In San Francisco, It’s Even Expensive to Live in a Box
April 2, 2016 Leave a comment
If you’ve ever thought to yourself that you would like to pay money to live in a box, there’s a city out there for you: San Francisco! Now the most expensive city in the United States, it’s no secret that San Francisco’s housing market is nothing short of awful. As a result, the city now also has one of the largest homeless populations in the country, and its housing crisis has reached a fever pitch. Luckily, a young Google engineer named Peter Berkowitz has found a housing solution that works for him: he rents a pod for $400 a month.
“When you live in a city with a housing crisis, like I do, you have to be creative about how to reduce the rent,” Berkowitz said. He has certainly been creative. Currently, one-bedroom apartments in the city rent for $3,670 a month. To afford that, the average person would have to make about $132,000 a year. So, to save cash, Berkowitz asked his friends to host his pod, a box eight feet long and four and a half feet tall.
Berkowitz describes his box as being “honestly very comfortable.” It’s cutely decorated, with string lights and fashionable cushions, room for books, and a little desk big enough for a laptop. “I really don’t feel like I’ve taken a hit in terms of my quality of life,” Berkowitz said. “I don’t really notice I live in the pod anymore.” It helps that he has access to the home’s other amenities, like a kitchen and bathrooms.
Berkowitz is hardly alone in finding an innovative place to live in such an expensive city. In 2015, John Potter was able to list a nine-by-seven Coleman tent, sitting in his parents’ back yard, on Airbnb for $969 a month. Tenants who elected to stay there were allowed to use the house shower and the Wi-Fi. Another young engineer made an efficient home out of a sixteen-foot box truck for $10,000, where he currently lives with a bed, a clothes rack, and a dresser. Yet another resident, James Rice, pays $825 a month to rent a large closet in a house.
Experts can’t seem to agree whether the San Francisco housing bubble is set to pop anytime soon. Experience suggests that at some point, the prices must come down; but those numbers aren’t coming down. Instead, they’re increasing. If prices do continue to increase the way they have been, more and more people may follow Berkowitz’s example.