A divorced dad who has been living out of his Mercedes van for the last year is on the hunt for an Upper West Side condo to call his own. Uri Toron, 72, first came onto West Side Rag's radar when they noticed all the yellow/red "Wanted Condo" signs he taped on windows in the West 70′s and West 80′s over the past few weeks. Toron explained to the Post that it isn't a matter of desperation that he's living in his car—it's because he's a picky real estate buyer.
"It helps me explore New York City and decide where to live," he told the Post. "I didn’t know I would end up on the Upper West Side, but where else can you live between the sea and the forest?" Toron, a father of three whose marriage of 27 years ended last year, said he'd rather living in his "high-roofed $45,000 2013 Mercedes Sprinter" and be patient about buying a place for himself than waste money paying rent.
He says that living rough like this (sleeping in the van, washing himself in Fairway, etc) is keeping him young: "People get caught up by luxury," Toron said. "I try to keep myself back to basics — and you save a lot of money. To be rich is half to earn — and half not to spend."
For the past two months, he's place thousands of posters and stickers around the UWS in hopes of catching the eye of an agent. He has very specific needs: he's looking for a studio or one-bedroom with outdoor access for around $500,000. "It has to be between the 70s or the 80s and has to have a yard or a balcony," he explained to the Post.
Here's how he described his lifestyle to West Side Rag in an email [all below sic]:
I bought, renovated and sold 7 houses in my life, traveling with my family, following my x wife’s carrier re from student in Tel Aviv, doctorate in Copenhagen, first job in Geneva with UN, then Cambridge, England, 4 years each place,,and finally 12 years as full Professor at Baruch College.
All the years I was house father, and renovater.
Obviesly all renovations and extensions are paid for at the sale.
I bought and sold all my houses alone.
When my youngest of 3, left for Bercley CA. 3 years ago, my X and I said,
Mission Accomplished, and made a friendly divorce.
I had the idear, to sit in front of Zabars with a sign,,,
That could be fun.
And I am homeless, Insteadt of renting a flat, for a year, as “normal” folks do,
I bought a new Mercedes Sprinter Crew Van, and put a bed in it.
So I am a Bum, in a Mercedes.
So twice a week, ( street cleaning). I mowe it, so nobody realize it is a home.
You might feel I am a adventurer, and you are right.
Toron is far from the first UWS resident (or aspirational UWS resident) to take to living in his car rather than deal with rent: last year, locals were clutching their pearls over some RVs that had been spotted in the neighborhood.