It’s no secret that San Francisco housing prices have shot through the roof. A home with a mummified corpse in it sold for over a million dollars. And real-estate marketplace Zumper rates San Francisco as officially the most expensive rental market in the country. Last month, there was even a listing for a tent going for $899 (or $46 per day) per month in Silicon Valley.
But this might be the surest sign of all that the Bay Area housing market has gone completely haywire: a Wharton grad is trying to get people to live (illegally) in converted shipping containers. Luke Iseman, 31, leases a 17,000-square-foot warehouse in Oakland in which he has built 11 micro residences out of cargo containers, Bloomberg reports. He charges $1,000 per months for each of the makeshift homes, which aren’t legal, strictly speaking. Iseman and his “cargotopia” (as he calls it) have been chased from two other locations by the authorities. But that hasn’t dampened his spirit.
“It’s not making us much money yet, but it allows us to live in the Bay Area, which is a feat,” Iseman told Bloomberg. “We have an opportunity here to create a new model for urban development that’s more sustainable, more affordable and more enjoyable.” On Iseman’s website, he lays out the cargotopia manifesto: “We're living in a solar-powered, sustainable home we built for less than the cost of a car. Chickens in the yard, fast internet, occasionally-alive gardens, and providing affordable homes for our friends: it's getting harder and harder to consider our sustainability a sacrifice.”
Compared to paying $4,200 a month in San Francisco for a lousy two-bedroom apartment, which Iseman told Bloomberg used to be his abode, cargotopia does sound like a certain type of dream. And who are the tenants that share in this dream? According to Bloomberg, the residents of Iseman’s bohemian village range from a Facebook engineer to a bicycle messenger.
Iseman has plans to monetize his adventure through his website, Boxouse. On Boxouse, he sells fully furnished box houses (for $20,000), DIY kits, and building plans. Now he just needs the box living revolution to catch on. And as to getting approval from the government for cargotopia: “I’d rather ask forgiveness than ask permission,” he told Bloomberg.
Watch a film about the project by Kirsten Dirksen below: