February 20, 2014

How counter-trailer-trashy can a mobile home get?

So much so that when HuffPo writes about it, they say "underneath this adorable 'ESCAPE' cottage is nothing more than a sneaky RV." RV? They mean mobile home. Further down, they use the term "mobile home" like this: "it's safe to say the 21st century mobile home is taking on-the-road living to a whole new level."

A mobile home doesn't give you "on-the-road living." It's a pretty big deal to move a thing like that around. It's not an RV!

By the way, I love it. Click through the slide show, and check out the manufacturer's website. And I'm not just saying that because they are a Wisconsin company. I would happily attempt to live in one of those, and I could imagine a retirement lifestyle with Meade living in one of those and repositioning it every year or so to some beautiful place. Except it can't be a beautiful place like those woods in the pictures. You have to hook it up in a trailer park. So... I'm guessing at some point — pretty soon — there will be upscale, Boomer-oriented trailer parks for mobile homes like this.

IN THE COMMENTS: Tibore observes that the manufacturer's FAQ says "by law it is considered an RV." That's in the context of financing and taxes, so I guess in the legal sense I'm wrong to say it's not an RV. Where is the line between mobile home and RV? Maybe the legal line and the consumer perception line are different (like the way SUVs are trucks/cars).

59 comments:

Hagar said...

Speaking of commas ....

rhhardin said...

It needs more space to store old stuff in.

Larry J said...

It's a transportable cabin, not an RV. If you want to permanently install one in a remote area, you could drill a well and put in a septic system instead of depending on the hookups in a trailer park. Getting electricity could be tricky. Windmills and/or solar panels work in some places but not so well in others. A backup propane-powered generator and a bank of storage batteries could get you through the slack times.

When I left the Air Force in 1982 to attend college full time, I had no desire to live in the dorms. I bought an old camper (21 feet counting the hitch and rear bumper) and lived in that for 9 months. It had everything I needed: a place to eat (and study), a place to sleep and a bathroom. Life was simple then. I did have it parked in an old trailer park because that was what I could afford. There was a married couple living nearby in a somewhat larger camper (less than 30 feet long). I don't know if that was all they could afford or if they were happy with the arrangement. When I got engaged, I sold the camper and bought an old trailer. There is such a thing as too much togetherness, even for newlyweds.

Bob Boyd said...

"What does delivery cost? A good rule of thumb is $4 a mile." - from the manufacturer's website.

I couldn't find a picture of it in travel mode. Doesn't sound like something you could just hitch up and haul yourself.
Intriguing idea.

The Cracker Emcee said...

It looks like one of the better National Park bathrooms.

Amichel said...

After checking out their website, it becomes clear why it's so important that it's classified as an RV and not a mobile home. RV's don't have to pay any property taxes! So long as you don't build a permanent foundation for it, you can just get a tag from the DMV every year and let it sit wherever you like. That could save quite a bit of cash over the years.

EMD said...

We call those "double wides," ma'am.

Freder Frederson said...

Except it can't be a beautiful place like those woods in the pictures. You have to hook it up in a trailer park.

You (and apparently the writers at Huffpost) don't get out of the city much. People have been putting mobile homes on their vacation home lots since time immemorial.

Freeman Hunt said...

There are a lot of places around here that sell sheds and cabins. This looks like one of those cabins with about $30,000 to $40,000 of interior installed.

Bob R said...

Don't need no stinkin' trailer park. Damned city kids never heard of a well and a septic tank.

Paul said...

Better to just get a nice RV and truly be mobile.

PB Reader said...

Yes, go to Canoe Bay and stay in one for $350/night!

PB Reader said...

It sort of reminds me of a WikiHouse.

jacksonjay said...

I am highly offended by the term "counter trailer-trashy"! You will be reported to the the micro-aggression police.

Big Mike said...

I live near a regional park with a camp ground so I regularly see RVs the size of city buses driving in the general direction of the park, often towing an econo-box car or a trailer with a small car. A few times I've seen something very like a large mobile home that is towed by a large pickup truck with a fifth wheel in the its bed. Something like one of these might be your dream mobile retirement home, Professor.

Ann Althouse said...

"You (and apparently the writers at Huffpost) don't get out of the city much. People have been putting mobile homes on their vacation home lots since time immemorial."

