The Unshakeable ‘Running Out Of Land’ Meme – Vancouver Mentioned In Tokyo ‘Coffin Apartment’ Article‏

Young people in Tokyo are living in 50-75 square feet rooms paying between $500-$1000 a month in rent.

“How much do you want to live downtown? It’s an important question. Because young people in the world’s greatest cities are juggling unaffordable rents and sometimes working several jobs just to live in a glorified closet with four other people.
We often get the bulk of our nightmare apartment stories from places like New York City and Vancouver, where “micro suites” are now popping up everywhere, allotting people 350 sq. feet of living space for significantly more money than you’d imagine. If you can get a table a bed and a sofa in there, you’re pretty much a black-belt in efficiency.
But no matter how unpleasant you think our situation sounds, these micro suites are positively palatial compared to the way some people live in Tokyo and Hong Kong.
In Tokyo there is something known as “coffin apartments”. These dwellings are essentially share houses that consist of communal bathrooms and locker-sized sleeping quarters stacked on top of one another. These lockers, which in a disturbing way sort of resemble morgue refrigerators, run anywhere between 50 to 75 square feet.”

– from ‘Tokyo’s ‘coffin apartments’ are more expensive than you’d think’, Jordana Divon, Shine On, a Yahoo Canada blog, 1 Mar 2013 [hat-tip ‘terminalcitygirl’]

The Vancouver mention in this article occurs for the sole reason that the author is Canadian (a journalist from the Toronto area). Nobody else would dream of unquestioningly comparing apartment size in Japan or NYC with that in a Canadian city.
Japan, Population 127.3 Million, Area 378,000 km2, Density 336 persons/km2
British Columbia, Population 4.4 Million, Area 944,700 km2, Density 4.7 persons/km2
The idea that anybody should have to live in a cramped space in Canada is patently absurd. Unless, perhaps, if they were in jail.
One meme of the RE cult is that we have no land, whereas in actual fact we have even more land than we have rain.
See the Doug Coupland video below.
– vreaa

doug's house
Frame from video

“I grew up here, in a suburb just across from Grouse Mountain, overlooking the city. On one side of the fence there is home; and on the other side wilderness until the North Pole.” – from ‘Douglas Coupland’s Vancouver’, a promotional video for Canadian Tourism, 2012.

49 responses to “The Unshakeable ‘Running Out Of Land’ Meme – Vancouver Mentioned In Tokyo ‘Coffin Apartment’ Article‏

  1. I joked about coffin apartments before they were a thing. Now I’m sad.

    • Life imitates art, in the form of the good joke.

      • UBCghettodweller

        One of characteristics I’ve noticed in the Canadian flavour of humour is that we take pleasure in pointing out absurd truths and realities. It’s as if we need to joke about it so that we can mentally push the subject back in to the realm of farce and not fact as a coping mechanism.

      • “They have a different price structure for the coffee at Timmy’s in Vancouver: $1.50 for the coffee; plus $3.00 more for the right to sell it to somebody else tomorrow for $5.00.”

      • “I told them that I rented, and they all looked at their feet. That’s when I noticed they all had square feet.”

  2. I live in Tokyo, FYI you can buy a new 1,000 sqft condo or house in the center of the city for less than $1 mil. Also, Greater Tokyo has a population equal to Canada and they just announced there will be 13,000 new condominiums coming online in 2013. Comparatively, Toronto has a population of 5 million people and their Real Estate board announced 10 times as many condos.

    • Great info; thanks for the post.

    • Wow. I had no idea Tokyo was quite that big. The size of Canada’s whole population. Holy macaroni. Kind of puts perspective on the whole “running out of land” concept that Realtors like to use as an incentive for buying. No wonder they live in coffins over there…..doesn’t anybody worry about the impact of disease outbreak though? Sars…Bird flu…epidemic….the plague?

      I am starting to appreciate my little place in the middle of the bald flat prairies more and more all the time. A couple hundred cranky retired neighbors 30 kilometers distant from the next pip-squeak town is quite enough people for me.

      Where is my damn horse? I am going shopping.

    • Leaving 604 very soon! :P

      I have lived in Tokyo before for four years and I can attest to that, if you have 1 mil. CDN you could buy luxurious condos at prime location in the heart of Tokyo. Pick and choose anywhere you want w/o much compromise…I can’t wait to return to Tokyo this summer for good!

  3. I lived in Japan for over 10 years….. I rented a 3 bedroom apartment that was a 10 minute train ride to downtown Nagoya (Japan’s 3rd largest city). I was paying $780 a month for that…. just had a look online… the same apartment is now 3000 yen ($30) less per month. That’s right… LESS.

    Tokyo is going to be more for housing and costs of living… but then again it is more. Much more than Vancouver will ever be.

    These ‘closest apartments’ are not all that common (i,e they are not all over the city).

    • kagurazakaman

      They both start with a T and end with an O, but Toronto aint no Tokyo:

      Tokyo, Japan
      GDP (2005): $1.19 trillion
      GDP (2020): $1.6 trillion
      Growth rate: 2%
      MasterCard ranking: #3 (#1 London, #2 New York)
      Population: 35,676,000
      Purchasing power(NYC=100): 96%

      Tokyo is the world’s most populous city by the U.N.’s reckoning, and it has the largest economy. By PricewaterhouseCoopers’ projections, Tokyo will still have the largest economy in 2020, though New York will be getting closer.

