Manhattan Couple Ditch Apartment, Buy RV. Was It Worth It?>

When Jess Glazer and her husband Mike DeRose traded their Manhattan apartment for a 40-foot motor home last fall, they imagined crisscrossing the U.S., camping by peaceful lakes and mountain streams. Last week, via Zoom, Ms. Glazer showed me the Arizona RV park where they’ve been stationed since the start of the year.

“It looks like a parking lot,” she said, surveying the vast expanse of gravel crowded with hundreds of motor homes. “Well, it is a parking lot.”

Like many young professionals, Ms. Glazer and Mr. DeRose fled Manhattan during the pandemic for greener pastures. Only in their case, the new location can change weekly or daily. After leaving last October, the self-described “digital nomads” motored down the East Coast before heading west through Alabama, Texas and Arizona. And life on the road is nothing like what they envisioned.

Mike DeRose, in Texas en route to Arizona.

Photo: Jess Glazer

RV life has many advantages over Manhattan life, they say. It’s cheaper, for one. They were renting a 1,100 square-foot two-bedroom in Hell’s Kitchen for $5,800 a month. Now, they’re paying $2,000 a month on a loan for their $412,000 Tiffin Phaeton. Even factoring in insurance, fuel and site fees of about $700 a month, their expenses are roughly half what they were in New York City. “We’re saving a lot of money,” Mr. DeRose says.

share your thoughts

Have you traded in your home for greener pastures during the pandemic? Join the conversation to share your experience.

While the motor home is about 450 square feet, they’ve shared small apartments in Manhattan before, so it doesn’t feel like a squeeze, they say. Plus, the RV includes features their city digs never had—a washer and dryer, heated floors, a central vacuum, and four built-in televisions. “It’s so silly!” says Ms. Glazer. “We don’t even watch TV.”

They enjoy their revolving cast of new neighbors. Living in Manhattan, they didn’t know who lived down the hall. But RV folks are friendly and chatty, they say, and it’s easy to strike up a conversation about someone’s license plate.

What they most enjoy, of course, is the freedom to travel and explore. They’ve taken their Jeep, which they hitch to their RV, off-roading on the beach and in the mountains. They’ve explored obscure Texas hamlets, national forests and Arizona ghost towns. “Now my hiking shoes are my favorite shoes that I have. It’s so funny—I was little Miss Stiletto,” Ms. Glazer says.

The couple never expected to join the nation’s RV herd. This time last year, Ms. Glazer, who is 36 years old, was happily working at home, building her fast-growing business-coaching service. Mr. DeRose, 37, loved his job managing a territory of financial centers for Bank of America.

They enjoyed long weekend walks exploring the city. On Saturday nights, they’d typically meet friends for dinner, drinks at a rooftop bar and dancing.

Jess Glazer and Mike DeRose hiking outside of Austin, Texas, in November.

Photo: Jess Glazer

Then the pandemic hit. Suddenly, everything they loved about Manhattan—the restaurants, the theaters, the crowds—vanished. “It lost its sparkle and uniqueness,” Mr. DeRose says.

They hit on the RV idea last summer on a networking Zoom call for entrepreneurs. The host, who lived in California, recently bought an RV, and his tale was inspiring. Within two weeks, Mr. DeRose and Ms. Glazer purchased their motor home. Mr. DeRose gave several months notice to his employer so he could join his wife’s company as its CFO and COO after they hit the highway.

But even getting on the road was a challenge. You can’t just drive an RV into Manhattan and load up your things. They had to rent an RV-size parking spot near Princeton, N.J., and hire a moving van to transport their belongings, stowing the majority in a self-storage unit they’re renting for $150 a month.

They also were surprised to learn that a lot of people had the same pandemic plan. According to the RV Industry Association, RV shipments rose 34% in the second half of 2020, to 254,000.

Many RV parks were totally booked months in advance. Mr. DeRose took to putting parks on speed dial, making call after call until he got through.

And they’ve discovered they’re not welcome at the many parks reserved for guests 55-plus. Which explains why they’ve spent the last six weeks at a site that has a nice clubhouse and pool, but looks like a giant parking lot.

The couple traded their Manhattan apartment for a 40-foot motor home last fall. ‘Now my hiking shoes are my favorite shoes that I have. It’s so funny-I was little Miss Stiletto,’ Jess Glazer says.

Photo: Jess Glazer

Life on the road is more chill than life in the city where everyone’s hustling, they agree. But this presents the opposite problem: It’s hard to clock your usual 10-hour workday when most of the people around you are retired or on vacation.

And it’s even harder to work when the Wi-Fi crashes—a reality that has led to several meltdowns. Ms. Glazer typically schedules back-to-back Zoom calls for her business, which employs a team of 11. But she’s found that some RV parks advertising Wi-Fi have spotty service at best. They’ve had to subscribe to and install a bewildering array of services and backup devices to compensate.