Well, now you are assuming that one buys a plot of land somewhere!

And still you'd need the utilities serving the place.

It's just not a place to move around in, but a pre-built home.

The manufacturer's website talks about how easy it is to set up, speaking of hooking it into what are presumably available electric, water, and sewage lines. Where is this land? You can't move around casually unless you use trailer parks.

Obviously, with one's own land, you could plunk down a pre-made tiny house, and this is a subject I've blogged about for years. Click my "tiny house" tag.

But these things don't have all those hookup connections. It's assumed they're camp cabins, like setting up a tent on your property.

We've talked about doing something like that on land we might buy, so what you are saying isn't news to me. But the quality of life depends on running water, etc.

If "their vacation home lots" means something like what I'm envisioning in the post, then why are you saying "their"?

Ann Althouse said...

@Hagar If I didn't know you to be a good commenter, I would delete your comment, which begins a thread and isn't comprehensible. I assume you have a point to make, but I have no idea what it is.

Hagar said...

..., with Meade, ...

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Jim Rockford had a very nice mobile home. If you like perfect weather and the ocean. And women in bikinis year round.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

The trailer-trashyness comes from the trailer park, not the trailer.

Michael said...

Professor. Why dont you buy a self contained RV of the upper end but modest size variety. You can take it anywhere, hook up in a park if you want, a Walmart parking lot or a Pemex station if you are traveling in Mexico. Side of the road in Alaska or Canadian west. You can design your own interior. Tiny house with motor

tim maguire said...

Pet Peeve: It's not a home, it's a house. The people who live there make it a home.

Enough with letting advertisers cheapen the language.

elkh1 said...

In Obamaland, your future is to scale down and convince yourself it is your choice. When college grads live in mommy's basement, they are back to the good old days when generations stayed together to take care of each other. When retirees can't afford a home, they take pride in being upscale "trailer trash".

Ann Althouse said...

"..., with Meade, …"

Thanks. I noticed the locution was ambiguous. I don't think commas are needed grammatically, but they could feel like a remedy to the ambiguity. I would normally rewrite to fix the problem, and I confess to having been a little lazy there.

Ann Althouse said...

Looks like I want to put him out in a little house some where.

Reminds me of: "put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well."

Tibore said...

Is no one else bothered by the fact that it's mobility - a main feature highlighted in the second sentence of the website, and a point also hammered on in the FAQ where they insist that "by law it is considered an RV" - is not illustrated in pictures nor detailed in the FAQ? You're not even given basics, such as base weight, hitch weight, GVWR, or anything like that. The page merely lists the hitch as "detachable".

Whereas for any other towable RV, you get all that information and more.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not suggesting any conspiracy to rip off people. Rather, I'm noting that the manufacturer insists on classifying the product as an "RV" and distinguishing it from a trailer-park type mobile home ("Note that ESCAPE is not subject to inspections or permitting like a mobile or modular home"...) yet fails to market it with the data that RV'ers need in order to judge suitability for their towing vehicle.

In short, they don't appear to know their market.

I guess I should give them slack for being a relatively new entrant into the field, but this doesn't speak to me of a manufacturer that understands the issues behind towing RVs. It looks more like some people experienced in building cabins thinking it'd be a great idea to stick wheels and a hitch on them and try to market them a bit differently. While that by itself is not evidence that there will be mobility issues, the fact that the trailerability of the product is hardly discussed in anything approaching solid terms is a warning sign that they may not have all that together.

I may be wrong of course. They may simply choose to let the sales staff deliver that info. But again: It's disturbing that it's not forwarded readily like it is for all other RVs.

Fen said...

Sounds like they are promoting the "new normal" due to Funemployment.

And I see the Obamaphiles have added a new benchmark for their affirmative action failure: "Jobs created, jobs saved and people touched by the stimulus"

Fen said...

Media: "C'mon you don't want to buy your first home. Look at these cool trailer parks!"

Obama: "You should be thanking me!"

chickenlittle said...

The Who famously sang about the mobile lifestyle:


I'm goin' home
And when I wanna go home
I'm goin' mobile
Well, I'm gonna find a home
And we'll see how it feels
Goin' mobile
Keep me movin'

Rick M said...

