Park and hide
Mobile homes have turned on the style. Today, says Helen Parker, they offer patio, gazebo, sprinkler system, cable TV, internet access and spacious open-plan living roo o om – and an alternative way of life as far away as Morocco and southern Spain
Sitting on his two-tier decked terrace, gazing out at the snowcapped peaks of the Sierra Nevada, John Ryllo describes the clouds as “kissing the tops of the mountains”. It is a poetic aside from a fairly pragmatic man. But there is something about the change in lifestyle of John, 53, and his wife, Linda, that renders this turn of phrase perfectly in character.
John retired in 2006 from the West Midlands police and now the couple spend more and more time in Andalusía. Two years ago, they bought an £80,000 “park home” at Monte Vista, 45 minutes’ drive from Granada and 60 minutes from Málaga, with Breakaway Homes.
“After I retired, we began to think about spending more time abroad,” he says. “We looked at villas and apartments in Cyprus and France, but as soon as we visited Monte Vista, in Spain, we fell in love with the place. The site was in the early stages of development and we had a good choice of plot, so we picked one with the best views. We’re now considering staying for longer and renting out our house in Britain.”
Park homes, the upmarket version of a mobile home, are just like bungalows but without the bricks and mortar. They are, in essence, “delivered to and installed on” a site of your choice, rather than built, so there are no legal fees with this type of holiday home.
The Ryllos’ one came in two sections, which were joined together on site. It has two bedrooms, a large, open-plan living area, a bathroom that wouldn’t look out of place in a modern bungalow and a kitchen complete with American-style fridge/freezer.
The beauty of buying a manufactured home lies in its simplicity. Ron Cooper and his wife, Carol, have just bought a two-bedroom mobile home on the Costa de la Luz, in southern Spain, with another British company, Hotspotz. “We chose it on the internet,” says Ron, 74, adding that it will be sited fully furnished and connected to water and electricity in Tarifa, on the southern tip of Spain. They paid £27,000 in total and intend to spend most of the year there on the edge of a national park, minutes from the sea.
Harry Samuels, sales director at Hotspotz, says demand is currently exceeding supply. Consequently, the company has brought forward plans for five Italian locations, including two in Sardinia and Sicily. “It’s not just about sunshine and a lower cost of living,” he says. “Security and community spirit are also important.”
Barry and Barbara Brabin agree. They have embraced mobile-home life wholeheartedly, having sold their home in Liverpool and moved permanently to Las Galletas, in Tenerife. “We’ve been here for 13 months and the only thing I miss is tickets to the football,” says Barry, 63, an ardent Liverpool fan. “And family, of course. But Barbara’s sister has since bought a home on the same site, so our four children and nine grandchildren take it in turns to visit.”
The Brabins paid just under £60,000 for their unit, which included a patio, gazebo, plants for the garden, outside lights, sprinkler system and fencing. Barry shrugs when the word “depreciation” is mentioned. “The children jokingly said they didn’t mind us spending their inheritance, so we went ahead. But I think it will hold its price for a few years.”
The Ryllos are not too worried about depreciation, either. “Short-term, I think our park home will increase in value,” says John. “There’s the added advantage of the long lifespan of a park home in Spain. Thanks to the mild climate, there isn’t the rush to replace homes every 10 to 12 years, as there is in Britain.”
Most buyers of this type of second home are investing in a change in lifestyle rather than a place that will make money. “We’ve holidayed in Tenerife for 14 years and we have no regrets about coming to live here permanently,” says Barry. “In fact, when we visited the UK recently, we realised why we’d left. The Spanish are much more family-orientated, and we like that. It suits us.”
Morocco certainly suits Jack Williamson and his wife, Brenda. They have been spending winters here for 17 years, long before the country became trendy. They would simply get in their motorhome and go. “In the early days, it was real donkey-and-cart country and took us five days just to get from Tangier to Agadir. Now, we do it in two,” says Jack, 65.
But driving to Morocco was becoming a bit of a chore, so now they have decided to buy a twobedroom, French-designed mobile home, through Mobile Homes Abroad, and fly there instead. “The site has been open for two years and, as far as I’m aware, we’re the only English people on it,” says Jack. “We considered bricks and mortar, and we did have an apartment in Spain for 20 years, but you don’t meet as many people that way.”
The site, which is 15 miles from Agadir, in southern Morocco, isn’t a residential site, but that matters little because it is not possible to stay longer than six months in Morocco anyway without becoming a resident. Even
stays of three months or more necessitate becoming a temporary resident. “We get round it by popping over to Tenerife for a week in the middle of our holiday,” says Jack. The couple’s mobile home, set on a large plot of 220 square metres, cost them £28,500. It has two bedrooms, and a “panoramic” lounge with a terrace outside. They pay £1,700-a-year site fees for the four-star site, which has two pools, a restaurant and direct access to a sandy beach.
They used to own a hotel on the Isle of Man but sold it 17 years ago. “We intended to go travelling for 12 months initially,” says Jack. “But then we discovered Morocco; the weather, the people and the food are all wonderful and we feel safe here; there are no threatening teenage gangs. I’m not religious, but I admire the nation’s devotion and, most important, they revere their parents.”
Back at Monte Vista, John Ryllo watches the sun go down. “I suppose we could grow tired of the view and if that was the case, we’d just ask Breakaway to move our home to another location,” he says, only half joking. “As we see it, it’s much more difficult to make an expensive mistake buying a park home than it is buying bricks and mortar.”
Plot of gold: (clockwise from above left) Linda Ryllo inside, and outside, her Monte Vista home; the Brabins’ permanent base in Tenerife; the Williamsons’ mobile home in southern Morocco; a Hotspotz home inTarifa; and one of the Williamsons’ neighbours...