Unable to afford the soaring apartment prices in San Francisco, 25-year-old illustrator Peter Berkowitz built himself a box to serve as his bedroom. Living in the 8×3.5×4.5-foot ‘bedroom pod’ now costs him less than $500 a month.
Berkowitz had originally planned to share a two-bedroom apartment with a friend in the city, but later realised that he wasn’t going to be able to afford it. “I was far too optimistic at first that we could find a place that wouldn’t cost a fortune,” he told Business Insider. “It didn’t take long to realise that that wasn’t a feasible plan though.”
After a bit of brainstorming, Berkowitz recalled his experience of climbing into a model of a Japanese ‘capsule’ hotel at the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York. That memory led him to a unique solution to his housing problem – he decided to share a one-bedroom apartment with his friend instead, and build a wooden box in the living room to be used as the second bedroom. “Two people looking for a one-bedroom apartment makes the city a lot less scary,” he explained.
Photo: Peter Berkowitz
Although he didn’t end up living with that friend, Berkowitz eventually did spend $1,300 on building that pod. Two weeks ago, he found an apartment to place it in, and while his roommates who live in the regular bedrooms pay a rent of $1,000, Berkowitz gets away with contributing only $400 a month, with full access to all the amenities.
The makeshift bedroom, located in a corner of the living room, resembles a large wooden crate from the outside. Inside, it is sparsely furnished with a twin bed, a fold-up desk, and a few LEDs. Berkowitz needs to crouch or lie down while he’s in the bedroom pod, but he doesn’t find it uncomfortable. “I really don’t think I’ve taken a hit in terms of my quality of life,” he said, speaking to The Washington Post. “I don’t really notice I live in the pod anymore.”
Photo: Peter Berkowitz
Berkowitz says he’s happy because his pod wasn’t inspired by desperation or poverty. Instead, it’s a creative solution to a rising problem, a sort of “middle ground between having a bedroom and sleeping on the couch.” He gets all the privacy he needs, and he’s now working on getting the pod soundproofed.
“People are typically surprised that I would want to live in a pod, but I think they tend to underestimate how pleasant a pod can be if it’s designed smartly,” he wrote on his blog. “It’s the coziest bedroom I’ve ever had. It’s the only bed I’ve had with a fold-down desk, a slanted + cushioned backboard, and uniformly ideal light for reading.” In fact, the only challenge he’s faced so far is learning to put on pants without standing up.
“Yes, living in a pod is silly,” he added. “But the silliness is endemic to San Francisco’s absurdly high housing prices – the pod is just a solution that works for me.” While he plan to move out of the pod in the foreseeable future, Berkowitz agreed that if he ever built another one, he’d make it high enough for him to stand in.