What Is A Luxury Apartment in Berkeley?

I went to campus on Cal Day, April 22. Several of the new apartment houses in Berkeley near campus had booths there. There was one thing that these booths all had in common. They all claimed that they were renting luxury apartments, and only luxury apartments. The word ‘luxury’ was on everything. It was on the sales literature, the promotional giveaways, and the clothes that the sales agents were wearing. See the photo below of a shopping bag that I picked up on Cal Day. I asked a man working at one of these booths: “Your literature says that all your apartments are luxury apartments. What does that mean? I toured your building last week. I walked through a couple of 2 bedroom apartments. (One apartment was $4,500 a month. The other, which had a better view, was $4,800. a month including a parking space). They weren’t very big, and they didn’t seem to have anything luxurious about them, you know, like fine woodwork or marble floors, drapes, etc. In fact, neither of them even had a separate living room. What makes them luxury apartments?” The man working at this booth had an answer for me. I could see that he had been asked this question before. He said: “By luxury, we mean that our apartments are luxury priced.” AHA! So now I know what the word ‘luxury’ means, at least in Berkeley! ‘Luxury’ just means very EXPENSIVE! It tells you nothing about the apartment. Now frankly, I don’t think that ‘expensive’ is a reasonable definition of the word ‘luxury.’ Do you?

Competition With My Free Chocolate Room?

I recently toured Varsity Berkeley Apartments in downtown Berkeley. This is a huge complex. The building runs across an entire block. The building is still under construction, bu they are signing leases now for occupancy in late July. The rent on 2 bedroom apartments ranges from $3,750 to $4,200 a month. Parking is extra. They are advertising these apartments as rentals for college students, hence the name ‘Varsity Berkeley’, but I wonder – how many college students can really afford to pay $4,000 a month for a 2 bedroom apartment?

What is a ‘luxury apartment’? The sales brochure says that you will ‘live in luxury’ at Varsity Berkeley. It seems like every new apartment house in Berkeley uses the word ‘luxury’ to describe their apartments, but what exactly does that mean? ‘Luxury apartment’ could mean almost anything and based on my observations, it usually just means ‘expensive.’ If there is a legal definition of the word ‘luxury’, I would like to know what it is. To be fair, Varsity Berkeley has some very nice amenities, including a spacious rooftop garden. They will also have valet garbage collection. That means they will pick up your garbage at your apartment. You won’t have to carry your garbage to a garbage can or a garbage chute. That is not a service that I provide. I do not pick up my tenants’ garbage and put it in their garbage cans for them.

varsityapartmentsVarsity Berkeley has some interesting swag at their rental office. They have free bags of gumballs with the name ‘Varsity Berkeley’ printed on the bag, but I wonder if that is enough to get people to sign leases. I always keep my eye on Berkeley landlords who give free candy to their tenants; however, I am not convinced that bags of gumballs are real competition with my free chocolate room. You know, you can buy a lot of gumballs for $4,000 a month!

Luxury Ice

I am constantly amazed at the silly things that the super-rich spend their money on. The Glace Luxury Ice Company makes ice cubes, very expensive ice cubes. Each ice cube is hand carved out of a block of ice. Glace ‘luxury’ ice is available in cubes and spheres. 25 ‘luxury’ ice cubes in a hermetically sealed pouch sells for $200, but if you want to save money, you can buy 50 ice cubes for $350.

Mark’s Money Saving Tip: If you want to save even more money on ice cubes, buy an ice cube tray at Dollar Tree and make your own ice cubes. If you don’t know how to make ice cubes, send me an e-mail, and I will send you the recipe. Ice cubes are not hard to make.

You can order Glace luxury ice cubes directly from the company’s web site. The company claims that their ice cubes melt more slowly in cocktails than regular ice cubes. I don’t know if that’s true. It seems to me that the speed at which an ice cube melts in a cocktail is determined by how cold the ice cube is, not by how much it costs, or whether it is hand-carved are machine-made. I rent a house to a bunch of chemistry grad students. This sounds like something they should be able to figure out, so I will ask them.