Why is it so expensive?
There are a number of reasons:
The ocean is a brutal environment—this is why ships have been described as “A hole in the water you pour money into.” And we are not just creating ships or buildings; we are creating real estate, which must be durable.
We are aiming to spark the first-generation of seasteads. Just like with any other product, earlier runs are more expensive since they must be built by hand and do not benefit from economies of scale or mass production. Eventually, as volume increases, costs come down, and more people can participate. Seasteads are no different. The early adopters help pay the research costs—but stand to gain handsomely in the longer term if they are successful.
The costs we are talking about (say $300 – $400 / ft2 final cost to residents) are not out of line with first-world house prices in metropolitan areas. It’s not as cheap as Costa Rica, but it isn’t as expensive as Silicon Valley either. If these estimates are realistic, we can build brand-new sovereign territory for a cost similar to that of the housing of many upper-class Americans. To us, this seems incredibly encouraging! As a caveat, the cost to residents will be higher than a house of the same price, because seastead real estate will be harder to finance with low-interest bank mortgages like houses. But this stems from the unique nature of the project and will be impossible to avoid until seasteading is more firmly established.
We are not ignoring those with less money. We believe poor people will benefit from seasteading in the long run, like they have from cell phones. As with any technology, it takes a large initial investment to get the ball rolling, meaning the first seasteaders may be wealthier. For those looking to start more cheaply, Boatsteading or shipsteading is a viable option.
Futhermore, we think that effective breakwater technology will bring the prices down precipitously in the long run. Locating where there are fewer waves, such as the equator in the equatorial doldrums means fewer waves and lower cost (but reduced access to first world customers). Alternately, a sea like the Mediterranean or Baltic may offer smaller waves (thus low cost) and access to multiple first-world jurisdictions.
Posted in: Living, Economy, Business
Posted on January 20, 2012 at 2:53 am