Living in a park home full time is pretty straightforward and low maintenance once you’re into the swing of things, but park home ownership can throw up all sorts of questions at first.
Many people are unaware of what a park home actually is, how living in a park home works, and how you go about buying one in the first place—for example, can you even get a mortgage on a park home?
The questions go on. But here at Ripe, we know a thing or two about park homes and everything that comes with owning one.
Whether you’re actively weighing up the pros and cons of living in a park home now or perhaps some time in the future, we’ve got all the essential information you need to know.
Read on for our ultimate guide to park homes.
What is a park home?
By official definition, a park home is a detached ‘bungalow-style’ home permanently located on a private site or estate.
Park homes are typically manufactured off-site and then placed on land owned privately either by a park or local authority. So, buying a park home means you own the building, but not the land it sits on. Instead, the plot of land is leased to you, and your site fees cover general maintenance.
A property must be moveable in either one or two pieces (whether it be on its own wheels or attached to another vehicle) to be classed as a park home. The maximum dimensions are:
- 20 metres (65 ft) long
- 8 metres (22 ft) wide
- 05 metres (just over 10 ft) internal floor-to-ceiling height
Related: What is a park home?
Who lives in a park home?
Around 180,000 people currently live in a park home in the UK.
Park homes are particularly popular with the over 50s, as they offer a sense of security and peace of mind in a like-minded, calm community.
Every park has its own individual rules on who can and can’t live there, so in a sense, residents can choose the types of people they live around. For example, some parks are strictly adult-only and don’t allow children on site. In fact, some parks even have a minimum age limit of 55!
Generally speaking, park homes are also cheaper and easier to run than conventional houses, making them particularly attractive as retirement homes.
They’re also seen as a good downsizing option for those whose kids have long left home.
Where are park homes located?
There are more than 1,700 park home sites in the UK, and they’re usually in beautiful, often rural, locations.
Park home sites are very secure and are often gated communities, which require a key card or fob to enter. Parks have CCTV installed throughout and will often have on-site security staff, too.
Check out this tool to find parks near you.
Can you live in a park home all year round?
The simple answer is yes—you can live in a park home all year round. Residential park sites normally have special licences granted by local authorities that allow you to live there.
Park homes are designed to be your permanent place of residence, but, of course, rules on this may differ between sites—so always check and get confirmation in writing before purchasing your home.
The construction quality, comfort, insulation, and weather resistance features in park homes make them perfectly capable of year-round living.
Modern park homes are double glazed and have high-quality central heating systems, too—so they’re by no means merely a summer holiday home.
How much does a park home cost?
New park homes can cost anywhere between £70,000 up to £500,000 for the highest-spec models, so they can work out substantially cheaper than buying a traditional house.
However, there are several other things you need to consider besides the cost of the building itself. Things like plot deposits, site and reservation fees, surveys and moving costs may also add a few extra quid to the upfront costs of buying a park home.
Unlike conventional homes, the value or price of your park home will not increase over time. So, while traditional homeowners may benefit from rising house prices in their area when they come to sell, the same won’t typically apply to a park home owner.
Instead, park homes tend to lose value as time goes by. This is because they aren’t designed to have the same level of longevity as a bricks and mortar home.
Can you get a mortgage on a park home?
No, you can’t get a mortgage on a park home, so the buying process differs from that of a traditional home.
To buy a park home, you must instead source the funds by other means. The most common ways people do this are:
Taking out a park home loan
Although there aren’t any standardised loans specifically for buying a park home, many banks will still offer loans to get the ball rolling. The rates aren’t typically as competitive as a standard mortgage, but it’s likely to be your next-best option if you don’t have thousands in savings.
Buying outright with cash
Buying your park home outright can be financed via personal savings or release equity on your current home. Park homes tend to be cheaper than houses, so if you’re in a position where you can sell for more than you owe on your mortgage, you’ll likely acquire the funds you need this way.
Using a part-exchange finance scheme
Part-exchanging can save you time if you’re looking to buy using equity as outlined above. This is where you sell your home to a part-exchange company which will then deduct the value of it from the price of your new park home.
How long do park homes last?
As you’d expect, park homes are a substantial, long-term investment. Newly-built homes can last 80 years or more if maintained and looked after properly.
However, this doesn’t mean your park home must always stay on the same site or plot of land. When buying a park home, the plot of land it sits on is leased to you for a fixed period of time. Once that period has passed, park homes can be relocated to new sites.
So, this is an option should you fancy a change of scenery.
Living in a park home full time
Living in a park home is becoming increasingly popular, and there are various reasons for that.
Full-time park home life differs hugely from life on a conventional street. For a start, park sites are usually in the countryside, so life tends to be much quieter. They also allow residents to become part of like-minded communities where they feel safe and secure. And, while this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, a sense of ‘everyone knows everyone’ certainly helps residents feel more integrated and maintains a friendly, inclusive atmosphere across sites.
Living in a park home is different from living in a normal house in other ways, too. Park homes are single-storey, again making them more attractive to the elderly who perhaps struggle climbing stairs.
