Search Results for "bathroom"

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Source: The metaphor here being that living in the truck is like riding a mechanical bull, which is especially apt in the sense that cars (and trucks) are basically just mechanical bulls/horses. Okay, I'll stop now.

To be honest, it's been kinda weird trying to maintain a blog about living in a truck when I haven't, you know, been living in a truck.

It's sure a good thing I'm back in the truck then.

Yup, you heard read that right. After a long, long year (and some change), I've sloughed off the normalcy of a one-bedroom apartment and slithered back into my truckly digs of yesteryear. And while the amenities and convenience of things like "electricity" and a "bathroom" and "not living in a legal grey area" were nice additions to my life, I've got to say that I'm glad to be back.

But Brandon, you were this close to being a well-adjusted member of society, what happened?

For starters, offices opened back up, which was really the main thing holding me back. As a rampant pragmatist, living in a vehicle has usually been about making good use of the resources available to me. And it turns out that tech offices are pretty great resources. But more directly, I think the truck still makes sense in the larger context of my life and goals, at least for the time being. Plus, I think I'd regret not giving the truck one last hurrah. How long will this last hurrah last? Who knows. Probably somewhere between a month and a year, I see a couple things on the horizon that might change the whole "does this still make sense?" equation. In any case, I'll let future Brandon take stock of the situation and make a call on that one.

The Situation

A lot has changed since the last time I was truckin' it, the main thing being that I traded the comforts of my cushy big-company job for a comparatively scrappy, single-digit-number-of-people startup. I'm not walking distance from a dozen different buildings I can go into, I don't have cafes making me my every meal, yada yada. The new office is a unit in a larger business park, which changes the rules of engagement a bit. All in all, it's definitely required a bit of adaptation.

Because I'm consistently tardy with my posts, I've actually already been living my new truck life for like two months, and I think I've settled into a decent rhythm. I wake up around 5:30ish, bike ~15 minutes over to the office, hit the gym, shower, cook myself breakfast, and start my day.


Breakfast, indeed. The office has got a microwave and a fridge, and that's enough to make some microwave egg sandwiches,* and oatmeal with peanut butter. For the uninitiated, I know the phrase "microwave egg sandwiches" might sound a bit odd, but they're legitimately fine, and a useful tool in anyone's van life cookbook. One can find any number of recipes online, so I won't do you the disservice of trying to explain my probably mediocre variant. Not much needs to be said about oatmeal with peanut butter, it's delicious and nutritious and probably the closest thing I have these days to a religion.


I've previously detailed what I'd been doing for "exercise" within the confines of the pandemic. It amounted to aggressively deforming rubber bands and biking like I actually had a place to be. Prior to that, I'd been doing basically the same routine with slight variations for over a decade.

When I first saw the gym at the new office, I almost wept tears of joy. I didn't know if there was a gym at all, and if there was one, I was expecting the kind of gyms you see in hotels, which have a few decrepit treadmills, dumbbells between 2 and 17 pounds, and maybe a Smith machine. What I actually found was a fully loaded fitness center with not one, but two (!!) power racks, which is really all I need for my daily ritual of picking things up and putting them down. It took some MacGyver-ing to get the safety pins at the right height for every exercise so I can do them safely without a spotter, but with that squared away, I haven't had any problems. I'm very happy, and, after a year+ of not lifting, very sore.

Everything Else

The other main thing that has changed for me is what I do outside of work. In the Before Times, I had access to a vast campus where I could amble around and do whatever away from my team, and I spent most of my free time in an unrelated-to-my-day-job building in a cozy and quiet corner, reading a book or working on any number of esoteric projects. But now, there's not really anywhere obvious for me to go after I've put in my eight-or-so hours. I could go back to the truck, but at ~4pm it's still like 120 degrees, which isn't great. Plus, the whole point of the truck is that I don't spend time in the truck, so if I'm spending time in the truck, that seems…wrong? Instead of that, I could hang out in the business park courtyard, but my co-workers would be able to see me from the window, which would blow my cover, or at least encourage all sorts of questions that I don't have great answers bold-faced lies for.

My solution has been to rediscover libraries. This happens to me probably once every five years or so, when I remember that libraries exist and am completely blown away at what an incredible resource they are. So after work most days, I'll bike ~15 minutes to a nearby library (which I picked up a library card for), and do my usual shenanigans there. Sometime around 8pm, I'll bike back to the office, get myself ready for bed, and head back to the truck.

All in All

I'm glad to be back. I appreciate the regimentation the truck provides for my schedule, and the bike ride to/from work and the library ensures that I'm vastly more active than I have been for the past year and a half. I know that it's not something I'll be doing forever, but I'll be damned if I don't enjoy it while I'm here.

*I learned about the concept of microwaving eggs from an on-again off-again van-dwelling friend of mine. I was incredulous at the idea such a thing could be good, but Srini made me a believer. So thanks Srini!

Source: From 360 Logica, pretty much the first result when I searched "Web 2.0". It has virtually nothing to do with this post.

If this is your first time visiting the blog (or you use an RSS reader), this post won't really make a ton of sense. But the veteran Box Truck Buffs might notice that the site looks quite a bit different today. For reference, the old site:

The old layout, in all of its Bootstrap-laden goodness. May it rest in sweet responsive peace.

With the truck getting a makeover, I figured it was just about time the blog did the same. Over the past few months, I've been working on the redesign haphazardly and in random bursts whenever the mood strikes me, and I think it's ready (or close enough) for prime time. But why even redesign the blog in the first place?

In the Beginning

When I first "designed" the blog, I had just moved out to California and was juggling buying the truck, getting all my paperwork in order, starting a new job, and a bunch of other random things. With all that on my plate, I didn't have a ton of time to spend on building the blog. And since I hate CSS with a fiery, burning passion, I spent the vast majority of my time working on the backend. What all of this meant is that I basically slapped some Bootstrap on the frontend and stole utilized the Bootstrap blog template, more or less unaltered. Aside from a few minor tweaks and additions over the past two years, the layout of the blog hadn't changed all that much.

But it always kind of bothered me just how bland and uninteresting the blog looked. And at the risk of sounding like a self-involved faux-philosophical starving artist-type, I wanted the blog to look more like a reflection of my own ideals, mainly simplicity and minimalism. Not that the previous design was particularly ornate, but it didn't look anything like it would have if I'd made it from scratch.

Making it from Scratch

The first thing I did was delete the Bootstrap CSS and JavaScript, which are over-engineered for my needs anyway. Then I spent a few months attempting to do and redo the site in a variety of CSS frameworks. It turns out there are quite a few to choose from, each with their own set of features, benefits, and drawbacks. Personally, I just wanted something basic: a CSS Reset, a grid, and maybe some consistent form and button stylings. Eventually, I settled on Skeleton, which was pretty simple and straight-forward. I didn't realize that it hadn't been updated since 2014 until I was already in too deep. Oh well. The world of frontend development moves nauseatingly fast.

