30 photos show the extreme lengths millennials will go to live in cities instead of suburbs

Sarah Patterson, founder of organic skincare company Salinity, lives on a boat with her husband in San Francisco.

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Sarah Patterson, founder of organic skincare company Salinity, lives on a boat with her husband in San Francisco.
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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Millennials continue to move to cities in droves, as jobs and services tailored to their needs move in right beside them. The generation that prefers Uber to their own cars and Airbnb to hotels is also willing to trade the American dream of owning a home for the thrills of city life.

In New York City, where the median cost to rent an apartment reaches $3,900 per month, millennials – who can roughly be defined as people between ages 20 and 36 – make up nearly one-fifth of the population. Across the country in San Francisco, recent graduates can expect to drop as much as 79% of their salary on a place to live. The median rent tops $4,400 per month.

But urban dwellers are finding ways to make it work.

Take a look at some of the more unusual living situations that young city residents call home.


Like many young people living in the Bay Area, Sarah Patterson found her first city dwelling on Craigslist. Instead of a tiny apartment, however, her new home was located in a marina.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Patterson, 24, bought a sailboat online four days after moving. She declined to name the cost, but most Bay Area boat owners pay between $250 and $1,111 monthly to dock.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Additional fees apply if the person wants to live aboard their vessel. Patterson told Business Insider in December 2016 that the cost of sailboat upkeep can also be prohibitive.


Patterson said the money she saved by not renting an apartment in San Francisco enabled her to launch a startup — a direct-to-consumer, organic skincare company called Salinity.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Read more about Patterson’s life at sea »


Fellow transplants Heather Stewart and Luke Iseman were spending $2,200 a month on rent in San Francisco when they decided to join the tiny house movement.

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Melia Robinson

The couple bought a shipping container online for $2,300, had it delivered to a vacant parking lot in the East Bay that they leased, and converted it into a tiny house.

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Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

Today, they makes a living as the pseudo-landlords of Boxouse, a maker space where amateur builders and hobbyists can construct the tiny homes of their dreams.

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Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

Take a look inside Boxouse »


In Boston, a pilot program is underway that matches young people looking for housing with baby boomers — known as “boommates” — who have extra rooms in their home.

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Facebook/Nesterly

Housing startup Nesterly, launched by a pair of MIT graduates in 2017, is “kind of the Match.com of intergenerational home-sharing,” according to cofounder Noelle Marcus.

Users create a profile, and Nesterly makes the connection. As an unwritten part of the rental agreement, renters can exchange help around the house for a discount on their rent.

Nesterly is currently in beta in Boston.


Others take home with them wherever they go. Van dwelling is an increasingly popular lifestyle choice among tech workers.

Silicon Valley’s rental market is so absurd, tech workers are living in vans – here’s the Reddit community where they commiserate »


Brandon, who asked to use a pseudonym for fear of repercussions, became a software engineer at Google in May 2015. That same month, he moved into a 2006 Ford truck.

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Brandon

By living in Google’s parking lot, Brandon told Business Insider he saved about 90% of his monthly income after taxes. Almost two years later, it’s unclear if he still lives in the van.

Take a tour of the truck one Googler calls home »


Jason Roesslein, an engineer at Tesla, paid off $14,000 of student loans by living in a Dodge Sprinter van he bought off eBay for five months. He showered at Tesla’s gym.

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Jason Roesslein

See how Roesslein turned a Dodge Sprinter into the tiny home of his dreams »


When Joel Weber enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, he winced at the cost of living. He decided to build a tiny home instead of living in a dorm.

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Courtesy of Joel Weber

Weber emptied his savings fund and dropped $15,000 to build the house in a friend’s backyard. He pays nothing in rent and plans to graduate from UT Austin debt-free.

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Courtesy of Joel Weber

Here’s how Weber built the home of his dreams for $15,000 »


Peter Berkowitz, an illustrator, spent $400 a month to live in a homemade wooden crate in a friend’s San Francisco apartment. He described it as “cozy” in a 2016 interview.

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Peter Berkowitz

Check out all 32-square feet of Berkowitz’s den »


His pod contained a drop-leaf desk, a slanted backboard, and string lights. He was later evicted, when San Francisco’s chief housing inspector deemed living in boxes illegal.