Then there’s the ongoing cost of living, too, of course. Aside from your usual outgoings like shopping and leisure spending, there are several other things for park home owners to consider. The most common consistent outgoings for park home residents include:
- pitch or site fees
- utility bills
- council tax
- maintenance and repair costs
However, there shouldn’t be anything too ‘new’ here. With the exception of pitch or site fees, you’ll already be familiar with this kind of outgoings. You’ll no doubt have been already paying them for most, if not all, of your adult life!
But some things are, of course, somewhat exclusive to park home ownership.
For example, you may need to weatherproof your park home in the winter. Remember—park homes aren’t designed to have the overall strength and longevity of a house, so your maintenance must adapt accordingly.
If you’re serious about park home ownership, it’s definitely worth checking out what care schemes might exist on your site, too, as these can be very helpful.
Related: Park home life—what’s it like?
What are the benefits of living in a park home?
There are many benefits of living in a park home, some of which we’ve already discussed. Here are the most notable benefits of living in a park home:
Park home residents are typically of retirement age, so reduced mobility is a common consideration. However, with everything on one floor in a single-storey park home, residents needn’t worry about getting up the stairs to bed or the bathroom every night.
Safety and security
Park sites are often gated communities with round-the-clock security and CCTV, meaning your safety and security is the utmost priority. There’s also a deep-rooted community spirit on most parks, with social events and activities commonplace.
Need a more manageable-sized home for your retirement? Are your kids grown up with homes of their own, leaving you with unnecessary spare rooms at yours? Buying a park home is a perfect way to downsize your living space and bring things under more control.
Cheaper to buy and run
Though park home mortgages aren’t an option, park homes are cheaper to buy than conventional houses. As they’re smaller, too, they also tend to be much cheaper to run and maintain. This is another important consideration, particularly for your retirement. It’s also worth mentioning that many park home sites are situated in the lowest council tax band areas.
Park homes are mobile homes. They are covered by the Mobile Homes Act 1983. Once you have honoured the period of time agreed on your land lease, you are free to relocate your park home.
What is the difference between a park home and a static caravan?
By now, you might be wondering what the difference between a park home and a static caravan is.
Several things set the two apart. For example, static caravans are normally around half the width of a park home and are hence less spacious (but, of course, cheaper).
Static caravans also tend to only be suitable for holidays, with access to parks often limited merely to the traditional holiday season instead of the year-round stability a park home provides.
Park homes can also be built entirely bespoke based on your requirements, whereas static caravans are normally designed from a set list of available features.
In a nutshell—static caravans are not designed with year-round living in mind, unlike park homes. As a result, they are not built to the same standard.
When choosing whether to buy a static caravan or park home, your decision ultimately boils down to how you intend to use it. Are you living there permanently, or just staying for a holiday?
Related: Static caravans vs mobile homes
Selling or moving a park home
When selling your park home, the Mobile Homes Act 1983 states that the site owner (whoever manages the park) is entitled to a share of the sale price (maximum 10%).
As the seller, you’ll also need to:
- hand over relevant information regarding site fees, commission, and so on
- inform the park owners
- transfer your pitch agreement to the buyer
The government website has a useful page detailing all the dos, don’ts and legal requirements of selling a park home. Check it out here.
When it comes to moving, most park home owners tend to sell up and buy new. However, if you ever decide you want to move sites but keep your existing park home, you can do so, providing you have honoured your initial land lease period.
Park homes are not easy to move, though, and there are various things you need to consider beforehand. For instance, how old your park home is, how accessible it is for moving vehicles, how much said manoeuvre will cost, and so on.
If you do decide to move your park home, it’ll likely be towed by an HGV before being safely ‘planted’ into the new site.
Best park home manufacturers
Park homes are a chunky investment, and there’s a fair amount of choice on the market when it comes to manufacturers. You want your park home to be the best it can be, so here are a few renowned brands and manufacturers to look out for when shopping the showgrounds:
You might be pleasantly surprised at the number of options available when planning your park home purchase.
Why do I need park home insurance?
If you live in a park home, you need park home insurance—in the same way you need home insurance for living in a traditional house.
But as you now know, living in a park home can be very different to living in a house, so you need an insurance policy that reflects those differences.
For example, what if a bad storm hits and causes severe damage to your build? Or, what if you found yourself in a legal dispute with the site owner?
Without specialist insurance, incidents like these could leave you substantially out of pocket, forking out for repairs or legal costs. But that’s the beauty of park home insurance—it’s there to protect both you and your park home should you need it.
Park home insurance will cover you for damage caused by accidents or bad weather, as well as contents, theft, Public Liability, and any other form of malicious damage. It’s essential.
With Ripe, your specialist park home insurance can be tailored to your exact requirements quickly and easily, meaning you’ll never pay for cover you don’t need.
Our building and contents cover, in particular, protects your park home, including fixtures and fittings up to the value of £500,000 and your contents up to the value of £75,000.
What’s more—all of our policies are underpinned by the Ripe Guarantee, meaning you receive great cover and service at a price you can afford.