What Actually Changed?

Death of the Savings Clock

The Savings Clock was one of the first things I added to the site. It served as a symbol for my progress, and gave me some fun milestones to watch for. It did a good job of showcasing how ridiculous rent prices in the Bay can be — for example, I had saved more than the total cost of my student loans after only a year.

But it had some problems too. For one, it wasn't accurate, and it never could be. There are just too many dynamic factors to consider (rent price, insurance costs, depreciation, etc), so the numbers mean less and less over time. On top of that, having a savings clock doesn't send the message I'm trying to get across. An always-ticking money counter on the side of the blog says, "Hey, I'm forcing myself to live in a truck because I'm some sort of Mega Scrooge™, look at the fruits of my unrivaled cheapness and mental instability." As I've surely beat to death in other posts, that's not what this is about.

Anyway, as a part of the redesign, the savings clock has kicked the (Bit)bucket. It served its purpose admirably, but its days of countin' are done.

"About Me" Page

As it turns out, I'd never actually explained anything about who I am, except in little random tidbits disbursed across a hundred or so posts. Not very accessible. I figured a brief intro wouldn't hurt, so, it's hiding under the "About" section at the top.

"Ask A Question" Page

I've long had a place for people to ask questions, which is great. But I get the same set of ~10 or so questions over and over again, which is less great. So I added a short FAQ with answers to a few of those common questions, and strategically moved the question box over there. If I'm lucky, maybe people will stop asking "Where do you go to the bathroom?" with the same frequency I actually go to the bathroom.

The Little Things

While Bootstrap is built to be responsive, I hadn't done anything special for the mobile-version of the site before. This time around, I made sure I was paying attention to all of the little stuff that gets annoying on mobile. Hopefully this new site makes good use of screen real estate on mobile, without being too crowded.

A small feature people had asked for was the ability to view higher-resolution versions of inline images in posts. Now, you can click on images to "zoom" in, though I make no guarantees on how well this actually works.

What's Next


Not only is Webpack a useful tool, it has a cool and trendy logo, too.

Webpack is a technology I'd like to add to the mix at some point. Basically, it takes all of the assets in a site (JS, CSS, Images) and smooshes them into one file for each type, nicely minified and stuff. Removing Bootstrap was a good start, loading the post index now requires 11 requests and 81 KB, where it used to take 16 requests and 184 KB. Webpack and gzip can likely shrink that way further.


I've mentioned this before, but I'd really like to add comments to the site and allow for some discussion. I have a working integration with Disqus, but I'm considering rolling my own solution, for maximum flexibility and minimal external dependencies.

RSS/SEO Improvements

While the RSS feed works, it's not as fully-featured as it could be, particularly around things like images. Similarly, there are some <meta> tags I could add to posts to make it clearer for search engines and screen readers what's going on in a given page.

Build Your Own Savings Clock

When one savings clock dies, another is born. I've been working on a new page for the site that allows people to track progress on something they care about, whether it's dollars saved, calories burned, tacos eaten, you name it. It's not quite ready for prime time yet, but I'll definitely post when it is.

Brief aside: Like all projects I work on in my spare time, I expect there to be a few hiccups and bumps with the updated site. As always, send me an email or a question to let me know about any problems with the site.

Source: Truck clipart forever from Clker, bathroom stick peeps from ClipArtBest

I feel like it's been a while since I started a new series of posts. Sure, we've got Truck Tech and Home Improvement and Tips from the Truck and Q & A, but I'm pretty confident we have room for at least one more. If titles weren't supposed to be short, I'd probably extend the series name to: Incredibly Obvious Facts About Box Trucks (And Their Implications), just so we're all definitely on the same page. Anyway, these posts will be all about inherent properties of box trucks, and what that means for how I structure and live my life. Our first patently obvious fact about box trucks: they definitely don't have bathrooms.

To illustrate the above obvious fact, here's a recent* picture of the box.

Not a single bathroom in sight.

Box trucks are well-suited to a wide range of activities. Need to make an area more sketchy? Park a box truck there and watch the surrounding property values plummet.** Worried you don't own enough things covered in graffiti? Buy a box truck, they're magnets for impromptu community art sessions. Got some stuff to move? I know seven satisfied customers who can testify that Brandon's Ad Hoc Moving Service™ comes in handy on occasion. Box trucks are great for hauling crap around…just not in the literal sense.

Which brings us back to the (decidedly unglamorous) topic at hand: my home of choice doesn't have a bathroom. But what does that mean? Well, I've already talked at length (arguably too much) about the implications of not having a nearby bathroom, so we'll gloss over that part. Basically, it's not a huge deal because I'm never in the truck except when I'm sleeping. It does change how I think about bathrooms though. It's not a room in my house where I keep my hygiene-related stuff. For me, it's any place where I can get myself ready for starting or ending a day. This is what my bathroom looks like:

Sure, there's no marble countertops or glass walls, but it gets the job done.

Or from a few other (equally unflattering) angles.

I own more Axe® products than a prepubescent boy preparing for his first date.
For the record, I'm neither of those things.

Uh Brandon, I know you're slowly losing your mind and all, but that's definitely a travel bag…not a bathroom.

Why not both? That bag has everything I need to not look/smell*** like I live in a truck, just add water. And really, it's hardly any less convenient than a personal bathroom would be. In fact, it's definitely got a few perks. For one, normal bathrooms are hands-down the worst part of a house to clean. Aside from the general uncleanliness that pervades bathrooms by their very nature, they also have that whole Portal to Hell™-area going on behind the toilet. When was the last time anyone willing stared into that abyss? Never. Seriously, that place is a straight-up war zone, with different gangs of bacteria and mold-like creatures fighting for turf. There are more unclassified species back there than in the Amazon. I'm downright joyful that I don't have to fight that battle.

That's not to say I'm just pawning off cleaning and making it someone else's problem though. I'm an ardent subscriber of the whole "Leave things better than you found them" philosophy, and always make sure to clean up after myself and then some. For example, and I'll never understand this, but for some reason people love to strew their gym towels haphazardly around the locker room on Friday nights. When I come in on Saturday morning, it looks like a washing machine projectile vomited all over the place. Or like a bomb went off in the laundry bin. In any case, I'll usually take a few of them and toss them in the actual towel receptacle (a mere three feet away) on my way out the door. It's certainly not the most heroic act ever committed, but it stops me from feeling like my questionable life choices are to the detriment of others.

The only (incredibly minor) downside is that no bathroom means no mirror, meaning the first time I see my ugly mug is after I've subjected everyone else to it at the gym. When I stroll into the gym with Beyoncé blaring, I quite literally "woke up like this".

*I've gotten rid of the wood, extra insulation, and tire since I took this photo. I also built the previously pictured coat rack for my shirts.