The comment war here is curious to me, a casual observer. The "target" of Hagar's comment was immediately obvious, however it's dangling there at the top of the board. That seems to have made if more offensive than if it was at the bottom. The other day someone went on and on about knob-to-shaft ratios and got zero reaction because it was towards the bottom of the comment board.

Would love to understand who, what, when, did those "couple people" get banned.

Seeing Red said...

Manufactured housing has come a long way.

chickenlittle said...

The Who famously sang about the mobile lifestyle:

♫ I'm goin' home
And when I wanna go home
I'm goin' mobile
Well, I'm gonna find a home
And we'll see how it feels
Goin' mobile
Keep me movin' ♫

Seeing Red said...

I was thinking more of:

Trailers for sale or rent
Rooms to let 50 cents....

Lance said...

Except it can't be a beautiful place like those woods in the pictures. You have to hook it up in a trailer park.

Huh? Does Wisconsin prohibit mobile homes outside of designated trailer parks? My dad worked for a couple mobile home manufacturers (Champion, Fuqua), and the mobile homes we lived in were always planted out in the woods, never in a trailer park. We used electricity for lights and heating, since natural gas wasn't available. And we relied on a septic tank instead of a municipal sewer. Worked great. That was Idaho and Oregon. Surely Wisconsin is liberal enough to allow mobile homes in the countryside?

Rusty said...

It gets old in a hurry.

Ann Althouse said...

"Professor. Why dont you buy a self contained RV of the upper end but modest size variety. You can take it anywhere, hook up in a park if you want, a Walmart parking lot or a Pemex station if you are traveling in Mexico. Side of the road in Alaska or Canadian west. You can design your own interior. Tiny house with motor."

I am not willing to sleep in an enclosure that contains a chemical toilet.

I am willing to sleep in a vehicle and have done it many times. But that's a makeshift thing, not a basis for a nice trip.

Hotels exist. The alternative has to be better than staying in a hotel (or renting a place on AirBNB).

Ann Althouse said...

Also, I'm interested in being more free and owning some huge expensive piece of property is unappealing.

Plus, on road trips, I want the driving to be fun, including on scary mountain roads. I don't want us to be Lucy and Ricky in "The Big Trailer."

I much prefer a spiffy car, but I could see getting a car that you could stretch out flat in and that had a roof light that included a screen.

I don't need a kitchen and cabinetry and all that stuff, and I completely object to a toilet.

Hagar said...

No commas, but .... Meade and I .... is the best construction; implying a joint enterprise of setting forth for high adventure and general cultivation.

Ann Althouse said...

"Huh? Does Wisconsin prohibit mobile homes outside of designated trailer parks? My dad worked for a couple mobile home manufacturers (Champion, Fuqua), and the mobile homes we lived in were always planted out in the woods, never in a trailer park. We used electricity for lights and heating, since natural gas wasn't available. And we relied on a septic tank instead of a municipal sewer. Worked great. That was Idaho and Oregon. Surely Wisconsin is liberal enough to allow mobile homes in the countryside?"

I guess it's a question of zoning, etc. But you have to be able to hook it up. A septic tank sounds like a bit difficult to set up. And you didn't mention water.

Ann Althouse said...

"No commas, but .... Meade and I .... is the best construction; implying a joint enterprise of setting forth for high adventure and general cultivation."

I was already in the sentence, talking about my preferences (not having consulted with Meade). Then I was imagining doing something with Meade.

"Meade and I" would be incorrect after "with."

"I could imagine a retirement lifestyle with Meade living in one of those…"

Ann Althouse said...

I'd say something closer to:

I could imagine retiring and living with Meade in one of those...

Hagar said...

"I could imagine a retirement lifestyle with Meade and I living in one of those…" is perfectly correct.
The way you had it, you would be staying in your comfortable house in Madison, while Meade traveled around the country with that thing.

chickenlittle said...

"I could imagine a retirement lifestyle with Meade and I living in one of those…" is perfectly correct.

Doesn't "with" demand the objective case "me"?

In German the pronoun would be thrown in the dative case automatically.

Michael said...

Me.

traditionalguy said...

