Inside the Hamptons' best-kept secret, a luxury trailer park where trailers have ocean views and go for more than $1 million

  • Montauk Shores Condominium, a luxury trailer park that's home to the mega-rich, is right in New York's ultimate resort area, the Hamptons.
  • The trailer park is in Montauk, a ritzy town on the eastern end of Long Island with a median listing price of $1.5 million.
  • The 20-acre gated community is filled with amenities, including a clubhouse, a playground, and a massive outdoor pool.
  • It's not unusual for trailers here to sell for over $1 million.
  • In late November, we took a four-hour train ride out from Mineola and got an exclusive tour of the trailer park.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

On a sunny November afternoon in Montauk, New York, Business Insider toured a luxury trailer park that's home to the mega-rich.

At the end of a secluded paved road, Montauk Shores Condominium is a 20-acre trailer park with security features, outdoor amenities, and "million-dollar" ocean views.

Though the park started as an oasis of sorts for blue-collar workers, today it's not uncommon to see hedge-fund managers, CEOs, and investment bankers alike buying and selling trailers worth over $1 million.

In fact, as Jennifer Gould Keil reported for the New York Post in 2017, big players who have called the park home include the Vitamin Water cofounder Darius Bikoff, the hedge-fund manager Dan Loeb, and the film producer Karen Lauder.

Peter Moore, a real-estate agent with the Corcoran Group who has been selling units in the park for about 15 years, told Business Insider in July that interest in the park has sustained through the pandemic.

"Life at Montauk Shores really hasn't changed significantly," Moore said. "If anything, I would say it is more active than usual. It appears that many owners have actually used the park as their 'safe haven'."

Moore added that the pandemic has only driven interest in escaping the city for some of the country's most beautiful beaches.

That said, here's a walkthrough of the wealthiest trailer park we've ever heard of. 

Montauk Shores Condominium is in the far eastern tip of the Hamptons, a series of beach towns and villages that extend across the end of Long Island. In November, Business Insider's Libertina Brandt took a train from Mineola to Montauk for an exclusive tour of the luxury trailer park.

Mineola and Montauk are about 100 miles apart. I spent roughly four hours transferring trains and waiting on various platforms before I finally arrived.

The Long Island town is no stranger to high price tags. According to the real-estate platform Zillow, in early December there were seven homes on the market there asking more than $8 million. With the pandemic's impact on the real estate market, especially on Long Island's east end, Zillow now shows only two listings on the Montauk market that top $1 million.

The median listing price in Montauk is just under $1.5 million, according to Zillow.

The Hamptons are known as a destination for ultra-wealthy vacationers. The area is recognized for its stunning beaches, five-star dining options, and massive, multimillion-dollar homes.

The Hamptons are often visited by celebrities like Brooke Shields, Anderson Cooper, and Neil Patrick Harris.

But when a taxi driver picked Brandt up from the station, he told her that if I'm looking to spend time in Montauk during the offseason, I should bring a friend. "You won't be meeting a lot of people out here," he said.

Getting dropped off on Main Street, it was clear what he meant. A popular strip in Montauk during the summer months, the street was like a ghost town in November.

Consider this: Montauk is home to just 3,662 year-round residents but welcomes an estimated 30,000 visitors in the summer.

A lot of the restaurants and shops were closed, and the ones that were open were mostly empty.

Sitting down for a late breakfast at John's Pancake House, a couple of people shuffled in and out, and the waitress said that if it were a summer afternoon, the place would be packed.

Then it was time to head to the real destination: Montauk Shores. It was a roughly 10-minute drive from Main Street.

The 20-acre trailer park calls itself "Montauk's best-kept secret," and its entrance fits the bill. It sits off the end of a paved road and atop a bluff that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean — but it's so unassuming you might almost miss it.

Even the humble light-blue welcome sign is easy to miss.

The gated entrance to the community opens only to those with a pass. Business Insider met up with Peter Moore from Corcoran, a real-estate agent who has been selling units in the park for about 15 years.

Montauk Shores started as a campsite in the late 1940s. In 1976, to save the property from bankruptcy, a group of residents bought it and formed the first mobile-home-park condominium in New York.

Source: Montauk Shores Condominium

The community is made up of 152 owned and 47 leased sites. Moore explained that years ago, before the park became a hot spot for the wealthy, it was an oasis of sorts for firefighters, police officers, teachers, and surfers.