**Unfortunately, this doesn't work in the Bay Area.

***I don't know if the truck has a scent or not. If it does, it's certainly not the one I want to smell like.

Source: Calendar from ClipArtix, truck still from Clker. Slapping them together done by me, a weak first attempt at using Adobe Illustrator.

Staying true to my well-documented inability to write timely posts, here's a post that I probably should have finished three months ago.

I wasn't always the truck-faring degenerate that I am now. Reading some of my earlier posts, I can vividly remember a (roughly four percent) younger, more hesitant Brandon, sitting in an airport terminal, running through the plan over and over in his head, making sure he didn't miss any important details. I'd picked out a class of vehicle, I'd picked out a place to get my private mailbox through, I'd scoped out parking locations. It was all there, I just had to go out and do it. I had some ideas about what truck-life would be like, but no experience to say whether or not my trepidation was justified.

It's hard to believe, at least for me, but I recently celebrated my one-year truckiversary. One whole year. Inside the box. Just a man and his moving truck. And somehow (even in spite of my last post), I managed to survive it without being arrested, abducted, robbed, murdered, or otherwise maimed in some bizarre truck-related incident. Not to say that the intervening year has been a quiet one. On the contrary, it's been pretty eventful. Between surviving my first night, a host of Home Improvement projects, planning the future, my eventual eviction, and all the pseudo-philosophizing along the way, I've been busy.

To celebrate the milestone, I thought it'd be interesting to go back to one of my first posts where I weighed out the pros and cons of adopting my truckly ways, and see how right (or wrong) I was. For your convenience, my dearest reader, I'll quote each pro/con from the original post here.


  • Money Savings. Even sharing bedrooms, rent in the Bay area is going to cost at least $1,000 a month. That's a bare minimum, it doesn't include utilities or anything else. It's $12,000+ a year that I'm practically just burning. No return, no equity, just gone.

This one definitely held up. Whether it was paying off my student loans or utilizing tax-advantaged accounts, the truck definitely gave me some financial flexibility. What I didn't realize at the time was the different ways those savings would compound. Not only do I get to invest all of that redirected rent money, but I get to invest all the money I'm not spending on furniture, and utilities, and buying food just so my refrigerator doesn't get lonely. Sure, now I spend money on weird truck-improvement projects, but those are comparatively cheap and I usually end up learning something too.

  • Life Experience. 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.

This one was also spot on. Up until last year, I felt like my life had been pretty tame. I felt like I was following the prescribed course, the one laid out in front of me. You know the one: work hard in high school to get into a good college. Work hard in college to get a good job. Work hard at your job so you can fill your suburban home with stuff you don't need to impress people who don't care. Retire, then figure out what you want to do. I know, I've said all this before. It's true though. And it's also true, I was passively barreling down that exact path, right up to the "fill your suburban home with stuff" part. That's where it kinda lost its appeal for me.

I'm glad to say that the truck has definitely broadened my horizons. I can think of a handful of times where my justification for doing something crazy was, "Hell, I already live in a truck, why not?" Now that my comfort zone can be summed up as "anything that won't definitely kill me", I'm much more open to experiencing everything the world has to offer.

  • Transportation and Proximity. Having a car is very much a necessity, and by living in it on campus, I can cut my commute down to a few seconds instead of hours, which means I can spend my time more productively. Plus, I hate traffic, and my company's 25,000+ employees ensure that there is a whole lot of it in the morning and evening hours.

This actually isn't as big of a deal as a I thought it would be. Since I wake up so early, I wouldn't really deal with traffic even if I was living in an apartment a town or two away. That said, I'd like to think I'm saving resources by not having heating/cooling/electricity and minimizing my driving. I'm no Captain Planet, but it doesn't hurt to do your part.

  • Health Benefits. If I'm living in a van, I have no choice but to go to the gym on campus to shower, so living in a van provides me with a strict daily regimen. In a similar vein, since I'm eating all my meals at work, it means my diet will be organized into three meals a day during the week, without any late-night snacking.

This feels about right, though I might have been a little overly optimistic. I usually exercise 6-7 days a week, but my "strict daily regimen" isn't quite the army drill I made it out to be. I definitely snack a bit at work. I go out to the bar with my friends on occasion, and usually end up dragging myself to the gym an hour behind schedule the next day.

I guess there is a small sorta health-related downside I didn't consider though. I don't get sick very often, but when I do, it's tempting to blame the truck. If I have a sore throat, I'll catch myself thinking "maybe there isn't enough ventilation in the truck", or if I have a runny nose it's something like "maybe the truck is too dusty". I have no way to prove whether or not these things are true, but the fact of the matter is I still get sick less frequently than I did when I lived in an apartment, so even if the truck is occasionally striking down my immune system, it's not often enough to be an issue.


  • Social Suicide. 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.

This one goes both ways. I was right, people definitely found out. But I was also wrong, too, because I thought it would affect my social life for the worse. Instead, I've been meeting up with like-minded mobile home enthusiasts and I'm more likely to take impromptu trips with friends. Speaking of friends though, mine have no problem filling lulls in conversation by talking about how I'm "the truck guy". And the response I get, without fail, is always, "Oh you're that guy?!"

  • Inconvenience. Living in a car is not convenient. There's no bathroom, shower, or refrigerator in a reasonable distance.

This one ended up being a bit overblown. I don't know if I have superhuman bladder muscles or what, but I've never found myself running to a bathroom at two in the morning or anything ridiculous like that. And as a consequence of my routine, I don't end up missing the lack of shower either, gyms have more than handled that one for me. As for refrigerators, the only reason I could possibly want one is to bring home leftovers after going out for dinner, but I'm a human garbage disposal and my plate is always licked spotless by the end of a meal, so that's a moot point.

  • Stress and Anxiety. 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.

The initial process was stressful, and reading this over I can feel my blood pressure rising at the thought of those early days. I don't worry about being caught anymore. For one, I found out that it is actually legal to sleep in your car where I live, as long as the car is legally parked. For two, I've been doing it so long that it doesn't really phase me anymore, which I talked about a bit in this post. Hell, just last weekend I hopped out of the back of the truck in the middle of the night because there were a bunch of kids sitting on my tailgate. They were talking about tagging up the side of my home and I wanted to let them know that I'm the only one who does any truck decorating. The look on their faces was totally priceless.

  • Upfront Expenses. At least with renting an apartment, I'd be paying gradually, without too much upfront cost. But between buying the car, buying insurance, fixing the car, setting it up, and the taxes and fees on top of all those things, it's a pretty big financial burden for someone who hasn't even started working yet.

It's true, the cost of the truck would have cut my student loans in half if I had spent the money on that instead. However, it's more likely I'd have been using at least a few thousand dollars to pay for a security deposit and a few months rent when trying to land an apartment. At the time, it seemed like I was signing my life away for this box truck, but after a few paychecks it didn't matter anymore.

