Elon Musk Is Living Small – A Good Sign For Park Owners

He may be able to launch cargo into space and invent the electric car industry, but Elon Musk is not always thinking big – at least not when it comes to his housing. Musk, a billionaire, is currently living in a $49,500 “Casita” made by Boxabl, which is a 375 square foot tiny home. So how will tiny living by Musk translate into mobile home park industry success?

One more nail in the coffin of the “trailer trash” stereotype

It would seem that the negative “trailer trash” stereotype in finally dying of old age. After all, Jeff Foxworthy published his “trailer trash” humor books almost 30 years ago! Younger people just don’t even know who he is, nor have they seen much of the popular media that skewered the mobile home park image back in the 1980s and 1990s. We have not seen even one negative article on Elon Musk’s move into a small dwelling. So maybe the negative stigma has evaporated finally?

Affirmation that we are on the right side of a huge “megatrend” for small living

Americans are fascinated with “living small” and programs on RVs and tiny homes abound on cable television. And now here’s Elon Musk – one of the world’s richest people – choosing to live in a tiny home over a mansion. This narrative is a clear affirmation that mobile home parks are on the right side of one of America’s biggest megatrends, which is on downsizing and living small. Between the 10,000 older Americans retiring per day (and downsizing) and the millennials becoming the largest segment of the U.S, population (and loving small living) mobile home parks are in the right place at the right time.

Maybe some additional benefits that are a little less clear to spot

Before Elon Musk, a decade earlier the founder of Zappos.com (and nearly billionaire) Tony Hsieh lived in a tiny trailer park in Las Vegas called Airstream Village, after moving over from a penthouse condo. And then in the 1960s you had Elvis Presley living in a mobile home in a small park he owned behind Graceland. And pre-dating all of this, J. Paul Getty (the richest person in the world at that time) lived in a tiny home on the property of the Spartan Aircraft Company in Tulsa (which he owned) during World War II. All of these individuals have or had influence well beyond the housing market. Their actions can influence lenders, appraisers, journalists and others that can have much larger applications than just a tiny home program.

Conclusion

Elon Musk is certainly making mobile home parks a little more mainstream and desirable. That’s what a trend-setter does. While the mobile home park industry welcomes the help, it would also appear that the march of time and all American megatrends are helping to move “trailer parks” in the right direction after decades of poor public relations. The end result should be more customers, greater occupancy, and higher rents for the 44,000 mobile home parks in the U.S.

Frank Rolfe has been a commercial real estate investor for almost three decades, and currently holds nearly $1 billion of properties in 25 states. His books and courses on commercial property acquisitions and management are among the top-selling in the industry.