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I rely heavily on reviews when I’m looking at places to stay. When we first bought an RV, Ryan and I drove around the area we wanted to live and looked at different parks in person. We picked the one that looked the nicest, had good amenities, a good location and a good price. And that was it. We paid up and moved in. This was back in Arizona, before we came to the Bay Area and moved to Golden Gate Trailer Park.
However, once you live somewhere for a while, you gain information about your neighbors, the neighborhood, and the property managers. What we learned at our first RV park is that we had strange and/or rude neighbors, our neighborhood was noisy, but there were a lot of conveniences nearby and our commutes weren’t bad. The staff was nice, and they tried to keep things clean and in good repair. But they didn’t really do much about neighbors who were traipsing across our lot to get their house, or parking on our spot because we had extra room. They also turned the water off a lot for maintenance. Sometimes we would get a notice that it was happening, sometimes not. We learned to keep water in our fresh water tank for those occasions.
When we moved to our current location (the park I’m doing this review on), there wasn’t a lot of information out there as far as reviews go. What we did know was that it was a short enough commute to work, the space rent was relatively affordable and they had one opening. The last item was a big one, as we looked all over the bay area and most places didn’t have any spots available. As you’ll see, there are some negatives about this park that made me wish we had left sooner.
Since then, I’ve been very diligent about getting reviews before we stay somewhere. The problem is, most of the reviews you can find are from people who stay for a day or week. Since we’ll be staying most places for longer than that, we hope to give a more detailed picture of the places we stay. Now, on to the review.
(Note: If you want the short and sweet version, see my Yelp review here.)
Park Name: Golden Gate Trailer Park
Location: Greenbrae, California
Overall Appearance: As with most bay area parks, space is at a premium. The sites are very cramped. The park itself is very old (built-in the 1940s) and likely unchanged over time. Per the owner, they built it for the smaller trailers that were popular in that era (think ~20 feet), not for the monstrous, heavy 5th wheels with 4 slides and diesel pusher motorhomes we see today. As you can see in the main image, RVs pack in like sardines.
Site conditions: All sites are rock/gravel, concrete, or a combination of the two. You will find that much of the concrete is not in good condition, and the sites are not level. We currently use about 40 leveling blocks and our front leveling jacks are as high as they can go. We had to add an extra step in order to climb in and out of the RV. Due to the small size of the park it can take some maneuvering to get larger rigs in and out.
Amenities: The park offers restrooms with toilets and showers (no extra charge), a coin laundry room and wi-fi for an extra fee. We never used the wi-fi so I can’t comment on it, but the laundry room and toilets, while kept clean, are in disrepair. We take our laundry off-site so that it actually gets clean when we wash it, and there are shower and toilet stalls with “out-of-order” signs on them for months if not longer.
On the plus side, each site has full hook-ups. Most spots have options for 20, 30 and 50 amps. Water pressure is decent, and we never have issues with the electricity with either 30 or 50 amps. The office has a very small, very expensive selection of basic RV supplies for sale, such as toilet paper and black tank treatment.
As is usual, space rent includes water, sewer and garbage. Hookups for cable TV/internet/land line through the dreaded Comcast are available, of course at an extra cost. We had an excellent signal when we used to have Sprint for our wireless. Now we have Verizon, and the signal is usable (even for streaming video) but can fluctuate.
Cost: There is no additional cost for pets. I’m not certain what they are asking for a daily or weekly rate, but we were most recently paying $850 per month plus electric. During mild climates, we pay $40-$50 per month. During the summer or if it gets really cold, we’re paying $100 or more. The last I heard about daily rates, I think that about 10 days at the daily rate would cover a month’s rent. This is the case for most parks I’ve looked at, and I believe the nightly rate is on par with other places in the area.
Marin County is generally a very bike-friendly place. There are bike lanes and paths going just about everywhere, including across the bike-friendly Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. You can also load your bike on a bus at one of the bus stops that can take you north to Napa and Sonoma, south to San Francisco and beyond, east to Richmond, Berkeley, etc and (I believe) west to the ocean as well. You can ride for many miles on relatively flat ground, or take more challenging routes. Mountain bikers have Mt. Tamalpais easily accessible also.
The SMART train project, which will run from by the Larkspur ferry (aka Golden Gate Ferry) up into Sonoma County. It isn’t built yet, but when it is there will also be a walk/bike path that runs along beside it. So you could potentially go from the park to the path, then all the way into Sonoma County on a protected path.
The park is on a very busy street, and the freeway is a stone’s throw away, so there is usually a lot of traffic and noise. There are many amenities to reach by bike or walking, which is a plus considering all the traffic.
Cooking and Food:
There are a quite a few restaurants nearby. Within a few miles you can find 3 large shopping centers with clothing stores, restaurants, and other stores like REI and Barnes & Noble, and Radio Shack. With easy access to public transportation (or use of a bicycle), you can get to larger cities like San Rafael or Mill Valley that have even more places to eat. You can also go into San Francisco by bus or ferry. While it’s possible to go by car, take it from someone who’s been commuting there for 4 years–unless you don’t mind traffic, scarce parking and expensive parking, maybe you want to leave your car at the park.
