Bummer: People Don’t Often Follow The Rules
When your kids are growing and wanting to spend more time outside their tiny trailer home, you'll be happy to see them riding their bikes in the street and tooling around with friends. But people in trailer parks are known for not following rules, including when it comes to speed limits and things like lot cleanliness.
For some reason, trailer parks are like havens for hoarders and people who resent local laws and regulations. Sure, your kids could find some cool stuff, but they could also be at risk of getting hit by a car while they're riding their bike in a 5 MPH zone.
3 Bummer: Kids Can Find Dangerous Stuff
Remember those less-than-desirable neighbors we mentioned? We should also note that many of those decidedly bad neighbors also don't care about the neighborhood or how it looks. Which means their junk becomes the community's junk, which also means your kids could be getting into it.
Whether it's your toddler collecting used trash or your tweens bringing home junk to build with, the neighborhood trash will easily inundate your small piece of the trailer park, too. Plus, some of the stuff might also pose a hazard to everyone's health, like moldy furniture that has become the neighborhood strays' favorite bathroom. Ew.
2 Bummer: It’s Hard To Get Out
While it's relatively easy and cheap to get into a trailer park these days, it's not so when it comes to getting out. Maybe you're planning on trailer living for a few years while saving money for a home, or you're thinking it'll be a good spot to have a baby but you'll move when the kiddo learns to walk.
Well, in most places, good luck getting out from under that trailer. If you own it, you're liable for the space rent, which means that's considered debt until you sell the home. So if you want to apply for a home loan, that amount of "debt" will be on your application. And if you moved to a trailer park because your income is a bit low, that's an issue.
1 Not So Bad: The Kids Don’t Know The Difference!
Sure, there's a stigma about living in a trailer park, but when you're pregnant or have a newborn, who really cares about that? Kids don't know the difference until someone tells them they should, and that usually takes until around school age, when kids begin to notice differences and pick on those who are "too" different.
Because as tough as it is to raise kids these days, babies don't care much about anything other than having mom and dad close and having enough food and warmth. Whether that's a high-rise apartment with granite countertops or a one-bedroom trailer in a rundown park, the baby will never know the difference.