How we live now: inside the revolution in urban living.
June 20, 2016 7:41 AM   Subscribe

The Guardian presents a 5-part video series about people redefining how to live in busy urban centres. Listed: Toyko, New York City, London, Constitucion (Chile), Los Angeles.
posted by Kitteh (33 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Living in AirBnBs alone would be impossible if you were not very, very well off. Also, you'd have to be without kids, pets, etc.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:45 AM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


The couple that does this in NYC make it clear that not everyone can opt to do the Air BnB living, given what they are currently paying to do so. I've never had the kind of job that can have this kind of rootlessness. Basically, most people move around their cities for work and housing, sure, but Air BnB would be a very strange option indeed.
posted by Kitteh at 7:51 AM on June 20, 2016


How long until we realize that the nuclear family, like the stay at home mom, was a decadent practice?
posted by idiopath at 8:02 AM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


At least for me (here in NYC) the New York video is gone. It says "This video has been removed. This could be because it launched early, our rights have expired, there was a legal issue, or for another reason."

Perhaps because the NY legislature passed a bill Friday making it (even more) illegal to advertise entire apartments on AirBnB.
posted by The Bellman at 8:12 AM on June 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Weird, the NYC one works here, but I'm in Canada, so no idea what's up with that.
posted by Kitteh at 8:14 AM on June 20, 2016



How long until we realize that the nuclear family, like the stay at home mom, was a decadent
When we moved into an agricultural way of life, we said that about a hunting-- gathering way of life.
posted by Postroad at 8:39 AM on June 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


But the nuclear family and stay at home moms aren't a new technology changing lifestyles or a tradition disrupted by technology. They are historical anomolies confined to a specific place and time. Luxuries made possible by cheap land acquired through conquest and exploitative international trade.
posted by idiopath at 9:00 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


How long until we realize that the nuclear family, like the stay at home mom, was a decadent practice?


My nuclear family, and stay-at-home wife, are far more secure from us being in a major metropolitan area, where I could be fired in the morning and hired next door within hours.

That said, airbnbing, camping in cafes, well, that's not happening.
posted by ocschwar at 9:12 AM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


How long until we realize that the nuclear family, like the stay at home mom, was a decadent practice?

Well, luckily for your point of view, wage stagnation over the past 35 years or so has ensured that both parents must work to generate the same amount of income (in real terms). And atomized families have made nuclear families an anachronism. Progress on both counts!
posted by My Dad at 9:16 AM on June 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


We've lived out of VRBO/Homeaway rentals for a time, yes it's expensive but so are short-term corporate apartments. Not something you do long-term. And more difficult to find rentals if you have a pet, so our motto was "Home is where the cat is."

Also if you want to party with insurance adjusters, just hang out at the pool by any Residence Inn. They're road warriors.

(What I didn't realize about corporate housing is that the furniture is rented -- it goes when you go, like that Twilight Zone episode where blue men in blue trucks tear down and rebuild the world every minute.)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:29 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Toyko, New York City, London, Constitucion (Chile), Los Angeles.
one of those is not like the others. i don't know whether to moan abaout aravena's (fabled) publicity or just be glad a chilean is in the news.
signal: if you read this, what's your (more informed than mine) opinion on the guy?
posted by andrewcooke at 9:43 AM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Living in AirBnBs alone would be impossible if you were not very, very well off

These days, being a millionaire is practically a pre-requisite for living in any major city under any circumstance.
posted by briank at 9:53 AM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Living in AirBnBs alone would be impossible if you were not very, very well off.

Actually, I looked into this recently (for reasons) - in my city, it can be the same price or cheaper than renting a not-spectacular but non-basement apartment.

London co-housing: interesting - does this work with families as well? I think a similar sort of idea was tried in Toronto in the 60s? (Hopefully someone will have firmer details handy, working from rough memory; nutshell - ) blocks of bachelors and junior 1-beds were built, intended for upwardly mobile (& home-owning) singletons. Upwardly mobile singletons who had been literally invested into the apts eventually married & moved out & on, to e.g. detached housing, the suburbs. Building blocks were not maintained; units went to renters vs owners; values degraded, less upwardly mobile people moved in, some issues after that. How do families fit into this sort of scheme? What kinds of social arrangements do people make as a result?

I used to know a few people in the UK who got together, as friends (groups of 2-3) to buy detached properties. No longer in touch, not sure how that worked out. Must make for interesting dynamics.

