A Man, a Car and His Startup

***This post was written by entrepreneur Kurt Varner who moved from LA to Silicon Valley to launch his startup***

In two days, I will leave my cushy life in Los Angeles to live from my car in Silicon Valley. Yep, that’s right. From my car. It’s going to be one of the most adventurous things I’ve ever done, and will be a challenge to say the least.

Why am I doing it? Trust me, a lot of serious thought went into this decision. The main reason being that the Bay Area is the center of the startup universe, and I know that locating there is best for both my startup and me as an entrepreneur. That being the case, I’m going to do whatever it takes to be in that environment.


But why my car?  Mainly, because I don’t have to pay rent to my car. I currently have an apartment in LA with my beautiful and supportive wife. She is staying here until the summer, and it’s not feasible for us to rent two apartments.

People keep asking me if I could stay with a friend. Given that my current network in the Bay Area consists of only a couple of people, I wrote this option off from the beginning. However, to my surprise, a friend recently reached out to me and offered to let me crash at his place. Although I truly appreciate the gesture, I’m sticking with my Honda. No, I’m not crazy. I just don’t feel comfortable completely bumming off my friends. I also don’t want to put myself into a situation where I have to worry about when I have access to the house, overstaying my welcome, pissing off roommates, etc. With my car, I know I have a consistent place to sleep that allows me to stay focused on work.

Furthermore, a non-obvious benefit of living from my car is gaining a minimalistic perspective on life. Everyday, I take for granted things like a warm bed, shower, and home cooked meals. It’s easy to lose sight of how privileged we are as middle class Americans, but hundreds of millions of people are without these basic things. I’m no adamant philanthropist, but it can’t hurt to better appreciate the little things in life.

So that’s that. I’m set on living from my car. You may be curious as to how all of the logistics are going to work. Where can I park, shower, work, and eat? How exactly am I going to sleep in my car? I’ve been planning this for a while and think I’ve got most of it covered.

Parking – You can find me on the hard streets of Palo Alto. It’s the only Bay Area city that allows you to live from your vehicle. So, it looks like I’ll be parking there. However, vehicle habitation is currently a hot topic in Palo Alto, and may be voted illegal in the near future. If it does become illegal, I’m sure I can find a privately owned lot that will allow me to stay. And if all else fails, I can always buy a car cover.

Showering – This may be the most difficult detail to pull off. I’m really going to rely on the startup community to help me out here. My plan is to post $1 listings on Zaarly and to ask for showers through Twitter. Despite the difficulty, I really like the challenge of finding a shower. I think that it presents a great opportunity to meet new people and start expanding my network. This attempt may end in total failure, in which case I will purchase a YMCA membership. Not a bad worst-case scenario.

Working – I plan to work from two co-working spaces, the Hacker Dojo and PariSoma. The Hacker Dojo is located in Mountain View and is $100 per month for a full-time membership. PariSoma is in San Francisco and will cost $295 for full-time. The rationale for working from two spaces is to meet more like-minded people and to quickly get plugged into the community. I’m a single founder looking for a co-founder, so this aspect is key. I also want to ensure that I am meeting people from both Silicon Valley and San Francisco. That being said, I’ll probably only keep both memberships for the first month. After that, I will stay at the Hacker Dojo as it will be closer to my car and is less expensive.

Eating – One great benefit of having a co-working membership is that they have kitchenettes. I’ll prepare most of my food there. I can store a small amount of perishable food in their refrigerators and everything else I can keep in my car. Admittedly, I won’t be eating like a king, but I’ll make it work.

Sleeping – My sleep will revolve around a sleeping bag, long underwear and a foam mattress pad. I’ve folded down my car’s back seats and laid the mattress pad from the trunk up to the rear of the interior.

I feel confident I’ve got all the big issues under control. Maybe I’m missing something, but I’ll figure that out when the time comes.

Ok, so how long do I plan to live like this? Good question. Well I’m definitely not getting an apartment until mid-July. So that leaves me with four months that are up in the air. However, there’s no possible way to actually understand the difficulty of living from a car until I’m literally doing it. As of now, the plan is to try and pull through until summer.  But overall, I’m just taking everything a day at a time, and if it’s clear that my living situation needs to change, then I’ll re-evaluate my options at that point.

I’ll be regularly blogging about my journey here, and you can follow my daily updates on Twitter. I’d love to hear your thoughts or advice. You can email me, reply below or comment on Hacker News. And if you live in the Bay Area, it’d be a pleasure to meet you.

Here’s to being relentlessly resourceful and not conforming to the status quo.