Liam Moriarty, a 29-year-old corporate lawyer at a large Manhattan firm, doesn’t exactly seem, on paper at least, like the type to give up his Greenpoint apartment and trade it in for an RV. But that’s exactly what he did, this past summer. Then again, Moriarty isn’t your typical lawyer. He’s also worked as an archaeologist, and has had what he describes as “a bunch of odd jobs” before that, including groundskeeper at a monastery and writer for an Irish American magazine.
When Moriarty bought his RV, he wasn’t looking for a lifestyle overhaul. He was just looking for something to do. It was his uncle that planted the camper seed in his head a few years ago while the two were on a cross-country road trip together. “My uncle, who used to be kind of a hippie, would regale me with stories about how he lived in his Dodge van and all that, so [that’s how] I got the idea,” Moriarty said.
After working as a lawyer for three years, Moriarty was itching for a hobby that didn’t involve sitting at a desk. Getting a camper to mess around with seemed an obvious choice. After scanning the Internet for cheap deals for several months, he found a 1973 Dodge Shasta RV on Craigslist and brought it back to his parents’ house where it would stay for the next several months while he and his dad fixed it up. “It was just kind of a hobby and then I grew to thinking, well, maybe I can try to move out of my place and live in here part-time just to think a little bit more about how I’m living, and what I’m using and wasting,” he said. He’s been doing that since July.
Moriarty’s RV is not just a place to crash. It’s a home. Colorful chevron-patterned fabric tastefully adorns the walls, and tiny dinosaur plant holders bearing succulents sit atop the kitchen counter. He parks three or four blocks from his old apartment, and so far he’s remained almost entirely hassle free. “One time when I was working on the radiator underneath the hood, a cop stopped because I think he thought I was stealing something from underneath, but that was the only time,” he said, chuckling to himself. “[It’s been] a lot more comfortable than I thought, a lot quieter, especially in this neighborhood,” he added, as if to set the record straight.
On a typical week Moriarty stays in his RV four or five nights. And here’s the kicker. Many of those nights he is joined by his girlfriend. His Shasta doesn’t house much, but one of the first things you notice are his girlfriend’s dresses hanging on the closet door. She’s a lawyer too, and clearly a trooper. “It’s been very impressive!” he said. “She’ll get ready here in the morning, or a couple of times she’s had to get ready at a Whole Foods, which I felt bad about — so she’s very, very supportive.”
On the nights he doesn’t stay in the RV, he stays at her apartment on the Upper West Side. Sometimes he’ll grab a shower at her place, and if he’s got a hankering to do some real cooking, he’ll do it there, but for the most part he has a system, in which everything is just so. If he’s not staying in Manhattan, he showers at the gym, and back at the RV, he’s built a functioning astronaut toilet. He keeps his dress clothes in his office, and because he often works late at night, he orders most meals in.
Moriarty charges his phone during the day at the office, enough to hold a charge through the night. And he has a CLEAR hotspot so he can do work if he needs to. But mostly he likes to entertain himself in other ways. “I try not to be on the Internet because I feel like that’s a time suck, so I try to do a lot of reading or writing or just kind of relaxing,” he said. Currently, he happens to be reading three books. One of them is Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. The others are Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks, and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.
Moriarty plans to stay in his RV as long into the fall as possible. Beyond that, he’s not sure exactly what his foreseeable future holds. He may move to California for work, or he may stay in New York. But either way, lodging in his RV remains a definite part of the plan.