Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 132

Myth Buster’s: Trailer Park Edition

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There’s a board game called “Trailer Park Wars” that is based on every American stereotype of mobile home parks and their residents. But are these assumptions true? In this episode of Mobile Home Park Mastery we’re going to review in-depth the typical U.S. beliefs around “trailer parks” and come to conclusions as to their accuracy, as well as the origins of some of these myths.

Episode 132: Myth Buster’s: Trailer Park Edition Transcript

A while back, somebody sent me the board game called Trailer Park Wars by Lisa Bowman-Steenson. It's kind of the epitome of every negative mobile home parks and mobile home park residents rolled into one. In fact, the whole concept of the game, what you win, the little pieces in this are pink flamingos, which I never really fully understand because pink flamingos are no part of the mobile home park culture as I know it. We own a property even down in Florida, and even in Florida, I don't see any pink flamingos. But even the box itself, the main game piece you desire to win in the game, to me appears to be fictitious. This is Frank Rolfe, the Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast series. We're going to be myth-busting the Trailer Park Wars game or possibly find that these bits of American stereotypes are accurate. We'll discuss each one as we go.

Let's start off with the players in the game. These are the key players you get to choose from. Let's see if these do exist in a mobile home park. First, the obsessive compulsive hoarder, whose name is called Ima Keeping It. Okay. We do have some hoarders in mobile home parks. I think we have hoarders throughout America though. Single family departments have them too. I don't think it's chronic in mobile home parks, but all right, we do have hoarders. That's true. Next, we have a guy named Jerry Atrik who's the frugal millionaire. Now, I have never met a frugal millionaire in a mobile home park, but it is true that there are some millionaires that live in mobile home parks. Now, they just live in a few of them. The mobile home park up in Montauk in the Hamptons, that's the most famous of all. There's no less than several billionaires that own mobile homes in that one, but they use them as places to change in between surfing and to hold surf side parties, so not really sure if that's really residential.

Then you have the parks out there in Malibu, Paradise Cove and Point Dume. A lot of Hollywood stars live there or have lived there. Pam Anderson, Sean Penn, Hillary Duff, quite a few. Betsy Johnson, the fashion designer is selling her mobile home there right now. So yes, there really are some millionaires in mobile home parks, and that doesn't even include many people. They probably have some other millionaires and parks that are retirement oriented parks in Florida, California, maybe even some of the Midwest States. So yes, there are frugal millionaires, so we'll put that aside. Again, that one was correct. Then we have the angry old guy. His name is Mr. Cranky Pants. You can choose this game piece.

Now, angry old guy, I think we're safe to say in our country with baby boomers, still neck and neck with millennials for the largest population base, that having a cranky old guy around, that's not much of a rarity regardless of real estate. So okay, we'll give them that one. Then we have the senior Playboy, Rico Velveeta. Well, I've never really a senior Playboy in a mobile home park. In the little drawing of the game piece here, he is in a hot tub drinking a martini. Never actually seen a hot tub in a mobile home park, although I'm sure people do drink martinis. So I think we'll have to say that the senior Playboy piece, that one's kind of a stereotype. Next, we have the barbecue king. His name is simply Smokey Joe. And yes, a lot of people in mobile home parks do cook outdoors. In fact, a study of the RV park industry found the number one favorite desire of people in RV parks is outdoor cooking.

But studies have also shown that most Americans love outdoor cooking. I like outdoor cooking too. So I'll go with that. The stereotype really isn't that bad, and besides, people do love outdoor cooking. So , okay, that one's fine. Then we have the bass fisherman named Ken Tuckey. Now, Ken Tuckey, which is a play on Kentucky ... and there's a lot of mobile home parks and RV parks in the state of Kentucky on lakes. It's kind of stereotypical I guess. And yes, there probably are people in mobile home parks who are really into fishing, and I see fishing boats in mobile home parks. So again, that one's not too bad. Then we have the unlaunched bachelor and his parents, named Homer. He apparently has never moved out. He lives in the mobile home with his parents. But you know what? That's part of America today. I think 30% of everyone under the age of 30 is now living with family members. So, okay, not too bad.

