PropertyProf Blog

Editor: Stephen Clowney
Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Living in a Van Down by the River

Writing for the LA Times, Andrew Tangel looks at the rise of New Yorkers living in RVs throughout the city:

As the most expensive city in the country gets even pricier, Cintron and other New Yorkers are taking drastic steps to survive the most brutal real estate market in the United States. They are ditching sky-high rents and buying secondhand recreational vehicles.

By turning to mobile apartments, RV dwellers are something of real estate pioneers in New York. RVs give New Yorkers a way into hip or exclusive neighborhoods they otherwise might not be able to afford. They don't have to worry about nagging landlords, rent hikes or upstairs neighbors tap-dancing at midnight.

But there are obvious trade-offs. Getting electricity takes some effort. Heating during the winter can get costly. Mail may need to be delivered to relatives' places or post office boxes. There's also the issue of how to hook up sewage lines. And RVs may not offer much social cachet. "The ladies aren't really kicking down the door," said Rick Hall, who gave up on trying to find an apartment before he moved to New York to study at St. John's University.  

Is this even legal?  Even the city isn't sure:

The city's Law Department offered little clarity over whether RV life was legal in New York. A department spokeswoman said the agency knew of no city laws specifically addressing living in an RV or any prohibition against living in a parked vehicle. The state Department of Motor Vehicles counted 589 RVs registered to New York City residents in 2012. The agency, which classifies them as "houses on wheels," does not track how many wind up as primary residences or get parked outside the five boroughs.

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