Can’t afford to buy a house? Rental homes or apartments are too expensive? There are alternatives for people who wish to enjoy a nice home at an affordable price.

 But first a little history.

 During the 2007 to 2009 recession, countless homeowners nationwide were unable to prevent defaulting on their bank loans and eventually losing their houses through foreclosure.

 Those homeowners were left scrambling to find cheaper living quarters, which often meant leaving their communities and taking their children out of hometown schools.

 Their now bank-owned homes were up for grabs to the highest bidder.

 Those with the cash were able to pick up some prime real estate for unbelievably low prices.

 One home here in the city of Fenton, for example, sold for $135,000 in 2001, and $131,000 in 2002. In 2010, the foreclosed house and property was purchased for $36,000 cash.

 Those days are over, however, and real estate prices are quickly bouncing back to where they were before the recession 10 years ago, once again leaving many families without options when it comes to affordable housing.

 But there are options, affordable housing that is available without breaking the bank or sacrificing quality — through manufactured home living.

 Fenton Oaks Manufactured Home Community is one of several like communities in the tri-county area. Tucked behind Merchants Gourmet Wine Shop, near the intersection of Owen and Jennings, are just over 200 houses in a neighborhood of young families, retirees, single professionals and more.

 According to Park Manager Tammy Miller, there are many advantages to manufactured home living. At Fenton Oaks, for example, when purchasing a home, the combined monthly cost, which includes the $370 site rent, is usually significantly lower than most two-bedroom apartments in Fenton and the surrounding areas.

 For that, buyers get much larger homes with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Many feature walk-in closets and master suites. Some have large kitchens, dining rooms and laundry rooms. Depending on the model, many have living rooms and family rooms. Outside, there is yard space to enjoy, something pet owners especially like. There are contiguous sidewalks around the community for bike riding and long walks.

 Then there are the shorter-term mortgages. “How many people can say their housing cost may be cut in half — 10 to 15 years after purchasing,” Miller asked. “With manufactured home ownership, you can pay off your home and then only have the monthly site rent and utilities to pay. Sometimes loans can be paid off in shorter terms and still cost less monthly than renting, maybe just in time to start helping a child pay for college or have the flexibility to enjoy traveling,” she said.

 The only taxes a homeowner need pay is a small personal property tax annually if they have a deck or shed, for example. School taxes and traditional property taxes are covered in the site rent.

 Fenton Oaks is walking distance from several shopping venues, many restaurants, and Silver Lake Park and Beach. Easy access to the highway (U.S. 23) makes commuting to and from work a breeze.

 The advantages also include being able to live literally maintenance free.

 If residents choose, Fenton Oaks will maintain the lawns year-round and shovel snow from the sidewalks right up to their door, for example

 Fenton Oaks is in the Fenton schools district. Residents enjoy Fenton water while living in a quiet, upscale community, said Miller.

Living happily in Fenton Oaks

 Patrick “Pat” DeGuise, 33, and his wife, Jennifer, 29, have lived in Fenton Oaks with their young son, Lucius, now 4 years old, since 2012. They started out renting from Fenton Oaks and are now homeowners in the community. The couple is self-employed from home.

 Pat and Jennifer have always taken pride in their homes, when they were renters and now homeowners.

 “We take pride in what we have and what we have accomplished together,” said Pat. “We work very hard for what we have as a family and work just as hard to maintain and keep everything in tip top shape.

 “My philosophy on pride of ownership is that if you maintain and take good care of something it will last. Our homes have always been an investment, even the home we rented from Fenton Oaks.

 “When we first rented in the fall of 2012, we never expected to purchase a home. After a few years of living here we started evaluating the possibility of purchasing a home here in the community,” said Pat.

 “After living in the community for a few years, the location and ease of ownership really made us consider buying. One of our neighbors decided it was time to move closer to her daughter due to health concerns and she offered to sell us her house. The timing was spot on since our lease would be up within the next few months. So as of July 2015 we were owners of our home.”

 Pat said the purchase process is very simple since the homes are registered at the Secretary of State’s office. We were lucky enough not to have to take out a loan to purchase the home.

 “The city of Fenton is a great place to raise a family,” said Pat. “It is very safe, has good schools and quite a few parks and lakes to take the family to. Fenton Oak’s is a quiet and safe community, with very helpful office personnel. The wide sidewalks offer nice quiet walks in the evenings while watching the sunset over the trees.

 “Fenton Oaks is a great place for a young family or someone looking to have more privacy and space that might be on a budget,” he said. “If you aren’t sure about living in a manufactured home community you should try renting. Fenton Oaks makes the process very simple.”

The myth about tornadoes

 Contrary to some folks’ fears, tornadoes do not “seek out” trailer parks, mobile home parks or manufactured home communities.

 These communities are built on flat land for obvious reasons, so when straight-line winds or tornadoes are in the forecast there is always that chance, but that chance exists everywhere when the weather is bad.

 In Michigan, the manufactured homes are set on 48-inch piers and tied down to the piers. These homes are no more susceptible to wind damage than any stick-built home. Actually, they are said to be superior to stick-built homes in a flood as they are set at a minimum of 24 inches above grade.

 During inclement weather events, Fenton Oaks residents are fortunate in that the city’s emergency warning siren is at the Speedway just a few hundred feet over the highway on the hill. In the event of a tornado warning, those who wish to leave their homes can seek shelter at Merchants, Walmart or at other, sturdy public nearby structures.

Other local manufactured home communities

Cider Mill Crossings

9900 Townsquare Blvd., Fenton

Phone: (810) 208-0662

East Bay MHC

3075 East Bay Drive, Fenton

(810) 629-1845

Fenton Oaks MHC

16423 Jennings Rd., Fenton


Groveland Manor

13318 Dixie Hwy., Holly

(248) 215-4179

Hawaiian Gardens Mobile Home Park

4261 Grange Hall Rd., Holly

(248) 634-8511

Holly Hills

16181 Lancaster Way, Holly

(248) 328-1170

Lake Fenton MHC

11430 Harbor Cove, Fenton

(810) 750-6314

Oak Hill Estates

16971 Sleepy Hollow Blvd., Holly

(248) 634-4444

Shiawassee Shores Retirement Park

1515 W. Rolston Rd., Linden

(810) 735-9003

Tyrone Woods MHC

8378 Hogan Road, Fenton

(810) 714-1200

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