  • Good luck getting laid. Interestingly enough, it was my mom who asked me about this one. I can only imagine that it's going to be next to impossible to get laid when I'm the van guy. Sure, I can get a hotel for the night, but it's still strange and I still have a bit of explaining and convincing to do. Since I'm not nearly smooth enough for that, I've accepted the fact that I'm going to be celibate for the next who knows how long.

People have always been uncomfortably curious about this one, so I'm sure my continued silence will be disappointing to some. But as it is, my life is not an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. And I can pretty confidently say that I don't want it to become one, either.

I've said before (and will say again now): I'm consistently surprised at how receptive people are to the lifestyle I've chosen. At the very least, very few people treat me like the trailer park-reject I thought I was going to be seen as. Because of how expensive it is to live out here, my housing situation comes up more often than not in casual conversation, even without any coaxing from me. It normally leads to some genuinely interesting conversations around goals and priorities.

Summing it up

Overall, I like to think the truck has changed me for the better. I'm certainly more cognizant of my tendencies to judge, of my work-life balance, and of what simplicity means to me. And looking back over my list, it's good to see I was more wrong about the "Cons" than anything else. I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I would change if I did it all again, and I usually don't come up with much. In fact, if I could go back in time and give my younger self advice, right when his plane had just landed in California, I'd really only have one thing to say: try a smaller truck.

Source: Hand picture from Yesteam, no idea what the site is though. Truck in the background is mine, turns out it comes up in a lot of truck-related image searches these days.

Do you think a female going to grad school could survive your adventure? My daughter is 25 and is going to grad school next year.

Normally I would drop a question like this into a Q&A post of some sort, but I've gotten a bunch of similar questions, and even met up with a few inquirers to discuss this exact topic. These things lead me to believe it's an important enough topic to deserve its own post (not that the threshold for "deserving a post" is very high). The question is a simple one:

Could I get rid of my house or apartment and live out of a vehicle?

The Simple Answer

A simple answer would just be: Yes. Barring any harsh health conditions/completely crippling poverty, most people could buy a sleeping bag and throw it in the back of their car. Even if you don't have a car to begin with, I'm sure you could sign a few papers with some questionable, semi-savory people and find yourself in a vehicle pretty quickly. Congratulations, you live in a car.

Even that's not so bad though. In fact, if you trace your lineage back, you'll find that you have 200,000 years (give or take a few tens of thousands of years) worth of ancestors wandering around in the woods. This makes you, with your sleeping bag and car, more equipped for braving the elements than thousands of generations before you. Grab a few Happy Meals a day, and maybe a gym membership if you care about how you smell, and you should be all set for the long haul.

But obviously there's much more than that, and I'm just being facetious for the sake of wanting to use the word facetious in a sentence correctly. My above ramblings aren't taking into consideration things like comfort, adequate hygiene, and real food, not to mention that people will probably think you're crazy. I'm sure there are a few other things on Mazlow's Hierarchy of Needs that I'm missing too. So what does it really take to live out of a vehicle?

A Slightly More Reasonable But Still Ridiculous Answer

Making the decision to live out of a vehicle is a pretty big one. I had the luxury of spending 8+ months weighing out the pros and cons of the lifestyle change, and despite all of that incubation time, I was still having second thoughts even as I was signing the papers to purchase the truck I now call home. I've never really written about this before, but I vividly remember the feeling of closing my apartment door for the last time, knowing that I wouldn't have a fixed place to turn to from there on out. There's not much you can do to prepare for something like that, and I'm sure the uncertainty and chaos are even more biting when you don't make the decision willingly. It's one of those "here goes everything" kind of moments, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on your attitude.


I legitimately enjoy living out of my truck, as I've undoubtedly mentioned a hundred-and-one times before. It's simple, liberating, and occasionally challenging, but part of the fun in this lifestyle is finding creative solutions to weird problems. I like that I'm not wasting a very non-negligible part of my life commuting. I like that I'm not wasting resources that I don't need. And that's the thing, I like doing this, and that's what makes it feasible for me. If you go into something like this thinking that it's some huge sacrifice, it's going to feel like a chore. You can kind of see this in the wording of the initial question above. Instead of trying to survive this adventure, one might even enjoy it or benefit from it. I understand that people find the idea attractive because of its cost-cutting benefits, but the whole experience will be a much smoother, more savory adventure if you go into it with the right mindset. Thinking that you're going to "grit your teeth and do it" is setting yourself up for burnout, if nothing worse. It can be a lot of fun, it definitely doesn't need to be taken so seriously.


As with most non-luck-based things in life, your ability to live in a truck hinges on your ability to plan things out. Off the top of my head, some questions you're going to need to be able to answer:

  • What kind of car do you want? The type of vehicle you get is entirely contingent on what type of person you are and what you need out of life. I've seen people living in everything from the bed of a pickup truck to a cushy 40' RV. Looking back to when I was planning everything out, I thought I wanted some type of sprinter or conversion van. It took a bit of introspection before I realized that I personally wanted a little more space, more of a canvas to work with. Search around and try to find something that fits in with the lifestyle you want, each vehicle will undoubtedly have its own special set of trade-offs. For example, the box truck is large and awkward to maneuver, but it blends in more than an RV, and that's a balance I'm willing to work with.
  • Where are you going to get the car? Once you've figured out the type of car you want, you'll naturally have to figure out where you're getting it from. Check Craigslist, check local dealerships, check Kelly Blue Book, check that site your aunt told you was great. Whatever it is, just do your research. Remember, you're literally shopping for a home, it's in your best interest to put a little time and effort into it.
  • Where are you going to park it? Will it be safe to park it at work? Is a friend going to let you park it in their driveway? What do the vagrancy laws look like in your neck of the woods? This is another area that might require a bit of research.
  • Where are you going to shower and go to the bathroom? Bathhouse, gym, school, work: all valid options. Just make sure you have something available to you. I've said it before and it bears repeating: you definitely don't get to skimp on the hygiene just because you're skimping on traditional housing. If you don't think you'll be capable of keeping up appearances, so to speak, don't move into a truck. Other parts of your life will suffer as a result, and it will be sad and not worth it.
  • Where are you going to eat and store food? One of the great inconveniences of being a living creature is that we have to take time out of our busy days to eat food. If you're living in a car to cut your expenses down, it doesn't make a lot of sense to be constantly eating out. You either need a place to store food, or some method of procuring it. I'm fortunate enough to be able to eat most of my meals at work, but I understand that's certainly not the norm. My senior year of college, I experimented with a Soylent-like meal-replacement shake, as part of a bodybuilding routine I was doing. It's certainly not for everyone (and I occasionally found myself missing the sensation of chewing), but it's fairly cheap (~$3 a bottle), easy to store in a vehicle, and only requires water to consume. Something worth considering.

Everything Else

Check out this post if you haven't seen it already — it covers all the things that make it possible for me to do what I do. That said, plenty of people live in cars and don't have the same resources available to them that I do. I'm sure there are more creative solutions to the various facets and challenges of truck life that haven't even crossed my mind, and figuring them out is part of the journey.

