You don't need to be an eccentric billionaire or rugged survivalist to take up residence in a cave. All around the globe, living in an rocky recess is just a fact of life and can be way more homey than any manmade structure. Here are some real estate destinations to investigate should you attempt to cultivate that post-modern caveman chic.
France's No Wi-Fi Cavern
You may have heard of those folks who are fleeing to West Virginia to escape headaches they claim are caused by Wi-Fi signals. Well, a duo of electromagnetically hypersensitive French women have upped the ante and moved into a cave dwelling outside of Beaumugne, France.
Anne Cautain moved here three years ago, and she was later joined by her cavemate Bernadette Touloumond. The women live in the stale darkness, alienated from friends and loved ones, but the headaches and perceived radiation burns have subsided. It's certainly not a Yabba-Dabba-Do time, but it's not completely untrendy.
China's Cave School
Up until recently, the Dongzhong elementary school in China's Guizhou province hosted a group of schoolchildren who learned and played in a mammoth, natural cave. As you can see in the video below, the cavernous overhang over pupils' heads precluded the need for roofed classrooms.
Last year, the school was closed by Chinese authorities after international interest in the Dongzhong sparked fears that the cave besmirched national prestige. (I'd say the nation's insane urban development projects are more of an embarrassment when it comes to urban planning.) In any case, former school headmaster Xi Lin Chun lamented this closing, as it deprived students of unique educational opportunities:
The acoustics were great. We had the best choir in the area and there were also several rock strata visible on the walls which made teaching geology far more interesting [...] And we didn't need books for biology - we had bats and lizards in there all day.
Cave dwelling in a gaping cavern such as this may seem unusual, but living in carved out caves isn't tremendously out of the ordinary in China.
The internet pinballs around the statistic that 40 million people in China are cave tenants, but that's worth taking with a grain of salt. At left, you can find a report from 2007 on several of these homes in the Hunan province.
This region is Turkey is known worldwide for its phantasmagoric topography. Across Cappadocia, people have lived in modified caves for centuries, and perhaps the most famous of these dwellings is the Derinkuyu Underground City, which could hold tens of thousands of residents in a subterranean metroplex.
Derinkuyu may be a tourist attraction nowadays, but that doesn't mean residents across Cappadocia don't still make use of the landscapes's many bizarre geological spires. For another stunning, centuries-old cave residence, check out the Vardzia monastery in Georgia.
In northwestern Iran, the caves of the town of Kandovan were created by volcanic ash that spewed from nearby Mount Sahand. Over thousands of years, this ash piled up into rocky masses that resembled termite colonies. Residents still live in these ashen nooks and crannies, and much like Cappadocia, the town has tapped its natural architecture for tourism.
Dongzhong photos via Reuters. Videos via BBC, Current, and Teleprobe.