Author Topic: Thinking about living in my office, looking for tips/advice (bit long)  (Read 4731 times)

babysnowbyrd

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The story: I was recently laid off from a decent-paying job (for me). I moved out of state on my own to do it and it was going to be a long-term career. Unfortunately I was laid off after only about 18 months. I gave a lot and stayed late during the busy months for up to 70 hours a week sometimes. I lived frugally, and while coworkers were buying new houses, paying for renovations, and of course buying the biggest clown trucks available, I have a paid for '92 Honda wagon and an electric bike I was starting to use more and more for transportation. I was making small headway in my many debts.

Anyway, after being laid off I decided not to stay in the area and move to be closer to my niece. She has an extremely rare genetic condition with a lot of unknowns, so according to doctors her life expectancy is anywhere from 5-45 years. I've already been away in different places most of the time, and I've felt keenly to be missing out on her life, which may or may not be for very long, and of course, time is something that you can't get back when someone precious is gone.

So I'm close to her now, which is great, but wages generally suck where I'm at unless you're tech-savvy (I'm not) or are willing to take jobs of higher-responsibility and stress and of course, require overtime.  It's the classic question here on these forums: make money fast with a job I hate/make it slower with something less soul-sucking. I'm not willing to give up my time and being for money like I did before.

So what I've done is picked up a graveyard shift that pays 9.50/hr. It's just not enough for my expenses, and hair-on-fire debts. I also have a side business I started a year ago that I really want to focus on to build up to be my main income. I happened to find a small office space for rent in an old building on the main street of the town I live in. It's $250/month. I'm very seriously considering renting the space for my business and covertly living there. I see many advantages that make this a real possibility:

*Because the building used to be an old hotel and has been renovated a few too many times, the layout is a bit weird. But because of this, there will be very little traffic from the other offices and businesses past the office I would be using. Most people won't be aware of me during the day at all. There are also no security cameras.

*Because I work a graveyard shift, I will be leaving every night, and returning in the morning. Who's to know I'm not going "home" to sleep?

*There is a bathroom with a shower there. I'm not sure about a kitchen, but I think it's extremely likely that there is one somewhere (a fridge and microwave at least), but if not, I'll have to adapt. I figure I could have a mini-fridge and a microwave in the room without anyone thinking it strange to have.

*Mostly, I think this would give me a big leg up in my business. Having an actual business address will help legitimize my business and get me higher in Google's local search results. I'll have a place for potential clients to come, and even a large room I can schedule for presentations for groups, etc. And like I said, it's a fantastic location on main street, for only $250. It's a ridiculous bargain!

*My brother is quite handy, and thinks he can build me an L-Desk with fake cupboard doors on one side that I could hide a small bed in. I've already pared down a lot of my belongings but I'm trying to be even more minimalistic, so I think with this extra incentive, I can pare down even more and be able to reasonably keep most of my things in the office without looking out of place. A professional-looking wardrobe could probably keep most of my clothes and things while most people who see it would assume it has brochures, or paper and other office supplies.

I read the blog of a man who lived in his office for about a year and a half at www.theofficehobo.com. Several different sites shared his story, and if you google anything about living in an office, you'll see it. It really got me inspired. I have a lot more advantages in my location that the Office Hobo did in his, and far fewer chances to get caught.

I believe this office space would go a long way to helping my business bring in more money, which I desperately need while my current rented room I'm living in does not. I can only afford one, and I think I would get a lot more mileage out of living in the office than running my business in my room, and it's cheaper than my rent, AND includes utilities which current rent doesn't. I'm curious if anyone has done something like this, or knows anyone else who has. I'd like to get any ideas that could help me pull it off.

deborah

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When I was doing post-graduate stuff at uni we had a few big rooms with desks that were shared amongst the 12 students. One of the students decided to live in our area. He had a sleeping bag and slept under his desk and cooked meals in a tiny saucepan on the stove. I don't know where he showered, but there were showers around.

The major problem was that the cleaners came in at 5am to clean, so he had to be up and out of his sleeping bag by that time EVERY day. This wasn't as much of a problem as it might have been since we were doing computing and the computers were so undersized and over used that we all got used to starting any computing we wanted to do at 10pm, after the undergraduates had been locked out for the day. I think this was actually the main reason he started to sleep there.

I see your major problem being that you would be sleeping when everyone else is around and you could be expected to be visited by other tenants of your building, and even your landlord. Also, it might be more of a problem if you snore.

yyc-phil

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I have been living at my office since October 2013, usually two weeks a month as I spend the other two weeks house-sitting. I have everything I need: an espresso machine, mini fridge and microwave, shower, and a comfy couch. It also helps that  there is no security in the building, and I am the boss, which allowed me to cancel our janitorial service because they used to come at 2-3 am and wake me up. I now added cleaning the toilet and emptying the garbage bins to my other executive duties, at most one full hour a week of enjoyable mindless work.