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Peter Berkowitz

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle


Martin Greenberg crashed in conference rooms when he was enrolled in a Boston-based startup accelerator in 2016. He heads up an on-demand housing startup called Bedly that allows renters to lease a fully-furnished apartment with the click of a button.

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Martin Greenberg (left) enjoys a snack at a startup accelerator.
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Twitter/@MartGreenberg

“You’d be surprised, the conference rooms were very comfortable,” Greenberg, CEO of Bedly, told Boston blog BostInno. “When you’re working late it’s hard to coordinate with friends whose couches you want to sleep on. … The sad thing was I run a housing company.”


In an upscale San Francisco neighborhood, 31 millennials squeeze into a 10-bedroom, French Victorian mansion called Chateau Ubuntu. Rent starts at $650 for a bunk bed.

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Google Street View screenshot

In January, city officials issued a violation notice because the community, considered a three-family dwelling by the Planning Department, has too many tenants and is operating illegally.

Source: Instagram/goodmorningubuntu


Tenants live by a set of Burning Man-like values that prioritize living with intention and embracing community. According to the website, the group shares 1,330 hugs a week.

Learn more about Chateau Ubuntu »


In some Texas cities, these packed spaces are called “stealth dorms.” College-aged residents cram into single-family homes, to the dismay of families nearby.

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Nick Adams/Reuters

In 2015, city officials in Austin and Forth Worth cracked down on so-called stealth dorms by placing a cap on the number of unrelated people who can reside in a single-family home.


An increasing number of millennials are interested in squeezing into apartments and homes with large numbers of people. Communal living, or “co-living,” is often more affordable than traditional rentals because it comes with perks, like free internet and new friends.

Shan.

A post shared by GoodM☕️rningUbuntu! (@goodmorningubuntu) on


Residents of the L apartment in Chicago’s Logan Square pay $1,300 a month to live with strangers in a three-bedroom unit. The lease allows tenants to move into a different unit if they decide they don’t like their roommates in the first 60 days — a one-time offer.

Source: Logan Square L


Startups have launched to capitalize on the co-living trend. Common runs 14, fully-furnished shared living spaces in San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Commonreceived almost 10,000 applications in 2016.


Residents mingle in common spaces like kitchens and living rooms, and participate in community events such as museum trips, bowling, and Sunday night dinners.

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Common

They also have an endless supply of toilet paper, free streaming services, and weekly professional cleanings. Rooms start at $1,475 per month.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

What it’s like to live in Common »


Micah and Dianna Baylor, one of several couples who call Common’s San Francisco location home, hopped between 16 different Airbnbs rentals before trying co-living.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

“My favorite thing about [Common] is it’s given me the ease of having friends that aren’t all work-friends,” Micah, 22, a market trainer at insurance company Aflac, told Business Insider in 2016. “Back in Texas, I worked all day, I went home, I saw Dianna. I never saw anyone that wasn’t talking about insurance, which you can imagine gets pretty old.”


A rival co-living startup, HubHaus, puts millennials up in multimillion-dollar Silicon Valley mansions. The company has grown to 41 houses in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Members pay on average $1,275 a month to live in beautiful homes located near Silicon Valley tech companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and Tesla, as well as movie studios in LA.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Angel, an engineering intern at Tesla, told Business Insider she found a HubHaus listing on Craigslist. She saves money by living with many roommates in the pricey South Bay and enjoys being around other Tesla employees who can share their experiences at the company.

“If each of us took home a part every day, we could build a car,” Angel said.

Her roommates hosted an unofficial Tesla party to celebrate the Model 3 road testing.

Go inside HubHaus »


WeWork, a startup that rents out shared workspaces, branched into co-living in 2016. Their “dorms for grown-ups” are intended for people moving to a city and looking for fast friends.

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WeWork

The company, which is valued at $20 billion, has two locations: one in New York and one in Crystal City, Virginia, outside DC. The average apartment is just 450 square feet.

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WeWork

WeWork raised $4.4 billion in 3 months – here’s how the co-working giant became the most valuable startup in New York City »


Private bedrooms at WeLive start at $1,200 a month. There’s also a $125 amenities fee, which includes a monthly cleaning service, cable, internet, utilities, and laundry.

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WeWork

Check out WeWork’s “apartments of the future” »


For some, it’s a small price to pay for city living.

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WeWork