How would you like to cook in a state-of-the-art kitchen with all stainless-steel appliances, surrounded by granite counters and glass accessorized cabinets, and later eat off of expensive china plates? How would you like to live where there is a fully equipped gym, bathrooms stocked with shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, fresh linens every day, a backyard, vending machines stocked with grain bowls, and whole oats, communal screening rooms, high speed broadband, and cable, X-Box 360, a television on the wall above each bed, fitness classes, group outings and on-site activities? Would you like to live with others who are for the most part under thirty years of age?
Sounds pretty good, right? Especially if you fall into this age group. But another question; how would you like to sleep in a single-space bed, like the old bunkbeds we used to know, or the berths on railroad cars, stacked in threes, with a ladder to climb to your space, and a separate compartment to store your belongings like the spaces above the seat in airplanes?
It’s all called “pod living,” and apparently it has taken off here in Los Angeles county as well as San Francisco. There are pod set-ups in downtown Los Angles, the west side, the beach cities, and Los Feliz. Typically, four-bedroom homes can house up to twenty-four residents, who sleep in these layered arrangements where there is no separation from the other residents, and the pods face each other so they are self-policing. Each bedroom shares one bathroom between them. The rules prohibit sex in the pods.
These communal living arrangements seem to work aside from all of the conveniences that make it like an expensive day spa, because the residents like the idea of having like-minded people around to talk to. Sone of the residents claim that since they work on their own on various self-employed gigs, they often do not speak to anyone all day. In a word, they are often lonely and find it hard to meet people in their ordinary day.
More importantly, the living arrangements are cost effective for those who can afford between $900 and $1200 per month and cannot afford traditional housing. No up-front deposit is required, and a monthly rental entitles the payor to membership in other pods across the state when they travel. Of course, the less expensive pods come without all the described amenities or reduced amenities.
The average pod user is single, with no dependents, few belongings, and no pets.. They are willing to give up their privacy to solve a living problem. The pods are not considered “forever housing,” and they are flexible and non-committal for a generation over-loaded with student debt and jobs that do not pay enough to allow for payment of an apartment rental.
On the positive side, I see these arrangements as similar to the old-fashioned boarding houses, youth hostels and college dorms. Perhaps this idea can be implemented for homeless vets, and the homeless population in general. Perhaps the concept should be recognized as an effective use of space in an over-crowded society.
But in some ways, the use of pods can also be seen as a prelude to a dystopian future, where an inhabitant of a pod the size of a bunkbed may one day install a feeding tube, and an export waste tube for simultaneous use while the user lies in his bunk and watches the television screen affixed to the wall. Wait, did I see this in an old sci-fi movie back in the day?