The phenomenon of houses with nobody living inside, for perhaps-unexpected reasons

In London, some of the most expensive real estate is in neighborhoods where relatively few people actually live. According to one company's estimate, 37% of the the residences have been purchased by people who merely use them as vacation homes, visiting only for a week or two per year and leaving the building empty the remainder of the year. In other words, the people who can afford to live there choose not to.

This same phenomenon is reported in other cities. For example, only 10% of the condos in the Plaza Hotel are occupied full-time.

Another example of a house with nobody living inside is the case where the house is a façade for an industrial building, most commonly an electrical substation or a subway ventilation shaft.

I find both categories fascinating.

Comments (11)
  1. Outis Residing says:

    Venice is another city that has lot of its houses unoccupied much of the time. The city's population has dropped considerably over the last 40 years.

  2. parkrrrr says:

    Your "electrical substation" link seems to go to a slimy adsense-gaming badly-ripped-off version of this page:…/faux-facades-fake-buildings-hide-trains-power-more

    [Fixed, thanks! -Raymond]
  3. Empty's Theme Park is a good tune says:

    I read a story last week about some Russian dude with a 1.4 billion dollar yacht (reported cost, all decked out, and yea: 10^9). Anyways, how much land does a man require?

  4. Mark says:

    Amateurs! In Australia, the middle class keep empty homes in middle and lower class areas, just for the capital gains. The last few censuses have counted close to a million of them.

    (Mind you, our bubble outdoes the infamous one in the US, and prices have only recently started to decline)

  5. Fred says:

    @Empty Enough that I don't have to see or hear any neighbors.

  6. Jon says:

    Another example is when a telephone central office has to be placed in a residential neighborhood, an example being the Anaheim 17 station on this page:…/OCP.htm

  7. Lev says:

    But I always thought vacation homes were by a sea?

  8. PaulM says:

    In Los Angeles, some of the facades are for oil rigs. California is still an inportant oil producer.

  9. Joao Reis says:

    It's laundry money, simple as that. They don't care if they sell the houses latter for half the price.

  10. Mike says:

    @Joao probably right in a lot of cases but also a matter of what do you do when you are a 100+ millionaire? You can only by so big a house before it becomes stupid say $10M max. What do you do with your other 90+ M? Buy more houses. Rather than go to hotels in various cities you drop money and buy property in them. You can then say oh we vacation in our Florence home, I occasionally have business in Manhattan so have a nice flat there etc.

    If you are a billionaire you are likely raking in 10's of millions a year so dropping $10M on a house every once and a while isn't that big a deal.

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