An Introduction To Small Mobile Homes | Pros, Cons, And Examples

Oct 3, 2018Blog, Buying a mobile home, FAQ, Renting a mobile home

Do you believe less can be more? If so, perhaps you’re considering a small mobile home in hopes of reaping its myriad of economic and lifestyle benefits. It might surprise you to hear that the manufactured housing industry is at the forefront of providing these minimized living spaces. As a whole, this industry is no stranger when it comes to making the most out of a limited amount of space.

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How big are small mobile homes?

The standards that constitute a “small” house is constantly changing. In general, houses are getting bigger and bigger despite buyers being squeezed by rising housing costs. Which means that what’s considered a small home is also getting bigger.

Today, the average family home in the U.S. is about 2600 square feet. To give you an example, this means that anything under 2500 is considered a small home. By real estate standards, most double-wides and all single-wides are considered “small.”

Small homes themselves have a large amount of leeway as they can be as small as 300-600 square feet – so-called “tiny” homes. Obviously, any tips and advice for 300 square feet homes may not be suitable for those living in 2000+ square feet homes, and vice versa.

That’s why, in this article, we’ll try to keep our tips and advice as general as possible so that it’ll be useful to anyone living in a smaller home. If we have to set a standard, we’re mostly going to focus on homes that are between 900 to 1600 square feet. However, in reality, this guide should still be relevant for much larger and smaller homes.

Why should you consider a small mobile home?

“Bigger isn’t always better.” “Less is more.” We have all heard the cliches. However, there are a number of concrete reasons why it could either make sense or be beneficial to downgrade the size of your home. And then eventually, adjust your lifestyle to it.


You can rest assured that you pay for every extra square inch when you purchase a home. It doesn’t matter whether it’s real estate or a mobile home. The bigger, the more expensive it will be. This can come hand-in-hand with other costs. An example could be that you may need a bigger lot which potentially, fees for moving and setting up your home will be higher.

Save on utilities

coin stacks in front of a grandfather clock

Because there is so much more air to regulate and there are far more opportunities for cracks, leaks, or insufficient insulation, smaller homes are often easier and cheaper to heat or cool. This means a smaller home should come with a reduction in heating bills. As long as it’s the same quality as a bigger home.

Be more environmentally responsible

If your very eco-conscious, there are a number of ways in which choosing a smaller home positively impacts the environment. Although you might not change the world yourself, it’s a step in the right direction. Fewer materials, less waste, lower energy consumption, and less space are all positive features.

Easier to clean and maintain

A smaller house means fewer things that can go wrong over time. The smaller the home is, the less time it takes to “settle” into place. This further leads to lesser bending and expanding as the temperature changes and lesser stress on its own structure and chassis. If problems do occur, they are also easier and cheaper to fix, requiring fewer materials.

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Expanding is easier than shrinking

Although it’s not always easy (nor recommended) to build onto a mobile home, it’s still more acceptable than trying to downsize a home. There are plenty of ways to expand your home without needing to change the existing structure, such as a porch, deck, sunroom, carport, etc.

Save on upgrades

As we briefly mentioned, the smaller a home is the fewer materials you will need when fixing or upgrading it. For example, if you want to put in new carpets, wall panels, skirting, or kitchen tops, you won’t have to buy as much to replace the previous materials. The same goes for most other upgrades.

Save time

There are numerous ways in which a smaller home will help you save time in more and less tangible ways. Less time needed for the maintenance and cleaning of your home is the most obvious one. Others include less time to traverse the home, fewer places to search for things you have lost, etc…

Live cozy

This is a less concrete benefit and is completely dependant on what type of “at-home” experience you prefer. However, many people like the cozy feel of a smaller home.

Go minimal

One of the first things people are often recommended to do when embracing a minimalist lifestyle is to move into a smaller home. Part of living minimally is making do with less. This is exactly the kind of thinking a smaller home encourages. Similarly, a smaller home will give you that extra reason to question whether you really need something due to its physical constraints.

Get out more

Ok, so this isn’t really a direct result of living in a smaller home but is often a result of living in a smaller home. A smaller home might give you that last push you need to spend more time outside of the home, either discovering new places or spending more time outdoors. If this is your goal, a home can have a positive impact on your lifestyle.

When is less really less?

It’s not all sunshine and roses. Although it can provide an amazingly positive living experience for some, it’s definitely not something that’s suited to everyone’s lifestyle, situation, or personality. Here are some of the biggest cons some might experience moving to a smaller home:

A working table with minimal things

You might run out of storage

This is quite an obvious one, but the effects may be even greater on mobile homeowners than others. People living in stick-built homes often have a basement or an attic space to turn to for storage if their living space becomes too full. However, mobile homeowners usually don’t have that luxury. It’s a much rarer feature in this type of housing. If your home starts to clutter, it could nullify almost all the benefits we discussed above. Moreover, it’ll cost you time, money, effort, and have a negative impact on your physical and mental wellbeing.