      Toronto, Canada
      GDP (2005): $209 billion
      GDP (2020): $327 billion
      Growth rate: 3%
      MasterCard ranking: #13
      Population (2007): 5,213,000
      Purchasing power (NYC=100): 113.8%

      Toronto only narrowly edged out Madrid, Spain; Philadelphia and Mexico City, Mexico, to hang on at No. 10. Toronto is still the economic heart of one of the world’s wealthiest countries, and it’s projected to keep humming through 2020. Along with London, Toronto is the fastest growing G7 financial center.

  4. “The idea that anybody should have to live in a cramped space in Canada is patently absurd. Unless, perhaps, if they were in jail.”

  5. the difference is Tokyo has everything….Vancouver has nothing

    • Nothing?… AuContraire… EatYourHeartOut, Nippon-KokuMetropolis.

      YourWednesdayZen, DearReaders…

      “I hope they still perceive me as that Baywatch star. I like that image because it was a great time in my life … I am proud of that time. Some things may have gone out of control – my marriage etc. But now I am back to being healthy in a wholesome, assembled world.” – Pamela Anderson

      [AlArabiya!] – Pam Anderson caught at Dubai club

      …”Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson was caught clubbing in style at a new Dubai hot-spot the VIP-room Wednesday morning.

      The sex-symbol turned animal rights activist has of late been heavily involved in various charitable and awareness raising causes.

      “Every time I travel, I use it for animal rights. There are specific things in the Middle East I want to talk about,” said Anderson, who previously lobbied for the freedom of Dubai’s ‘Sammy The Shark’ who was held in a local aquarium.”…

      • [#BonusZen]… A ChimpPerspective on the merits of HumaneHabitats vs. CoffinApartments… SpoilerAlert: KleenexTime. HollywoodEnding.

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        “They are allowed to retire at Chimp Haven sanctuary”.
        I hope they have place for the over leveraged boomers.

      • As primates go, RET… There are Chimps… and then there are Chumps [and never the twain shall meet]. Just between the two of us, I have it on very good authority that there isn’t so much as a solitary HELOC, mortgage or outstanding RevolvingCreditBalance amongst the HavenResidents… Admittedly, one or two of the PostDocs/MatureStudents are still dealing with residual tuition debt.

        [CBC] – Calgary: Gorillas Raid Kitchen – ZooKeeper Dismissed

        …”Several gorillas gained access to a kitchen area last Friday after a “gorilla-proof” door was improperly locked. One staff member received minor injuries and was treated in hospital after discovering the gorillas in the off-limits area.

        Staff were initially alerted to the problem when the GuestCafeteria/Concession SuggestionBox was stuffed to overflowing with compliments on the new menu.”…

        [NoteToEd: Ok, I made up the last part… Hey, what’s that racket in my kitchen?]

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        Well, this is the Planet of the Apes, after all.
        Where is Charlton Heston when you need him.

  6. I lived in downtown Osaka for several years renting a very comfortable 350 sqft apartment in the centre of everything for $800. Vancouver was a significant drop in lifestyle and affordability even though I had more space for my junk.

    • Yeah I felt the same way when I moved back home to Vancouver. We moved back when my eldest was starting school… expecting to settle down back home. We have been back for 7 years and now we often think about moving back to Japan. Although that might be hard on the kids to put them into school there now.

      People are often amazed when I tell them that Japan is actually much cheaper to live than here. When I moved to Japan in the late 90’s, yeah it was more expensive – but now it is the opposite… in a BIG way.

      • tedeastside

        do you mean Tokyo is cheaper than van

      • I was talking about Nagoya (which to Japanese is a small city but still has more to it than Vancouver, as all the major car companies have head offices in the area).

        But I wouldn’t be surprised if there are areas of and around Tokyo that are possible more affordable than here.

  7. Real Estate Tsunami

    Tokyo is a catastrophy waiting to happen.
    Imagine what would have happened if the tsunami had come ashore about 300 km to the south.
    Predictions are that in 100 years all coastal cities will be under water.

  8. Watersheds limit expansion northward. Tons of room though.

    Korea, not Japan, is a more depressing look at lack of space in a non-deflationary economy.

  9. In Japan, the lucky departed gets to be buried standing.

  10. Real Estate Tsunami

    On my visit to Osaka 6 years ago, I needed emergency treatment.
    The ambulance took me to the hospital, where nurses and doctors were waiting (all in impeccable white coats). I think there must have been at least 6 of them. They ran all kinds of tests, gave me some pills and sent me on my way.
    The bill: $ 55.

    • Their debt-to-GDP ratio of over 200% might have something to do with that impeccable service. 😉

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        Well at least they have something to show for all that spending.
        We spend 50% of our budget on health care and what do we ge get?
        Also, taxi drivers with uniforms and white gloves is a nice touch 🙂

      • kagurazakaman

        95% of Japan’s debt is held domestically.

  11. Real Estate Tsunami
    • Oh well, more elevators = more obesity = more business for me as a doctor.

      • Yellow Helicopter

        Brian, aren’t you guys busy enough already? ;-). I can’t find a doctor taking new patients for the life of me. (G.p.’s nonetheless.)

    • No elevators for the JollyDespot Skomorokh, Emperor of Maslenitsa… it’s ButterWeek [of particular interest to SlavicCardiologists]!…

      [WaPo] – A Russian city stakes its claim to Blini

      PSKOV, Russia — Fat, round and pagan. For Russians, it’s that time of year, and here in Pskov they’re not going to let anyone else outdo them. This is Butter Week, and this is when Pskov stakes its claim as the home of Czar Pancake.

  12. I was wondering if I could fit a desk like that in a coffin apartment….thinking of getting one myself.

  13. Real Estate Tsunami

    Habemus Papam!

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