ARE TRAILER PARKS THE LAST ACCEPTABLE PREJUDICE IN AMERICA?

Aging in Place/Elder Care/Demographics

By:  Sheri de Grom

I’ve never thought, not even once, about relocating to Florida. I’ve never thought of retiring to a trailer park! But, after reading TIME, April 3, 2017, pgs 46-51, I have a new appreciation for the lifestyle.

Andrea Levere, who studies issues of financial security and class as president of the Corporation for Enterprise Development, states, “Trailer parks are the last acceptable prejudice in America.”

Growing up on the wide open plains states, I developed the attitude that I didn’t want someone breathing down my neck all the time. As soon as I left home and university behind me, what happened? I ended up in a succession of large, crowded cities and I usually lived in huge apartment complexes.

Large cities were okay as it was easy to become invisible and no one had to know me unless I wanted it that way. However, living in a large city can be a lonely place unless you work hard to build deep and lasting friendships. A career like mine that moved me often, the same as many military positions, made it doubly difficult to maintain lasting friendships when moved around like so many pieces on a game board.

I’ve read gated communities for a trailer park described for people who aren’t as wealthy.

The essence everyone faces as they age is how they want to do it. How well will we live our golden years? I believe it’s universal that we want to live as well as we can, for as long as we can, which means avoiding institutional care, nursing homes, assisted living, hospitals—as long as possible.

TIME magazine states, “the goal is what gerontologists call “aging in place,” and in a world that still holds a few happy surprises, one of the happiest is that trailer-park life turns out to be a superior way to live.” In most gated park communities, you’ll find:

  • Neighbors are close and look after one another
  • Asphalt paths invite strolling
  • Organized games
  • Pot luck dinners
  • Self-improvement classes
  • No stairs
  • If someone is lonely, it’s because it’s self-imposed

A monumental problem for individuals facing retirement is that 1 in 3 has not saved a penny for that day that will come. According to a 2016 survey, nearly 6 in 10 have saved less than $10,000.

Ten-thousand baby boomers turn 65 every day and the prospects for millennials are even tougher.

Wall Street has caught the scent of the profitability of senior mobile-home parks.

To quote TIME magazine, “Senior Trailer Parks immediately go from being nominal clusters of transits to being communities of owners deeply invested in where they live.

After the housing market crash of 2008, when the bursting bubble reduced the value of some traditional homes by half or more, mobile homes in resident-owned parks held far more of their value, dropping by only about 30%.”

For me, the draw, if I were going to go, is the socialization leveling at work. Everyone is from somewhere and no one is from the same place.

NOTE: NOT THAT I HAVE PLANS TO MOVE!

Have you thought about where you might want to age and why? I’d like to hear your thoughts on this subject.

As always, thank you for reading with me.

 

 

 

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About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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23 Responses to ARE TRAILER PARKS THE LAST ACCEPTABLE PREJUDICE IN AMERICA?

  1. What an interesting development! I can see this as a perfect solution for seniors who want to downsize without losing out on a social life!

  2. We had to sell our parents’ home to support their memory care. Not so sure if aging in place worked well for my mother as my fathers’ dementia worsened. Her fear and stress increased until she had a stroke and needed care, too.

    • Hello, Kitt: How nice to see you here. It’s sad when we have to sell off the assets of the parents to pay for long term care but I see this more often than I care. Unfortunately when memory comes into play, aging in place is less of a possibility than in most any other case. I hope you are well.

  3. willowdot21 says:

    Hi Sheri how are you and Tom. I found your post very interesting . Personally I want to stay where I am I can walk to the doctors, the shops, the town, the library,the train station to London, buses too everything is in walking distance also I have plenty of good friends here. 💜

    • Sounds as though you have the best of all worlds in your present location. Being able to walk to so many of your necessary locations is a definite plus. Way-to-go. Tom and I are doing better. Thank you for asking.

  4. Interestingly, I’ve recently been watching a documentary series called ‘the real Marigold hotel’, where a group of well-known senior citizens from the UK go to various countries to see how people live there when retired, including India (inspired by the movie). It’s interesting to see that often it is that sense of community that seems important, whichever culture you’re part of.

