Question: What do you call a one-bedroom apartment with a dining room?
Answer: A two-bedroom apartment.
Urban housing prices are skyrocketing, and those who want to live there cope by finding efficient ways to use space. Legally, you can only sleep in a room with a closeable door and a window for egress. To count as a bedroom in real-estate parlance, a closet is also required. Two-bedrooms cost much more than one-bedrooms, even for dwellings of equal square footage. Savvy house-hunters know this, and they judge dining rooms, offices, and large living rooms for their potential to carve out extra beds.
This New York Times article explores what some homebuyers are doing at the high end of the income spectrum. One featured family paid $500,000 for an Upper East Side one-bedroom with a dining nook, which they converted to a nursery. Another family lived in a Midtown studio with an infant who “slept behind a partition in a corner of the bedroom”, until they found a one-bedroom with an already-transformed dining room and scooped it up for “less than the listed price of $699,000.”
But how many families can afford a half-million-dollar house? And live somewhere else for a year while renovating it? I’m happy for anybody to see the value of efficiency, but to talk about affordability at this price point is sort of insulting. This Los Angeles Times article examines the other end of the income spectrum, where a rented studio in Historic South Central might house a family of seven.
When homeowners stretch their space to accommodate more people, it’s called pragmatism. When renters do that, it’s called overcrowding. Think about what’s going on here, and decide who embraces efficient living by choice and who does so by necessity.
And never, ever sleep in a room with no windows.
Thanks to Robin Jaeger.
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