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Meet the Upper-Middle Class Residents of Malibu's Million-Dollar Trailer Park

Malibu's Paradise Cove Mobile Home Park is a stigma-busting oceanfront trailer park where it's not uncommon for trailers to sell for more than a million dollars. Dating back to the 1950s, when fishermen parked their trailers on a plot by the ocean, the park had expanded to 100 trailers by the end of the 1970s, says the New York Times's T Magazine in a survey of some of its fancy residents. Around that time, the owners of the park developed the bluff above that first property to allow for 165 more units—double-wide trailers too. But while those first owners came because it was affordable, the community is now home to a far richer crowd, with Porsches and primary residences elsewhere (sometimes just a short jaunt down Pacific Coast Highway).

Paradise Cove residents say a big selling point is that "the area represents an antidote, and at times a rebuke, to the sprawling estates of nearby Los Angeles (where, in fact, some of them maintain their primary residences)." One pair of residents, an artist and his girlfriend, mainly live in "a modest cottage in Venice, but they escape to the Cove whenever possible." And after all, who wouldn't want to run away from the rough-and-tumble terrain of bourgie Abbot Kinney and the hordes of rich tech bros in Venice to bourgie, rich Malibu? That must be the "peaceable lack of ambition" the park exemplifies.

Of course, the stunning ocean views and beachy lifestyle that the mobile home park affords are a huge draw too. An interior designer who bought a trailer with his partner, a landscape architect, cannot extoll the splendor of the Cove enough. "You see the beautiful kids coming home from the beach, all piled onto a golf cart. It's like an Abercrombie & Fitch ad come to life." (The couple primarily live two neighborhoods over, in wealthy Santa Monica.) Though some of the surrounding estates sell for tens of millions, these trailers enjoy the same vistas for only a million and change in many cases. "We have the same view of beach as our neighbors who paid $65 million for their homes," the artist who owns two houses points out. "We're just happier with less," says his girlfriend. "Less" here meaning two houses, but smallish ones, in two of LA's most expensive areas.

While T notes that, at its core, the Paradise Cove trailer park remains the same—"a laid-back, humble 85-acre classic California beachscape populated by people who want" to live by the beach—the business of another resident, who owns a clothing line "which reinterprets humble items of clothing — beanies, Baja hoodies, sweatshirts — in luxurious, lofty cashmere," pretty much exemplifies the shift that seems to have happened in this community in recent years. Interestingly enough, for a guy who makes his money putting out fancy versions of casual wearables, he didn't want to change his trailer too much after purchasing it. "I was really careful not to lose the vibe. You can't buy this feeling," except he actually did, when he bought the trailer this year.
· America's Most Glamorous Trailer Park [NYT]
· Paradise Cove Mobile Home Park [Curbed LA]