One Final Note

Throughout this post, I've been ignoring one of the keywords from the initially-posed question: female. The world can be a scary place, filled with less-than-savory people. I know several women that live in vehicles, and they haven't told me about any major problems with other people. Still, my anecdotes don't necessarily align with the larger reality, and crime statistics will paint a decidedly less cheery picture. I live in a place with incredibly low crime-rates, and if it came down to it, I'm pretty confident in my ability to defend myself (hell, I didn't even lock my truck door for the first six or so months). Regardless of my personal feelings, safety concerns certainly can (and should) be a deal-breaker.

To end on a less somber note: truck life can be fun and rewarding, and will likely leave you with some unique skills and life experiences. And this particular trucker just finished his aforementioned defensive driving course and sent in the paperwork, hopefully saving his license once and for all.

Source: Yet another reason I shouldn't be allowed to use the Internet. From GMC and Ryder

I promised a mega Q&A, I'm delivering a mega Q&A. I had upwards of 750 questions, so I took some of the most popular (and least creepy) ones, scrubbed out the personal info, fixed some spelling, did a bit of rephrasing, and tossed them up here.

Bring In The Questions

Why don't you have ads? / Why don't you monetize the blog? / Have you considered selling your soul to the highest bidder?

As much as I love the tagline "This truck lifestyle brought to you by Home Depot", I honestly have no intentions of making money off this blog. This is a hobby for me, a vehicle for catharsis and documentation, so that when I'm 65 and (probably) a well-adjusted member of society, I can look back at this blog and laugh at my past antics. I have the attention-span of a small child, and my memory is abnormally bad for someone my age, so this blog takes the place of my seriously-lacking long-term memory capabilities. As an aside, thank you to the guy who estimated my server costs and sent me an anonymous tip, you totally didn't have to do that and I appreciate the gesture. If I were better at managing Datastore queries, your estimate would have been pretty close, but that's a story for a future post.

Why don't you live in an RV or a camper | trailer or housecar | motor home or conversion van | white or brown rice | black or pinto beans?

This was probably the most common question I got asked (not the Chipotle part), aside from "Where do I go to the bathroom?", which I answered here a few months ago. I know I've totally blown the whole "low profile" thing, but one big reason I got a truck was because it's much less conspicuous than an RV. If you see an RV in a corporate parking lot, your reaction is "Someone definitely lives there. Like, that's totally someone's home". In a corporate setting, large white box trucks are moving around constantly, and you develop a sort of selective blindness towards them. The other big reason I got a truck, decidedly less comfortable than an RV, is because I don't want to be comfortable. Affording myself cushy modern comforts means I'd likely get comfortable just hanging out, and not doing anything enriching or productive or fun. The truck isn't comfortable: it's unbearably hot (over 100° F) between the hours of 11-5 PM, it doesn't have a bathroom or windows, in fact, it barely has anything at all. That's a good thing. It keeps me out of it during the day, it's hard to sleep in and laze around when you're borderline being cooked alive. It forces me to go out and explore the area around me: I go on long bike rides or explore San Francisco, or maybe I'll grab my Kindle and read some travel books in a quaint cafe. I was well-aware of how uncomfortable a truck would be when I bought it, the discomfort is a tool to save me from myself. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you're spending a lot of time in a small box (literally or metaphorically), you're doing it wrong.

Why don't you include Commuting Costs | Truck Resale Value | Food | Electricity | Hot Water | Other Utilities | Car Insurance | Postage | The Price of Tea in China in the savings calculator formula?

The savings calculator is meant to be a conservative rough estimate of how much money I've currently saved over renting. I'm not including the potential future money I'd get from selling the truck, because that's not liquid cash I have available to me. That said, I will update the clock soon (with an accompanying post), because my insurance did go up ever so slightly. It didn't go up nearly as much as I deserved, which I thought was pretty sweet.

Do you have a Facebook | Instagram | Snapchat | mailing list? / What do you look like? / What is your blood type? / What are your exact GPS coordinates? / Why don't you love me? / Are you even listening to me??

I do have a Facebook and a Snapchat, but those aren't for consumption by the Internet, they're for my own personal social-ification. As for what I look like: two eyes, one nose (on the larger side), a mouth, hair in all the places you'd expect. I've been told I have a very punchable face, so there's that. Blood type is O+, which makes me a good donor candidate.

What are you going to do when winter comes? / Are you aware that winter is a season? / I've heard cold air causes cancer, do you want cancer?

This is definitely on my radar, and I'm very aware that the Earth is tilted at approximately 23° and this causes seasons for most of the planet. Hold tight, I'm dedicating a full future post to the inevitable but temporary heat-death of the universe.

What's the login button for?

Valid question. It serves no purpose for anyone other than me. When I log in, the options at the top of the screen change, and that's how I write my posts. I'll hide it somewhere less obnoxious eventually, but for now, don't worry about it too much.

Have you heard of Mr. Money Mustache | ERE | my uncle Greg?

I actually had not heard of these places, but now that I have, expect a future post about how I'm applying their advice to box life.

I've been reading these posts in chronological order. Some ways through, I got a sinking feeling: is this what it's like to watch a person go mad bit by bit?

Having never watched someone go insane bit by bit firsthand, I'm not sure I can answer this one with any degree of confidence. That said, as a human being whose thoughts and opinions are shaped by his experiences, living in a truck has certainly changed my perception of a lot of things: homelessness, happiness, money, human nature; you name it. Personally, I don't think my ideas are tending toward derangement, but that's just my unbiased opinion.

Do you need a special driver's license to operate the truck?

Terrifyingly enough, no. Like some types of RVs, any pasty-faced teenager with a freshly minted license, no special training, and minimal real-world driving experience could hop behind the wheel. I have my CDL license, which is why I'd even considered getting something this large in the first place. The box truck is really just a decommissioned 16' Budget truck.

Where do you have stuff shipped to?

Sometimes my private mailbox, but most of the time I have it shipped directly to work. They bring packages right to your desk, which is unbelievably convenient.

Have you planned how long will you live in the truck?

I have not. It's hard to say, too. Certainly I could hop onto Craigslist and find an apartment/sell the truck in one fell swoop. The answer I always give people is that I'll stop living in a truck when it's no longer a reasonable solution for me. As of right now, and for the foreseeable future, I'm perfectly contented sleeping in the truck, and I wouldn't even be any happier in an apartment.

I thought I'd check out your blog, but now I see you use the modifier "super-" I'm outta here.

I'm so stupendously super sorry, seriously.

What's wrong with peeing in the woods?

If you're camping, nothing at all. If you're twenty feet from your office, everything.

Do you give box tours?

If you're in the area, and can convince me you have no intention of chopping me up into little pieces and feeding me to your multiple pet ferrets, totally!

