Top 5 Hidden Costs of Buying a Mobile Home

September 14, 2023

Mobile homes provide an affordable housing solution. Most mobile homes are lower priced than traditional single-family homes, making them an attractive housing option for potential homeowners with limited funds to invest in a higher-priced property. However, despite the appealing purchase price, additional expenses can add up quickly, leaving a buyer unprepared for the reality of homeownership. Here are five hidden costs of buying a mobile home that you should be aware of before investing in this lifestyle.

The cost of the land

A mobile home does not include the cost of the land, which can be expensive depending on where you choose to live. The lot will need a public connection or private access to a septic system, electricity, and water. It also needs to be graded to ensure the mobile home is level, accounting for the slope of the land, soil condition, drainage, natural features, and number of trees. All of these factors will contribute to the price of the land.

In the United States, the average land cost is $12,000 per acre, with rural farmland being more affordable than properties located near urban centers. However, this fluctuates depending on the location and condition of the lot. For example, in New Jersey, a premium one-acre lot can cost as much as $196,410, the highest in the country. However, you can find a one-acre property in Wyoming for as little as $1,558.

Rental fees in a mobile home community

Many established mobile communities throughout the country charge rental fees to cover the cost of land. While this eliminates the need to invest in a property, the monthly rental fees can often be exorbitant. The cost varies depending on the location, amenities, and services offered. Some mobile home communities include lawn care, trash pickup, water, and sewer in the rental price. The additional charge for electricity is typically separate and the tenant's responsibility. Many communities offer resort-like amenities, including pools, spas, laundry facilities, a clubhouse, pickleball courts, a full calendar of activities, and more. Therefore, the average rental fee for a mobile home community varies drastically, but the monthly average is $593.

Transportation costs

If a landlord asks you to vacate the land or you simply want to move to another destination, there are associated transportation costs. The price varies depending on the size of the home and whether you want a full-service transport or transport-only service. According to Forbes, the cost to move a trailer home ranges from $5000 to $13000. Full-service transportation includes moving the home to another location and the disconnection and reconnection of all utilities.

Rising insurance costs

The average cost to insure a mobile home ranges between $300 and $1,000 per year but can be considerably higher in areas prone to natural disasters, flooding, and wildfires. The age of the mobile home and its contents also factor into the overall annual insurance cost.

The average cost of a mobile home

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average price of a new manufactured home in 2022 was $127,300, considerably lower than the nationwide median single-family home price of $400,600.

Types of mobile homes

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines a mobile home as a factory-built house fabricated before June 15, 1976. Anything built after that date is considered a manufactured home, although the terms are often interchangeable.

There are three primary styles of mobile homes, with each unit offering unique features and price ranges.

  • Single-wide: This is the least expensive option and offers basic amenities. They typically consist of one bedroom and one bathroom, ranging in size from 500 to 1,200 square feet of living space. Dimensions are approximately 18 feet wide, 90 feet long, and 9 feet tall. The average price is $86,400 for a single-wide mobile home.
  • Double-wide: Larger than a single-wide unit, a double-wide home can extend from 8 feet to 16 feet wide and range between 42 feet to 60 feet long and 9 feet tall. Living space can range from 1,000 to 2,300 square feet. Double-wide homes commonly consist of two to three bedrooms and offer customized features such as separate sunrooms, garages, dining rooms, etc. The average cost of a double-wide mobile home is $158,600.
  • Triple-wide: The size depends on the characteristics of the structure and typically includes three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Unlike single-wide homes that look more like a trailer, triple-wide homes look more like site-built homes. The average cost for a triple-wide home is $250,000.

How long you can expect a mobile home to last

A mobile home has an average lifespan of approximately 30 to 55 years and can vary considerably based on maintenance and routine care. A mobile home must get releveled every few years to extend its life cycle. The average cost of releveling a mobile home ranges between $450 and $1,000, depending on the size of the unit. Installing skirting and upgrading the roof can also extend the lifespan of a mobile home.

Pros and cons of buying a mobile home

In addition to the hidden costs of buying a mobile home, there are also a few pros and cons to consider.


1. Mobility: The primary advantage of owning a mobile home is having the freedom to move it wherever and whenever you want. 
2. Low maintenance: The smaller footprint allows for lower maintenance that is less intensive than a traditional house.
3. Affordability: Due to the lower purchase price, you may have more money available for vacation, savings, or retirement funds.
4. Move-in ready: It typically takes about 60 days to build a new mobile home in a factory, letting you get into the home quicker than a traditional house.
5. Location: You can live in a luxury community in a prime location without the expense of an upscale home purchase.


1. Property ownership: You will receive a title for your mobile home similar to a motor vehicle and not a property deed.
2. Financing: A bank will not offer a traditional mortgage, making it harder to finance a manufactured home, which is classified as personal property.
3. Depreciation: Mobile homes depreciate faster than single-family dwellings.
4. Resale value: The average cost of a used single-wide home ranges between $10,000 and $50,000, a fraction of what most people pay for a brand-new unit. However, the potential buyer may have to relocate the home, which sometimes deters buyers from purchasing an older unit.

Learn more about the hidden costs of buying a mobile home

Understanding the costs associated with purchasing a mobile home can help you make an informed decision, weighing the pros and cons to see what works best for you. Brian Merrick has extensive experience helping clients find mobile homes for sale in Malibu. He has vast knowledge and expertise in the area and can help you find a place to call home. Contact Brian Merrick to learn more about the real estate opportunities available in Malibu. 

Work With Brian

Whether you are looking to buy, sell, or lease a luxury estate, oceanfront property, ranch, or condominium, Brian Merrick is happy to help.

Contact Us
Follow Brian