Feb 22, 2017

Tiny House Living: Buying a Park Model

I recently received a letter from a follower about the best way to choose a park models. The writer had bought a lot in California and was thinking about putting a small house on it. Her inquiry went like this:
I am new to park models but recently obtained a lot in Southern California and have tried researching what the best manufacturer is but there seems to be limited information and most of the reviews are negative as to quality. Do you happen to have better info on which manufacturers are best and do most require you buy thru a middleman. Thank you.
It is a very good question don't you think. How do you make sure that the park model you buy is the best, the sturdiest and will fit your needs?

I have lived in the same park model for over 9 years now. It was built in 1987. In the world of park models, that is very old. But, fortunately, ours as a Cadillac in it's day. Even so, we do have to upgrade and repair a little all of the time. Here is how it works,

While the frame of a park model is very similar to a stick built house, the finishes are very light simply because it needs to be moved down the highway to be placed in it's location. When it is parked, the wheels remain underneath so that in the eventuality that it is sold to be moved, they can be remounted and used again. There are several reasons to leave the wheel underneath. In Arizona this affects the way your home is taxed. This type of home is not intended to be "permanent" in its location.

However, all the plumbing, electrical etc. is usually satisfactory and will last a very long time.

I do know that factories offer tours to prospective buyers.  I do think that seeing the structure in the stages of being built is a good idea if you are buying new. You might take a look at Park Models direct online. RVIA has a guide that could be valuable. I also looked at the webpage with the links for more information here or here.

But here is the deal...I think that buying a park model is very like buying a new car. The quality is dependent on the amount you are willing to pay and on what you can afford. AND once it is driven off the lot it begins to depreciate in value. The tweaks made to the model (added on porches, paint or decorations on the interior) can slow that depreciation process.

Buying a used model and having it moved may be a good choice. You can buy one for very little here in Arizona so I assume California is the same. Then you can use the amount you save to made the home just what you want. But you have to have the resources or ability to do that.

I am also a fan of the Tiny House movement. There are several builders including one in Portland that builds beautiful little houses. The TV show Luxury Tiny Houses is featured on DIY (I think).

As always, it is all about the research. Being well informed is a good thing. I have recommended that people simply rent a unit for a small length of time to get a feel for what they are in for. I love living in my tiny house and could do it year around.
Front porch was added after we purchased. It is decorated for Christmas.

We opened the wall between the bedroom and Arizona room
to make a large open private space.

We have removed the awning and repainted
the exterior, replaced the window and trimmed them out.
It has changed the character of the park model. 

Front porch at night.

Updated kitchen.

Every surface has been painted. We have since
put a dishwasher in where the small white cabinet
sits under the kitchen counter.
This can be a very inexpensive choice for living especially if you own your own lot. But anyone choosing to do this needs to see for themselves what it is all about.

The simple fact are:

  • Yes you can skip the middleman and find a manufacturer that will sell to you direct.
  • Finishes are not "cheaper" as such but they are designed for a movable unit. They require upkeep.
  • Be careful about reviews. Unreasonable expectation are often the problem. Get some kind of guarantee from the manufacturer and be sure to choose one that has been around for a while. Here in Arizona Cavco is a well respected manufacturer...not perfect but someone like this business is probably a good place to start.
That is what I know. Good luck to all of you. 


Links to other posts about Park Model Living.

Feb 4, 2017

1,002,000 and Counting

b+ February 2017
I'm just saying. Sometimes I wonder what I am doing but in the end the conversation is worth it. Thank you so much!


Jan 30, 2017

That One Time When I Was Detained at the Border

Yes, you heard me right...me, a blue eyed blond haired (Clairol) woman of 60 or so was stopped at the border because I was covered totally so looked religious in some way. We had  lived through 9/11 and we had just gone to war with Iraq. If it hadn't been a little scary it would have been hilarious.

Me in the Alhambra (Generalife) with my long skirt on, 2003
I was back in 2003 and my husband and I were returning from Spain where we had been staying for close to a month. During that period of time the Spanish people had gone into full revolt after their PM supported the USA's invasion of Iraq and the United States actually carried out that plan to go to war over "weapons of mass destruction".

On the day before the invasion, a storm of biblical proportions crossed the Mediterranean and the world held it's breath. We watched waves wash restaurants built near the sand being fill with water. The next day it was March 20, 2003. The United States invaded.

Needless to say we were being careful what we did and what we said. We were no supporter of the war...in fact I just couldn't imagine that it would happen. It seemed insane to me. I knew in my heart of hearts that chaos loves a vacuum and we were just about to create a very large vacuum.

In the meantime in our own little world we went about our Spanish life. We shopped for cheese and Spanish hamon, ate dinner at 9 pm and lived near the beach. It was idyllic in so many ways although, as with all things, nothing was perfect.

Our son and his wife came from Saudi Arabia where they worked to travel with us for 10 days. My passport had been stolen by a gypsy in Madrid or we would have returned with them. It was very hard to send our family back without us because we were fearful for what was about to happen next. 

As a side note, their compound and the school my son ran in Yanbu was attacked by terrorists later that that spring. But that is another story.

When we returned to the airport we found that the security that was tight after 9/11 was only more strict. Airports had become a wary place to be. Everyone was very watchful.

I might be noted that the Avian flu (H5N1) had raised it's ugly head in China that spring and facemasks were recommended if you were traveling through Vancouver. Vancouver was where it spread to first in North America. That only added another odd note to the trip.

