AFFORDABLE HOUSING? THINK INSIDE THE BOX…A REALLY SMALL ONE

by Geoff Olson

BUILDINGCARTOONMAY22

So you and your partner have decided to move into a tiny house or van! Congratulations!

In your search for affordable housing you’ve discovered Vancouver Craigslist is the rental market equivalent of The Hunger Games. Unfortunately, you’re not Katniss and your partner’s not the crossbow-wielding hunk whose name escapes me. You are idealists but also realists, ready to cram for the local lifestyle exam.

The living options are tight in The Most Liveable City On Earth.™ Like many of your millennial friends, all you have to launder is a Glad Hefty bag of clothes recovered from your parents’ place, rather than a duffel bag of filthy lucre hoovered from a dodgy offshore business.

Yet you know the lifestyle squeeze is worth it. You’re ready to think inside the box: a very small one!

Tiny houses come in many varieties: laneway homes, microsuites, nanostudios, storage containers, and refurbished Porta Potties. Vision Vancouver is now putting out bids for “Traffic Circle Homes,” little luxury structures set in residential street intersections. These highly affordable units will combine the style of a detached home with the security of constantly circling motor vehicles.

Each Traffic Circle Home will come with a complimentary Lululemon Yoga mat bearing an inspirational quote from local condo-flogger Bob Rennie!

Style-wise, every thinking woman knows that anything small is “cute.” A Tudor-style home the size of a Nissan Armada is absolutely darling. A Santa Fe duplex no wider than a children’s plastic pool is to die for. Ergo, a condo complex with units smaller than a gnat’s navel must be totally awwww-some.

In fact, “quantum homes” are already on the drawing boards of big developers. According to its promotional material, “Whoville On The Fraser,” exists “in a fog of probability like Schrodinger’s cat, with amenities unknown until completion!”

No doubt fuddy-duddy skeptics will debate the classical solidity of the microscopic Whoville units, while the smart set will jump at a sure-fire investment opportunity.

On to vans. Cynics may dismiss living in a van as “homelessness” rather than an edgy lifestyle option. Don’t buy it. Your aging metalhead cousin from Merritt – the one who did up his Ford Econovan with shag rug, dingle balls, and airbrushed babes in breastplates  – was simply ahead of the curve. In fact, there is a wide range of makes and models available for every mobile lifestyle, from app-developer-on-the-brink-of-a-buyout to artist/hoarder-in-automotive-residence.

As any Breaking Bad binge-watcher knows, a well-appointed camper van can offer a dead-serious setup for the career-minded netrepreneur. The overhead is low, both literally and figuratively. You can turn your home on wheels into a craft beer nanobrewery, a pop-up tattoo parlour, or a palm-reading/Tarot boutique. You can even draw potential customers your way by parking your van near a busy Pokestop!

However, you may find that “cute” gets cumbersome over time, what with your elbows and knees constantly banging against interior furnishings. There may not even be enough room for your essential oils or your partner’s ukelele. That’s the downside. On the upside, you won’t have to get out of bed to put a pot of coffee on the hotplate – assuming your hipster boyfriend isn’t already using the one remaining outlet to blowdry his topknot.

As the weeks shade into quarterly visits to the auto repair shop, you will surely find that involuntary simplicity is the way to go – and grow – with your partner. Enjoy the vast stretches of silence punctuated by the smallest of small talk.

Smile, it’s all part of globalism. You’re shrinking your ecological footprint while your politicians, policy-makers, beancounters and banksters “bring the Third World home,” in the words of MIT media critic Noam Chomsky.

You may sometimes ache for the domestic wilderness of your childhood. Ditch the nostalgia: old school detached homes, with their confusing warren of rooms full of mementos gathered over years of conspicuous consumption, are the relics of an unsustainable middle class past.

However, once your parents pop their Crocs, you’ll likely inherit their win along with their Winnebago. Be patient.

The Vancouver Courier, Aug. 25

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