The challenge of finding affordable rent in major North American cities can come in many shapes and sizes. For one San Francisco man, that shape is a box, and it’s about 8 feet long by 3 feet wide.
Peter Berkowitz has lived in what he calls a “pod” in his friend’s living room for the past month. The tiny space is just big enough for a twin-sized bed and about one foot of leg room.
“The pod pretty much is my bed,” Berkowitz told CTV News Channel Friday, turning around his computer to show off the box.
His diminutive living arrangements have quickly become a minor Internet sensation since he wrote an account of his digs for The Guardian, titled “Why I Choose to Pay $400 to Live in a Box.”
The reason, Berkowitz explained, boils down to money.
“There are a lot of people who think it’s really crazy. And while I tend not to disagree with that, I don’t think there’s anything too unique about the craziness of being in a pod. I think the craziness is really just the high rental prices,” he said.
In recent years, San Francisco has experienced a major spike in housing prices thanks, in part, to an increase in jobs. The city now ranks amongst the priciest places to rent in North America, with a recent report putting the average monthly cost of a one-bedroom apartment at around $3,500.
And while Berkowitz’s box might sound like an extraordinary case of resourcefulness, he insists it isn’t one-of-a-kind.
“I meet a lot of people who want to live in closets or who have lived in closets. I have friends who are sharing bedrooms, and I’ve been getting emails from people who sleep on couches. The craziness is everywhere,” he said.
The rules of pod life are pretty lax, Berkowitz says. He’s allowed to spend time outside the box, which he uses primarily as his bedroom, and his roommates have been considerate of his privacy when they use the living room.
“I’m lucky to have very respectful and sane roommates who keep more normal hours, so it hasn’t really been an issue,” he said.
Berkowitz says his petite arrangement is “definitely silly,” but that, at the moment, it’s a comfortable way to skirt sky-high rental prices.
“I like it as much as any bedroom I’ve had in recent memory. So it’s definitely sustainable for the time being. I don’t think I want to live in this forever, but I’m not prejudiced against regular bedrooms,” he said.