Zx

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I see your major problem being that you would be sleeping when everyone else is around and you could be expected to be visited by other tenants of your building, and even your landlord. Also, it might be more of a problem if you snore.

Well dang it...I'm told I snore like a freight train, so that let's me out of the "live in the office" sweepstakes. Otherwise, it would work, I think.

babysnowbyrd

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When I was doing post-graduate stuff at uni we had a few big rooms with desks that were shared amongst the 12 students. One of the students decided to live in our area. He had a sleeping bag and slept under his desk and cooked meals in a tiny saucepan on the stove. I don't know where he showered, but there were showers around.

How public was his stay? Seemed like maybe a lot knew? Or did it all come out after the fact?

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The major problem was that the cleaners came in at 5am to clean, so he had to be up and out of his sleeping bag by that time EVERY day.

That would suck. The guy at Office Hobo didn't need to get up near that early but did have to deal with unpredictability every other weekend. I don't know the cleaning situation at this new office, but from the vibe I'm getting, I think it's up to the individual companies. If there is a hired service, I'll see if I can opt out. It won't really matter if it's early AM because I won't be there anyway, but evenings and weekends might be a problem. I'll have to look into it!

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I see your major problem being that you would be sleeping when everyone else is around and you could be expected to be visited by other tenants of your building, and even your landlord. Also, it might be more of a problem if you snore.

Luckily, I rarely, if ever, snore. But your point about visitors is a good one. It's why I'd like to have an enclosed and disguised sleeping area instead of say, a futon. And an enclosed sleeping area would help to minimize any potential snoring/loud breathing. Plus regular day noises, traffic from the street, my computer fan etc.

But unexpected visits should be pretty rare. There will be very few, if any, reasons for other tenants to visit my office. I've noticed some of the front offices are not in full use 9-5, and even if they are, their doors are shut, so there's very little visibility. I'd have to pass by their door right as their coming or going to ever see them. I doubt some of them will even know I've moved in until I get my signs added up to the marquee and on my actual door. Again, those in the front offices or upstairs are unlikely to even venture further than the doors to even get to my area.

As for my own clients, I will have my address listed publicly, so I *could* have someone pop by randomly. Most of my contacts with clients is via phone and internet though, so I think an "Out for a meeting: back at noon" sign will probably be a good enough deterrent. Unless, of course, it's close to noon and they decide to camp outside of my door and wait for me.....hmmm. Unlikely but still possible. I'll have to see how many contingency plans I can come up with though, just in case.

SnackDog

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Go for it.  What do you have to lose?

Even rich Google employees get away with it.  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2015-07-22/thirteen-months-of-working-eating-and-sleeping-at-the-googleplex

I wouldn't give up on tech jobs or be intimidated because it is "tech".  Most of the people working in tech jobs are much less qualified than you think.  IT ain't rocket science, for the most part; the bulk is fairly perfunctory stuff.

deborah

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When I was doing post-graduate stuff at uni we had a few big rooms with desks that were shared amongst the 12 students. One of the students decided to live in our area. He had a sleeping bag and slept under his desk and cooked meals in a tiny saucepan on the stove. I don't know where he showered, but there were showers around.

How public was his stay? Seemed like maybe a lot knew? Or did it all come out after the fact?
There were 12 of us. We all knew. I'm not sure that anyone else did though. As I said, we were all around at all hours because of the computer situation, so it would have been very hard for him to hide the fact from any of us. We were a pretty supportive group. One lecturer decided to give us a 24 hour exam, and we all sat at our desks in the rooms to do the exam with no supervision. There were two questions that none of us could figure out (we couldn't work out what he was asking). We collaborated to work out was being asked, and each independently worked out a solution for the first, but for the second we couldn't work out a solution, so we worked out a solution between the seven of us doing the subject.  We all wrote it up. We got it wrong, but a couple of us didn't explain ourselves very well, so we got everything between an A (the poor explanations) and an E (the best explanation) for the answer!

shadowmoss

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If showering becomes an issue, you can join a 24-hr gym such as Planet Fitness for $10-$20/mo.  I work nights and on my off nights I go to the gym around 1-2 am.  Some person was crashed out on one of the hydro massage beds when I was there, and the front desk just said, 'yeah, the manager knows, and said as long as there are other beds available to leave him alone'.  So, potentially being weird about how you use the resources may well be overlooked, at least at PF.

