Montana is losing it’s trailer parks at the worst possible time
Montana simply cannot have it both ways. Our housing issues are now at crisis level with soaring prices and very little rental inventory. Have you known anyone who has tried to rent a trailer? It's next to impossible with very lengthy waiting lists.
Not to mention, living in a trailer is not nearly as cheap as it used to be. That's valuable real estate these days for the owners of the trailer park. When they are often the least expensive option for housing, they become so in-demand that the price goes up. And so goes the circle of Montana housing.
According to MobileHomeLiving.org, in 2019 (the most recent year for data), 13% of Montana's population lives in a mobile/manufactured home. That's far more than I would have guessed. Manufactured homes can often be perceived as 'more permanent' than a trailer but neither is generally on a permanent foundation...hence the grouping. In Montana:
- Average model year of a pre-owned home: 2007
- Average pre-owned home size in square feet: 1347
- The average sites in a manufactured home community: 68
- An average year a community was developed: 1974
- Number of age-restricted communities: 9
- Number of all-age communities: 187
Since affordable housing is not being built at any sort of meaningful pace to keep up with need and demand, why are places like Bozeman losing their well-kept trailer parks? Bozeman isn't the only city losing these housing units, but they might be most needed in places like Bozeman. When a trailer park disappears, hundreds of people are without housing options.
How difficult is it to find a spot in a trailer park? Well, we took a look at current listings across the state of Montana. There are very few spots available. According to MHBO.com in August 2023:
- Bozeman: 13 listings
- Great Falls: 10 listings
- Billings: 26 listings
- Belgrade: 6 listings
- Missoula: 28 listings
- Butte: 7 listings
- Deer Lodge: 2 listings
- Helena: 5 listings
It's not just Montana that is experiencing the crunch of disappearing trailer parks. FORBES recently addressed the topic on a nationwide basis. Here's this for a sobering thought: "Only ten mobile home communities have been developed in the past two decades."
We also grabbed a few Google Reviews from various Montana trailer parks and we found almost all of them to be positive.
- "Nicest trailer park in town with nice neighbors to build a sense of community, bbqs and music within the allotted hours are frequent fun occurrences."
- "My mom has lived here for at least 10 years. The co-op is really trying to clean up the place and make it better."
- "It's OK. Not always so well kept and the play field in the middle is full of thorns and weeds. The places themselves are pretty nice for the most part."
- "_____ Mobile Park has definitely cleaned up. I respect all board members working together on a now community owned court. I love my home and my community owned court."
- "Awesome place! So glad they have cleaned it up!!"
- "Person that answered the phone was nice and helpful. But they don't allow dogs that are more than 40lbs fully grown."
- "Very nice and well kept trailer park."
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Gallery Credit: Parker Kane