As for everyone who emailed and commented with words of encouragement, links to similar blogs, or tips on how to improve my setup, thank you! I'm still digesting the enormous wealth of information, but over the next few weeks I'll be translating it into "Home Improvement" posts and everything like such as.

Source: Me parked in a small shopping center between lessons today, blending in exceptionally well. Unapologetically ripped from Snapchat

One of the perks of the truck that I always mention is its mobility. Regardless of where on the planet I put it, the box is still my room, and once I'm inside, the details of the surrounding world are reduced to nothing more than background noise. Theoretically, I can just park anywhere and make that my home for the night. In reality however, I very rarely spend the night anywhere other than a corporate parking lot, save a few digressions parking downtown after a late night at the bars. The lack of nearby, easy to access showers/facilities is a pretty strong deterrent for me. Tonight however, I find myself in a mildly amusing situation. I'm currently sitting on my bed writing this post (that's not the amusing part), but I'm almost 20 miles away from my usual hideout, and I can hear rhythmic bass thumps coming from the Quinceañera happening not 50 ft away (that's totally the amusing part).

Wait, what was that last bit? Okay, let me back up a bit.

In this post, I mentioned that I got my motorcycle license so I could get a faster electric bike. What I should have said, more accurately, was that I got my motorcycle permit and I had signed up for motorcycle lessons to get my full-fledged motorcycle license. Well it just so happens that those lessons are this currently-occurring weekend: the three sessions were this morning at 6:30 AM, this evening at right now, and tomorrow morning at 6:30 AM. Unfortunately this means I'll have to postpone my break-even party, likely until the weekend after next.

So anyway, the lessons take place in a community center, which happened to also be hosting a Quinceañera (and a wedding and maybe even a Bar Mitzvah, all simultaneously). After completing the relatively strange experience of taking a multiple-choice test while listening to pulsing traditional Spanish music remixed with Drake, I came outside to find my car completely blocked in/surrounded/immobilized by the vehicles (I assume) of party-goers. Interesting. After taking a second to assess the various facets of the situation, I formulated the following potential courses of action:

  1. Wait it out. I could just wait for a few cars to leave. By the looks of this mess, I'm waiting on at least three different cars to move before there's even a remote possibility that I'll be able to maneuver my awkward hulking mass of faux housecar out of this parking lot without it getting real intimate with some of the surrounding cars. Problem with this idea is that I have no idea when this Quince-wedding Mitzvah ends. It seems pretty rowdy; for all I know they may just be breaking out the Tequilaschewitz now, and it won't be winding down until 6 AM.
  2. Find the car owners. This has all the maneuverability problems of the previous option, plus I have to hunt down these people (somehow) and hope they aren't completely inebriated. And I have to consider how much everyone would appreciate some random guy running onto their dance floor with a list of license plates. Informal, one-person survey says they wouldn't like it very much.
  3. Just plow through their cars. The front fender of the truck already looks like a piece of abstract sculpture, would a few more dents really matter? In all seriousness though, I didn't actually consider this a viable option…for more than, like, a minute.
  4. Just sleep here. Given my inability to structure posts for dramatic effect, you already know this is the option I chose. But think about it: Do I really want to drive 20 miles back "home", wake up at 5:45 AM, and drive 20 miles back here? The much more appealing option is to drive zero miles, and wake up at 6:29:59 AM. I can wash up in the bathroom and I have all the fresh changes of clothes I need with me already. As for showering, I'm going to smell like exhaust from riding in a tight circle behind nine other motorcycles for five hours tomorrow morning anyway, I might as well just shower once I get back.

So yeah, given that list of two mediocre options, one downright bad option, and one fairly reasonable (relative to everything else in my life) option, I think I made the right choice.

Source: Me staring philosophically off into the distance, as taken by a fellow camper.

I've never really been camping before, so when a friend asked if I wanted to go camping over Labor Day weekend, I gladly accepted. In the past, I've mentioned that living in the truck feels like perpetual camping. Think about it: I practically live outside, I forgo a lot of modern conveniences (namely heat, A/C, and a nearby bathroom), and I fall asleep to the sounds of nature every night (there's a shocking amount of wildlife at the edge of my parking lot). So I expected camping to feel like just another day for me, and I packed for it almost like I'd pack for a normal day: a few t-shirts, a pair of shorts, and my handy dandy battery pack. So, how was it?

When your entire life fits in a parking space, leaving it for a few days (on twenty minutes of notice) is super easy. There's no sense of homesickness or yearning for first-world amenities. You never catch yourself thinking, "Gee, I miss my television and refrigerator right now"...because you didn't have those things to begin with. In the same vein, because you have so little to even consider bringing with you, the cognitive overhead for packing is minimal. In a house overflowing with assorted objects of questionable utility, you have to mentally iterate through them and decide what makes sense to bring with you on a three-day excursion. Like I said above, I just tossed all my useful belongings in a bag, and that was that. Granted, if I was camping alone or with other truck people, this wouldn't have worked in the slightest. It's only because everyone else was able to bring things like tents, utensils, and food that I was able to pack so lightly.

As for the actual weekend, it was a total blast. There wasn't anything truck-related for the three days I was away, save for my recounting of a few particularly strange truck stories,. I certainly didn't drive the truck to the campgrounds, I doubt it would even have survived the journey. It was just three days of cooking over an open fire, stargazing with a clear view of the Milky Way, drinking to excess, and swimming in a lake of questionable quality water, all perfectly legitimate camping activities.

It wasn't entirely sunshine and rainbows though. Sleeping on the cold, hard ground did make me miss my truck bed a little bit, and it's true that I've been pampered by my corporate fitness and hygiene facilities over the past few months. We did have a bathroom at the campsite, which came with a complimentary coating of dirt and a potpourri of random insect infestations. Several bouts of tiny, uninvited truck guests have made me pretty unconcerned with bugs, so I definitely appreciated the unintentional conditioning. Those negligible gripes aside (one could and should even consider them part of the experience), truck life was good preparation for camping, and in turn, camping was a nice departure from truck life.

I occasionally mention how glad I am that I'm able to live the way I do, but it's definitely not for everyone. In fact, the reason I'm able to do this is mainly because of the benefits afforded to me by the company I work at. Not that I expect many people are envious of my lifestyle, but for all those aspiring to live out of some type of vehicle, here is a list of hard requirements, collected through experience and in no particular order, that your life should possess before you consider trying to live in a box truck.