yourusernamehere

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I wouldn't give up on tech jobs or be intimidated because it is "tech".  Most of the people working in tech jobs are much less qualified than you think.  IT ain't rocket science, for the most part; the bulk is fairly perfunctory stuff.
I second this. If you read up on "agile" and business/system requirements, you could probably get a start as a business or systems analyst (maybe start as business analyst, then move into systems- that's what I did... With a psychology degree.) It's not as technical but once you're in "systems," you're in IT. If you enjoy problem solving it can even be fun and challenging too.

babysnowbyrd

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I have been living at my office since October 2013, usually two weeks a month as I spend the other two weeks house-sitting. I have everything I need: an espresso machine, mini fridge and microwave, shower, and a comfy couch. It also helps that  there is no security in the building, and I am the boss, which allowed me to cancel our janitorial service because they used to come at 2-3 am and wake me up. I now added cleaning the toilet and emptying the garbage bins to my other executive duties, at most one full hour a week of enjoyable mindless work.

Wow! That's crazy! I have LOTS of questions for you, but I might have to just PM you when I wake up. How many people know what you're up to?

lifejoy

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I have been living at my office since October 2013, usually two weeks a month as I spend the other two weeks house-sitting. I have everything I need: an espresso machine, mini fridge and microwave, shower, and a comfy couch. It also helps that  there is no security in the building, and I am the boss, which allowed me to cancel our janitorial service because they used to come at 2-3 am and wake me up. I now added cleaning the toilet and emptying the garbage bins to my other executive duties, at most one full hour a week of enjoyable mindless work.

Wow! That's crazy! I have LOTS of questions for you, but I might have to just PM you when I wake up. How many people know what you're up to?

I too, would love to know more.

Also, living at the office ALWAYS makes me think of Bartleby: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartleby,_the_Scrivener

The_path_less_taken

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I think it makes sense, although I'm also wondering if you can't find a higher paying job close to your niece as well?

As far as unexpected visitors, the door notes for your core sleeping time could vary:

"We will be meeting at XYX this week instead of this location." No address, just Zcorp or something vague that looks like an abbreviation.

"Please contact the main office for meeting location."

"This location closed for the day/week for scheduled maintenance/inventory/installation of new hardware." Whatever works for your industry.

oldladystache

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Open by appointment only.

yyc-phil

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I have been living at my office since October 2013, usually two weeks a month as I spend the other two weeks house-sitting. I have everything I need: an espresso machine, mini fridge and microwave, shower, and a comfy couch. It also helps that  there is no security in the building, and I am the boss, which allowed me to cancel our janitorial service because they used to come at 2-3 am and wake me up. I now added cleaning the toilet and emptying the garbage bins to my other executive duties, at most one full hour a week of enjoyable mindless work.

Wow! That's crazy! I have LOTS of questions for you, but I might have to just PM you when I wake up. How many people know what you're up to?

None of my colleagues know about it, although they know that I crash there once in a while when I need to be at the office early before important meetings. Two of my close friends in town know about it, and we sometimes joke that I should open an underground private bar after hours. The office is pretty funky and built on untouched bedrock, with a rock wall that extends through the loft and bathroom. This part of the building used to be the building's former owner's man cave/studio. The photo shows the view from my office, with the rock wall on the left, and on the loft the bathroom (with the striped shower curtain) in the background left of my brown couch. The bottom level has a full half basement on the bedrock, where I store my stuff and my bike away from curious eyes.

yyc-phil

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I see your major problem being that you would be sleeping when everyone else is around and you could be expected to be visited by other tenants of your building, and even your landlord. Also, it might be more of a problem if you snore.

Well dang it...I'm told I snore like a freight train, so that let's me out of the "live in the office" sweepstakes. Otherwise, it would work, I think.

Easy fix. For less than the cost of one month's rent, you could get a custom-made mouth guard to prevent snoring. Even better if you can get it free under a private health care plan like I did for mine.

babysnowbyrd

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Wow! That place has a ton of character! It definitely looks more homey than regular ole office!

babysnowbyrd

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@LiveJoy,

That Bartleby story is sad! I hope my story doesn't end up that way!

babysnowbyrd

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Re: ***UPDATE! I DID IT***
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2015, 04:04:03 AM »
I did it!

So I've gone ahead and leased the place, but I have a few more reservations now that I've actually done it, and I'm going to jump ship where I'm at. It just got "real" I guess. I'll be moved out of my current lease by the end of August, so I have a short time-frame.

I had seen it last week and basically said, "I love it! I'll take it!" and over the course of the weekend, it doubled in size in my mind so when I went back to start planning how I'm going to live in it today, I was kind of sad to see that it had "shrunk."

I'm getting a bit stressed out now.

