Game Of Homes: To Afford Seattle, Shrink Your Life

May 28, 2014

As Seattle grows – it’s the fastest growing big city – more people will be looking for affordable housing within the city limits. We here at The Record have been documenting how people are figuring out affordable housing in our series, "Game of Homes."

One strategy, of course, is to shrink your space. KUOW’s Steve Scher and Hannah Burn visited with two Seattleites who have moved to smaller spaces in the name of urban living.

Dave Martin, who is retired, lives in Trailer 26 in a trailer park off Lake City Way in North Seattle.

Carlton Blackburn, who works at Gold’s Gym on Broadway on Capitol Hill, lives in an apodment. The men – and the spaces they live in – could not be more different, but their housing philosophy is the same: minimalism. Neither cares about having a lot of stuff, an ethos that extends to their space.

Blackburn’s apodment is clean, modern and compact. He pays $750 a month. “I tell people it’s like living out of a hotel room: you’ve got your kitchenette, your fridge, your microwave,” he said.

“A little bit on the gritty side” is how Martin described his trailer. “Nobody’s out measuring the lawn,” he said. “It’s a piece of Americana that’s faded away. I sent a friend some pictures, and he said it was straight out of Norman Rockwell, and it is.”

The price is right, even if the footprint is tiny. “Big enough for a car, a barbeque maybe in the front, and a couple plants and a trailer,” he said. “What more do you need?”

At Blackburn's apodment building, the residents’ lives are very contained - despite having a shared kitchen.

"You know this isn’t a hippie house,” he said. “I don’t feel the need to all gather in the kitchen and talk about our day. There is the Seattle sense of not imposing.”

However, over at the trailer Martin said neighbors’ lives bleed into his. Typically, Martin likes that interaction, but there have been problems in the past.

“Right now, it’s great but last year, I had some people doing a little drug stuff,” he said.

But for those who want to stay within the city and want to save money, it might be worth it to do like Martin and Blackburn: shrink your stuff.

Follow the hashtag #GameOfHomes to share your thoughts or how you managed to find affordable housing in Seattle.