Then we have the spiritual gal with healing powers called Miracula. Now, I have seen in a few parks people who have almost like crystal ball reading franchises with signs in their yards. So there's no doubt there are a few folks out here who would count as spiritual. But again, I don't really see that very much. So I think that one's kind of made up. Then you have this one that's completely made up called the sci-fi guy. His name is Noah Social Life. I've never seen anyone in a mobile home park who was obsessed with sci-fi. I think that one's kind of made up. Then we have someone who's a paramedic called Kenny Patchem. We do have quite a few paramedics living in mobile home parks, so that is true. For some reason, a lot of people who are in that form of profession, along with firefighters and policemen, do you live in mobile home parks. So okay, that's pretty accurate.

Then we have the pizza delivery woman named Tipper Or Die. Yes, we do have a lot of people in mobile home parks who work for Domino's and Pizza Hut, a lot of pizza delivery chains. Okay, that one's not too bad. Then we have the chain smoking stripper. Now, this can't be any more stereotyped than you can get. Her name is Starla. I don't know in any of our properties of any chain smoking strippers. I think that maybe in the apartment industry, maybe you have some, maybe a single family. But that is really not a part of the mobile home park industry that I am aware of, so that is truly a stereotype. Then we have the EMT whose name is Utah. Okay. Again, EMTs in mobile home parks, nothing unusual there. Then we have the retired cop named Buster Chops. Yes, we do have a lot of retired police in mobile home parks, so once again that's not too bad. And then we have the mechanic named Otto Fixer.

Yeah, we do have a lot of mechanics in mobile home parks. The game pieces are, other than the stripper and the older guy in the hot tub, those aren't that far off. Now, here's a list of their cards you get in the game of what happens on a daily basis in a mobile home park. Let's check this out. Number one, the card called financial impairment. Yes, a lot of people in the affordable housing industry are low on money. Say that people in mobile home parks are likely to have a financial accident and have a bill, they can't pay it. Okay, that's not too far off. The next one is called the Fixer Upper. This is a hideous looking old 1940s trailer, beat to death, which is in three colors of paint, making the whole neighborhood look terrible.

Well, we try not to have that, but I do drive through some mobile home parks occasionally that do have that because they're still with the original moms and pops who put in no effort. So that one, yeah, it's a little believable and it's not really totally a stereotype. Now, this next one is completely wrong. It's call electrical outage. Mobile home parks are for the most part master metered on power, so you would never have the entire park go out. I don't even know why you'd have an individual mobile home go out. So that is straight up stereotype. There's no risk on a day-to-day basis of electrical outage any more than you would have in single family. Next card of a regular current are locusts. Don't even know the person who wrote this game where they came up with locust. I've never heard of locust in a mobile home park. So let's say that one's obviously a stereotype, as is the next one, gators.

Seriously, gators? I've never heard of an alligator or a crocodile in a mobile home park in my entire life. Maybe in Florida, but hey, we own a park in Florida and again, I've never heard of it in Florida. So once again, that's a stereotype. Then we've got DUI, go to jail. Yeah, sure. People in mobile home parks, they do sometimes drink and then drive, but so do a lot of famous people in Hollywood and throughout America that live in McMansions and large single family homes. That is not any more of a regular occurrence than you would have in a single family neighborhood. The next one is junk cars. Yes. In some of the older mom and pop parks, junk cars can be a concern. But in modern parks, every owner I know, they have all their junk cars towed away. So I don't think that's really a fair one. This next one's odd, rancid popcorn burned. I've never walked through mobile home park and smelled burning popcorn, so not sure where they got that stereotype.

This next one's really odd. Jello in the water feature. It shows someone has put Jello in the fountain in front of the mobile home park. Well, mobile home parks typically don't have fountains, and I can truly say in two decades of owning mobile home parks, I've never seen one ever with Jello in it on the few that have it. So that's kind of a stereotype. Then we have tip off the cops, dude, you're busted, card. I find, and in fact the US government found there's no more crime in mobile home parks than there are in single family neighborhoods. In fact, if you read the government reports on crime and real estate, where do they all emanate from? Most of your crime, it comes from apartments. So that's definitely a stereotype piece there. A trailer condemned with a big wrecking ball crushing the trailer. This is not something that happens frequently in mobile home parks. Again, a complete stereotype. You rarely see a trailer ever being condemned. Most people keep up their property as does the park owner. Before it ever even would get to being condemned, a good park owner would go in and remedy the situation.

