San Francisco rents are getting so out-of-control expensive that one Google employee used his signing bonus to buy himself a home: a Ford truck.
Brandon, whose name and picture have been kept confidential, decided that renting a suitable space in San Francisco just wasn’t going to fit into his financial plan. Because he mainly goes home to sleep before heading back to work in the morning, he decided that renting an apartment would be akin to burning money, and instead bought an 128-square-foot truck he has parked in the Google parking lot.
Genius, or crazy? Maybe a little bit of both.
23-year-old Brandon came up with this idea last summer when he was an intern at Google. While in San Francisco, he shared a two-bedroom apartment with three other people, corporate housing that at about $2,000/month, was the cheapest he could find.
“I realized I was paying an exorbitant amount of money for the apartment I was staying in — and I was almost never home. It’s really hard to justify throwing that kind of money away. You’re essentially burning it — you’re not putting equity in anything and you’re not building it up for a future — and that was really hard for me to reconcile.”
Realizing he was paying such a huge amount of money for what was essentially a place to crash, Brandon had to find another way to make his living situation work for both his needs and his wallet, and found that a truck was actually a pretty good choice.
That summer, he began planning the financial logistics of living out of a truck. In a year, when he was asked back to Google as a full-time employee, he used his signing bonus to purchase a 2006 Ford with 157,000 miles, for a cool $10,000. He paid in full, and now has equity in the truck.
So how on earth does this guy live out of a truck? Where’s his stuff? How does he eat? Shower?
Well, it turns out that if you work at Google, you don’t really need a kitchen or a shower. He eats three meals a day at work, and takes a shower at the company’s gym every morning after a workout. And since he parked his truck at the company lot, his commute is minutes long, if that.
Brandon pays about $125 in insurance for the truck, but apart from that, he has few expenses—and no electricity.
On his blog, Brandon described his unconventional lifestyle:
“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 battery pack that I charge up at work every few days, and I use that to charge my headphones and cellphone at night. My work laptop will last the night on a charge, and then I charge it at work.
The main things that I have are a bed, a dresser, and I built a coat rack to hang up my clothes. Besides that, and a few stuffed animals, there’s pretty much nothing in there.”
But what about his quality of life? Isn’t it depressing to live out of a truck? For Brandon though, it’s all about two things: financial security and preparation for his traveling future.
With his current setup, he can save basically 90% of his paycheck, using the money he’d be wasting on a tiny, ridiculously expensive apartment to pare down his student loans. He also finds himself able to go out to nice restaurants in San Francisco more often, and use his spare money to actually enjoy the city he’s living in.
He also has lofty travel plans in his future, and thinks of his current living situation simply as training for what’s ahead:
“If I do plan on traveling 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.”
Brandon doesn’t have heat, AC, or a bathroom, but he may have just cracked the code for cheap housing in one of the United States’ most expensive cities. I’d call that a genius.