Being an employee at Google certainly has its benefits, fitness centers and free gourmet buffets come to mind, but even they can’t claim to live in the perfect community. With low-cost housing hard to come by, one Googler is even living in a box truck to save himself thousands of dollars.
This employee, named Brandon, is one of many software engineers working at the tech giant who are feeling the effects of a limited number of cheap living spaces. In the Mountain View community, studio apartments cost an average of $2,000 a month to rent. If that figure seems expensive, that’s because it is. The national average for a studio is only $800, meaning Brandon would need to pay over twice as much as those living in other parts of the country for the same room. Instead, Google’s parking lot has served as a type of neighborhood for Brandon, who bought his truck for $10,000. Since he only pays $121 a month in truck insurance, the truck has paid for itself in savings after only a few months of use.
Google is known for providing its employees with industry-leading benefits, and many of them are located right on the business’ campus. Brandon’s living arrangement is feasible because he has access to food, a gym, showers and other necessities right where he works. However, even those employees with traditional housing are not living in ideal circumstances. Google has its main campus in Mountain View, which is an affluent area zoned for high-cost housing. If a Googler is looking for an inexpensive place to live, he or she won’t find it in nearby neighborhoods filled with single-family houses. Building apartments that would appeal to young Google employees looking to rent their first home is illegal. In other areas, Mountain View allows construction of low-cost housing, but only under regulations that make the apartments pricier than what many can afford.
Google has been hoping to change these conditions to better accommodate its newer employees, but the Mountain View council has not been receptive to its proposals. Ronit Bryant, a council member, has said allowing the development of a large number of cheap studios in the area would not build a community, but instead an environment similar to that of college dorms. He points to similar arrangements in China, where workers are often brought in by companies and located in quarters with minimal breathing room.
Google’s lower earning employees are perhaps more profoundly affected by Mountain View’s high-cost nature. A growing number of Googlers are living as far as an hour away from the campus though they do benefit from a shuttle that picks them up every day. Brandon may be living in his truck, but let’s not forget he has all the amenities one could wish for at the Googleplex.