The Astronomical Price This Man Pays to Live in a Literal Box Exposes the Corrupt Rent System

March 29th 2016

Lucy Tiven

It's no secret that rent is steep in San Francisco — so steep that one man is gladly shilling out $400 a month (excluding the cost of construction) to rent a wooden box in a friend's living room, the Washington Post reported.

The box, which resident Peter Berkowitz has more favorably termed a "pod," necessitates that he duck to enter it, and it contains a twin bed, fold up desk, and LED lights. Berkowitz, a New Yorker-published illustrator, and the box's sole tenant, told the Post that his 8 feet long by 4.5 feet tall digs were “honestly very comfortable," and he maintained that the choice to live in such a box "makes a lot of sense."

As ATTN: has previously reported, rent in San Francisco has risen to astronomic highs. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Bay Area city is currently $3,670 a month, according to the Post. Single rooms in the Sunset District apartment that contains said pod reportedly rent for $1000 per month. However, Berkowitz said his living situation was not merely “fueled by poverty."

"There should be some kind of middle ground between having a bedroom and sleeping on a couch," he explained. Berkowitz has shared images of his pod on Instagram:


A photo posted by Peter Berkowitz (@peteberk) on

"Yes, living in a pod is silly," Berkowitz wrote on his website. "But the silliness is endemic to San Francisco's absurdly high housing prices — the pod is just a solution that works for me."

The box cost $1,300 — presumably funded by Berkowitz — to erect. He also spoke enthusiastically about his unique living situation, a creative answer to the unfortunate reality that affordable, conventional housing options have gone all but extinct in the city. Per the Post:

"The design of Berkowitz’s pod was inspired by Japanese “capsule” hotels, inexpensive lodgings the size of cubicles. When he was 12 years old, Berkowitz climbed inside a capsule hotel model in an exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt Museum, in New York, and the experience has stuck with him ever since."

Berkowitz also expressed interest into helping others build pods of their own, and invited prospective pod-dwellers to reach out to him on his website. You can tour his pod on YouTube:

"I think pods can provide a needed fix here," Berkowitz wrote. "Yes the living room housing my pod is smaller — but it's by no means ruined. If pods can provide an attractive way to add a bedroom to an apartment, I think they could help a lot of people out." ATTN: has reached out to Berkowitz for comment about this unique living space, and we will update accordingly.

It isn't just SF rent that's out of control.

While San Francisco leads the pack of U.S. cities most aggressively pricing out their residents, it's not the only place where house-hunters must drastically reshape their expectations in order to afford living in an urban center. In New York city, median rent was at $3,100 in June 2016. Boston, San Jose, and Washington, D.C. trailed behind with rents between $2,170 and $2,230.

High Rent Infographic

In Oakland, a historically popular destination of those priced out of San Francisco, the median rent for a one bedroom was still the eight highest of any city nationwide. In early March 2016, Oakland tenant advocacy groups filed an initiative to limit rent increases.

"The Renters Upgrade ballot measure would also set a cap on rent increases at 5 percent," the East Bay Express reported. "Currently, Oakland landlords whose units are covered by the city’s Rent Adjustment Ordinance can increase rent as much as 10 percent in a year."

The New York real estate market has also caused some of the city's house-hunters to sacrifice conventional amenities in order to experience city life close-up.

In May 2015, Brendan O' Connor reported on a particularly claustrophobic Lower East Side apartment on the New Yorker. The studio rented for $1,795, quite a bargain for the neighborhood. "In this apartment, which the listing described as having 'old world style,' the shower is in the kitchen," O' Connor observed.

Berkowitz’s pod is, at the very least, considerably cheaper. It is unclear if he is on the lease for this particular apartment; it is also unclear the general legality of the pod.

[H/T Washington Post]