Not all homes the city rents out appear to be below market. Nick Alvarez pays $1,000 per month to live in a small Craftsman-style home in Howarth Park.

Alvarez, 24, spotted the ad on Craigslist in 2011, and jumped on it.

"Once I saw it, I'm like, 'I have to get that place,'" Alvarez said.

The home is located on the main driveway into the park. While parking often is a problem for visitors to the city's busiest park, Alvarez has his own parking space.

The house has no defined yard and therefore doesn't offer much privacy. Alvarez has covered the windows with cloth to keep out prying eyes.

He said it can be "a little awkward" when he's sitting in his leather recliner on his porch and park visitors are having a picnic 30 feet away. Sometimes random people knock on his door, thinking he's a park ranger, he said.

Once when he was coming home carrying groceries, he found a woman sitting in his chair on the porch, rambling about where she could purchase some propane, he said.

But since he works during the day and surfs most weekends, Alvarez said he rarely has any issues with park users. Mostly he enjoys living in a unique place and being able to play the drums as loudly as he wants.

"At night I have this whole park to myself," Alvarez said. "It's pretty serene."

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or On Twitter @citybeater.