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1984 Skyline Single Wide Remodel Helps Owner Become US Citizen

Many families live in older mobile homes that cost less than $10,000. Choosing an affordable mobile home can be a smart move for those just starting out or those needing to start over. In another country.

Meet Christiane and Rich Sallade. They live in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and their mobile home living story is unique: they have been remodeling a single wide mobile home so Chris can become a citizen of the United States of America.

Immigration 101

Immigration is a hot topic in America these days. We haven’t been able to turn the TV on without hearing the words ‘illegal immigrants’ in weeks, maybe even months now.

We rarely hear anything at all about legal immigrants, though. That changed for me when I found Christiane Sallade on Instagram.

I found Mrs. Sallade via her Instagram account, SingleWideLiving, where she shares her journey to remodel a 1984 Skyline single wide mobile home. She’s a natural-born blogger that creates neat graphics, thought-provoking posts, and advice about projects she’s doing.

However, the 1984 Skyline single wide remodel isn’t Chris’s only journey. She’s on her way to become a US citizen!

How to Remodel a 1984 Skyline Single Wide and Become an American Citizen

remodel a single wide mobile home - exterior before
Exterior Before.

I was blissfully ignorant about our country’s citizenship application process until I met Christiane. Shortly after talking to Chris and learning about her story, I did a quick Google search to see what it took to become an American citizen.

It didn’t take long to see that the system is extremely expensive and overly complicated. Some of the requirements and legalities are so difficult to understand, much less follow, that it almost seems set up to discourage applicants from the very getgo.

Filing for citizenship as the spouse of a U.S. citizen is a bit different but it’s still a grossly complicated process that costs too much and takes too long.

Finding a Home on a Different Continent

Christiane is a Brazilian native that married Rich, a natural-born American citizen, several years ago. After living in Brazil for many years, the couple decided to move to the US so Chris needed to become a citizen.

One of the many requirements of the immigration process is to have a stable home already set up.

Since Rich has family in the Beaver Falls, PA area, it made sense to start the search close to his mother.

Buying a Mobile Home Sight Unseen

As is the true American spirit, Christiane and Rich make the best of their circumstances regardless of where they are or what they’re doing.

One of the many conditions required for US citizenship is to be financially secure or have a financially secure spouse and have a place to live during the immigration and citizenship process. That meant the Sallades needed a have a home of their own before they could even fill out the first form.

Trying to find a mobile home for sale online that was in good condition and within their price range was complicated to say the least. In order to make the move work, and not go broke trying to accomplish their goal, they needed a lot of blind faith.

Luckily, Rich’s mother lives in a mobile home community and she found a small single wide for sale in her park. The location was perfect and the price was right at only $9,000. Or was it?

They only had a few photos of the home but the pictures looked OK. They also knew they probably wouldn’t find another home in the same park that his mother lived. They decided to buy the 1984 Skyline sight unseen.

remodel a single wide mobile home - front porch

“We did all the transactions through email and wired the money from Brazil,” she recalls.

It took the couple a year, from July 2014 to July 2015, to have the process approved and everything ready to move. During that year, the Sallades had to pay the electric bill and lot rent for the mobile home while also keeping up their home in Brazil.

It wasn’t easy.

Rich is retired and has a fixed income and Christiane worked in retail. Having to pay for both houses was difficult but they did it for more than a year.

Finally, after a year of paying for two homes, they were approved for immigration and ready to move.

remodel a single wide mobile home - laying new floor in kitchen

The couple finally arrived at their new mobile home at around 8 pm on a sticky summer night. Their flight had taken 22-hours and they had 3 cats with them – all 5 were exhausted.

The excitement of being in her new country coupled with the anticipation of seeing the new home they had bought over a year ago, sight unseen, had Chris a nervous wreck, I’m sure!

Unfortunately, when they opened the front door to the single wide they had bought a year prior they saw a home in really bad shape. The sellers had been a bit misleading about the home’s condition.

Christiane recalls, “It was super dirty, nothing like the pictures, of course.  We slept (that night) just because we were so tired. The next day, remodeling a single wide mobile home became our top priority. Three years later we are very proud of how everything turned out.”

Thankfully, it was all fixable. The first order of business the next day was to get appliances and give their new home a good cleaning. After that the couple began to remodel a 1984 Skyline single wide.

Kitchen after remodel.

Christiane has slowly but surely turned her house into a home she could be proud of. The couple now has the knowledge and confidence to tackle bigger DIY projects in the future.

“Family and friends come here and they just can´t believe how we transformed this home.”