They miss New York—walking to Central Park, Friday night Thai delivery and Sunday grocery delivery. Now, every errand and expedition requires a drive. “And we’ve been to a lot of Thai places along our journey. It’s not Thai food!” Ms. Glazer laments.

After venturing north through Utah and Wyoming this spring, they plan to return to the East Coast in the fall to settle down and start a family.

Will they return to the city? Probably not. “Our Manhattan time has passed,” Mr. DeRose says.

“But who knows?” says Ms. Glazer of their plans. “Because if you told me a year ago we’d be living in an RV, I’d tell you you were crazy.”

Write to Anne Kadet at Anne.Kadet@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Source: wsj.com

Small Utah Home Has Hand-Built Replica Ghost Town in the Backyard

A new owner of this small house in Springville, UT, won’t have to venture far to knock back a beverage in an Old West saloon.

The 758-square-foot home on East 100 North comes complete with its own ghost town in the backyard. It’s now on the market for $349,900.

The father of the listing agent, Angie Brandt, built the ghost town over the 27 years he owned the property. She had the full scoop on how the replica of the Old West came to be, and on her dad’s role in creating this throwback town.

“[The home] was just a little old cottage built in 1947, and it had a five-bay garage storage unit in the backyard,” she says. “The garage was just plain cinderblock.”

With reclaimed barn wood and salvaged buildings that were about to be demolished, he built facades on the front of the storage unit.

Mike Patrick passed away in August, and Brandt says he would be smiling at the interest in his creation.

Saloon
Saloon

Brook Patrick

Ghost town
Ghost town

Brook Patrick

Saloon
Saloon

Brook Patrick

Saloon
Saloon

Brook Patrick

Saloon
Saloon

Brook Patrick

Saloon
Saloon

Brook Patrick

Appliances
Appliances

Brook Patrick

The hub of the ghost town is the saloon.

There’s a player piano and pool table and a bar, Brandt explains. The refrigerator is behind wood doors, with the modern appliances hidden out of the way.

“We used it for entertaining for many, many years, and had Halloween parties and Christmas parties,” she says. “For any family get-togethers, we were always at my Dad’s to use the saloon area.”

Like any responsible saloon owner, Patrick also had sleeping spaces for anyone who wanted to stay overnight. All the furnishings are part of the sale.

Workspace
Workspace

Brook Patrick

Workspace
Workspace

Brook Patrick

Workspace
Workspace

Brook Patrick

Work area
Work area

Brook Patrick

The last two bays of the garage are currently configured for woodworking or automotive restoration, two other passions of Brandt’s father.

“He was always a creative person. He could look at junk from thrift stores and he would change it into something amazing,” Brandt says.

He used his time, she says, to create fun places for people to be.

“People would come and take graduation photos or wedding photos,” she says. “He was always kind and sweet, and would allow those people to come in and just make themselves at home and pose for pictures.”

House exterior
House exterior

Brook Patrick

Interior
Interior

Brook Patrick

House interior
House interior

Brook Patrick

Bathroom
Bathroom

Brook Patrick

Interior
Interior

Brook Patrick

Interior
Interior

Brook Patrick

Aside from the replica town, the main house offers two bedrooms and one bathroom.

Even though the house is small, Brandt says, her father found ways of utilizing space, with ample storage.

“He tried to retain the antique vibe and refinish the wood floors,” she says. “He has a vintage stove in there. He just tried to maintain the antique look, while upgrading.”

Yard
Yard

Brook Patrick

Yard
Yard

Brook Patrick

Yard
Yard

Brook Patrick

The property, at a half-acre, is larger than others in the area. Brandt says its yard, with an additional lawn and a garden with an outdoor kitchen and mountain views, is very quiet and visited by deer.

“You would think that you were in the middle of nowhere,” she says, “but you’re actually right in the middle of town.”

A sale on the property is pending, and Brandt says she has high hopes for its future.

“A perfect buyer for this property would be someone that wants to enjoy what my dad created and maybe add to it,” she says.

She hopes that the buyers will call one day and report that they’ve made some new additions.

“There’s so much potential for the property,” she says. “It’s already awesome the way it is, but there’s great potential to add more.”

Ghost town
Ghost town

Brook Patrick

Ghost town
Ghost town

Brook Patrick

Workspace
Workspace

Brook Patrick

Yard
Yard

Brook Patrick

Ghost town
Ghost town

Brook Patrick

Ghost town
Ghost town

Brook Patrick

  • For more photos and details, check out the full listing.
  • Homes for sale in Springville, UT
  • Learn more about Springville, UT

Source: realtor.com