Really interested in what all these new (and in one case, old) options mean for relationships.

Cool article, thanks for sharing!
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:57 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


> How long until we realize that the nuclear family, like the stay at home mom, was a decadent practice

I'm a decadent practice?
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:06 AM on June 20, 2016 [18 favorites]


Although, it's not like today's swinging singles in these kinds of cities have tons of options for "moving out & on".

Here, they sometimes save up for (or are gifted) a down payment on a duplex, and rely on people renting out their basement to make up their mortgage*. Which I as a renter would deeply resent, which is why (in addition to lack of sunlight, and sorry, fluorescents don't make up for it) I'll never go that way. I mean you pay into your LL's equity anyway, but there's something especially feudal about living right under them. It just concretizes the relationship in a really literal way.

*Because, the average cost of a new build detached here is >$1 million CAD; homes in general (including semi detached) - $739,082.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:08 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


rely on people renting out their basement to make up their mortgage*. Which I as a renter would deeply resent

What, precisely, is resentable about renting out part of a building to defray housing costs?
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:16 AM on June 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


What, precisely, is resentable about renting out part of a building to defray housing costs?

For real? Living literally beneath your LL, in a sunless cave? Seeing them profit from your rent, day to day? Having to negotiate shared space (backyard, etc) and to be forced, by virtue of the relationship, to always defer, in any disagreements? I mean it's quite an intimate relationship, and it's necessarily asymmetrical. If they're off the property, you're at least spared all that.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:31 AM on June 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


That’s just regular renting, though? Common basically everywhere.
posted by migurski at 10:32 AM on June 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


That’s just regular renting, though?

Beg to differ, the difference is the day-to-day negotiation of shared space viz a viz the power differential.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:34 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Again, that’s just regular renting. My family has lived in many situations, as renters-under-landlords, landlords-over-renters, landlords-under-renters, and renters-without-landlords, and it never seemed anything but a normal arrangement to me. Sometimes you have a space available and a mortgage to pay, and sometimes you need a space and can't/won't have a mortgage.
posted by migurski at 10:38 AM on June 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Again, that’s just regular renting.

It entirely depends on the people involved.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:42 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I suppose it depends heavily on the landlord. The two places I've rented the longest - including my current scenario - have been in the same building as the landlord. It's been great. I like people and am generally affable, so relationships with the landlords have been pleasant. I don't mind giving them money since, well, I'm getting the apartment in return. Repairs happen a lot faster than when you have an absentee landlord since they're living in the same building. In fact the only absentee landlord I had was terrible - even kicked us all out of the building claiming he was selling it, then slapped on some paint and jacked up the rent 100%.

I can understand why a basement apartment with landlords above might not be right for some people, but the idea that people who are renting out part of their houses are doing something ethically dubious or otherwise deserving of scorn is what furrowed my brow.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:46 AM on June 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


Look. In my town, this is the ideal renter, for lots of these burghers, according to my recent scope of ads: "international student" or "ESL" (?); "Asian" (not sure what this is about, other than racism/stereotypes); "quiet"; "does not drink, smoke, or have overnight guests". I.e. they want an invisible income source. A person who will ideally not have any kind of presence or impact on their comfort or lifestyle, or want to use the backyard for parties.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:48 AM on June 20, 2016


How long until we realize that the nuclear family, like the stay at home mom, was a decadent practice

I think this sometimes. Then I remember my extended family.
posted by srboisvert at 10:49 AM on June 20, 2016


signal: if you read this, what's your (more informed than mine) opinion on the guy?

Gossip-wise: I went to the same architecture school as Aravena, I was 3 years behind and he was the TA in my first year intro to architecture course. He was a character, always very grandiose and walking around with an entourage of hanger-ons who all but wrote down his words. Once, before even graduating, he put up flyers selling photocopies of his sketchbook from a recent trip he'd taken, for which he was mocked relentlessly. If only I'd had the foresight to buy one, I could probably sell it at a significant profit now that he won the Pritzker.