It could be psychologically challenging at first

Although there are numerous long-term mental health benefits associated with downsizing your life and going minimal, it might be very difficult (or impossible) for some to adjust to. For some, this will just be a symptom of our consumer-driven lifestyles. While for others, it will merely be up to preference. Moving from a large home to a small one can be particularly challenging as you have to deal with less space, potentially more clutter, etc…

It might not be suitable for growing families

If your home is small enough, there might just literally not be any space for more bedrooms and bathrooms. No matter how committed you and your family are to living small. Most single-wides already barely have enough space for three bedrooms. And even that is sometimes pushing the limits of livable spaces.

Generally speaking, you need to go above 1000 square feet to even find anything with three bedrooms and then the living areas, bathrooms, and kitchens might be very small. This means that tiny homes are at most suited for families with a single child and no live-in relatives. They might also become a challenging space to live as your kid grows up. It could very well lead to issues of privacy.

Limited opportunity to entertain

It goes without saying that if you struggle to fit a family in your home, that finding the space to entertain could be even more challenging. Usually, only about a quarter of the home is reserved for a living room where you could host a social event or party. After your furniture and other fixtures, you’ll find the few hundred square meters soon disappear after just a small group of guests show up.

What are some great small homes?

Let’s look at some of the best small mobile homes that you could buy right now so that you have an idea of what you’re in for. There are so many models out there, that we could only really sift through a fraction of what’s available. But these should be representative of the best of the best. If you want to start looking on your own, there are a few manufacturers that build these types of homes and that have high-quality standards:

  • Clayton Homes
  • Champion Home Builders
  • Jacobsen Homes
  • Fleetwood Homes
  • Cavco Homes

We’ve created The Ultimate Mobile Home Manufacturer List {With Tips on Buying} with a more complete list to help you find the right manufacturer for your needs as well as get the best deal when purchasing a new home.

The Heron – Champion Home Builders

The Heron was the latest model to win the Mobile Home Industry (MHI) award for New Manufactured Home Design – Small home under 600 square feet. At 499 square feet, it’s almost on the border of being considered a “tiny home”. It’s a one-bedroom, one-bathroom model perfect for young couples or retirees.

The space of this home has been managed to the maximum and it achieves the goal of not feeling restrictive despite its size. The interior is all soft greys with touches of white and black to give it a sleek, modern feel. It comes with a porch to add a bit of exterior living space.

Astro Single Section 1A135A – Commodore Pennsylvania

“Astro” is actually a complete range of manufactured home models with varying floor plans and sizes of which most fall in the small home range. This particular model, the 1A135A, won the 2017 New Single-Section Manufactured Home Design – Small home under 600 square feet award.

This catalog shows how even at this size, you have a huge variety of floor plans, layouts, and features to choose from as you can extensively customize your home before purchase. It’s a much simpler home in appearance compared to The Heron but does come with its own charm.

The T N R • Model TNR-2362A – Jacobsen Homes

Model of a mobile home

Photo credit: Jacobsen Homes

Although it hasn’t won any awards just yet, this home is a winner in our books! It comes with so many features and additions that it’s hard to believe this all comes included with a home that’s less than 1000 square feet. Among these are:

  • An exterior utility room
  • A small front door porch
  • A roof for your car or bike

The home itself also packs two bathrooms and bedrooms. In appearance, it’s a simple yet charming home that’s hard not to like. The manufacturer, Jacobsen Homes, has a whole catalog of small homes that are similar but with their own unique features that make them worth checking out.

The Vista – Champion Home Builders

It wouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with their homes to see two Champion Home Builders homes on this short list. They are simply one of the best out there and The Vista was the winner of the MHI’s New Manufactured Home Design-320-600 Square Feet (Small Home) award in 2017.

It’s a unique home with a very eclectic style, especially when it comes to the exterior. It chucks the notion that manufactured homes (particularly smaller ones) have to be boxy and featureless right out the window. Despite being only 480 square feet, it features multiple colors, sleek lines, two outdoor relaxation areas, and a beautiful interior, it makes it hard to think of a reason not to go small for your next home.

Living small isn’t as bad as one may think!

If you do live in a smaller home, we’ve created a few handy articles to help you make it a more comfortable space to live in, such as A Collection Of Mobile Home Small Bedroom Ideas To Liven Up Your Space and Mobile Home Living Tips: How To Save Space In A Small Area.

We hope that this serves as a handy introduction to small mobile homes and what they have (and don’t) have to offer. While they may provide incredible benefits to some, moving into one is not a decision to be made lightly without considering if it fits in with where you are in life and what you want out of your home.


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