In many major cities around the world, it's becoming increasingly difficult for many people to find affordable housing, whether for renters, or for young families and couples looking to buy their first property. According to a recent survey, Vancouver is ranked as having the third least affordable housing in the world -- surpassing San Francisco and London, and behind only Hong Kong and Sydney.
Students in particular feel the pinch in Vancouver. Over at the University of British Columbia (UBC), a growing student population has led to the school to experiment with micro-apartments to cope with the lack of affordable student housing. Their plan: to pilot 70 units of the Nano Studio, a 140-square-foot single-occupancy student apartment that will cost students only CDN $675-$695 per month to rent -- about half the average monthly rent in the rest of the city, and much less than the on-campus average of $1,000 per month. Take a tour of the Nano:
As this new demonstration model at UBC's AMS Student Nest shows, the Nano Studios will be fully furnished, and comes with a bed that folds up into a desk. Students can cook at home to save money too -- thanks to a kitchen that includes a two-burner stove, storage, sink, and a small fridge. There's a closet, and the bathroom is pretty large for a tiny apartment too. Since the Nano Studios will be built as part of a new student residential building slated to be completed in 2019, there will be access to high-speed Internet, game and meeting rooms, student lounges, bike storage and a fitness center.
According to the CBC, the student housing situation is quite urgent: UBC's student enrollment has grown to 50,000 -- up 8,000 more than a decade ago -- but the school has added only an extra 3,000 housing spaces for students. As a result, the waiting list for student residential housing has ballooned to over 6,300 students hoping for a bed on-campus. Says Andrew Parr, the managing director of student housing and hospitality services at UBC on CBC:
We know that students are — one of their biggest challenges is finding affordable housing while they're a student. It's an issue for the Vancouver marketplace that we hear about in the news a lot and it's big issue for students. Not only is enrolment growing, but students want to live on campus for longer periods of time. So, both of those things are putting demand on us to add more housing.
From New York City, to San Francisco and Sweden, we're seeing a number of cities and countries experiment with micro-housing to meet the growing demand for affordable housing. While it remains to be seen what impacts this trend will have long-term and whether it will be truly sustainable, it's an experiment that will at least immediately address some of the shortfall for now. More over at CBC and UBC.