Hard Requirements

  • Good weather. You need to live in a place where the outside conditions are bearable year round. And when I say bearable, I mean you need to be comfortable sleeping in them. Unless you get extremely fancy (at which point, why bother?), you aren't going to have heating or cooling in your truck, so if you aren't in a temperate area, your life is going to be unpleasant for at least part of the year. I live in the Bay Area, which is about the most temperate, tolerable place on the planet, and even I'm mildly uncomfortable on particularly cold or hot nights. Make sure you're comfortable with mild discomfort.
  • Access to facilities. You need to have a place to shower and go to the bathroom. Period. Living in a truck doesn't mean you get to abandon personal hygiene, in fact it means you have to step it up a notch so people don't think you're insane and gross. This means that regardless of where you're showering, whether it's the office, a local gym, or a bathhouse, you do need to be showering. Going to the bathroom in a crate is not sustainable, and also makes me legitimately sick to think about. You're a minimalist, not an animal.
  • Money upfront. It isn't cheap to start living in a car. First off, you have to have the damn car, and depending on what you want to live in (make sure to get something with at least a little bit of extra room), that's going to cost you anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000. This is not a cheap or short-term endeavor. Second, you'll have to pay more for insurance, which is higher for larger and commercial vehicles. Expect to pay anywhere from $750 to $2,000 a year. Depending on what your previous housing situation was, you'll also need a few pieces of furniture, namely a bed and some sort of storage unit. Check Freecycle, Craigslist, and if those fail, Ikea. Basically, you've got to spend money to save money, if that's even why you're considering this.
  • An address. When you don't live in a building, you don't get the luxury of having mail sent to it. You're going to need either a dependable friend or family member close by who is willing to let you use their address, or you're going to need a Private Mailbox. You need to have a real, deliverable address to put on official documents, apply for things like insurance, and get letters and packages to.

Okay, so those are all the things that you absolutely need to have before you journey down this road. Here are a few other things that certainly won't hurt.

Soft Requirements

  • Be comfortable with yourself. If you're self-conscious or place a lot of value on other peoples' opinions of you, you're going to have a really tough time. You'll eventually have to explain to someone that you live in a car, and not everyone is going to be so receptive of that. If you can't handle people not accepting your lifestyle, definitely don't do this. You need to be able to admit to yourself that you're a little insane, and that this isn't something reasonable human beings do. I frequently find myself giggling at just how ridiculous it is that I'm driving my house down the highway. Sometimes, people may see you getting in or out of your car and notice that you clearly live in it. If that bothers you, this might not be the lifestyle that you're looking for.
  • Have (time-consuming) hobbies. Your car isn't really meant for hanging out in, and even if you try, it's just not a place conducive to being fun. After work and on weekends, if you don't have any itinerary or activities planned for yourself, you're going to get bored very quickly. Personally, I make new websites, work on this blog, exercise, and amble around the Bay Area, exploring what it has to offer. Sleeping and walking in circles in the back of a truck are not valid hobbies.
  • Be a decent driver. This is more for people who are going for box trucks, RVs, school buses, and the like. Vans and small trucks don't really have this issue, but as I've mentioned before, maneuvering and parking a large vehicle in an urban area can be exhausting, even when planned out. And if you aren't a careful driver, an accident here costs a lot more than an insurance premium: it effectively makes you homeless. So don't drive your house around if you can avoid it, and when you do have to drive it, be a very careful and alert driver.
  • Be flexible and adaptable. If you're high maintenance and accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it really should go without saying that this isn't the best course of action for you. And even if you are flexible, living in such a dynamic environment means that the requirements of your life can be constantly changing. If you aren't self-sufficient and able to react quickly to the various road bumps (quite literally) of life, truck-living will get discouraging very quickly.

All of these things considered, if you're doing this to save money, make sure you actually plan it out first. I'm not talking casually daydreaming about it the day before you do it, I'm talking research and cold, hard numbers. Make a spreadsheet or something. Be very liberal with estimating the cost of various things, you'd rather be surprised by how much money you have than how little. Between eating out all the time, a gym membership, increased insurance, a private mailbox, and other random things that you'll end up paying for, you want to be sure that the lifestyle is indeed more economically feasible than the alternatives, again, if that's your goal. It's certainly less convenient in some ways than having a house or apartment, so if you're paying more in the long run, you're probably doing it wrong.

Source: KSL

Every so often, I like to apply a simple Litmus test to my life to help me figure out a couple things. The test has a single question, and the way I answer this question tells me a lot about how reasonable of a person I'm being, and if I'm living in a sustainable way. The questions is this:

If everyone acted the way I'm acting, would it still work?

It's a simple enough question, and easy enough to apply to every day life. Next time you're on the highway, ask: If everyone drove the way I'm driving right now, would that be safe? Or maybe the next time you're in the office, check: If everyone put in the same level of effort I'm putting in right now, would the company be better or worse off? It's a simple enough question to be broadly applicable and easy to fit to any situation. I wanted to apply this question to my situation, and I phrased it as follows:

Would it be possible for everyone to live the way that I'm living right now?

I don't think this one has an easy answer. Or rather, I think the answer is clear, but it depends on the perspective you're looking at it from. So I'm going to play a bit of Devil's advocate, and answer my question.

Hell No.

I can hardly imagine what the parking lots would look like if everyone at my company lived in them. They would be packed, there'd be no room for everyone, and the traffic would be completely unbearable. And forget about using the gyms and showers in the morning or at night, there'd consistently be lines out the doors, and the facilities would quickly become gross and worn. Not to mention that dinner is only open at a few cafes on campus, and the lines are bad enough as it is. If everyone was trying to eat all their meals here, the company would have to shutdown the perks all together. If everyone was doing what I'm doing right now, everything would devolve into chaos, and it would happen pretty quickly.


In a more general sense, experimentation with "decentralizing" the home is not a new concept. A good example of this is the Capsule hotel, which is a type of hotel in Japan where you sleep in one of hundreds of small pods, and have access to a communal bathroom. This is basically what I'm doing, except instead of a pod, I have a box truck, and the "communal bathrooms" are at my workplace. If we ditch the European value of loving to have ownership over things, particularly land, this is a pretty efficient way to go about things. If everyone's homes were just glorified sleep pods and small storage areas, we'd save an enormous amount of land, energy, water, and pretty much every other resource that we consume. Something mankind has derived countless times in the course of engineering the world is that it's always more efficient to do something big and in bulk. Freight shipping is more fuel efficient, giant gas-powered turbines run more efficiently than cars, and having large communal facilities is more efficient than every individual having their own. Granted, I'm not addressing issues of food or leisure, but in this weird thought-experiment, those can remain basically the same as they are now. The point is that, if we had always organized our lives around small sleeping quarters and large communal services, we'd be dealing with far fewer sustainability issues than we are today. So in this sense, the answer is yes, it is totally possibly for everyone to live how I'm living right now.

Source: Acne Einstein

As I've talked with more and more people about my living situation, I've noticed a few questions that come up all the time. I'm going to answer them here in full, gory detail.

How do you go to the bathroom at night? Do you just pee in the woods?

As cool as it would be, my life is not an episode of Man vs Wild. 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.

Where do you, like, shower and stuff?

I've mentioned this one in an earlier post, but my employer has showers and gyms on campus, mainly because a lot of people bike into work and need to shower off so the office doesn't smell like a frat house. So 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.

Don't you get lonely out there?

