The idea of living underground sounds more like it’s the plot of an apocalyptic story than it does real life. Fresh air and sunshine are things many people can’t imagine living without. Yet there are plenty of communities that exist in subterranean domiciles below the surface.
Whether it’s because they like privacy, or they can’t afford to live where everyone else does or in some cases, it’s for safety, people set up their homes underground.
Not all of them are so reserved that they won’t share their lodgings, however, instead of opening up their abodes with hospitality. These photos show their homes and what it looks like to live below everyone else.
25 Below Beijing
Living underneath the surface can be lonely. This woman is a whole two stories below Beijing, according to NPR. She has just enough room for a bed and even has to hang her clothes from the ceiling above her head.
People who live underground have to become used to smaller spaces if they want to stick it out for the long haul.
24 Well In Use
A lack of finances didn’t keep Quan Youzhi from leaving the big city. She lived out of a well, according to chinaSMACK, to avoid paying for rent. Through the small opening, there’s a space that’s about 3 square meters in size.
Another photo further down on the list shows what her quarters looked like.
23 Campsite Underground
Donetsk is a city in Ukraine, which is where they snapped this photo of two kids setting up a bed in a tent underground. It’s technically a bomb shelter, but families have made it their long-term residence, according to the blog Harriet Salem.
Instead of occupying a grass floor in the wilderness, this tent resides below surrounded by gray concrete walls.
22 Minimalist Living
Living underground strips away many of the luxuries and amenities surface dwellers have become dependent on. Within these caves located in China, something as simple as a brick wall can be a bonus.
According to NY Daily News, over 30 million people in China have caves like this they call their homes.
21 Basement Abode
The young couple here found a way to cope with living underground by hanging up colorful decorations and stuffed animals. These must have brought life to the whitewashed walls of their condominium many floors below the surface.
In a caption by NPR, however, it appears the couple no longer lives underground in this narrow space.
There’s a whole community of underground homes in Australia. According to Coober Pedy’s site, which is the name of the town, many soldiers who had fought in World War I introduced this concept of homes below the surface.
These look much more accommodating than other homes on the list, which are often in dangerous or crammed spaces.
There is a caveat about this landmark, which is Uçhisar in Cappadocia, Turkey. While there exists a labyrinth of tunnels, it technically resides inside of a rock formation above ground.
The photo of this woman gives the tunnels a sense that they’re really deep in the earth, which makes it hard to believe people actually lived here years ago.
18 Life As Usual
This subterranean dweller is carrying on with life as if he resided above ground. NPR reports that he lives out of a basement that many in Beijing convert into apartments.
It may not look like glamorous living, but it’s a lot more affordable. The same source notes, however, that it’s also illegal.
17 Bomb Shelter
This photo depicts a typical family in unusual circumstances. They’re holding out in a bomb shelter for an indefinite period until it’s safe to go back up to the surface.
According to the site Harriet Salem, the shelter has limited space, which can affect the family's privacy and make it hard to maintain a positive attitude.
16 Below The Strip
Living down below can be dark, cold and short on social interactions. This snapshot shows one part of what Huck Magazine reports is a vast network of tunnels below the Las Vegas Strip. “People don’t come down here,” said someone who lives there.
Not only does this highlight how very few will live underground, but that they won’t even venture there at all.
15 Former Nuclear Bunker
Things that get taken for granted on the surface soon become luxuries underground. An electrical outlet, a hook to hang clothes off of or a closet for storage are all amenities down below.
According to Facts Chronicle, many nuclear bunkers in Beijing have turned into living spaces for those willing to pay as little as $20 each month.
14 Break Time
Moving underground doesn’t alter a person’s behavior or habits. One still has to go on their usual walks, lounge around and take breaks, but in a different setting.
From the shelves they have set up, along with bags full of belongings and milk crates, it doesn’t look like they have plans of leaving anytime soon.
13 Holding Pattern
When a region becomes engulfed in conflict, it puts the citizens in a difficult situation. The ones seen here, as Harriet Salem reports, are from Ukraine and holding out hope that they can soon emerge from this underground shelter.
Living down below also poses a challenge for parents who are trying to raise their children and protect them from harm.
12 Coober Pedy
There’s one way to escape the desert heat, and that’s to go under the ground. The site International Watch League details Coober Pedy, which is a bunch of homes beneath the ground in South Australia.
While few can imagine living in the kind of heat that’s in the Outback, there’s an alternative by living in cooler caves below ground.
11 Cardboard Domicile
Humankind is industrious when it comes to survival. People find creative ways to use items they find, especially when their welfare is at stake.
The site Andrea Star Reese reports that Chuck, seen here, shares this small space with another resident. One can see the blankets, bottles and cardboard roofing that all comes together to make this makeshift home.
10 Hidden Under Vegas
This man has made the most of his home underneath Las Vegas.
Standing in great contrast to the bright lights of The Strip, his dwelling is in darkness, has walls with signs of wear and offers a much smaller space to navigate around compared with some of the hotel rooms above.
9 Ulan Bator
A faint light shining through the roof reveals the living situation for those who go underground in Mongolia. The resident in the background takes a nap with their head propped up against the wall, while another in the foreground takes a swig from a bottle.
A water jug, a magazine and some clothes are all it appears these two have.
This photo shows some of the residents who live underground in New York and what their lives are like. According to Business Insider, graffiti artists will sometimes stumble upon them and alert the police of their presence.
With all their possessions nestled in the rafters, these residents look firmly planted in this spot.
7 Basements of Beijing
Living in a claustrophobic environment underground forced this resident to add some excitement. He decided to brighten up his home underneath Beijing with colorful balloons and wallpaper. He even has a desk and computer he can work from in his downtime.
According to the site Randommization, these renters pay anywhere between $50 to $110 every month to live here.
6 Tunnels Underground
There’s more to Vegas than what appears on the surface. There’s a whole world below it where people, like Diana seen here, live with a small bed and a few possessions, keeping only what’s essential.
According to the site David Honl Photography, Diana has made these underground tunnels her home since 2004.
5 Far From Civilization
When they make sewer systems and tunnels below the surface, they aren’t made with human residents in mind. They’re often wet places covered in darkness and full of strange odors.
Far from being habitable, people find a way to construct a makeshift home in these places few ever want to pay a visit.
4 The Bottom of the Well
As touched on earlier, this small space is what’s on the other side of the well’s claustrophobic entrance. Pictured here is Quan Youzhi, who lived in this small space with very little possessions (chinaSMACK).
Off to the right is a big intrusive pipe that’s covered in rust and does little to distract from the four walls covered in grime.
3 Underneath The Land Down Under
There’s a whole world under Australia. The community of Coober Pedy offers roomy homes, shops, and even a church. According to the site Unusual Places, it has been around since 1915 but didn’t get much attention until the 1980s.
Being underground must have helped this town slip underneath the public's radar.
2 Sewer Dwellers
Living underground lacks certain benefits. There’s less light, food is harder to get and preserve and there’s less to do.
People who live in sewers, tunnels or caves make do with what they have the best they can and try to look forward with the best attitude they can muster up.
1 Smile For The Camera
These small kids living underground decided to turn the cameras back on the photographer. In what appears to be two camcorders in each of their hands, the kids both conceal their faces while rolling their cameras.
The entire room looks carved out of the ground and is totally bare except for a couple of beds.
Sources: Huck Magazine, Harriet Salem, NPR, Facts Chronicle, Andrea Star Reese, chinaSMACK, Coober Pedy, International Watch League, NY Daily News & Business Insider