The community is managed by a seven-member board.

Source: Montauk Shores Condominium

Moore said the park is still occupied by a handful of retired and active blue-collar workers who have owned their units for years. But many of the original residents have been priced out.

 

 

The park is made up of seven blocks that run perpendicular to the ocean and two blocks that run parallel to it. Edgewater Drive is home to the coveted oceanfront homes — and as we learned on our tour, some unbelievably high prices.

The park has a variety of amenities, including a gated playground and a gated set of pools, which were closed when we visited. As we walked around, it felt more like a beach club than a trailer park.

 

 

About 80% of the park's residents use their units during the summer, which explained why no one was around on a November afternoon.

Source: Montauk Shores Condominium

Along with outdoor amenities, residents also have access to a clubhouse. As we walked around, we found a plot of land filled with boats parked for the winter.

Moore said there are two types of units in the park: single-wide and double-wide. These homes can be as tiny as 200 square feet or as large as 1,400 square feet.

Source: New York Post

A handful of old homes in the community are permanent, but most have been wheeled in. Some of the oldest trailers in the park date back to the 1960s.

Moore referred to these older units as "pullaways." Instead of tearing down trailers to build new ones, owners simply roll out the old and roll in the new.

As we walked, Moore explained that it's not uncommon for units here sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, some of the oceanfront units are valued at over $1 million.

On Zillow, the prices of for-sale units in the park ranged from $699,000 to $1.5 million.

Source: Zillow

This two-bedroom trailer was recently on the market for $890,000. We got to take a look inside.

Source: Corcoran

To the left of the front door was the kitchen, which, while small, includes all the essentials: a fridge, an oven, a sink, and a stove.

The kitchen's simple color scheme and beautiful natural lighting made it seem bigger than it really was.

Next to the kitchen was a small, blue bathroom with a tub and shower.

In the back of the trailer was one of the two bedrooms. The room was nicely decorated, but the big bed left narrow walkways and little space for additional furniture.

Back by the front door and to the right of the kitchen was a small living room.

The second bedroom in the trailer was large enough to fit a bunk bed and a dresser.

Despite its expensive price tag, this trailer doesn't come with a view of the ocean. It's near the center of the park and boasts a patio, trees, plants, and a shed.

But the park's crown jewels are the oceanfront trailers. The row is divided by a large pathway leading to a deck that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.

These units are often valued at more than $1 million. Like all the other units in the park, these are all still trailers, showing just how much people are willing to pay for oceanfront views in the Hamptons.

Moore described the strip of oceanfront properties as "silly money." These homes attract big players, like hedge-fund managers, CEOs, bank investors, and business owners.

Some of these people include the Vitaminwater cofounder Darius Bikoff, the hedge-fund manager Dan Loeb, and the film producer Karen Lauder.

Source: New York Post

To better understand how expensive these trailers are, consider that this oceanfront property — a roughly 600-square-foot, two-bedroom unit — sold for a whopping $1.25 million in 2018.

Source: Corcoran

And Moore estimated that if this one were to hit the market today, it would go for upwards of $1.5 million.

The jaw-dropping prices of these units are often defended by the breathtaking views they offer of Ditch Plains Beach.

Ditch Plains Beach is considered one of the best places to surf on the East Coast. Up on the deck, I got a glimpse of the views worth millions.

Source: CNN, OutEast.com

On a clear day, the ocean views stretch for miles.

About half a mile away from the park, at Ditch Plains, you can still see the trailers in the distance, just barely peeking out over the bluff.

Walking around Montauk Shores made one thing clear: The trailer park's evolution is a microcosm of what's been happening with Montauk's real-estate prices at large.

Like in Montauk Shores, homes in the Hamptons as a whole are pricing out locals. The Guardian reported in 2015 that with few opportunities to work locally and increasingly expensive real estate, low- to middle-income households in the area were struggling to get by.

This couldn't be more true now, with the pandemic's impact on east end demand driving Hamptons home prices to set record highs in recent weeks alongside a market primed for luxury buyers. 

Towns in the Hamptons sport median home values well over $1 million, forcing even those who grew up in the area to move away.

And while oceanfront views rarely come cheap, the prices at Montauk Shores are, simply, astonishing: The Hamptons are so expensive that a trailer could cost you over $1 million.

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