The fact of the matter is that I'm hardly ever in here, except to sleep. I'm working until 5 or 6 PM, and then hanging out with friends or working on personal projects until 8:30 or 9 PM. When I'm in the box, I'm either writing these posts or getting ready for bed. The whole point of this experience is that a bed was the only part of a house that I needed, so if I was in here all of the time, I'd be doing it wrong.

How much money are you saving?

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. After taxes, the truck cost me $10,000, plus about $750 a year for insurance. Let's also factor in the cost of gas. Assuming it gets about 10 miles to the gallon, and I drive it about 25 miles a week (I don't really drive it much at all), that's 2.5 gallons a week, and 130 gallons a year. On a pricier week, gas is $4 a gallon, so that's $520 a year. So $10,000 + $750 * 4 + $520 * 4 = $15,080. 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.

Have you ever been caught?/Where do you keep the truck?/What happens when you get caught?

In the week and a half that I've been doing this so far, I haven't had anyone approach the truck while I was in it or question me or anything like that. I keep it parked at the edge of an open-air parking lot on my employer's campus. If security were to come by, I doubt it would be a big issue. 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. I'm not very worried about it right now, but if security does come knocking, I'll let them know that I work there. Worst case scenario, they aren't happy and they ask me to leave, at which point I get a membership at the RV parking lot down the street.

What do you do for electricity?

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. As I mentioned in a previous post, I could get a solar panel/power bank for real AC power, but I just don't even know what I would use it for right now.

Those were all the main questions I could think of. If you have any more you'd like me to answer, and you're reading this, you probably know me well enough to just ask me.

So here we are, almost a week into living in California. How have things progressed, you ask? Well allow me to tell you!

Second Thoughts

Arriving in California was comforting, but also a little overwhelming, and my roommate's words kept echoing around in my head, haunting me.

Don't live in a van. Don't do it.

-Zach B, Roommate for Life

I started to second guess myself. Was this really what I wanted? Was I actually being insane? What if I went through with it and then decided I didn't want it? I'd have to deal with all the stress of having to find an apartment while starting a new job, and trying to sell the stupid van on top of all of it. Would I actually be alright without truly having a home? I was in full-fledged panic mode, and I'd been on the West Coast less than a day. Panicking is very not my style, or so I like to think, so I decided to do the rational thing, and make a list of pros and cons of living in a van, and then make a well-informed decision based on that. So, ordered from most important to least important reasons, here is my list:


  • Money Savings. Even sharing bedrooms, rent in the Bay area is going to cost at least $1,000 a month. That's a bare minimum, it doesn't include utilities or anything else. It's $12,000+ a year that I'm practically just burning. No return, no equity, just gone.
  • Life Experience. 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.
  • Transportation and Proximity. Having a car is very much a necessity, and by living in it on campus, I can cut my commute down to a few seconds instead of hours, which means I can spend my time more productively. Plus, I hate traffic, and my company's 25,000+ employees ensure that there is a whole lot of it in the morning and evening hours.
  • Health Benefits. If I'm living in a van, I have no choice but to go to the gym on campus to shower, so living in a van provides me with a strict daily regimen. In a similar vein, since I'm eating all my meals at work, it means my diet will be organized into three meals a day during the week, without any late-night snacking.


  • Social Suicide. 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.
  • Inconvenience. Living in a car is not convenient. There's no bathroom, shower, or refrigerator in a reasonable distance.
  • Stress and Anxiety. 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.
  • Upfront Expenses. At least with renting an apartment, I'd be paying gradually, without too much upfront cost. But between buying the car, buying insurance, fixing the car, setting it up, and the taxes and fees on top of all those things, it's a pretty big financial burden for someone who hasn't even started working yet.
  • Good luck getting laid. Interestingly enough, it was my mom who asked me about this one. I can only imagine that it's going to be next to impossible to get laid when I'm the van guy. Sure, I can get a hotel for the night, but it's still strange and I still have a bit of explaining and convincing to do. Since I'm not nearly smooth enough for that, I've accepted the fact that I'm going to be celibate for the next who knows how long.

The Decision

As you can guess by the fact that this blog even exists, I'm in the process of doing this, for real. I definitely wavered a bit before making my decision, I even posted in the "New Engineers" group looking for housing. But after weighing out the pros and cons, and evaluating where I want my life to be in 4-5 years, I decided that I'm going to do it.

A Slight Detour

One of the main things I realized from writing out the benefits and drawbacks was that it wasn't a van that I wanted. I wanted something more personal, something where I could relax even if I wasn't sleeping. And that's how I ended up with a 16' box truck, pictured above. After about ten hours of looking around at vehicles, at $8,800 (before taxes and fees), this 2006 Ford E350 Super Duty Cargo Van with 157,000 miles looked like the best bet. The "box" part is a roomy 128 ft2, larger than any of the bedrooms I've ever lived in prior.

The Setup

The past few days have been a stream of car-related errands. I purchased the car on Wednesday, after a grueling five hours at Green Light Motors doing test drives and looking over the truck and applying for financing and insurances. On Thursday, I got new tires and a license to match. On Friday, I picked up the bed. Along the way, I've also done a bit of graffiti and insect removal, all part of the package.

The hardest part so far has really been parking the damned thing. It's roughly 20 feet long and 11 feet high, which means that it doesn't fit in most parking spaces, and even when it does, overhanging trees threaten to rip the top off. In the large, open-air parking lots on campus, this won't be a big deal, but maneuvering it around in the meantime has certainly put my CDL knowledge to work.

Source: XKCD

And here is where things start to get interesting. Since my internship last summer, when I realized the only thing I needed was a place to sleep, and company perks could provide the rest, I've done a little bit of research into how exactly this whole van situation would play out. In my search, the most encouraging thing I found was this:

Google Security came by very early on, but once they determined that the guy in the mysteriously parked white van was just an eccentric Googler and not the Unabomber, they never came by again.

-Ben Discoe, Google [x] UI programmer

If tech companies weren't actively preventing this, I might as well give it a shot. Worst case scenario, the whole thing doesn't work out and I get an overpriced apartment like a normal human being.

Figuring it out

Eventually, I started putting pen to paper and figuring out the logistics of the whole scenario. I would get either a Ford Transit Connect Van, a Chevy Conversion Van, or a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. All of them had enough space to put a bed in the back and keep a few basic belongings. For food, I would eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at work, Monday through Friday. On weekends, I would eat select meals at work, and explore the Bay area for my other meals. As far as hygiene goes, I'd work out every morning at one of the corporate gyms, and shower and do other morning stuff after. If I needed a bathroom during the day, naturally I would use one at work, and I would hang around campus working on work and personal projects until I was ready to go to sleep, and then I would retire to my van conveniently parked in a nearby campus parking lot. For official documents, I'd use a Private Mailbox, because you can't put a PO Box address on many different types of documents. I felt like I had my bases pretty covered. Naturally, there are still going to be unanswered questions though, and I hear new ones every time I explain the idea to people.


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