Rent vs. Buy a Mobile Home: How to Decide

rent vs. buy decisions manufactured home
A beautiful open floor plan in a Palm Harbor home.

Many online resources guide you through the mobile home buying process. But what about help with deciding whether to rent vs. buy a home?

It can be a difficult decision to make. Sure, there’s a lot of information out there. But that doesn’t always help. In fact, studies show that having too much information can make decision-making more difficult and less effective.

Knowing that, we’ll narrow our focus to:

  • Your current finances
  • Your preferred lifestyle
  • Your home buying options

Our focus now set, let’s turn to four decisions to make before renting or buying your next home.

mobile home park rent vs. buy
Photo courtesy of Rickert Communities.

1. Decide To Get a Full Picture of Your Finances

“Should I rent or buy a house?” It’s a question many people ask themselves at one time or another.

Before answering that question, it’s critical that you have a complete understanding of your finances. Americans lose an average of $1,230 per year on financial missteps like late payments and poor emergency fund planning. That’s money better spent on your new home.

Begin by itemizing small, often-overlooked recurring costs that can whisk away your money each month, such as:

  • Recurring debt (e.g., finance charges on credit cards)
  • Vehicle maintenance, parking, and registration
  • Entertainment (e.g., movies, streaming services such as Netflix)
  • Those quick grocery store visits where you always seem to buy more than you intended
  • Pet care
  • Laundry, including dry cleaning

Understanding your current finances helps you make an informed decision about the next step.

2. Decide What You Want To Do with Your Money

rent vs. buy decisions manufactured home
The interior of a new manufactured home from Champion Homes.

There are some undeniable benefits to renting. Perhaps the most notable is offloading regular maintenance. Is the garbage disposal not working? Call the landlord. Time for yard work? Many communities offer a package that allows you to kick back, relax, and watch someone else do the work.

Plus, the money you save on upfront costs involved in purchasing a home can be invested. This might be an important factor if you decide that what you want to do with your money is to invest it in the stock market.

Of course, buying a home can help you grow your wealth, too. Wealth accumulation for homeowners is a long-recognized benefit of owning a home.

Another benefit? The freedom to do what you’d like with the house you own. Paint the walls whatever color you’d like; swap out window treatments; add a “she shed” in the backyard.

Step #1’s financial review gave you a good idea of precisely how much you can spend on your home purchase. Two critical items to keep in mind at this stage:

  • Keep your mortgage payment below roughly 30% of your total pre-taxed monthly income
  • Factor in expenses associated with buying a home, including:

          ○ Homeowners and mortgage insurance (if applicable)
          ○ Property taxes
          ○ Maintenance costs

Sound intimidating? It can be. But if you can stick to a budget, it’s an achievable goal. MHVillage offers the EZ Monthly Housing Cost Calculator in its Home Buyer’s Survival Kit. This calculator is especially convenient for those times when you don’t have convenient access to the internet. For the times when you are online, check out this interactive Buy-Rent calculator.

3. Decide Where You Want To Be In A Few Years

rent vs. buy decisions manufactured home
The spacious kitchen in a new Champion home.

High levels of homeownership tend to improve neighborhoods. Why? Because the residents are invested in keeping the area attractive and safe for the duration of their time there.

While longevity is a plus in such situations, however, that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Maybe you’ve been itching to experience life in another climate, move closer to family, or simply desire a change in scene.

If you’re not ready for the stability that comes with buying a house — if you decide that being able to pack up and relocate at a moment’s notice is more important to you — then you’re not ready to buy a house.

Once you decide that you are ready to buy, there are a few related decisions to make about the lifestyle you wish to lead. You can make such decisions by answering a few relevant questions: 

Do you want to live closer to your family?

If your parents are elderly and you wish to be nearby to lend any necessary assistance, it’ll help you zero in on a decision.

Is starting a family on the horizon?

If so, the size of the home and school district ratings will influence your decision.

Are you physically active?

Access to well-kept parks and recreation offerings such as hiking and bike trails might swing where you buy. (If your activities inspire you to pick up some land along with a new house, here are several things you should know.)

Are you a big DIY fan?

If the lifestyle you seek has more to do with enjoying your future home and less to do with working on its plumbing or electrical components, avoid fixer-uppers.

If your decision-making efforts lean toward renting, then it will serve you well to check out our in-depth guide for renting a mobile home. Otherwise, MHVillage.com can help by letting you browse mobile homes for rent.

rent vs. buy decisions manufactured home
A Platinum series home, by Kabco Builders in Boaz, Ala.

4. Decide on Site-Built or Manufactured Housing

If every decision you’ve made points to homeownership, congratulations!

For the broadest selection possible, you can’t go wrong considering both site-built homes and manufactured homes. Both can offer you the location, lifestyle, and investment peace of mind you seek.

Take a closer look at manufactured homes, however, if you’re giving extra weight to factors such as cost, maintenance, and time.

Cost

Because of the economies of scale they achieve in deals with suppliers, manufactured home builders can offer affordable alternatives to traditional site-built homes. Despite their affordability, however, manufactured homes today offer all the benefits of site-built homes: a variety of floor plans, brand-name appliances and fixtures, and more.

Maintenance

Building homes in controlled environments — closely supervised and protected against inclement weather — can help achieve a level of quality and reliability other methods simply can’t. This is bad news for people who like to tinker around the house, but good news for everyone else.

Time

Thinking about building a home? Construction time for manufactured housing is notably faster than building on site. Manufactured homes can be completed in as little as two months. Site-built homes, meanwhile, can take six months or longer.

The Rent vs. Buy Decision is Yours — MHVillage Can Help!

There’s a lot to consider as part of the rent vs. buy debate. Bookmark MHVillage.com for everything you need to make the right call for you and your family. Whether you need additional information from our Mobile Home Buyer’s Guide or wish to view mobile homes for sale, you can find it here.

Now that you have this decision guide, put it to work to see if your future holds a home that you can call your own!