So far, the Sollades have spent about $5,000 to remodel their 1984 Skyline single wide. The price of the home was $9,000, so that’s still only $14,000 for a home that looks like this:

Another helpful tip from Chris was to use Youtube and Home Depot videos to help you learn DIY just about anything you need to improve or remodel a mobile home.

Embracing Minimalism

Chris admits that moving to the US with only 2 pieces of small luggage was one of the most difficult things she had to do. She had to be picky about what she packed – this wasn’t the time to let emotion cloud the goal. She had to carefully select what to take and what to give up.

That changed proved to be a big force in Chris’s life, even 3 years later. “That’s probably where my minimal lifestyle started.” She’s still on the path to living a more simple and minimal lifestyle.

remodel a single wide mobile home - table

Kitchen DIY

Removing the island and all the old cabinets in the kitchen proved to be Chris’s biggest challenge while remodeling her single wide mobile home. Installing the new cabinets wasn’t much easier she joked.

Chris was able to save a good bit of money by buying unfinished cabinets and painting them herself. If you can paint or stain your own kitchen cabinets you can use the savings to pay for an installer or upgrade to a higher quality material.

Sunroom Shines Brightest in Chris’s Eyes

Chris’s favorite room in the house is her enclosed porch or sunroom. Enclosing it and turning it into a studio has been Chris’s favorite DIY project so far.

When Chris and Rich went to their local home improvement store to buy the windows they needed to enclose the porch, the store mangaer couldn’t find the file on several of them so he gave them the windows. How cool is that?

When an Older Mobile Home may be a Better Buy than a New Model

Many of us mobile homeowners think older manufactured homes have more personality and charm than the newer models.

In general, the newer the home the better its energy efficiency but that doesn’t mean they are built better. Chris says she is seeing a lot of newer single wides with structural issues in her community.

You won’t find it often, but there are cases when buying an older mobile home is a better choice over a brand new model. When a mobile home is older but was better built with bigger studs, better steel for the I-beam and outriggers, higher pitched roof, higher quality siding material, and was insulated well it could very well be a better buy than a newer manufactured home with 2×4 studs, cheap Asian corrugated steel, shorter outriggers, lower roof pitch, and lower-quality materials.

Newer windows and doors will typically always be better than their older counterparts but if you are saving thousands of dollars by buying an older mobile home you can afford to make needed upgrades.

You can read our 25 best remodeling and decorating tips here.

remodel a single wide mobile home - living room after remodel

Stick with Neutrals and Use Accents to Add Color and Texture

As you can probably tell, Chris likes to stick with neutral colors, like beige, white or gray. Grey has become one of the home popular wall colors in modern day home decor.

Money Saving Tip: Paint is a ‘get what you pay for’ product. There is a noticeable difference between a $12 gallon of paint and a $50.00 gallon. The more you buy at once the cheaper it gets so choose a wall color that can work in every room.

Another great tip that Chris shared with us is that painting all the flat surfaces like walls, floors, and ceilings in neutral color allows you to easily change out accent colors with decors like pillows, candles, and throws. It’s much easier to change the accent pieces for each season or holiday.

Simple decor is beautiful.

Mobile Home Gets Rustic Farmhouse Kitchen Makeover


Thankfully, Chris’s first application was quickly processed and accepted but her path to citizenship is far from over. It only took 9 months to get her approval through because they were married for more than 5 years prior to the application. Plus, Chris had been in and out of the US many times visiting Rich’s family over the years and never overstayed her Visa, a big reason many applicants are denied.

So far, Chris and Rich have spent around $6,000 dollars in paperwork and lawyers alone. She has completed her physical exams and taken all the shots required. She’s also paid the US government hundreds of dollars just to be able to submit the applications.

Now after 3 years, Chris can start the citizenship process but as with the immigration process, it’s long and expensive. She will have to pass an oral test about US history, geography, and politics and while she admits to being scared because she’s never taken an oral test in another language before but I think she’ll be just fine. She knows English better than me!

Welcome to America, Chris!

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can with what you have, where you are” and that’s exactly what Chris and Rich have done.

While Chris’s situation isn’t common, we can learn a lot from her story. Working with what you have and making what you have work are two important talents for anyone trying to become a US citizen or remodeling a single wide mobile home.

Welcome home, Chris! You’re an inspiration and are already a wonderful addition to the US!

As always, thank you for reading Mobile Home Living!

Crystal Adkins created Mobile Home Living in 2011 after buying a 1978 single wide and searching online for mobile home remodeling ideas but finding very little. Today, it's the most popular resource in America for mobile home information and inspiration and has been visited over 40 million times.



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