I grew up as the youngest of six kids, though I did have my own room for quite a bit of that time. But there were always people around. Then I had multiple roommates in college. Then I got out on my own and promptly spent about a third of my take-home income on an apartment in New Jersey, where I could live alone. It was a tough slog, but I figured out how to save money while doing it. Eventually I moved to the Bay Area, where I got married. We started paying about a third of our income for a townhouse. When it looked like our cost of living would continue to rise, we moved.
I can understand how some people want to live in a given area, and San Francisco has been a locus for having to spend a pile of money to live in the city. Here’s an article on the new micro-apartment movement, where you can have the privilege of living in 300 square feet for $1875 a month. Somehow, I don’t think that this is only a third of your average renters’ take-home income. Ouch.
“We need to think outside the box in providing housing for our population,” said San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, who sponsored legislation last year to allow “micro-apartments” of 220 square feet including bathroom, kitchen and closet. The city agreed that 375 micro-units could be built as a test; 120 are now in the pipeline in the Mid-Market area.
Meanwhile, plenty of the new apartment buildings are 400 square feet or less – not technically micro but still pretty darn small. By comparison, most studios have been 500 to 600 square feet.
“We need units of all different sizes,” said Wiener, who lives in a 490-square-foot condo in the Castro and said it was cathartic to shed half his worldly goods when he moved in 10 years ago. “Not everyone wants or can afford a huge space. Forty percent of San Franciscans live alone.”
We’ve shed a pile of possessions recently, though we still have more than we probably want. I might describe it as “cathartic,” or I might describe it as “desperate.” It depends on how much you can afford to keep. Hey, if the price of living close to the action of some type or another is worth your desire to live there, then I say go for it. But I do question how many people would be willing to do this. I’ve seen articles on similar trends in New York. I’m sure Tokyo has a variety of these things as well.
It’s when we start pushing people into huge cities and forcing them to live in these spaces that I’ll wonder where it started…