Serving as an informal reference guide to the rental market, TikToker Caleb Simpson's tours of total strangers' apartments offer a rare glimpse into what people are paying for rent and how viewers' spaces measure up. Beginning with tours in New York, Simpson has traveled to California, Miami, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, with other destinations planned.

Rent rose a record 11.3 percent in 2021, and another 2.1 percent this year, while wages have flatlined. Some viewers are grateful: it turns out their apartment is a sweet deal compared to others. Some find inspiration: if someone else can make a micro-apartment work, maybe they can, too.

“I’m curious about how much they’re paying: like, do I feel better about how much I pay, or do I feel worse?” said 39-year-old Simone Moragne, a devout Simpson-house-tour follower.

Moragne and her young son have outgrown their two-bedroom apartment at the edge of the Bronx, she said, and she’s ready for something new. Her rent has increased, too, from $1,650 when she first moved in, to $1,700 last year, and up again to $1,775 this month. But if there’s one thing she’s gleaned from Simpson’s videos, it’s that her apartment is a steal by New York standards, she said.

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