Author Topic: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula  (Read 10621 times)

greenplace

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Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« on: December 22, 2014, 09:33:08 AM »
Hi everyone,

I have the misfortune of being a budget-conscious person living in San Francisco who works in the peninsula. At this point in time, I am in urgent need of moving from my $1000/month room due to a landlady/roommate who's spoiled purse dog is incontinent indoors and who is herself a borderline hoarder.

I work night shift and have a funny schedule, long shifts with 3-4 day weekends when I could go live with my boyfriend or parents an hour and a half away. I can not have roommates anymore, I am too damn anti-social, but I don't want to pay for a studio apartment here-- you are lucky to nab one for $1300 if you show up the minute the ad goes up on CL. I am making $3000 net a month (not including 401k) and don't want to pay more than $1200 because of my goals to save money for a home (25%), retirement (15%, would like this to be much higher), and travel (~5%). I feel trapped because it is so idiotic to spend half your income on rent and utilities!

Does anyone here live in a vehicle in the peninsula? How does it work for you? Of course it is illegal here. What vehicle do you use-- RV, van? Where do you park? I can shower and use the facilities at the gym, possibly even park my vehicle the on company lot, although I don't know how security would feel about that. And of course my co-workers would think I'm crazy, but they are the ones who commute 1-2 hours one way! so right back at ya!

mxt0133

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2014, 09:39:39 AM »
Here are a few forums and blogs about people that do the exact same thing.

http://www.theofficehobo.com/

https://www.reddit.com/r/vandwellers/

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2014, 09:41:09 AM »
I'll shoot an email to my buddy who is a cop in Richmond. He'll know the CA laws and as well as some local ordinances.

I know that down in the Monterey penninsula it is highly illegal but I would always see the same old VW vans near the beach day after day.

kib

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2014, 09:48:06 AM »
I love this site, which also has a forum section for car dwellers. 

http://www.cheaprvliving.com/forums/Forum-Car

I have camped in my Matrix, and it's not especially pleasant.  The biggest issue imho is climate control - humidity and heat, and also cold and condensation.  Perhaps the peninsula offers outdoor temps that make this less of an issue.  For me there was also the sense of being very vulnerable and public even with window shades.  Not so much in a van, which is raised up a bit, but somehow being 2' off the ground in a car felt really exposed.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2014, 09:50:31 AM by frufrau »

DSKla

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2014, 09:58:56 AM »
Can you get work at Google?

http://www.businessinsider.com/employees-who-live-at-google-2014-9

Sounds like people with shower access often get to park in their company lot. I don't know what your parking rules are. You should look into them. Our lot is 24 hr access since it serves so many types of employees and shifts, and it could easily be done without harassment. My buddy showered at work for weeks between apartments once.

If you can't park in the lot, most meters are off overnight. You could just plant a van on a different street every night. I doubt an RV would work in SF.

Worst case, rent a parking space in a lot or garage. It'll probably cost a lot less than 1k, though in SF, I can't be sure.

greenplace

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2014, 10:21:21 AM »
Can you get work at Google?

http://www.businessinsider.com/employees-who-live-at-google-2014-9

Sounds like people with shower access often get to park in their company lot. I don't know what your parking rules are. You should look into them. Our lot is 24 hr access since it serves so many types of employees and shifts, and it could easily be done without harassment. My buddy showered at work for weeks between apartments once.

If you can't park in the lot, most meters are off overnight. You could just plant a van on a different street every night. I doubt an RV would work in SF.

Worst case, rent a parking space in a lot or garage. It'll probably cost a lot less than 1k, though in SF, I can't be sure.

I am happy(ish) at my current job, it is a large company with the same kind of amenities as Google. The company gym, cafeteria, parking lots are available to me. If I did get a new job, believe me it would not be in the bay area!

I love this site, which also has a forum section for car dwellers. 

http://www.cheaprvliving.com/forums/Forum-Car

I have camped in my Matrix, and it's not especially pleasant.  The biggest issue imho is climate control - humidity and heat, and also cold and condensation.  Perhaps the peninsula offers outdoor temps that make this less of an issue.  For me there was also the sense of being very vulnerable and public even with window shades.  Not so much in a van, which is raised up a bit, but somehow being 2' off the ground in a car felt really exposed.

Temperatures here are not that variable and it is generally pretty comfortable. I would sleep during the day so would have to find something shaded like a parking garage.

mm1970

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2014, 11:05:07 AM »
I live in Santa Barbara.

I had a former coworker who lived in a motorhome that he parked in the office parking lot.

I have a current coworker who lives in a converted bus, and pays about $200/month to park it in our old building's parking lot (there's a little hidden spot in the back of the old industrial complex).

If you wanted to be stealth, I'd go with a van, and preferably a tall van that looks like a cable company or construction van.  Then you can park at work lot.
If you know anyone with space to park an extra vehicle, you could rent space at someone's house (in SF, ha!!)

I know SF itself is bad, but there are larger lots in places like Mountain View.

