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5 Bizarre Real Estate Investments

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So, you're a little hesitant about investing in the stock market. To quote Great White, even though the S&P 500 is up over 30% from its low three months ago, you're once bitten, twice shy. Plus, that overbearing uncle keeps cornering you at every family gathering and telling you that you should invest in real estate. "Son," he says (even if you're female), "God only made so much land, and he ain't gonna make no more."

So you've decided to take his advice, but where do you start? Well, you can start small, really small, or flip the script and go big or go home.

1. Parking Spaces

Parking spaces are nothing more than painted lines on asphalt, but some sell for more than $200,000. If you're convinced that this whole public transportation thing is just a fad, you might want to look into the lucrative world of parking spaces. Not parking lots, mind you, but individual spaces. Unfortunately, even owning just one space comes with a number of strings attached, like insurance, association dues, and, if you want to rent the space out rather than use it yourself, advertising. The great thing about being a parking space landlord, however, is that the eviction process is just a tow truck away.

2. A Room With a View (But Just One)

hotel-roomIf you're not ready to invest in a whole building, why not just try one room? At a variety of hotel properties throughout the world, investors can buy a single hotel room at a time. This isn't some timeshare, but a full ownership stake in a single room. For prices as high as $400,000, the owner is entitled to about 50 nights a year at the hotel plus a share of the profits from each night the room is rented by someone else. If you think about it, it's almost like owning a studio apartment that someone else cleans. It might be worth noting, however, that one of the main proponents of this type of ownership, U.K. based GuestInvest, has recently gone bankrupt. You know what they say, "Hotel room buyer beware."

3. Miniature Golf Courses

philly-golf.jpgUnfortunately, a tough economy means tough times for entertainment venues like miniature golf courses. However, having motivated sellers means rock-bottom prices on windmills, gap-toothed clowns, and dangling spiders. Whether you're just looking to gut the existing course of its putt-putt accoutrements or move in as owner/operator, miniature golf ownership might just provide the lusty, free-spirited, popcorn-scented life you've always dreamed of. Check out for just a taste of what's available.

4. Shipping Container Houses

shipping-containerWith timber and steel prices shooting through the roof and eco-friendly construction the desire of many new homeowners, building homes out of shipping containers might be the next big thing. That's right, shipping containers "“- those large, rectangular metal storage devices stacked by the thousands at ports all throughout the country. With the huge trade imbalance in America we have a glut of the 40-foot-long, 8-foot-wide containers just taking up space. The incredibly sturdy construction that results from these heavy-gauge, steel-frame monoliths is a perfect fit for seismically and meteorologically unsafe areas like California and Florida. [See more photos of shipping container houses at]

5. Decommissioned Missile Silos

eddianaDespite the rather low odds of it ever happening, at one time the following sentence must have been uttered: "Honey, let's live in a decommissioned missile silo." Someone must have said it because, according to the website, living in an underground nuclear-hardened silo is all the rage. Ranging from over $2 million to under $200,000, there are decommissioned missile silos dotting the continental United States just waiting to be scooped up by the right buyer. According to the folks who run the aforementioned website, missile homes may just be the wave of the future. The one risk you run of course is that some old, poorly programmed, pre-Glasnost ICBM still has your new home set as its detonation target area. Otherwise, an old military-built missile hatch might be just the thing for the family that wants to get away from the rat race and jump headlong into the arms race.

This article is for entertainment purposes only and in no way constitutes a recommendation by mental_floss or the author as to the soundness, profitability, or appropriateness of any investment referred to therein.

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

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The Secret to the World's Most Comfortable Bed Might Be Yak Hair
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Savoir Beds laughs at your unspooling mail-order mattresses and their promises of ultimate comfort. The UK-based company has teamed with London's Savoy Hotel to offer what they’ve declared is one of the most luxurious nights of sleep you’ll ever experience. 

What do they have that everyone else lacks? About eight pounds of Mongolian yak hair.

The elegantly-named Savoir No. 1 Khangai Limited Edition is part of the hotel’s elite Royal Suite accommodations. For $1845 a night, guests can sink into the mattress with a topper stuffed full of yak hair from Khangai, Mongolia. Hand-combed and with heat-dispensing properties, it takes 40 yaks to make one topper. In a press release, collaborator and yarn specialist Tengri claims it “transcends all levels of comfort currently available.”

Visitors opting for such deluxe amenities also have access to a hair stylist, butler, chef, and a Rolls-Royce with a driver.

Savoir Beds has entered into a fair-share partnership with the farmers, who receive an equitable wage in exchange for the fibers, which are said to be softer than cashmere. If you’d prefer to luxuriate like that every night, the purchase price for the bed is $93,000. Purchased separately, the topper is $17,400. Act soon, as only 50 of the beds will be made available each year. 

[h/t Travel + Leisure]


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