Author Topic: Living in a van for the summer in Seattle/Redmond?  (Read 6555 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Living in a van for the summer in Seattle/Redmond?
« on: May 02, 2015, 03:27:28 PM »
Dear Mustacians,

I am a first-time poster and only discovered MMM a few months ago. However I am excited that there is such a thriving community of like-minded people out there who have already taught me so much via the MMM website and forums.

I am going to do an internship in a large tech company for three months this summer in the Seattle/Redmond area. The salary is significantly more than my usual (grad-student stipend). Of course as a Mustacian I want to funnel this extra $$$ straight into my index fund accounts so it can earn interest for years to come rather than throw it at the extremely high short-term rental properties in the area.

I am therefore thinking of purchasing and living in a camper van. Buying a camper van is something I have seriously considered doing anyway - as it offers the opportunity for awesome low-cost surf vacations, and should not depreciate much in value by the time I sell it in 2-3 years when I finish my phd. The cost of the van seems not to be much more than what I would pay for 3 months of rent (around $5k vs $3k).

However I am not really familiar with the area and don't know how feasible it is to live in a camper van over there. I essentially need a (safe) place to park, preferably near a 24 hour gym (shower bathrooms etc), where nobody would be bothered by a camper van sitting there all the time. It would also be good to be within biking distance from grocery stores etc. I also hope to be a bikable distance from that large tech company, or at least near bus routes to get there fairly easily.

If any of you know of such a location, or have any other general advice on moving to Seattle/Redmond for the summer please let me know!

Thanks in advance!

Irish Mustacian (to clarify on the name: I am from Ireland but currently doing a PhD in the states)


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Re: Living in a van for the summer in Seattle/Redmond?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2015, 04:58:39 PM »
If the "large tech company" is THE large tech company in Redmond (rhymes with Nicrosoft?) this is probably quite feasible. The area is safe (even sleepy). Check to see if your position would get access to the campus gym, which would be a very nice bathroom/shower facility. Many, many buses shuttle to the main campus, so I think public transportation would be on your side.

Also, "Nicrosofts" main campus isn't far from Marymoor park, which is probably THE regional bike hub, with a couple bike trails intersecting there and surrounding.

Maybe check this out:

There's a nice pdf of bike trails in and around the Redmond campus you can download.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 10:11:49 PM by Erica/NWEdible »


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Re: Living in a van for the summer in Seattle/Redmond?
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2015, 08:44:42 PM »
I'm pretty sure this can be done. As an employee you may even be able to get away with parking in the corporate parking lot. I'm not sure whether "Nicrosoft" security would kick you out at night or not. If they do, try to find a street spot in a nearby neighborhood, but pay attention to the letter of any parking rules. Neighbors are likely to complain to the authorities about people sleeping in their vehicles in the street in front of their house. Your "Nicrosoft" employee badge will likely get you into the office 24/7 for bathrooms. Many of their buildings likely have showers for bike commuters to use so you're covered there as well. No need to purchase a gym membership unless you actually want to use the exercise equipment.


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Re: Living in a van for the summer in Seattle/Redmond?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2015, 10:19:10 AM »
I was planning on doing this too at a similar company in the Portland area. I never did (Wife wouldn't let me). My plan was to use their multistory carpark for overnight stays.

The idea was to move my car from one area of the campus at the end of my day shift to the multistory. Nothing gets the attention faster from security than a car/van that doesn't fit the regular shift patterns.

So during the day park in random places.. at the end of the shift make yourself dinner (we had kitchenettes in our building with microwaves).. Then move the camper to your sleeping spot.

The next morning move it again.. This only works if there is a regular night shift of course.


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Re: Living in a van for the summer in Seattle/Redmond?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2015, 01:30:27 PM »
The cost of the van would be around $5k, and the short-term accommodation would be $3k?

Plus you'll have to pay license fees and insurance for the van and more license fees and insurance if you keep it for several more years while you finish your degree.

So the van is more expensive.

That doesn't sound Mustachian to me.  It sounds like a person who wants an excuse to buy a camper van.


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Re: Living in a van for the summer in Seattle/Redmond?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2015, 02:34:20 PM »
Nicrosoft does indeed have showers in most buildings and free cokes, juice, milk in the kitchen area.  Also they have fairly decent coffee machines (also free).

Just work a lot and nap in your, cubical since there are very few offices anymore at Nicrosoft.

At the company store you can get Nbox games somewhat cheaper than retail and Nindows software too.

I think though you should just room with a few people in a house....$1000 a month and live within a few miles of main campus doesn't sound so bad.


  • Bristles
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Re: Living in a van for the summer in Seattle/Redmond?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2015, 03:56:46 PM »
If it is a camper van you are probably OK, but real rv's aren't permitted to park overnight anywhere on Seattle other than industrial zones, Seattle is also very big on enforcing 72hr maximum parking limits.

I can't report anything about Redmond or the county.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Living in a van for the summer in Seattle/Redmond?
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2015, 12:16:52 AM »
Pretty sure they pay for housing for the summer interns at *soft, don't they?  Or is it a housing allowance that you want to pocket? 

Redmond/Bellevue is extremely safe, but not sure how much luck you would have living in a vehicle for 3 months without getting the "move along" from the police. 


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Living in a van for the summer in Seattle/Redmond?
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2015, 10:13:49 PM »
Thank you all for your responses and suggestions.

It sounds like most of you think it would be possible, but a few of you think it could involve playing a bit of cat and mouse with the local authorities. That could detract somewhat from the fact that I plan to be pretty focused on my research while I am there. I will look into other options too - maybe I can find a cheap sublet of a room somewhere for $500-$600/month.

In response to Argyle, I think that buying the van is certainly the most cost effective (Mustacian) thing to do, since I would expect it to retain its value pretty well for the two years I would own it - so although there would be an upfront cost of $5k or so, I would hope to get most of that back - he milage and age will have only increased around 10% after 2 years of my expected use.

Still, spendings are not my only consideration, so I may go with subletting a room. I will keep you posted on what I end up doing.