A budding entrepreneur in the shaky state of California is offering a new housing development to venture capitalists and graciously letting the monied one-percenters dip a toe in the water of the next best thing since sliced bread. Wait for it: pod-living. Apparently, “it’s the place to be” if you can’t afford the outrageous housing costs in the Golden State.
There are several locations in the PodShare universe from which to choose in all the trendy hotspots: Venice, Hollywood, Downtown Hollywood, Westwood, Los Feliz, and now San Francisco. And it might just be the perfect place for millennials who can afford life outside of the basement yet need constant attention.
Okay, it’s just a hostel with a way heftier price tag and a whole bunch of rules.
The Mod Pod
Elvina Beck, PodShare’s founder, created these spaces around how she wanted to live. As a freelancer in 2010 scrounging for jobs, Beck found even a small studio apartment was off her list of opportunities, so she had the idea to build out a space and start a communal lifestyle. In 2016, her company rehabbed a lower level 980-square-foot unit – once a marijuana dispensary – into a ten-pod loft-style utopia. Each pod is 50 square feet, but you do get a complimentary sheet, pillow, pillowcase, TV, toothpaste, Wi-Fi, and soap for your $1,000-plus-a-month rental.
And you get so much more than a pod the size of large open casket (I’m getting the heebie-jeebies just imagining it). If you have a car, although this housing phenomenon is designed for the inner-city Uber crowd, a parking space is available for $20 a day. And don’t forget the free ramen noodles and cereal (maybe with a prize inside!) and the locker crammed into the tiny common space you can use when it’s your turn. For those who failed kindergarten, pod living will be a nightmare.
There are many reasons this is a decent choice for transitional housing while young professionals get a toe hold in their chosen profession. The price tag is almost just, considering the housing crisis in the state that has forced an exodus of the middle class and a rampant homeless problem in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Another young entrepreneur, Stephen Johnson, founder of an Instagram ad company, claims he’s financially solvent but prefers to stay non-committal by leasing a tiny, albeit private, apartment. “I had a micro studio that was $1,750 per month. It was less than 200 square feet. This is actually a luxury and costs less than the place that I lived in a couple blocks down the street.”
Of course, Beck is proud that she provides a place that eases a financial commitment, whether for a day, a week, a month, or forever. “Maybe they don’t have two months’ rent to put down or they don’t have proof of income. Whether it’s from a divorce or their family kicked them out for being gay or because they’re in a different country or a different city.”
Ugh, But the Rules
And then there are the rules that might seem a tad restrictive for a randy bunch of financially challenged millennials: no guests allowed or, as Beck voluntells her pod-people, “You can’t invite any friends over. Sorry. Just make new ones here.”
There is a noise ordinance to follow as well — indoor voices and quiet time from 10 pm until 10 am.
Oh, and there is no privacy whatsoever in PodUtopia. Beck explains her reasoning behind that decision:
“It’s a co-ed space, so out of respect for everyone here we must build trust through transparency, and police each other that way. Draping or tenting the pod means that any person could bring someone home, have drugs or worse in their pod without us knowing. This is not intended to be a private space. There are higher price points for that privilege. We are an open community.”
Oh, so typical, calling privacy a privilege while imposing one’s capitalistic will on the unfortunate hipster crowd.
But the pod-dwellers seem to enjoy what minuscule freedoms they have while in their tiny environments. According to their Facebook page, co-pod-estrians play a lot of games – Scrabble, Charades, and even Monopoly, which is incredibly ironic. But they all appear happy in their tiny sarcophagus-style pod while binging on Netflix or playing on their smart phone.
I suppose it’s just damn petty to not want to sleep in 500 square feet with nine other people who perhaps snore, grunt, and freely release bursts of ramen noodle flatulence in the bunk above. Maybe it’s my privilege speaking at an increasing decibel level, unbecoming to communes, due to imagining stinky feet within inches of personal pod space, last night’s dishes left in the kitchen sink, or wet towels on the bathroom floor. I dunno.
But to this writer it sounds as if PodUtopia is easing in socialism as “the way it’s always been,” and just get used to it.