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Googlers living at Google: Tiny spaces, probably no sex

It is really, really expensive to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mountain View, Calif., the South Bay city that's home to the Google campus, is no exception — the median home price there is more than $1.3 million.

Google, a multinational tech conglomerate with a famously quirky and insular corporate culture, has a lot of open parking space at night. It has a lot of conference rooms, nap pods and other places with lots of comfortable furniture. There's also free food for employees, plus gym access and showers and so on.

Put this all together and you get a proud lineage of cash-strapped Googlers who live in cars or in empty spaces on the company campus.

Google employees play volleyball on the company campus in Mountain View, California.
Getty Images
Google employees play volleyball on the company campus in Mountain View, California.

A lot of these people are under some financial burden, but people at Google generally make enough money that they can figure out some living arrangement. It seems that Google employees who choose to live on campus — in a car, RV, conference room or wherever — are really just a bunch of moderately cash-trapped workaholics who are cool with (presumably) having little to no sex and sleeping in either very small or very public spaces.

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A story in Business Insider today highlights the example of one 23-year-old Google employee named Brandon, who has spent the last few months living in a 2006 Ford truck with more than 150,000 miles, for which he paid $10,000. Brandon is the latest in this tradition of thrifty, predominantly male Googlers, a bunch of whose stories you can read about in this Quora post.

Here are some from the Quora hall of fame:

Brandon Oxendine, former designer. Lived at Google from June 28 to September 22, 2013.

Brandon lived in a subterranean parking garage in a Volvo station wagon that sported an Ikea twin mattress in the back and blacked-out windows. He then moved in with a friend in San Francisco's Mission District, where he presumably saw sunlight.

Ben Discoe, former UI programmer. Lived at Google from October 2011 to November 2012.

Ben, the longest-dwelling Googler that we know about, was caught between alimony and payments on a farm in Hawaii. He bought a 1990 GMC Vandura van for $1,800. Discoe says the van had been modified by a "burner," which is a polite term for someone who attends Burning Man. He lived in the van for over a year. And in case you thought Google's security team was slacking off, Discoe says they were onto him from relatively early on: "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."

Matthew J. Weaver, former ecologist. Lived at Google from July 2005 to August 2006.

Matthew says he lived in an RV near the US-101N onramp on a dare for 54 weeks, throwing parties and generally having a good time. This was before smartphones became a thing (and wireless Internet wasn't available where he was), so we can only assume he read a lot and thought deeply about why he was living in an RV at the office complex where he worked.

Anonymous. Lived at Google from 2011 to September 2014(?).

Somebody on Quora posted in September of last year that he or she had been living at Google since 2011. That is three years. If you have any idea who this person is, please email me.

Other anonymous dude. Lived at Google from May 2011 to July 2012.

This anonymous person, who sounds as though he has an obnoxious competitive streak, says that living in cars is cheating (Google buildings only, people!) and that he lived at Google for about 14 months. Cool story, bro.

We reached out to Google, which declined to comment for this story. We haven't heard anything back from Mountain View officials on whether or not living on the Google campus is kosher.

If you know anyone who has lived on the Google campus or you are someone who's lived there, please send an email noah@recode.net to tell us about it. Your secret is safe with us.

Thanks to Kurt Von

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By Noah Kulwin, Re/code.net.

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