Mini-shampoo bottles may seem like a delightful novelty for a few days away from home, but one woman opted to get access to tiny toiletries and room service for more than a decade.
Joy Bricker, 79, has resided at the Towne Place Suites by Marriott, in Falls Church, Virginia, CNN reports and she's finally checking out. Bricker moved into the hotel in 2001 when she got a job at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She's the longest extended-stay guest the Marriott chain of hotels has ever had, according to CNN.
Bricker said she chose the hotel over a more typical apartment because it was more cost-effective. For just a bit less than apartment rentals in the area -- about $1,500-$1,700 a month -- Bricker enjoyed wireless internet, housekeeping and 24/7 security.
According to the general manager of Bricker's hotel, extended stays are fairly common and they may become increasingly popular as consumers look for ways around homeownership in a weak housing market. The proportion of households that own homes is at its lowest level since 1998 as more people opt to rent instead. The increased popularity has sent rental values surging, which could make hotel stays an increasingly viable alternative.
Though Bricker herself is retired, older workers as a whole have become increasingly pessimistic about the economy in the last year. Research shows that while workers above 55 have a lower unemployment rate than the national average, they also remain unemployed for a much longer time on average when laid off. And for many of those close to retirement, the recession has been especially painful, forcing some to work much longer into their lives.
With unemployment high and the median national income falling, even renting can seem like a daunting prospect. The Great Recession has seen the proliferation of tent cities all around the country. One camp in Ocean County, New Jersey consists of around 50 people living in tents, huts and other makeshifts shelters, The Daily Mail reports. All of the residents of the so-called Tent City have lost their jobs due to the financial crisis.
That same financial crisis has led to other tent cities, as well. Occupy Wall Street now houses thousands in tents around the country including at the movement's birthplace in New York's Zuccotti park. The legality of people staying in the tents remains under debate while the rustic conditions present other problems such as dealing with cold weather. At the Occupy Denver protests, a tent city was broken up by police earlier this month on the grounds that it was illegal.
In the UK, however, the longstanding practice of squatting is not only legal it can yield far more comfortable living quarters. In one London neighborhood squatters populate homes worth $950,000. The government is trying to make the practice illegal, but for many young people the high price of London real estate makes squatting one of few other options.
As for Bricker, she may not be an Occupy Wall Street protestor but she does seem to share a similar sense of activism. Osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis have forced her to check out of the Marriott and move in with her daughter in upstate New York, but she says she still plans to remain active by volunteering at her church.
"If I've set a goal, I'm going to reach it," she told CNN. "[I will c]ontinue offering whatever I am able to give. I have to help. I'm not a sitter."