The place also needs a fair bit of work, and I have pretty much a $0 budget right now. My brother is a handy man and is willing to work for me with payments or babysitting, but has a large project for the next three weeks that will net him $4,000. So, obviously I don't begrudge him for giving that a higher priority than me.

I do need an incognito bed though, so I'm thinking I'll see if I can at least get him to get that built. But getting the rest of it done is going to be a challenge. To get to the office you have to go through a tiny hallway (which will be accessible by the landlord because the thermostat is there, as well as access to the furnace room and a very obvious cellar door that goes into the original 1899 basement) and then through an awkward nook that used to be a bathroom before going into the office space. The nook area is plumbed for a bathroom, but as much as I'd love to have my brother turn it back into an actual bathroom with a private shower, it would definitely look weird to anyone who visits the office to have to come through it. Plus, with a bathroom just around the corner from me, it would probably look too suspicious.

I have the option of keeping the second door locked, so I'm scratching my head and feeling a bit of anxiety about how to best hide the fact that I'm living there. My incognito bed will be built into an L-shaped desk, so the bed part will look like cupboards and be able to be locked from inside and outside in the extremely unlikely even that someone decides to snoop through the office for some reason. But that still leaves me with a way to store and hide my clothes, dirty laundry, toiletries, and kitchen items. I'm thinking at minimum a small fridge/freezer, my multi-use electric grill, blender, rice cooker, and maybe I'll get a small crockpot? Or maybe that's way too much. Plus I'll need at least one set of dishes and washing them might be a bit of a chore because I'll probably have to do it in the bathroom sink after hours...any tips or ideas around that could be useful!

Unexpected Tenants

So, there are several other little buildings on the property. One is an old garage with stuff from the landlord. I understand that it never gets opened. The other is a tiny building just next to it that is actually an apartment (sorta)! No bathroom or kitchen. There's an older Hungarian woman (I'll call her Ana here) living there. She goes into the main building to use the restroom or cook, but apparently, another company is going to rent some space and will be gutting the kitchen. So neither I nor Ana will have access to a place to cook and keep food, but I think they might work something out with Ana and the midwife. Ana does landscaping on the property for her rent.

There is another building that I thought was a birthing center but turns out is also being lived in by a midwife-in-training and her family. So now I know that there are other people living on the property, which increases the amount of care I'll have to take to stay incognito, but I think it's still doable. The other two have their entrances access to the back half of the office building, while I'll be in the front half with an entrance not visible by the other two.

Unexpected bonus

I thought Ana just took care of the flowers out front and the grass at the side of the property, but there's a small area next to the parking lot that is apparently part of the property as well. Ana is taking care of 20 chickens, and four ducks, and is trying to coax and prep the soil to be able to grow vegetables in it next year. She showed me the area and I was quite fascinated by it all. There are even TWO neglected aquaponic systems set up.

Backstory: Along with discovering Mustachianism, anti-consumerism, minimalism, and other -isms over the last few years, I've been wanting to try to provide more for myself and do more things on my own. However, I haven't had been able to due to lack of funds to get some projects started, not owning the property I'm living on or having enough room to try a garden/chicken pen, etc etc. Before I was laid off, I did manage to start a small worm farm, plant some raspberries, and I had started building an aquaponic pond system. I had taken a shipping crate from work for the grow bed on my deck, and I spent the week before getting laid off digging a hole for a pond right below it as a friend gave me a pond liner and heater for free! I spent the week *after* getting laid off filling the hole back in as I prepared to move. I never got to enjoy any raspberries either.

It's crazy to now be living in a place with about a quarter acre of land with chickens, a bunch of raspberry bushes, two aquaponic systems already set up that just need to be cleaned and started up again and other space for veggies. I've already started making friends with Ana and I told her I'd like to help, which she seems grateful for. She's not interested in the aquaponics, so I'll speak with my landlord about taking it on.

I'm in awe really. I'll keep you guys posted!

deborah

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I'd be really simple. Microwave and bar fridge and maybe a sandwich press and a kettle (which all can sit on the fridge on a chopping board). These are things found in a lot of offices, and look like and office - anything else looks like a living place. Add a knife, fork, plate and a couple of cups and it still looks like an office. A small lidded bucket to put dirty plates in and to use for washing up and hiding any other pots you think you need, that can be put in your bedchamber should complete your kitchen. Maybe a second lidded bucket for ingredients that don't go in the fridge. The sandwich press can be used to cook steaks, omelets - just about anything you fry (bacon and eggs) as well as sandwiches (this is good as it is easier to clean up than a fry pan and doesn't splatter as much). The microwave can cook an amazing number of things - including many stews and rice.