    • Andrea – I believe the sense of community is probably the most important component. One of the interesting comments brought up in the TIMES article was that the citizens of the trailer community were only lonely if they self-imposed isolation. That said something to me in that we all have to get out there and make sure we stay connected in terms of having other people in our world to escape stagnation. Thanks for reading with me. I always appreciate your comments.

  5. Alexa says:

    Good to see an article from you Sheri. This was a great perspective on trailer parks and especially the social aspect of it, considering there are many seniors who are alone. Trailer parks don’t always have a good reputation, though I think that generally also depends on the management and the community per say.

    • Hi, Alexa. You are correct about the perspective on trailer parks and where they are located and how well the area is kept up as to how the larger community sees them. I hadn’t really thought about this type of living until I read the article as our part of the country isn’t trailer friendly (that doesn’t mean we don’t have them, however). Many seniors, and I dare say almost all, would prefer to live out their lives independently vs having the nursing home experience or any other experience where they are dependent upon someone else for all of their needs. Tom and I hope to age in place but only time will tell.

  6. Hi Sheri! My slightly older sister has lived in a trailer park for many years now and though I haven’t seen it, the way she describes it, it’s sounds lovely. They have a lovely swimming pool with lessons, a community room for bingo and pot-lucks and a cooling station, it’s gated and safe, and everyone must follow very strict rules which makes the park clean and tidy and people are friendly. What’s not to like? And the rent is SO low as to be unbelievable and it includes wifi and other things. Trailer parks have a bad rap but I know that there are nice ones out there.

  7. I’ve been thinking about retirement for about a decade now. This year, I’m eligible for Social Security. Fortunately, I began saving for retirement during my productive years; so, I’m probably in better financial shape than most.

    In my community, trailer parks are notoriously plagued with all sorts of bad behavior – drug abuse, crime, and people struggling with mental health issues. While not all trailer parks are so plagued, they do generally attract low-income folks beset with many problems. The term “white trash” is obviously derogatory, but perhaps somewhat descriptive of my community.

    Lucky for me, I found a suburban apartment complex that is close-knit and friendly.

    • Hello, Robert: It’s a good thing you’ve been saving for retirement because Social Security certainly won’t take care of your needs. Tom and I have been fortunate with our retirement accounts. Like you, I’m happy I had the foresite to make the decisions I did when I was in my 20s. Our area is much like your when it comes to trailer parks. We don’t have any nice ones and the ones we do have are a catch-all for transit population. Thankfully they are off the beaten path. A community is being built for those 55 and older but the houses are being priced out of the average persons reach. Thankfully, your apartment complex sounds nice and the close-knit and friendly will be even more important as you retire and are home more and more. Thanks for adding your comment.

  8. GP Cox says:

    Trailer parks and prefab home communities have received a bad reputation because the run-down ones are always TV shows like ‘Cops’ and the evening news. But they provide comfort, space, easy maintenance, a neighborhood feel at lower costs that gated communities and planned HOA’s just don’t give an older person. I have 2 older friends that just are incapable of keeping a single home in order anymore, but too independent or financially unable to go to a decent nursing home – the trailer park has been a perfect solution!!

    • Hi, G.P., thank you for coming along and reading with me. You are so right about keeping up with the requirements of a stand-alone home. If I hadn’t been able to hire some outside help, Tom and I wouldn’t be able to stay in our home. We want to age in place (as they say) and hopefully that will happen. I’m trying to hedge all my bets. I think that neighborhood feel is really important and even more so as we age. Always before I wanted to live out and away from the planned communities but when we moved here, I was all for moving into a neighborhood.

  9. ksbeth says:

    i’ve never really considered this as an option, but after looking at your perspective, the social/community approach of it, seems very appealing.

    • Hi, Beth- I’d never given trailer parks much consideration either until I read the TIME article. I knew such communities existed but hadn’t given them a thought as we don’t have them here. However, after reading the article and thinking about it, it makes perfect sense. As GP mentioned in her comment, it’s a great solution for individuals that can no longer do the maintenance of a stand-alone home but can still live independently. I think for all of us, It’s about keeping that independence as long as possible. When you have friends you can share your life with and depend on in the hour of need, it makes life so much easier and sure beats living in a nursing home.

  10. Andy Oldham says:

    Great thoughts Sheri. Like you I will age where I am. I’ll not be moving.

  11. Good articles. I have friends who live in trailer parks and have nothing but good feelings about it.

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