Alternative Housing Options for Rent-Stretched Urbanites
We get it: the apartment search can really suck. These days, urban renters are regularly on the move, pushed out of their digs by rapidly rising housing costs. And to make matters worse, many of the apartments on the market are cramped, lacking in basic amenities, or otherwise far from home sweet home.
What’s a city-dweller to do? Don’t despair, for starters—there really are alternative housing options out there, depending on your preferred abode style. From artists (who’d like to avoid the “starving” part of that moniker, thankyouverymuch) to those who are conscious about their carbon footprints, lesser-known alternatives are here to break the rent-panic cycle.
HOUSING FOR CREATIVE TYPES
Making a living as an artist has never been a cake walk (just ask all those 19th century bohemians living in their Parisian garrets), and with soaring rent prices, it’s only getting tougher. But don’t throw your brushes down in frustration just yet. Minneapolis-based non-profit Artspace is breaking the mold with its affordable housing aimed at working artists (and their families). The concept has taken hold in numerous locations, from RiNo in Denver to Seattle, Washington D.C. to Santa Cruz. Heads up, other cities: This is how to treat your creatives right.
How else can you snag great housing? By playing the lottery. The housing lottery, that is. Though it’s not a permanent solution to competitive urban housing, for many, building lotteries like the one at the Ashland in Brooklyn offer up a rare chance at high-quality, rent-controlled accommodation in desirable areas like Downtown Brooklyn. We’d def try our chances with this one.
HOUSING FOR ECO WARRIORS
When searching for alternative housing options, many urbanites put a greener and more sustainable abode at the top of their wishlist. To which we’d say: Go find a shipping container.
It may not sound particularly romantic, but shipping containers have been successfully converted to colorful, cozy housing everywhere from Amsterdam to Berlin (where they’ve been used to house refugees). And because they’re low-cost and don’t require any heavy-duty construction to be made liveable, they’re both accessible and eco-friendly.
HOUSING FOR COMMUNITY-BUILDING
Some city-dwellers crave privacy when seeking out their dream accommodations. But for many seeking alternative housing options, grouping up can be a good way to find a home—and a community.
There are different ways to settle in with your housing squad and, for many city-living millennials, it’s all about the co-living. Picture a dorm-style hangout scene with grown-up amenities…and policies that welcome first-time renters. For co-living spaces like Common, flexible living means no long-term, binding contracts, free Wi-Fi, laundry, other perks, and a ready-made group of social roommates who are more likely to want to hang in the common room than lock themselves in their rooms for Netflix binges. Other co-living spaces like Pure House put emphasis on shared interests and lifestyles.
Other community models focus on a strength-in-numbers theory, from housing co-ops—where resident participation, lower tax rates, and maintenance fees are all some of the promised perks—to community land trusts, like the SFCLT in San Francisco. The non-profit organization seeks “to create permanently affordable, resident-controlled housing for low- to moderate-income people in San Francisco through community ownership of the land.” The SFCLT works to acquire apartment buildings, while tenants are encouraged to form their own co-ops to share ownership of the space.
And if you feel particularly energized, you can even start a community land trust in your own city. Take back the rent!