Despite the many restaurants, I often find that the best, tastiest foods I eat are at home. Right next to the park is a Trader Joe’s and some other shops. More chain grocery stores (Safeway and Lucky) are within about a mile, and if you go further you can find more specialty grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Sprouts. Thanks to the diversity of the Bay Area, it’s very easy to find a variety of ingredients for all diets. There are also year-round farmer’s markets where you can find local, fresh ingredients.
As I said, on one side of the park is a small shopping center. Besides the Trader Joe’s there is a BevMo, Cost Plus World Market, Men’s Warehouse and Vitamin, Mattress Discounters and Vitamin Shoppe. On the other side of the park is a nature preserve with walking trails.
There are also places you can refill propane tanks of any size or do exchanges for smaller tanks. Additional laundry facilities, a movie theater, public libraries, parks, postal/shipping services, and healthcare are also very close. Within 10-15 miles you have several hospitals to choose from, some of which have the best doctors in the country. You can make it over the bridge (by car) to San Francisco in 20 minutes without traffic. The east bay is reached via the Richmond-San Rafael bridge, which is extremely close and causes a lot of traffic.
In addition to the farmer’s markets are food trucks that are within biking or walking distance. The natural surroundings are absolutely gorgeous. You have rolling hills, tall, green trees, Mt. Tamalpais, beaches, the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco bay. You’re close to the Napa Valley, which of course has a multitude of wineries, as well as spas and the Calistoga hot springs. Other well-known places like Berkeley and Sausalito are close by. The weather is fairly temperate. Most of the year it is cool and foggy overnight and into the morning, but the sun usually comes out by mid-morning. Average days are 50-70 degrees most of the year, but it can get into the 90s in the summer.
Neighbors: There are mostly RVs in Golden Gate Trailer Park, but a few spaces hold manufactured homes. The majority of spaces hold long-term residents. Many are retired, but there are some younger people as well. Most people are nice. However, there are several people who regularly getting into shouting matches with their significant others during the day or in the middle of the night. The police have come out many times. There also was an issue with various non-residents cutting through the park from the back fence, but that resolved when the fence was closed. However, I heard that some people invite the homeless to come visit them (one of our neighbors was formerly homeless), and they are not always the most stable people.
Additionally, many of the RVs and lots are not very well-kept (even though there are supposedly rules about this). There are units that look like junkyards with all the items hoarded around them. Mold and moss is growing on some of the roofs due to lack of maintenance. Instead of fixing leaks, people use tarps, plastic sheeting and duct tape. They use the underside of the RV to store more junk.
Conversely, some tenants take care of their property well. You can see that the owners take pride in their possessions. They are also respectful of their neighbors and friendly and helpful, in the way that many traveling RVers look out for each other.
Management: The woman who runs the office at Golden Gate Trailer Park (Ellie) is very sweet. She lives on-site, and the office is open pretty much every day, usually with her by herself. I’ve seen her open up at 9:00 at night to receive guests. All mail comes to the office, and they also accept packages. She always makes sure you get your packages by leaving a note in your mail slot so you know to ask for it.
There is another woman who comes in to work in the office sometimes. I believe she’s the owner’s wife. She’s always been nice to me. But Ryan has witnessed her being rude to Ellie as well as other tenants, and she even screamed at Ryan one time.
The owner’s name is Wally. He’s actually one of several joint owners, but he’s the only one who comes around. He is usually nice too, but I get the feeling that he’s a little overwhelmed by running the place. Wally is elderly, yet he tries to save money by doing a lot of the work himself or with the assistance of one of the residents. When he has hired people to do work, I’ve been less than impressed by the results. Everything seems to take a very long time to fix or upgrade.
If you need a place to stay close to San Francisco but want more picturesque surroundings, Golden Gate Trailer Park is probably one of your best bets. You’ll have to look past a lot of flaws. It’s noisy and close to the freeway, but most RV parks in the area are in similar locations. If you’re a light sleeper, I’d recommend having ear plugs on hand. The prices are equal if not better to most other parks the same distance from San Francisco. Other parks may have better amenities, though, and many of them have better upkeep as well. However, just about all of them in this area have long-term residents.
I can’t say it’s the worst place to live. Apartments in the area run about $2000-$2500 per month for the cheapest ones. Of course you’d have shared walls with your neighbors, and probably couldn’t park your car outside your front door.
Traffic is absolutely horrible. I would leave by 7am to get into San Francisco and beat most of rush hour. Most days, cars pile up on the freeway and surface streets outside the park by 2 or 3pm. Traffic continues on until 6, 7, or sometimes later. By the time I stopped commuting and started working from home, my typical drive would take 1-1.5 hours. They are also building a large condominium complex on the next block, which will also have shops on the first floor. This will definitely not help with traffic. Lucky for us, it won’t be done before we leave.
Would I stay here again? Only if I absolutely needed to come back to San Francisco and there was nowhere else available.