I personally don't know how I feel about it.  On one hand, I gotta hand it to people who do that, living within their means (some have no choice).  On the other, I get tired of the ratty old motorhomes parked on our streets - and some dwellers drink/smoke/do drugs and it's not pleasant.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2014, 11:54:19 AM »
Where on the peninsula do you work?  Depending on the city there may be areas that commonly have RVs/semi trailers parked on them that you could post up around.  Find a couple of those and you can move back and forth, do one week in each, etc.  There was a thread on here several months ago by someone in san jose thinking of doing the same thing.  I've seen a couple areas there that commonly had RVs parked, so it's doable.  Not sure if he followed through with that plan.  If I was single I'd consider it to save money but it couldn't be a long term solution.  I would need a hard end date to have something to look forward to for sanity reasons.

dragoncar

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2014, 01:07:15 PM »
Sounds like you are really lucky -- if you can sleep during the day you have a lot more options.  You're going to run into way more trouble parking/sleeping overnight.  Nobody will look twice at a white van parked during the day.

This was actually legal in Palo Alto for a long time.  They recently passed a law against it, but I don't think it's being enforced. 

Practically speaking, you are likely to get a warning first, and even a fine would not compare to rent. 

If you can find an unincorporated area, enforcement will be even more lax.

But how's the parking lot at your job?  Assuming there are plenty of workers during the day, I think you can be very stealth just sleeping there.  Or, as you mention, a parking garage.  Just get a monthly pass?

lostamonkey

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2014, 01:09:53 PM »
I am pretty sure that Walmart allows people to park in their parking lots overnight in their American locations.

Rylito

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2014, 01:48:15 PM »
Another option to look into is to see if there are any boat sublets available at Oyster Point or Brisbane marinas.  (San Leandro is another cheap option in the East Bay if you can handle that commute--sounds like it wouldn't be too bad since you're working off-shift). 

You maybe able to rent a boat for $600-$1000 month, have the space all to yourself, and it will provide more room than a van.  If you never take the boat out, maintenance is pretty minimal.  Marinas all have showers if your the one in your boat is too cramped for your liking. 

Living on a boat is not for everyone, but I would take the beauty of living on the water, experiencing the wildlife of the bay first hand, and the camraderie of a marina community any day over living in a parking lot.

LifestyleDeflation

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2014, 06:20:30 PM »
Hey greenplace- I've lived in my car in the bay area for several months. Here's a few things to consider:

-Make yourself comfortable. This probably means a flat surface and mattress of some kind.
-Hide yourself from view. I sleep at night, so I don't even bother with curtains or anything, but I'd recommend you do better than me because of your daytime sleep schedule.
-You'll at some point get a knock on your window from a cop. Just be honest and relaxed, and ideally be dressed somewhat nicely. I typically sleep in a button down shirt and khaki shorts, so I don't exactly look like a bum. As long as you're respectful, it's highly unlikely you'll get a ticket. (I've never gotten one, and I've been living this way for the better part of a year)
-Keep essentials with you- a large water bottle and a backup water bottle, non-perishable food (nuts are great!), and something you can use as a toilet if you'll ever be without one.


I think that's about everything important I can tell you. Drop me a pm if there's anything else I can help you with!

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2014, 01:07:38 AM »
Ok my buddy (a cop in Richmond) says that his city has an ordinance against it but they just move you along. They never arrest/fine/charge anyone for it. So that city is an option if you're in a pinch.

However, he said they literally don't care in Berkeley. So, I know that's probably a bit of a commute for you, but if you could wait until after rush hour it might be worth it.

Happy in CA

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2014, 08:53:22 AM »
The Palo Alto ordinance prohibiting vehicle habitation was reversed last month because the city council feared lawsuits (a similar ordinance in southern Cal was found unconstitutional).  Google Palo Alto car camping ban or Palo Alto Vehicle Habitation Ordinance for details.

Exflyboy

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2014, 06:42:07 PM »
I took a job in 2012 that was 80 miles away from home.. The company had a secure multi-storey carpark and I so wanted to do this.

I found that I could lie flat in my Dodge Neon if I made a small shelf to stand in front of the rear seat, and remove the bottom pat of the seat.

It was so doable at least for the 2 to 3 nights a week I would be staying there.

Sadly my Wife found out what I was up to and she had a preverbial cow..:)

So I finally found a closet at work and slept one night in the factory just to prove the concept... The car was a more secure choice though. It turned out there was a little community of folks who did this and Security looked the other way.. Damn!

Frank

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Re: Living in your vehicle - SF/peninsula
« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2014, 10:11:33 AM »
The Palo Alto ordinance prohibiting vehicle habitation was reversed last month because the city council feared lawsuits (a similar ordinance in southern Cal was found unconstitutional).  Google Palo Alto car camping ban or Palo Alto Vehicle Habitation Ordinance for details.

Palo Alto would seem to be the best option, then. My only worry would be the culture of the community. Regardless of city ordinances or police presence, if the people are extremely unhappy with people they view as vagrants/scoflaws, then you still might have difficulties. Someone can always find something you're doing wrong.