For a year before he moved to New York, Connor Krone drove across the country in a camper van that he built himself. When he finally arrived, as Covid was waning, he spent four more months in the camper van, parking on the street in various non-Manhattan neighborhoods.

Mr. Krone — who basically transformed a delivery van into a mini-apartment — used a composting toilet and showered at the gym. He even had a three-camera security system and a temperature monitor for when he had to leave his dog, Harry, alone.

“People live in New York in really creative ways, and this is maybe an extreme example,” Mr. Krone, 37, said. “The camper van was more livable than people would imagine.”

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But eventually he needed something bigger and stationary, so he moved into an artists’ warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where he paid $1,800 a month. With 900 square feet, it could fit gym equipment, power tools and art made by his grandfather, a painter and illustrator. Mr. Krone did woodworking projects and helped friends build furniture.

Last year, he sold the camper van for $110,000, more than doubling his investment, and put the proceeds in tech stocks, aiming to amass a down payment for his first home purchase.

“Connor was concerned with long-term appreciation and whether he would get a return on his investment,” said his real estate agent, Matthew Bank, of Bank Neary Real Estate, whom he met through a friend at a gay pride event.

Mr. Krone, who is from San Francisco, works in corporate philanthropy. His office is in the financial district, and he wanted a place near a useful subway line for a manageable commute. His budget ranged up to $450,000.

“Connor didn’t have a particular neighborhood in mind,” Mr. Bank said. “Because of his budget, which was not very high for New York City, we talked about the differences between buying a market-rate apartment and an H.D.F.C. apartment.”

So Mr. Krone considered some income-restricted H.D.F.C. co-ops, which often had temptingly low monthly maintenance charges, but also high flip taxes when sold. He was more than willing to downsize, always keeping trade-offs in mind. “Moving to a smaller space was a commitment to get a gym membership and store my grandfather’s art, which were extra costs,” he said.

Among his options:

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