The Man In The Box: San Francisco’s Real Estate Market Has Produced Some Absurd Results

April 1, 2016

“If the rent in San Francisco continues to rise, then we might as well just stop building houses and apartments because all anyone will be able to afford is a cardboard box!” Some might see that as a straw man argument when it comes to the constantly increasing real estate prices in San Francisco, meant to be nothing more than an alarmist attempt at illustrating the problem with the city’s real estate. Living in a cardboard box, that’s ridiculous. It would never come to that, right? … Right?

It may not be a cardboard box, but at least one man in San Francisco, Peter Berkowitz, has built himself a literal box and plopped it down in a friend’s apartment in an effort to make living in the city more affordable, Fortune reports. The box, or “pod” as he calls it, cost about $1,300 to build and he pays another $400 per month for the space, which equals a monthly rent cost of about $508.

Japan’s ‘capsule hotels,’ where residents rent out small, matrix-like pods to sleep in, as opposed to renting a full private room, inspired Berkowitz.

The pod, which Berkowitz describes as the coziest bedroom he has ever had, has a bed, a fold-down desk, an angled, cushioned backboard, and lighting. (There is no word, however, on if he uses Alice in Chains’ ‘The Man in the Box” as his alarm to wake up every morning.) 

And in case you were wondering, yes, Berkowitz sees the absurdity in the whole situation. “Yes, living in a pod is silly. But the silliness is endemic to San Francisco’s absurdly high housing prices – the pod is just a solution that works for me,” he wrote in a blog post.

Odds are that living plywood boxes won't be a trend that permeates the city. However, the fact that San Francisco’s prices not only drove someone to this, but that it doesn’t even seem all that crazy is indicative of what is going on in San Francisco real estate.

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