Retirement Living Made Easy

What Is Manufactured Housing, and Why It’s Great for Seniors

If you having been investigating retirement housing for yourself or a loved one then then terms “manufactured home” or “manufactured housing” has probably come up. It might not be a clear concept based on the name alone, but it’s something that’s worth investigating.

What Is A Manufactured Home?

A manufactured home is home that is built in a factory and delivered to a desired location. It’s placed alongside other homes like it, on a pad, inside a community.

Manufactured homes are more affordable than “stick built” (also known as “site-built”) homes, they can be purchased and put in place quickly, and they have standard features and expectations that other types of homes do not.

In the past manufactured homes had a negative reputation because small “single-wide” homes were common. These were inefficient to heat, often poorly built, and lost their value quite quickly. Newer manufactured homes, sometimes known as “high–performance manufactured housing” is often (but not always) better constructed, uses energy-efficient building materials (like the in-wall insulation), and uses energy-efficient EnergyStar-approved appliances. New homes are often of the “double-wide” variety, which is a more desire option then the single-wide home that would be associated with a negative pre-conceptions of a “trailer park.”

Advantages Of Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes haven’t always have the best reputation, but that’s changed as quality has improved, federal guidelines have protected buyers, and larger companies have started operating the communities.

Today’s manufactured homes often feature efficient building materials with EnergyStar certification and efficient appliances.

Building codes set forth by the International Residential Code have introduced important resident protection around fire safety that did not exist in the past.


A key aspect of manufactured homes that many retirees focus on is how affordable they are relative to building or buying a site-built home. This means manufactured homes can deliver the advantages of home ownership as well as the peace-of-mind of living in a new home. Typical square-foot price will be about half that of a comparable apartment or site-build home.

Community Life

Due to zoning regulations manufactured homes are cluster together in communities. These communities can be for the general population or around a theme, like a retirement community. A senior-specific manufactured home community can have some of the advantages and social life of a much more expensive living arrangement, such as a retirement village, but with more independence and lower costs.

Typically this sort of community would be chosen by people ranging from 55 to 74 years of age, who have retired, sold their previous home, and are looking to lower the costs and maintenance of home ownership.


Manufactured homes are generally smaller than site-built homes and they use that space very efficiently. This makes them a good choice for seniors who are downsizing and no longer desire the costs and headaches associated with owning a larger home.

Downsides of Manufactured Homes

These homes are not without their disadvantages…

Land Leasing

Because a manufactured home is placed in a community on a pad, there is a charge associated with this. This is a rental of the landed, essentially lease, that is in addition to any costs associated with the home itself. The site rent can be in the hundreds of dollars per month range, which is significant but much less than the rental price of a similarly sized stick-built home or apartment in the same area.


While manufactured home living can have community life, it also has full independence for the people who live there. This is a great fit for most people, but might not be ideal as people age or more support is required. These communities generally will have not a full services found in a retirement village.


  1. Are manufactured homes and mobile homes the same thing?

    No. Manufactured homes and mobiles are are not the same. A trailer that is put on a permanent placement is often referred to as a “mobile home,” regardless of if it remains mobile or not. From a technical standpoint a mobile home and a manufactured home are both types of factory-built homes. Due to legacy experience. prior to a change in the law in 1976, many people use these terms (as well a “trailer home”) interchangeably.

  2. How are manufactured homes different from modular homes?

    These are both types of factory-built homes, but they are not the same. A modular home is delivered on a large 18-wheeler type truck, in a flatbed, and then put in place with a crane. The modular home is placed on top of a foundation that may or may not have a basement. Modular homes are delivered in 2 or more pieces and then attached on-site. A manufactured home is delivered to the site on its own axles — pulled behind a truck — and arrives fully built. Modular homes must adhere to local building codes and be treated by a bank like any site-built home while manufactured homes must conform to federal safety and lending regulations.

  3. What is a chattel loan?

    A chattel loan, sometimes known as a chattel mortgage, is when money is loaned to an individual for the purchase of something that is portable. This differs from a standard mortgage as that is secured by a home, which cannot be moved, thus limiting the risk to the lender. A chattel loan might be used on a manufactured home, a boat, or a piece of farm equipment, none of which are particular mobile, but they can be moved from place to place. The lender does not hold a lien against the item, but rather owns the item until the term of the loan is completed, at which time ownership is transferred to the buyer (the borrower).