If you've ever spent five minutes talking to someone who lives in New York City, you've doubtless heard a thousand groaner jokes about real estate here. "This room is bigger than my apartment!" as you walk past a coat closet. "Cheaper than my apartment in New York!" pointing to a FOR SALE sign on an entire multi-unit building. "You could charge $5000 a month for this in Manhattan!" [gestures at a Port-O-John].
Friends, I'm here to tell you that these jokes are actually true. Because there is someone in New York City , and they don't appear to be kidding.
If this is a hustle—and let's be clear, charging someone real American dollars to sleep in a van that you parked for free on a side street is absolutely a hustle—at least it's a hustle with effort. This listing has every glossy buzzword required of a New York City real estate listing. "Soho"? Check. "Cozy"? Yes indeed. "Lots of natural light," the ad proclaims—painting a vision of an airy, bright, sunny domicile, and ignoring the fact that the only other type of light you can experience in a conversion van is "dome."
And that's all just in the first sentence! Onward we read, learning that this long-wheelbase Chevy G20 van, measuring roughly 112 square feet including the engine compartment (which you probably can't sleep in), is "perfect for international travelers, backpackers and the #vanlife experience," and offers a "great location"—though the exact location is not provided, thanks to NYC's alternate-side parking rules.
And check it out! It almost seems roomy, what with that crushed velvet bench seat that folds down to make a bed, his-n-hers ashtrays (this van hails from the late '80s, after all), and ... seatbelts. But don't get tricked by that wide-angle-lens photo, a classic NYC real estate technique. Here's what it looks like from a normal point of view.
At least the host is honest. "Like camping, the elements can be a factor," the listing notes. "No bathroom inside but many nearby"—in this case, provided by a guest pass to a gym with a pool and showers, two items this apartment notably lacks. "Ideal guests approach van-life with an open mind, a sense of humor, and a fun attitude," the host states.
This van has achieved an average rating of 4.5 stars, with many guests commenting on the great parking location.
I have to admit something: At $69 a night, this van averages out to be slightly cheaper than the rent I pay on my current apartment, which is located in a far less stylish neighborhood than Soho. Momentarily, this made me feel like a yutz. Then I stood up from my couch and walked several steps to the bathroom, which didn't involve cashing in a guest pass at a gym.