After his internship stint at Google in 2014, Brandon, a 23 year old student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, moved to San Francisco – Bay Area, to join the corporate giant as a full time Software Developer. All was going well for the recent graduate, when he realized that the apartment that he was sharing with 4 other people, was just not worth it. Not only was it burning a hole in his pocket, but he also realized that he was hardly ever around at the place, except when he had to sleep.
“A really cheap apartment in the Bay Area (and I’m talking really cheap), would be about $1,000 a month, bare minimum. So over the course of four years, I’d be paying (again, bare minimum here) about $48,000 in rent, and have nothing to show for it. No physical property, no equity, nothing,” he explains.
This is when he decided to move into an actual truck, which he parked within Google’s premises. Yes, you heard it!
So, how much exactly would he be saving by embarking on his great adventure of living in a truck?
According to Brandon,”After taxes, the truck cost me $10,000, plus about $750 a year for insurance. Let’s also factor in the cost of gas. So for a super conservative estimate, I’m saving about $33,000 over the course of four years. That’s just the raw minimum savings, I’ll be investing approximately 95% of all of my post-tax, post-401k, post-benefits income. I’ve mentioned many times that it isn’t about the money, but clearly this living situation makes my future plans much more flexible.”
So far, his truck is occupied by a bed, an Ikea-assembled dresser, a coat rack and some stuffed animals to keep him company.
He uses the showers, and facilities at Google.
As cool as it would be, my life is not an episode of Man vs Wild. [I do not pee in the woods.] I do have 24 hour key card access to any building on the campus that I work at, so I could use the facilities in there if I really needed to, but thus far it’s just been about planning. I try not to eat or drink anything after about 7:30 PM, and I wash up and go to the bathroom right before I head out to the truck at night. When I wake up in the morning, I ride my bike to the gym and go to the bathroom there.”
“Every morning, I wake up nice and early (around 5:30 AM), ride my bike to the gym, work out, shower, and start my day. While I could skip the gym and go straight for the showers, I feel like that would look strange. Even if I got passed that, keeping that regimen of working out every day is a good habit to be in.”
The other major things missing in the truck he calls home is Electricity, for which he has come up with a solution as well.
“I don’t actually own anything that needs to be plugged in. The truck has a few built-in overhead lights, and I have a motion-sensitive, battery-powered lamp I use at night. I have a small (15,000 mAh) battery pack that I charge up at work every few days, and I use that to charge my headphones and cell phone at night. My work laptop will last the night on a charge, and then I charge it at work.”
Brandon also believes that living out a truck can be a good exercise in unconventional living, as he wants to travel in the future.
“I’ve never truly stepped outside my comfort zone. After living in California for a summer, I realized just how little of the world I’ve actually seen. If I do plan on travelling the world, I’ll need to be comfortable with unconventional living situations, and this is certainly a good place to start. Plus, there is never going to be a better time in my life for me to try this. I’m young, flexible, and I don’t have to worry about this decision affecting anyone else in my life.”
As cool, convenient and economical as this seems, Brandon is aware of the cons of the way he lives as well.
“I will most certainly be “That Guy”. No amount of planning or forethought excuses the fact that I’m the psychopath living in a van in the parking lot. People will eventually find out, and it will affect my social life.”
“[More than that], the whole process is supremely stressful. Picking out a van, buying it, converting my license, getting insurance, all without a car and all before I’ve even started working and making money is a lot to deal with. Not to mention the illegality of most of it. Then once all of those things are out of the way, I’m still pretty anxious about being caught, and how I’m going to sneak into and out of my van.”
You can catch up with Brandon, and his journey, on his blog “Thoughts from Inside the Box – Because home is where
the heart is you park it.” and keep a track of how much money he is saving, by the Savings Clock on the website.
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