Think trailer park and what comes to mind? $2 million homes? High end luxury? Not quite. Trailer parks may have an unfair image, an image that embodies the hopelessness of the have-nots on the wrong side of the American Dream. But these days, an outdoorsy lifestyle – far away from suburban hell – is getting a modern, hip and even luxury makeover.
It’s all about location. The natural home of the luxury trailer park is California, beachside. In a neighborhood where beach houses can sell for $50 million, forking out one or two million seems a steal – hardly slumming it, though. These parks are highest of the high end, with granite countertops, marble floors and subzero appliances (and ample parking for the Porsche or the Merc). Some come complete with movie star neighbors. There are even quirky luxury trailer parks as far flung as France and South Africa. For something completely different, there are the truly mobile houseboat parks in San Francisco Bay and the rural wilderness of Big Arm, Montana. And then there’s Myrtle Manor, which has come to public attention via the reality show, ‘Welcome to Myrtle Manor’. Although it’s certainly more deluxe than the traditional trailer park, it doesn’t do much to overthrow the traditional rep of the trailer park. But more on that later.
The following rundown of 10 of the best luxury trailer parks in the world may well overthrow your expectations of the traditional trope – and might even encourage you to think about decamping!
10. Paradise Cove: Malibu, California
Location, location, location. Where can you buy a home right on the beach in Malibu for a million or so? Paradise Cove, a trailer park with a difference. Pamela Anderson and Matthew McConaughey have places there. It offers splendid views of the crashing waves, amid luxury that Vanity Fair irreverently called “tricked-out doublewides”. The more expensive properties run into the millions. You can snap up a three bedroom model for $700,000, complete with parking for five cars (and a golf cart), a spa and a baby grand piano. Not ready to buy? Book a cabana near the beachside Café (where you might spot Cher or the like) for a mere $500 a night. Walk the sands (literally) walked by the Beach Boys and Pamela Anderson in Baywatch. There have been reports of Pamela A. dating an electrician who lives there. Bohemian chic.
9. Capistrano Shores: San Clemente, California Located in San Clemente’s North Beach area, Capistrano Shores is a 90 unit mobile home park (some realtors coyly call them “cottages”). The park , which stretches 7/10 of a mile along the beach, was purchased by its residents in 2008 for a cool $100 million. That makes the land each unit is on worth at least $2.5 million, before you even get to the trailer. Like Paradise Cove, it offers California beach living at (all things are relative) an “affordable” price. That’s why 88 or the 90 owners could afford this place as their second home!
8. Old Mac Daddy Luxury Trailer Park: Cape Town, South Africa
A half a world away from California, Old Mac Daddy Trailer Park is a laid back kind of place. As its web site says, “Old Mac Daddy is the watermelon-chinned, pine-whispering holiday of your childhood. It’s the nostalgia of camping without the fuss . . .” Without the fuss is spot on. Located outside Cape Town in the rural Elgin area, it offers bike trails, canoeing, fishing and, for the more adventurous, cliff jumping. The sometimes quirky-themed villas, like the black and white “Life Before Color” and the very yellow “Give a Bee a Chance” go for around $130 a night and exude a quirky, retro vibe. With only ten trailers (some with wooden living room units attached), it has a cozy, homey feel. Old Mac Donald would be proud.
7. Grand Daddy Luxury Airstreams: Cape Town, South Africa
Not a million miles away from the countrified Old Mac Daddy park, we have a rooftop hotel – yes hotel – made up of some seven Airstream trailers, complete with rooftop views, a communal area with a bar and individual mailboxes. The park sits on the rooftop of the 4 star Grand Daddy Hotel. The trailers were airlifted to the top of the building. Each offers a strong (not necessarily attractive) design concept with bold lines and colors, each designed by a local artist. It’s a cool, urban, young and up and coming kind of place. Quirky and a little eccentric, in the nicest possible way.
6. Durango Resort: Red Bluff, California
An upscale resort with RV slots, cabins and campgrounds located on the Sacramento River, Durango has it all. There are peaceful fountains, riverfront parking slots, a massive pool, paddle tennis and basketball, as well as a lap pool located outside its clubhouse, The Lodge. There’s even a doggie park. With local events such as the Old Shasta Rodeo, Open Fiddle Competition and Crawdad Festivals, Durango is family friendly and just plain friendly.
5. The Point Dume Club: Malibu, California
Notice the official “The”, there – you just know you’re in gated-community land. Back in beachside California, The Point Dume is indeed a gated community that offers beach living, with luxury units starting around $400,000. The “Club” offers pool, sauna, clubhouse and, of course, beach. The more expensive properties top $2 million. And that doesn’t include the land it sits on, that you also pay rent on. Need a big space for a large family gathering? Check out their triple wides.
4. Flathead Lake: Big Arm, Montana
Located on Flathead Lake, Big Arm has mountain views and mobile homes at a price. With lakefront properties starting at around $1 million, Flathead is truly a no-frills kind of place. One of the trailers, currently on the market at $985,000, is on the lake, has a large deck, separate guest lodging and a double garage. Glacier National Park (Canada) is nearby. Rugged and beautiful, Flathead Lake is a fisherman’s dream and a place to explore the best of America’s rugged wilderness, complete with hungry bears. Just don’t leave food out at night.
3. San Francisco Bay: Sausalito, California
This is a different kind of “mobile” home park. Remember Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle? He lived in a boat house, albeit in Seattle. These very mobile homes that are moored in Sausalito go for about $1 million and come with all the usual luxury necessities: Hot tubs, gourmet kitchens, bay and mountain views. Most are accessed by communal walkways that are strewn with flowers and hum with activity. “The Temple of Light”, pictured above, is on the market at just over $1.1 million. It is a hop, skip and a jump into San Francisco. And moving is easy. Not cheap, but easy.
2. Belrepayre: Manses, France
Definitely on the quirky side, this upmarket Airstream park has a definite American retro feel. It has an Airstream bar and a spa and no end of vintage American cars. Quite a world away from the traditional French ambience, it may remind visitors of Disney Land Paris, where the French version of America seems more of a caricature than a portrait. Many of the Airstreams were purchased in America and shipped over to France where they were lovingly restored with vintage trappings. Located in the South of France, near the Spanish border, Manses has open air markets where local produce can be sampled, as well as a variety of vineyards and walking paths. European twee meets vintage Americana.
1. Myrtle Manor: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
With tongue firmly in cheek, ‘welcome to’ Myrtle Manor. It describes itself as a “luxury five star” facility. Thumbing its nose at the stereotypical trailer park. Welcome to Myrtle Manor, a TLC television reality show, is set in ‘The Manor” in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s home to 120 trailers and is a “beach” resort miles from the beach. The Manor has an on site hair salon (think “Steel Magnolias”) and an above ground pool where beer is swilled and bikini contests are held. The place has an “America, love it or leave it” kind of vibe.
Cecil is the patriarch (catch his Twitter feed), and his no-nonsense daughter Becky runs the place. Beck’s motto is “No Pay, No Stay”. There is the usual array of down home types, sometimes down on their luck, always willing to venture an opinion on just about anything. There are the requisite bust ups and drama moments. Fans visit the Manor when they are vacationing in Myrtle Beach and wax eloquent about how “real” the place is. Not missing an All-American opportunity when it hits them in the face, Beck and Cecil have merchandised The Manor, registered an honest to goodness logo, and set up a trailer (what else) where you can buy tees (“Mess With Me, Mess With the Whole Trailer Park”) and tasteful drinkware. The stemmed Mason Jar wine glass has sold out.