Posts Tagged ‘Tynan Smith’

Tynan Smith, San Francisco tech entrepreneur

Tynan Smith, San Francisco tech entrepreneur

Tynan Smith, a 32-year-old tech entrepreneur, lives in what he considers his dream Castro district apartment. He’s got marble counters, hardwood floors, a cedar closet and gold leaf ceiling. He doesn’t have a roommate. And at $500 a month, you can’t beat the rent.

The hitch is something he thinks is hardly a hitch: His apartment is a 1996 Winnebago. The rent is for a parking spot and a bit of electricity.

“With the RV, I have a good excuse to design everything really efficiently. If I had a house, would I really put in marble counters? But here it’s like 2 feet by 2 feet, so I do,” he said, drinking ginger tea he’d bought at the Samovar Tea Lounge nearby. “And then there’s the way it makes my life more efficient, more thoughtful.”

Smith is among a small slice of young San Francisco professionals who are choosing to live in vehicles – whether it’s a large RV or a smaller car – even when they can afford more traditional options (i.e. apartments), albeit not in the trendiest neighborhoods.

These in-vehicle arrangements – usually associated with the homeless – are illegal, and come at a time when the city’s housing crisis has pushed many to seek lower-rent options (the average rent for a one-bedroom in the Castro is $2,990 per month). Yet, unlike the homeless, these new vehicle dwellers see their choice as more than financially practical. They talk about the freedom to move, the minimalism that small space requires, and the cred it gives them within the startup community, where there’s value in being hard-core and a little weird.

“We have such a tight vacancy rate, 1 to 2 percent,” said Sarah Karlinsky, the deputy director of the city planning think tank SPUR. “It leads people to live in whatever they can find, like their cars. Still, what an interesting leap to be like, ‘I’m just going to buy an RV?’ ”

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