Unable to afford ridiculously expensive rental housing in San Francisco, young professionals are trying to find interesting alternative living arrangements. One of them literally involves living in a box – there’s a whole village in Oakland where shipping containers are doubling up as tiny apartments!
At ‘Containercopia’, you can rent a 160-square-foot metal container complete with glass windows, electricity, and private bathroom for just $600 a month . The whole package is considered a steal when compared to skyrocketing rents in the city, which went up by 20 percent in the last year.
The idea for Containercopia belongs to 32-year-old Luke Iseman and his ex-partner Heather Stewart. They were fed up of spending huge amounts on rent, so they bought a shipping container for $2,300 from the Port of Oakland, rented half an acre of land, and moved in. Then they spent about $12,000 converting the box into a home – with a small toilet, custom-built shower, queen-size bed, glass windows, and solar panels.
“It’s pretty much my dream, post-apocalyptic, cyber-punk set up,” said Luke said. Surprisingly, they found the box to be quite suitable for human habitation. “You have a watertight box that is way more structurally sound than you can possibly need. They have been stacked in hurricanes, in terms of a house they are way overkill.”
The idea worked pretty well, so they started to buy more containers to offer as cheap rentals. And with money pooled in from a few friends they bought an abandoned lot for $425,000, to place the containers on. And that’s how Containercopia was born. Unfortunately, they were forced to move the containers into a warehouse last Spring, after a neighbor complained that the lot was not zoned for residential occupation. They’re now using the land to grow vegetables for the village.
But Luke believes that Containercopia is one of the best solutions to the housing crisis, and hopes more people will follow his example. “If we can do it in one of the highest-cost places in the world, people can do this anywhere,” he told the New York Times. Heather is also involved with the project full time – she quit her job and now manages the village. She has also sold most of her belongings, to be able to live comfortably in the small home.
These people have no other choice really, given that renting a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco costs $3,500 per month, which is way more expensive than New York and Los Angeles. Cash-strapped residents of the Bay Area have come up with other unique ways of living – like living on sailboats and inside buses, piling into bunk beds, and using colorful, coffin-like sleeping boxes.
Sarah Carter, 23, decided it was more cost-effective to purchase a $9,600 boat off Craigslist instead of renting an apartment. “If I live there for five months, I’ll break-even on the rent of the apartments I was looking at,” she said. “It really is a steal.”