Hate Bay Area Rents? Live In a Truck


A little over a year ago, Google employees on a Quora thread announced they’d discovered an interesting way to live in the ultra-expensive Bay Area: Rather than pay for conventional housing, they resided in trucks and RVs parked near (or on) the company’s campus, and took advantage of corporate perks—including free food, gym facilities, and dry cleaning—to get by on a day-by-day basis.

“[One] guy lived in the camper for 2-3 years. Showered at the gym. Did his laundry on campus. Ate every meal on campus he could,” wrote one Google employee on the thread. “After the 2-3 years, he had saved up enough money to buy a house.”

Now Business Insider has a lengthy breakdown of how one Googler, Brandon S., decided to engage in a little off-grid living within sight of Google’s high-tech headquarters. First he spent $10,000 of his Google signing bonus on a 2006 Ford truck with 128 square feet of room in the back, which he filled with a bed, dresser, and coat rack. Google pays for his phone, and he uses the company’s gym and cafeterias to eat and shower.

Brandon claims he’s saving 90 percent of his income by living in a truck. “If security were to come by, I doubt it would be a big issue,” he wrote in a posting on his personal blog. “I’ve registered the car with the company vehicle database, so they know it belongs to an employee, and I’ve read stories about people at very similar companies having short conversations with security, and then never being bothered again.”

For those Bay Area tech pros who think Brandon’s lifestyle sounds appealing, he uses another blog posting to break down the drawbacks, which include “social suicide,” the inconvenience of not having a bathroom or fridge in close proximity, stress, insect infestations, and the upfront costs of purchasing a large-enough vehicle. On the other hand, he’s also using the cash savings to rapidly pay down his student loans.

9 Responses to “Hate Bay Area Rents? Live In a Truck”

  1. Completely agree Michael Z. Williamson. it’s all a matter of what’s important to you for a phase of your life. For Brandon, he decided to not just settle for whatever the “norm” is and get a bit innovative and resourceful. More power to him.

    Given this is a trend, it sure makes you think that the micro-housing trend is just starting to take off.

  2. Michael Z. Williamson + 1

    Exactly the point!

    What’s wrong with the life style that guy choose? As long as he is not a burden to anyone, I applause to that guy. It’s way better and respectful than those who are cheating CA welfare system and live by ripping off the system.

  3. I love it.

    1st – it is low materialism, low impact
    2nd – it saves a lot of money which then can bring forward an eventual better home
    3rd – he is living in the exact locality which is causing the problem in the 1st place, i.e. Mountain View. The population density is forced low by the local voters who have a NIMBY parochialism who object to higher density property development. The population density in the bay area is 1000 people per square mile vs NYC 27000 people per square mile, it is all leafy single level ranch style homes which is great once you get onto the property ladder and vote to keep it that way bad if you are forced to live in a truck to save to get onto property ladder.

    Belmont home owner, it took me 5 years of renting and saving, I don’t even own a car and most of my clothes are 5-9 years old.

  4. Respectful? this employee is AVAILABLE… if something comes up and they need him after hours, he’s already there. If anything since he’s using the corporate perks more than an average employee, he’s more invested in the company and more dedicated to their success. Google and other tech firms encourage out of the box thinking and if a person can think outside of the status quo in their own lives, they’ll do the same in their work.

  5. Craig Jenson

    Excellent! Now we need to consider the people who live under the bridges in the Bay Area and how there numbers are growing daily. I’m glad to here that being “homeless” is getting the stamp of approval from the people that have “some money”. I wish that perverse corporate world could help the vast homeless hoards of people that don’t have food, clothing and shelter. The Bay Area is full of hypocrisy and elitism but this trite, anecdotal, shallow blog makes we want to puke.

  6. Richard C.

    About Craig Jenson’s comment

    I currently work PT at a homeless shelter, there have been many cities across this country that have had apartments built or restored for the homeless. The purpose was to get them housed then for them to find work. That was the problem, some homeless want to work most don’t. Although the lifestyle stinks and they take the chance of being beat up or killed, they like the freedom of being on their own with no bills, etc. After I was laid off and a short time later a divorce caused me to become homeless myself. It was not by choice, it took me 2 years to find employment. There are many families that are homeless because of a lost job. I see it every day here.