More seriously: I'm sort of ambivalent: on one side, his heart seems in the right place, he's a radical utopian, who tries to think about architecture in new ways, based on actual facts instead of just style, who's actually working in public housing when he could be 100% jet setting around the world building ego-sculptures for large companies and governments; on the other, many of his buildings seem like theoretical experiments that end up being loathed by their inhabitants. A friend criticized the recent Biennial as akin to winter-break charity work by rich students: good for the ego of those doing it, but of very limited actual impact on the people and problems it's supposed to address, especially in relation to the large scale, structural roots of said problems.
posted by signal at 10:50 AM on June 20, 2016 [14 favorites]


@grumpybear69 - yeah, my current LL is great, I like him, lives in the building (but away from me, never hear or see him), all the benefits you describe apply in this case. (Plus it's a midrise, and I have sunlight.) This isn't as common as one would hope, though, I've heard so many horror stories from friends. (From various kinds of lifestyle/personality conflicts, to LLs invading the unit on a whim, with no notice - there are laws, but people obviously put up with a lot when rental stock is low (and generally crappy).)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:56 AM on June 20, 2016


Quality of landlord definitely depends on how tight the rental market is. In a small college town with limited apartment stock, I looked at a basement rental. Upon showing me the bedroom, the (on site) landlord said, "you know.... my bedroom is right above yours...."
posted by AFABulous at 11:05 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


With our previous landlord, we definitely felt like we were his cash cows. It was a polite enough relationship, I guess, he wasn't terrible or anything, things got taken care of, boundaries were respected. He lived in his enormous house and charged exactly as much as he could get away with for the tiny, tiny shoebox we could afford.

In contrast, I cannot describe the wonderfulness of my current landlord. Alright, fine: When I was physically incapacitated and also sick, she came and did the dishes for me. And made me food. And put in a load of laundry.

I guess it's probably relevant to note that LL#1 was located in a really vicious rental market where there was far, far more demand than supply, and LL#2 is not.
posted by Cozybee at 11:50 AM on June 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've always found landlords to be kind of a crapshoot, honestly. The only pattern is that you're more likely to get a better one if you're in the higher end of your market. And some of it is personal preference—I would just as soon never have to see or speak to my landlord except to arrange for repairs, to the point where I'll do minor repair and maintenance stuff myself just to avoid having someone else in my space. I can't fathom actually being friends with my landlord, it always feels like a fundamentally exploitative relationship and as such I prefer to keep it strictly professional. I feel the same way about people who are friends with their bosses—it feels weird to me that that could even be on the table.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:31 PM on June 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Unsurprisingly, none of the examples of how we live now is "Better".
posted by lumpenprole at 2:07 PM on June 20, 2016


Anecdotally, the best landlord I've had was also a housemate. Admittedly the relationship was great because he's a decent human being, which is probably one of the major factors in whether your relationship with your landlord is positive or not.
posted by a halcyon day at 3:02 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


There are some important legal distinctions in tenant rights between being a "tenant" and being a "guest" at a hotel. Airbnb tries to make up its own rules, which can potentially mean even fewer protections for tenants/guests. Also of importance: in many jurisdictions there are mechanisms for informing either tenants or hotel guests of their legal rights, which do not seem to be applied to people who find places to stay via airbnb. But most jurisdictions as well as airbnb itself seem to consider airbnb rentals to be more on the hotel end than the renting an apartment end of the legal scale. Which is a problem for longer-term rentals since hotel guests have a lot fewer rights than tenants. (Note, however, that in many jurisdictions, if you rent an apartment for longer than some duration, you are deemed to be a tenant even if you don't have an official lease. Unless you have some alternate fixed-term agreement with a long-term-stay type hotel, or if the hotel is essentially classified as a rooming house.)
posted by eviemath at 4:08 PM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Tokyo net cafe video was a bit misleading. Is he actually living there? He says he tends to stay on the weekends after a night out drinking etc. and missing the last train "home" in the countryside. By that definition I "lived in" some coffee shops in NYC from time to time many years ago. It's just a dirt cheap hotel that probably skirts lots of hotel regulations.

The people who are really living in net cafes are those who have dropped or been pushed through the cracks of social, work, family relationships. Without those it can be hard to get into permanent housing in Tokyo. Renters need a guarantor who will be legally on the hook for rent or damages for them (like co-signing for a loan so it is a large risk). I believe there are companies that will serve as guarantors for a fee, but that adds cost and they may not cover everyone.

Pretty sure this appeared previously on the Blue: Japan’s Disposable Workers: Net Cafe Refugees, showing a profile of "How we live now" in the city that is much less about art project digital communities etc.
posted by Gotanda at 5:43 PM on June 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


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