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A Google employee lives in a truck in the company's car park and saves 90% of his income

He has been able to start paying off his student debt.

Earns Google Source: AP/Press Association Images

WHEN 23-YEAR-OLD Brandon headed from Massachusetts to the Bay Area in mid-May to start work as a software engineer at Google, he opted out of settling into an overpriced San Francisco apartment.

Instead, he moved into a 128-square-foot truck.

The idea started to formulate while Brandon — who asked to withhold his last name and photo to maintain his privacy on campus — was interning at Google last summer and living in the cheapest corporate housing offered: two bedrooms and four people for about $65 a night (roughly $2,000 a month), he told Business Insider.

“I realised I was paying an exorbitant amount of money for the apartment I was staying in — and I was almost never home,” he says.

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.

Van Source: Brandon

He started laying the groundwork for living out of a truck immediately, as he knew he’d be returning to work full time in San Francisco. A school year later, he was purchasing a 16-foot 2006 Ford with 157,000 miles on it.

It cost him an even $10,000, which he paid up front with his signing bonus. His projected “break-even point” is October 21, according to the live-updating “savings clock” he created on his blog, “Thoughts from Inside the Box.”

Truck Source: Brandon

His one fixed cost is truck insurance — $121 a month — as he doesn’t use electricity, and his phone bill is handled by Google.

“I don’t actually own anything that needs to be plugged in,” he explains on his blog.

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 space is sparse and minimal, he says: “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.”

Google Market Cap Surge Source: AP/Press Association Images

As for food and showers, that’s all on Google’s campus. He eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner at work and showers every morning in the corporate gym post-workout.

Few expenses mean significant savings: “I’m going for a target of saving about 90% of my after-tax income, and throwing that in student loans and investments,” he says.

He graduated with $22,434 worth of student loans, and has paid it down to $16,449 over the course of four months. “As a conservative estimate (and taking bonuses into consideration), I expect to have them paid off within the next six months, saving thousands of dollars over the standard 10-year, or even 20-year plans,” he says.

Additionally, saving on rent has allowed him to dine at nice restaurants and enjoy San Francisco more than if he opted for living in an apartment.

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Box Source: Brandon

Another perk: His commute from a parking spot on the periphery of Google’s campus is a few seconds on foot, rather than a few hours sitting in San Francisco traffic.

Besides one friendly run-in with security after getting home late from a movie one evening, his truck lifestyle hasn’t been a problem. He was greeted by about 10 security personnel that night, but after showing them his corporate badge — and even offering to move the truck — they apologised for waking him and even said he had a “sweet setup.” Google did not respond to requests for comment.

The trade-off for such low-cost housing is space — and modern conveniences such as heat, air-conditioning, and a bathroom — but Brandon says the 128-square-foot space is larger than any of the bedrooms he’s ever lived in, and he’s usually only home to sleep.

Boxes Source: Brandon

The truck lifestyle provides more than financial freedom. It forces him outside of his comfort zone, an essential learning experience considering he hopes to travel the world.

“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,” he writes. “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.”

He’s not sure how permanent life inside a box will be, so he hasn’t put a deadline on it. “It’s been five months so far, and I don’t see it stopping soon for any reason,” he says.

Read: The huge, unexpected ethical question self-driving cars will have to tackle

Read: This is how much tax Google paid in Ireland last year

Published with permission from:

Business Insider
Business Insider is a business site with strong financial, media and tech focus.

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