Real Estate By Peggy Chan 368 Views

Would You Live In A Garage At An Affordable Rate, Or Buy A Crazily Expensive House?

It’s definitely not easy for the average man to purchase a house in big, expensive cities. Be it Berlin or Singapore, Sydney or New York, rents have spiralled. And if you have been thinking of buying one, you shouldn’t be, as according to a research done in 2018, 40% of the young adults of England cannot afford to purchase the cheapest house in their locality- not even with a 10% deposit! So, would it be a good alternative to live in a converted garage?

In the US, due to unaffordable housing,the rate of garage conversions is increasing rapidly, due to a change in the law. The number rose to 4,171.

This is not only a source of income for the house owners, but it also helps to drop homelessness rates.

An article by CityLab in April, a couple of urban planning experts explained how converted garages could ease the housing crisis in California, as they did in Los Angeles. The most helpful thing about this is that more people can be accommodated without actually having to construct more houses.

In these houses, boomerang kids, as well as relatives who live alone otherwise, and need care thrive. Asides converted garages, backyard cottages and repurposed garden shacks can also be good alternatives.

A Youtuber from Los Angeles, Cherry Tung, on a Chinese version ofCraigslist, filmed herself finding her converted garage flat. She claimed the reason why she opted for this option, is the affordable rent, $950 per month, compared to an average $2000 rent for normal houses in the locality. She says it’s a decent spacious place to live in, and she enjoys basic facilities.

However, depending on the local laws, the legality of it might be risky. A resident of Los Angeles said his income was largely dependent on the rent from his converted garage, but when he first tried to convert the garage, the city had refused. Yet, he chose to do so, and a couple of years later, a neighbour reported the unlawful conversion. Since then, he vociferously spoke up for the cause, and in 2017, the law was passed in California, followed by Los Angeles.

Since the law changed, there was more than a 1000% increase in the requests of house owners to build new construction Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)and convert garages and pool houses to invite tenants.

This trend is on the rise in Portland and Seattle too. According to a survey of 2018, 90% of 200 cities eased up the housing laws. ADUs are now pretty common in Vancouver, and about 800 houses are already built with laneway houses.

Los Angeles hopes that ADUs fight homelessness. The city faced a 12% increase in the homelessness rate as LA Homeless Services Authority revealed. LA`s goal by 2022 is to house at least 200 homeless people across 150 ADUs.

Donald Shoup, an urban planning professor at The University of California claimed it takes $80,000 to convert a garage into a flat. Before easy housing laws were passed there, the illegal conversions often led to fires, but now it's both, safer, and legal.

Cities like Los Angeles or Vancouver have peculiarities which make the plan tough to carry out in areas beyond North America`s west coast, as there, there are not many garages. But now, places like New Zealand, have recently pondered over the formation of ADUs. People can park their cars on their driveways and convert their garages into homes for people. This will also reduce off-street parking.


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