NEW YORK – Google’s Mountain View headquarters boasts so many perks – like complimentary meals, nap chairs and a free laundromat – it’s no wonder a few employees have hacked their way out of rent and made the ‘Googleplex’ their permanent address.
A few Googlers told their stories about living on campus in a recent thread on Quora, with two ex-employees saying they camped out on campus for more than a year.
Shana Sweeney, a former Google employee who worked in benefits, wrote that employees weren’t ‘technically’ supposed to live on campus, but that many got away with it by ‘living in their cars in the parking lot’.
Dare: Weaver says he started living on the Google campus when his initial sublet in Berkeley ran out, and a friend dared him to live in an RV instead
Home is where the car is: Brandon Oxendine lived out of his station-wagon for three months in the summer of 2012 while working at Google
She says she knew someone who lived out of a camper in the parking lot for 2-3 years, showering at the gym and taking advantage of the free meals in order to save up enough money to buy a house.
Former programmer Ben Discoe bought a custom conversion van for $1,800 and lived out of that for 13 months, between October 2011 and November 2012.
He says he lived in the lot because he had alimony and a house payment on his Hawaii farm to pay and ‘no money left for South Bay rental prices’.
Work life: Google is one of a few tech companies who entice their employees to work longer hours with awesome amenities
Free food: Perhaps enabling some employees to set up camp on campus is the various amenities, like free breakfast, lunch and dinner. Above, a Google chef makes hand-rolled sushi at the headquarters
Rec room: Above, an employee plays pool at a break area at the Googleplex in Montain View, California
Fresh perks: A Google employee gets an employee at a mobile hair salon on the campus
Discoe outfitted the van with a mattress from IKEA and curtains on the windows and eventually saved enough money to move to the Mission District in San Francisco.
While living on campus did not seem to be encouraged, Discoe says no one ever tried to kick him out.
‘It is very likely technically in violation of some obscure code or city ordinance. Google Security came by very early on, but 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,’ Discoe wrote.
Long-time staff site ecologist Matthew J Weaver also lived on the Google campus for 13 months, between July 2005 and August 2006.
However, he told MailOnline that the company was much smaller then and he doubts an employee today would be able to pull off the same feat.
Parties in the parking lot: Weaver says he held parties with co-workers at his camper on Thursdays when the weather was nice. However, he added that living on campus meant it was hard to stop working, and he averaged 80-90 hour weeks
Home sweet Google: Above, another view of Weaver’s set-up at the Google campus. He says it would be much harder for an employee now to get away with a similar camp, due to the company’s growth
He says he did it on a dare from a coworker after his initial sublet in Berkeley ran out after six months, and he started looking for somewhere else to live.
‘One thing led to another and he started sending me links to RVs on Craigslist. I found a really nice one … basically, someone had died and left their RV to their daughter who wanted nothing to do with it. It was a 24-foot used RV and I parked it in the back corner of campus,’ he told MailOnline.
Weaver said the Google address ended up being ‘excellent’ for his career.
‘We would hold regular parties at the RV on Thursdays when the weather didn’t suck. I had an astroturf lawn and white picket fence for a while,’ he wrote.
However, one downside to living on campus was the winter, when the weather turned wet and filled Weaver’s camper with condensation and the fact that it was hard to keep a work life balance.
Weaver estimates he worked 80-90 hour work weeks when he lived on campus, and basically just worked and slept during the week in that period.
He also wasn’t able to work off Google’s wireless parked that far out, so he had to buy his own cellular card to use the internet.
Security also checked out his vehicle a couple of times, but Weaver says once they figured out he was an employee, they actually ended up keeping an eye on his stuff when he wasn’t around.
Brandon Oxendine, a former Google visual designer, lived on campus for a few months in the summer of 2012, when he slept in his Volvo station wagon in the parking garage.
Like Discoe, Oxendine bought a mattress for the car, and installed black-out curtains for privacy, until he eventually moved to San Francisco.
‘I’ve always enjoyed having very little possessions and have always had dreams of living out of a car ever since my first car (an old station wagon),’ he said.
‘I was in a unique situation working at Google where I had showers and food that were very convenient to me. I really enjoyed it and would do it again.’
Discoe told MailOnline that he was never approached by security, but that he also kept his digs a secret for fear he could be fired.
He says he decided to try living in a car as an experiment, and not for money. However, he added that the Bay Area housing market is notoriously awful and he was paying around $1,600 in rent each month, which was money he saved while living in the parking garage.
MailOnline’s emails to Google public relations were not immediately returned Wednesday morning.