Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Park Model

Retirement for a lot of Baby Boomers will be marked by deprivation and poverty.  Fortunately there are inexpensive, safe, and comfortable places to retire.  A Park Model home can be a very cost-effective living alternative.

When I was 30, we bought a 27 foot fifth wheel trailer for $7200.  It was very comfortable, and we traveled across the county in it for two months.  We also took a lot of other trips in it, and it was like a mobile vacation home. 

The lesson I took away from that experience was that you could live pretty well, for not a lot of money.  If we could have parked that fifth wheel somewhere for cheap, it would have been a more than comfortable retirement home.

However, many RVs are not intended to be used as permanent residences.  Also, since they are configured to be towed, they are not very practical for day-to-day living,  However, the RV industry does make a type of RV known as a "Park Model" which is designed to be used as a retirement or vacation home for two people.

Park Models are not to be confused with mobile homes or modular homes.  While the latter two can also be very cost-effective forms of living - and are often manufactured by the same companies as RVs - a Park Model is a different sort of beast.

A typical Park Model, like the unit shown above, is a single structure and is shorter and narrower than a Mobile home.  They typically have one bedroom, one bath, an eat-in kitchen and living room, and perhaps a small "sleeping loft" for occasional visitors (the grandchildren!).  Some can be rather elaborate, with wood siding, metal roofs, or the like.

Sine they are smaller than mobile homes or modular homes, they are easy for older folks to keep clean and maintain - who needs three bedrooms and two baths to clean when you are 70?  I'd rather be golfing, myself.

They are fairly inexpensive - from about $20,000 or so, on up.  And of course, they can be found secondhand in many places, such as Florida.

A few years back, many Baby Boomers started a "Tiny House Movement" and claimed to "invent" the idea of a downsized home.  But the idea was there all along - in the form of a Park Model.

And speaking of Florida, there are many "Park Model" parks there, where you can rent lot space fairly inexpensively - often $400 a month or less.  So they can be a very, very inexpensive place to live.

And many such resorts and parks are limited to 55 and over, have golf courses, marinas, or other attractions.  Most are gated and very well kept up - not the seedy "trailer park" you may be inclined to think of.

They are, in short, an inexpensive yet dignified retirement option (or winter home option) for many older Americans.

Of course, for some folks, the term "trailer" is not in their vocabulary, and they are too proud to consider a practical yet comfortable retirement alternative simply because of status and pride.  These are the same people who refuse to shop at Wal-Mart but complain about being broke all the time.

Me, I've done run out of pride, a long time ago.

I could retire today, and never work again, living in an inexpensive yet easy-to-maintain Park Model, in a clean, safe, well-maintained RV park in Florida - and play golf every day.

The only hitch is, I'm not 55 yet!

If you are among the horde of broke Baby Boomers facing retirement - or perhaps involuntary early retirement - you should think about a Park Model, as the cost of living is reasonable, it is comfortable, and you can realistically live on a Social Security income.

No matter what you think, you do have options!  And not bad options at that! 

Check out this Cedar Park model - not too shabby, eh?  Still think you are too good to live in a trailer?