President-elect Donald J. Trump won the White House with an outsider’s populist promise to “drain the swamp” of Washington.
Now, as he prepares to assume the presidency, an open question remains about the capital he repeatedly spurned: Just how much is he willing to become a part of it?
Mr. Trump, a homebody who often flew several hours late at night during the campaign so he could wake up in his own bed in Trump Tower, is talking with his advisers about how many nights a week he will spend in the White House. He has told them he would like to do what he is used to, which is spending time in New York when he can.
The future first lady, Melania Trump, expects to move to Washington. But the couple’s 10-year-old son, Barron, is midway through a school year in New York, and it is unclear when the move would happen.
The questions reflect what Mr. Trump’s advisers described as the president-elect’s coming to grips with the fact that his life is about to change radically. They say that Mr. Trump, who was shocked when he won the election, might spend most of the week in Washington, much like members of Congress, and return to Trump Tower or his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., or his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach on weekends.
Hanging on to the familiar for presidents-elect and their families is not unusual. There were early questions about whether Michelle Obama would leave Chicago and move to the White House in early 2009 and disrupt her daughters’ school years, but the whole family moved in the day of the inaugural. Mr. Trump’s advisers hold out the possibility that the president-elect may spend more time in the White House as he grows less overwhelmed and more comfortable in the job.
Still, Mr. Trump has spent the last three decades, for the most part, cosseted within Trump Tower. His apartment is on the 58th floor, and a designated elevator takes him from there to his office on the 26th floor.
He wakes at 5 o’clock most mornings, reads The New York Post, The New York Times and a handful of other newspapers, and tunes into the morning television news shows. In the final months of the campaign, he would hang around his apartment until about 10 a.m., joining his aides in the office later.
Mr. Trump’s affection for his penthouse apartment runs deep, as his biographer, Michael D’Antonio, learned when Mr. Trump invited him inside the three-story unit in 2014 for an extended interview.
Mr. Trump reveled in recalling the challenges required to design and build the apartment, decorated in 24-karat gold and marble in the Louis XIV style, saying he simply wanted to see if such an ambitious undertaking could be accomplished. He described it less as a home than a tribute to his own self-image.
“I really wanted to see if it could be done,” Mr. Trump said at the time, as he showed Mr. D’Antonio around the apartment. “This is a very complex unit. Building this unit, if you look at the columns and the carvings, this building, this unit was harder than building the building itself.”
Yet after meeting with President Obama on Thursday and touring the White House, Mr. Trump, according to two people briefed on his thinking, was taken with that building over all and marveled at the neoclassical architecture and history.