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

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Overseas -

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...

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