In Georgia the legal category of a mobile home is a Motor Vehicle, as is a Trailer. All require MV1 certificates of title registered through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

A SNAFU exists because the lenders lien is only shown on the MV1 Title and not the real property records.

After the tongue and wheels are removed and a attached pipe or utility line happens then the whole deal becomes Real, but that lenders MV1 lien is still out there as a pitfall to the trusting buyer of land and home.

Hagar said...

Grammar rules I do not know, but "with Meade and me" does not sound right, and in any case is not the same thing as "with Meade and I."

Freeman Hunt said...

You could buy cheap, scenic acreage here and there around the country, adding a septic tank, well, and small windmill to each property. For additional energy, you could put solar panels on top of the mobile home. Would that be enough to run a satellite for Internet access? I don't know.

Then you could go from property to property, staying at each until you tire of it, then moving on.

Hagar said...

As in the famous Broadway Musical, "The King and me"?

chickenlittle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rockport Conservative said...

There are already many very nice RV parks with beauty and privacy. You can also dry camp on BML and other government lands in many places. Been there done that, wish I could do it again.

chickenlittle said...

but "with Meade and me" does not sound right,..

Imagine the phrase without the "Meade" and the conjunction "and": "with I" doesn't sound right.

As in the famous Broadway Musical, "The King and me"?
Yes, but here the pronoun is the subject and thus should be in the subjective case so "The King and I" is correct.

Question: when you answer the phone and the caller asks for Hagar, do you reply "this is him" or "this is he"?

Michael said...

but "with Meade and me" does not sound right,

Exactly. But try the original:"I could imagine a retirement lifestyle with Meade and I living in one of those…" without the Meade and see how that sounds.

I could imagine a retirement lifestyle with I living in one of those….

See? The best way to test the I/me conundrum is to use that approach.

Michael said...

Professor: It is not mandatory that you use the toilet in an RV. If you acquired a new one it could remain pristine. I agree that dragging around a trailer is a bad idea. But your portable small house is expensive to move, requires owned or leased land, etc etc. God created five star hotels for this very reason. You can, say, stay in the Little Nell hotel in Aspen and bike ride or hike all day and stay in luxury at the end of the day. Town and country! Ditto the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole. Across the great United States! Canada! Mexico! And never once step into an airplane.

southcentralpa said...

The categories do tend to blend together, since the makers of mobile houses (don't hurt me, Tim McGuire!) no longer always have axles on their wares.

Another is the rise of modular houses, of which some of the manufacturers make both.

The manufacturer you linked to is certainly trying to make themselves seem sui generis, but they would be most correctly described as a "park model" (see the wikipedia article of the same name), which is built like a house but small enough they can qualify as an RV under federal standards.

One thing I think that trips up people conceptually is the difference (as the Navy and I'm sure others make) between "mobile" (something that is capable of being moved) and "portable" (something that is frequently moved as a matter of course).

(FWIW, I don't know when law school starts but the PRVCA, America's largest RV show, has been set for 10-14 September this year.) www.largestrvshow.com

Hagar said...

But it is not about living without Meade; it is about living with him, and for that Althouse wants equal billing.

Paul said...

"I am not willing to sleep in an enclosure that contains a chemical toilet."

Are you kidding? Really? Have you ever been in a nice RV? It doesn't have a porta-potty. It doesn't smell.

Now if you have been in a nice modern RV and in spite of the fact that the marine toilet system is orderless and clean you still refuse to consider living in one then you are indeed the stereotypical neurotic and hysterical irrational female.

EMD said...

marine toilet system is orderless

True. They all get to go in the pool.

Paul said...

Spell check strikes again. I hate that shirt.

Tibore said...

I have a tag now? Awesome. :D

"Maybe the legal line and the consumer perception line are different (like the way SUVs are trucks/cars)."

My guess is that this is exactly the case, that they manufacturer is trying to sell the appeal of a "mobile home" that has the legal ease of an RV. Seems like it'd be a niche market to me but that's not a bad thing: Many a successful business has started as a merchant to niche consumers.

I'd still have some concern about how well or poorly that thing tows, but that's the sort of detail that would come to light eventually. Couldn't be any worse and is probably significantly better than some of these Beverly Hillbilly type pile-ons I've seen hauled around here.