We’ve spent quite a lot of time documenting the inexorable rise in housing prices across some of the world’s red hot markets.
Take Vancouver, for instance, where according to National Bank, one third of all homes sold in 2015 went to Chinese buyers whose voracious demand has driven prices into the stratosphere in both British Columbia and Ontario. Here’s what $2.5 million will get you in Point Grey:
Or how about London, where things are so out of control that it will cost you £500 to live under someone’s stairs:
Then there’s San Francisco, where the median home price is now well over $1 million. Indeed, as we noted just yesterday, San Francisco home prices rose 10.5% in January and, along with properties in Seattle and Portland, have now surpassed their housing bubble highs:
And when last we checked in on Silicon Valley, a tent in someone’s backyard goes for $46 a night (you get an extension cord, one shower a day, and wi-fi).
But if you aren't the camping type, there's another option: you can always build yourself a wooden box and put it in someone's living room. "The median rent for a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco is a stunning $3,670 a month, and a bedroom in a shared apartment will set you back at least $1,500 for a decent location on the peninsula," Gizmodo writes, on the way to recounting the story of Peter Berkowitz, a 25-year-old illustrator who devised an innovative way to save on rent in the Bay Area's lunatic market. Here's more:
Peter Berkowitz is my new favorite guy. The 25-year-old illustrator recently moved to San Francisco and instead of settling for some landlord’s price-gouging, he found some other cool kids who let him build a box in their living room. Peter’s rent is just $400 a month.
This box-in-the-living room idea, now that’s something I can get behind. You’re lucky to have any space at all to yourself in San Francisco’s housing shortage, but it’s damn near impossible to find such a cozy little sleep pod like this. Peter built the thing with his bare hands for only $1,300 and even included a little window and some fairy lights so that it feels less like coffin and more like a magical escape from the dystopia that is the city by the bay. It’s eight feet by 3.5 feet (a little longer and wider than a coffin). The real perk though is that it’s 4.5 feet tall (much taller than a coffin). And look, there’s a cute little shelf for his MacBook.
One time I lived in a closet in London for £250 a month, roughly the same as what Peter’s paying for his box. I was able to stand up straight in my closet, but I was not able to stretch my arms out in both directions. It was no problem, though, because I was broke as hell and got to use the living room from time-to-time. I even had a girlfriend for a little while.
In all seriousness, it’s absurd that Frisco living has come to this. It’s bad for everyone who’s not some overpaid Facebook employee, and it’s bad for America. The housing crisis also isn’t entirely the tech companies’ fault, although they could be doing a lot more to fix it. Take a hint from Peter. He seems like a real get-up-and-go guy. Well, more like get-up-slightly-hunched-over-and-crawl-out-of-your-box-and-into-a-living-room kind of guy. I like this guy.
It may be cliché, but this is one time where you really can blame China and if Beijing really does intend to liberalize the capital account while simultaneously orchestrating a far deeper devaluation of the RMB, you can bet things are going to get even crazier in the world's hottest housing markets.
Trade idea: long prefab living room cubicles.