TikTok user tours strangers' apartments and asks about their rent
If Caleb Simpson approaches you on the street, then you might want to make sure your home is ready for company.
In the past seven months, the TikTok user has gained fame and notoriety for asking strangers how much they pay in rent and if he can tour their homes.
"I saw a street interview on YouTube, and the guy was asking someone, 'How much do you pay for rent in New York? What's the most expensive thing in your home?' And I thought, what if I asked to go inside the home? That's kind of ridiculous," Simpson told CBS News about the series' origin. "On top of that, when I went in someone's home, I was like, what's the craziest thing I could do in here? If I hop in their bed, a stranger's bed, that's pretty wild. I think people would like that on the internet."
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Simpson's hunch proved true — he's amassed over seven million followers thanks to the videos. "How people organize themselves — whether they have roommates or flexible walls, whatever they are doing to make it work — is interesting to observe," he said. "I think being able to share this information, just how a normal person lives in big cities, has really dropped a vanity wall."
But not everyone is a fan of letting a stranger into their home. "I'm too introverted for someone to spontaneously come into my apartment," one user commented under a video. "I'd have a panic attack."
"I would say most people are on the 'no' side of things," Simpson said of facing rejections. "Because their art hasn't been hung yet. That's the main excuse, which is kind of funny."
The video series comes amid record-high rent prices across New York City and the rest of the country. "It was interesting exploring Manhattan and hearing people say, 'My rent went up by $1200,'" Simpson told CBS News. "Or, versus going to Brooklyn or Queens, where they're like, 'My rent went up $30 or $40.'"
"Get some roommates," Simpson said when asked about advice he had for renters. "If you're moving to a big city, maybe move outside of the city. But, I mean, when you move to New York you just have to get here first and figure it out."
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