This next one is a complete stereotype, trailer tipping. All right, whoever did this apparently did not realize that mobile homes are tied down to the ground. They're not only sitting on blocks, but they have these big old tie-downs with giant metal screws that go down in the earth. So this one is a complete stereotype. And then a giant monumental sewer backup card, which shows actually a wave, like an ocean wave 10 feet high of sewage rolling through the mobile home park. Well, it is not without question you could have a sewer backup in a mobile home park, but certainly nothing like that, and you certainly have no more greater sewer backups in a mobile home park than you do in single family or multifamily. Now, it is true that the most common thing we do as mobile home park owners is call in Roto-Rooter, but that's typically on just the first sign of a clog. I don't know, nor have I ever seen of a tidal wave of sewage.

Then it shows these natural disaster cards. This is the final part of the game. As you roll the dice and your character runs around the board, these are the things that can happen to you in your mobile home park. Hurricane. Yes, it is true. If you have a mobile home park and it's on the areas of America where hurricanes strike down in Florida and other states, yes, you could be in a hurricane and it does happen. So that one's not stereotype. That one's legitimate. Alien attack. That's a stereotype. They're trying to make fun that trailer part people are so insane that they can be attacked by aliens. Not really sure where the alien attacks have ever occurred in America, but certainly not in mobile home parks. So that's clearly stereotype. Then you got a mobile home park sinkhole. Never heard of that. Again, interesting. The only sinkhole I know of was the one that hit Bowling Green, Kentucky and took out the national Corvette Museum here about a decade or so ago. Never heard of a mobile home park ever being involved in a sinkhole accident, so not sure why the creator of the game thought that was a regular occurrence.

Heat wave. Okay. That is true. We have a lot of heat waves in America these days and yes, mobile homes are not well-insulated. Not as much as a single family home. Probably not as much as an apartment. So yes, heat would be a problem. I could see that, that one's true. Blizzard, yes. We have blizzards right now in Northern America. Temps are low, maybe down to 0 today, maybe below 0. Modern mobile homes that were set up for that, they seem to fare that pretty well. As long as you've got your pipes winterized with heat tapes. I don't think the sudden onset of the blizzard would be the natural disaster causing you to lose your mobile home. Then it's got hailstorm.

Yes. There are hailstorms in America, and hail and mobile homes don't get along well together. Particularly if it's a vinyl and shingle roofed home. The hail will knock holes in it. It happens periodically. Not very hard to fix though, so that one is legit. Then we have another one that's called windstorm. Not sure why we have windstorm is separate from tornado, which is the next card. But in the picture, the wind storm is blowing everyone's flamingo yard art out of their yards, which as we've already mentioned, flamingos have no bearing in mobile home parks. Then we have lightning strike. I've never heard of lightning striking a mobile home. So that's a complete stereotype. Never seen that before. Flash flood. Yes, there are flash floods in America, more so than you'd like to think. They do hit mobile home parks occasionally, but they also hit single family, and apartments and retail, and every other form of real estate.

I will tell you, mobile homes have an advantage over all the other types. Because our homes sit about three feet off the ground. So when it floods, we typically don't get impacted like the other folks do. Then you have tornadoes. Yes, there are tornadoes in America that do strike mobile home parks. Now typically, it's unusual. When the tornado hits, it normally would not be a big game piece in the real game of mobile home park ownership. Specifically FEMA and the Red Cross come in and buy everyone brand new mobile homes for 30,000 each. That's their solution typically in tornadoes, and they can afford to do that because everybody else has insured losses because it's all wind related.

Finally, the game piece, earthquake. I have never heard of an earthquake striking a mobile home park and causing any degree of damage. Now obviously, I'm not in California so I'm not used to having earthquakes. But even in California where there are quite a few mobile home parks, I don't recall seeing any damage from earthquakes. Bear in mind that mobile homes are probably the best thing in the world for an earthquake because if you think about it, they sit up on struts, so the whole home can shake and wobble and it won't damage the home, it won't damage the foundation. Typically what causes things to collapse or break in earthquakes, it all connects back to concrete and the foundations, and mobile homes don't have them. So they're actually very, very well set up.

So those are the basic game pieces of Trailer Park Wars. As you heard, a whole lot of it is just simply stereotype. Some of it's actual, so let's embrace those things which are true, but let's separate that from things which are clearly not true. So now, we've kind of myth-busted the game. Hope you enjoyed this. This is Frank Rolfe, Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast series. We'll be back again soon.