We were asked if we had masks when we checked into our airline in Malaga. We returned to the United States through Great Britain and we entered the United States through Vancouver, BC.

I had been laying on the beach that morning because we had a late flight. Our luggage was in storage ready to be taken to the airport. I was carrying a large bag with a change of clothing and room for my swimwear to be taken home.

I changed my clothes in the rest room at a hotel for our flight. I donned the light linen jacket I had been wearing almost everyday for a month over a long skirt. I wore my ugly walking shoes. My straw hat did not fit in the carryon so I wore it. My carry on was a beach bag of sorts. Honestly, I did look like a clown but I was going home and I just didn't care. I suppose my hair was a mess and I don't remember putting on make-up.

When we arrived in Vancouver from the Mediterranean coast, it was April it was snowing. The Canadians were not that excited about how frigid the airport was and I was not dressed to sit in a cold waiting room for hours. So I bought a extra large sweatshirt in the airport and put it on over my light jacket and long skirt. I put my straw hat back on my head.

We were called for our flight and I walked calmly to the gate...ticket, passport, straw hat, sweatshirt, long skirt, ugly shoes and a beach bag in hand. The Border Control took one look at me and tried to decide which group of humans I belonged to. They were pretty sure I was up to something.

I was asked to remove the hat, sweatshirt, jacket, shoes. I may have been asked to lift my skirt but I don't remember that. They went through my beach bag and seearched my wet swimsuit and towel. My husband walked on ahead and only became aware that I wasn't right behind him when so much time passed. He was looking a tiny bit concerned when I finally arrived.

We have traveled all over the world since that day almost 14 years ago. Airports have gotten their act together and we all knew what to expect up until this last week. We will see what happens next. We are traveling to Mexico for two weeks soon. It will be interesting at least.

I am writing about this today because of current events. We all are very aware of the world's concerns but in the end we all think about how actions by our government will affect us personally. I cannot imagine that we aren't all going to be touched in some way by this latest turn of events.

Any thoughts or questions?


Jan 28, 2017

There Are Rules: BE NICE AND MORE

I don't know if I have written about the rules 100 times or not but it does seem that the subject comes up very often. In the past I have written about rules for napping, eating and driving. Today I am going to talk about the rules that get us from here to there with the least amount of words.

You see, most people don't listen and when they do, they don't really understand what we are saying. No, we are not talking in an outer galaxy dialect. Everyone knows we are saying "Blah, blah, blah and so on." The normal answer we get is "What?" or "Huh?"

So, two different times during the last two days I have found people getting to the point with very few words. No "blah, blah, blah." at all. I get it. I have done it for years.

One of my favorite blogger wrote a post yesterday called Unisex Restroom, A cranky opinion for CRANKY OPINION SATURDAY The blogger goes by the name of Cranky Old Man. (He makes me laugh which is fun which is part of being happy!) In the post he talked about Unisex Bathrooms and how he felt about sharing a bathroom with someone that was only dressed as a man. He had an opinion...he usually does.

Then he shared a few rules that would make it okay for a woman dressed as a man to use the stall next to him. Early on the list was "No looking!". That made me laugh. I suppose that applied to the men too.

But the one I loved was "NO BEING CREEPY". Wow talk about getting to the point. It was classic because he didn't need to say anymore.

I watched an episode of DCI Banks on PBS last night. Very near the end of the show Banks was talking to the teenage child of a co-worker that was in jail for breaking and entering. The boy was acting out because he was unhappy being a teenager. We all know how that age feels. But it was what Banks said to the boy that hit me between the eyes.

There was no big long explanation of what the rules were or what would happen if he broke them. He simply said, "OK here's the deal...BEHAVE YOURSELF. Alright?" No more. Oh, and the boy got a place and some time to think about it. It only seemed natural.

I can't tell you how many times I have told children and grandchildren and students that were misbehaving, "BE NICE!" It always stopped them in their tracks. It was so easy to understand. No threats, no shouting just two simple words. If they needed to think about it, I gave them the time and place to do that. No more!

So if we take our three rules and put them in a list, our day would have some good guidelines don't you think?

  1. No being creepy.
  2. Behave yourself.
  3. Be nice.
I like it a lot. Do you have a rule to add to the list?


Jan 27, 2017

Was That Fun?

I played golf today. Golfing is not a natural talent for me at all. I struggle now just like I have for the last 20 years. It seems to me that I might be asking myself, "Was that fun?". If it isn't, why do I keep playing?

As I drove into my carport with the golf game still on my mind, I was wondering how many things that I choose to do during the week fall into the "fun" column. In fact, is there even one thing I do that makes me laugh? Good question don't you think.

Happiness is part of a well lived life I think. But is fun a necessary ingredient for happiness? I wonder.

I like to play golf and if I get to actually laugh and have fun doing it, it is a bonus. But I will not quit if I play a round or two with unsmiling women. The actual act of golfing makes me happy.

Writing is one of my favorite things to do but it does not generally fall into the "fun" category either. I do really like the conversations with commenters. That is fun I think.

I like to cook, watch TV, read, shop, throw a party and walk. I suppose each one of those can be fun on occasion....but not always.

So what do you think...is "fun" overrated? Do we need to be feeling jolly to be happy. Or is it enough to be content or simply enjoying oneself? You tell me.


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