The news this week is that Vancouver housing prices are the 2nd most unaffordable in the world. The prices are not necessarily the 2nd most expensive in the world, just when compared to what you could earn if you move here from another large city. We are hit with the double whammy of pricey real estate and lower wages. Or, as Tsur Somerville of the Sauder School of Business at UBC says,
“Places that have a lot of amenities and are places that people really want to live, pushes up house prices, but also lowers wages, and employers are paying people less who are willing to take a lower paying job to be there. So you get a higher price-to-income ratio.”
I don’t ski on the local mountains in the winter, I don’t wake board in the local waters in summer. I live in Vancouver because my family is here. So I’m paying for those amenities that draw people to the area even if I don’t use them. But we have found a way to live in a comfortable home — our laneway house. It’s the smallest place we’ve ever lived in, but for us it’s a perfect solution to the dilemna.
I don’t expect you to wander the streets until you find a nice yard and ask the people if you can build a laneway house in their garden — laneway living is one solution, it’s not the only solution to the housing squeeze in the Metro Vancouver area.
The sad truth is that if you move to Vancouver you are going to be paying more — maybe a lot more — for housing than you would in another city, which means you will probably have to downsize (one bedroom to studio, etc.). But there are still ways to make an attractive and comfortable home with less space.
Today we have a few ideas for living comfortably in a studio apartment. They are sometimes called bachelor suites — another term for a separate dwelling with its own bathroom and kitchen facilities, but no separate bedroom.
If you’ve some funds, you can get some swell built-ins to add to your space. From Life Edited, here’s a suite in Warsaw, Poland for a mother, her son, and a dog. It’s just 237 square feet.
the suite has “normal” height walls, it’s great to see someone doing something up high in that limited space.
In Barcelona, this bachelor completely built-in his life into this 258 square foot suite:
With bachelor suites you may not want to hide your bed away, but rather make it a focal point:
See the rest of this sweet suite at Apartment Therapy.
But Isabelle LaRue completely transformed her studio space with some clever hacks:
Isabelle is loaded with talent that way — check our her blog at Engineer Your Space. But you could incorporate a lot of her ideas into your studio even if you are not as handy (maybe you have a few handy friends?).
Here’s another way people divided their space to get a private bedroom:
There’s more ideas on fitting a bedroom into a living room here.
The lesson I’m trying to jam down your throat here is that even if living smaller is not by choice (if, for example you have to live in a city with a tight housing market — I’m talking to you Hong Kong!) — you can still find a way to live comfortably in less space.
As I repeat — Small is the new Black.