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The Office Livin' FAQ

I wrote this back in May of 2001. I left the US in September of that year for London. You don't wanna be homeless in London. It's cold and the people are scary. Most the time I was there I was living in a hostel. It's like a hotel but you share a room with 1 to 7 other people, and it's "cheap", at least compared to paying rent. Getting a place to live in the UK is pretty hard. You have to have a bank account, and to get a bank account you have to have proof of residence. Great catch-22 there. For the last month that I was in the UK I experimented with squatting. The laws are truely insane there. In the end I got caught by the landlord showing someone through and had to hightail it out of there. I moved into the office I was working at until it was time to go back home (to Australia). I currently live in a two bedroom unit with my girlfriend - something this FAQ doesn't address. :)

This FAQ is intended to be humourous. It was a strange time in my life and I thought I would share it. That's not to say that you can't live in your office, just that I hope you too learn that there's more to "home" than a roof over your head.

  1. What exactly do you mean by Office Living?
  2. Why would you want to do that?
  3. So how much do you save?
  4. Is this just about money?
  5. What other benefits are there?
  6. What are the disadvantages?
  7. Do people know?
  8. What do you tell people?
  9. Do they care?
  10. Isn't it embarrassing?
  11. Does your supervisor / manager / CEO know?
  12. Wont you get fired?
  13. Have you ever been told to get out?
  14. How long have you lived like this?
  15. You're just stealing rent!
  16. Isn't this just a stepping stone to true homelessness?

What exactly do you mean by Office Living?

Office Living is the art of living where you work. Most office buildings have a kitchen, a shower and a number of couches to sleep on (but I personally prefer a sleeping bag, on the floor, under my desk).

Why would you want to do that?

I was living in share accommodation with other students. They used to wake me up at 4am playing music or having drunken conversations out on the balcony. At the time I was working full time. I had to get up in the morning and the guys just couldn't understand that. So I moved out, and found another place to live, closer to work. After the third night there I was woken by loud music, yet again. So I bid them farewell and bought a futon and moved into my office. I have yet to be woken up by loud music.

So how much do you save?

Obviously I don't pay any rent. At the time that I began this that wasn't such a big deal. I was paying ridiculously low rent in share accommodation and really the money was not an issue. However, at the time of writing, I am currently in the SF bay area. The price of living here is beyond belief. I basically had a choice, pay $1200/month for a studio apartment (that's basically a nice way of saying that you are sleeping in the lounge room) or move into the office. Here I am.

Is this just about money?

It is not just about avoiding rent. Although that is definitely an issue when the price of living is high. Don't fool yourself, if this appeals to you then there are some deep issues at play.

What other benefits are there?

The place where I currently work supplies free snacks and drinks. I have high speed Internet access, a pinball machine and there's always people around to talk to.

What are the disadvantages?

Some big ones.

  • Privacy. If you have your own office you can lock the door, but if you have an office mate, get used to having to go to the bathroom to change.
  • Property. Don't think that you can bring your stereo into the office. I never much cared for stuff, so that's not such a big deal.
  • Boredom. You really do end up living your entire life in that one room. I read a lot, so I don't run out of too much to keep me entertained.
  • Paranoia. You worry that people are going to take your office, bust in on you when you are sleeping, that sort of stuff.
  • Gossip. Yes, people will talk about you. People will laugh at you, and worry about you. Especially your parents.

Do people know?

Everyone knows. Eventually. The day you move in your office mate knows. Then one by one people start to find out. You can count the people who know for a while and most of them are willing to keep quiet even if you don't ask them. But eventually you will meet the blabbermouth. There will be one person who finds this so incredible that they will tell anyone who will listen. Most the people he tells will already know, but some will be shocked, and then biased, based on the blabbermouth's opinion. This can be a very bad thing. I suggest that you kindly ask the blabbermouth to be quiet.

What do you tell people?

I've always had a place to stay other than the office. A friend who says that you can sleep on their couch, the officemate who suggests that you move in with him. So if anyone asks, I usually say that is where I live, but I haven't been home in a while.

Do they care?

There are two types of people. There are those who think you are nuts and there are those who think you are scum. The later are a problem, because they are likely to go to higher ups and demand that "something be done".

Isn't it embarrassing?

Sometimes, yes. But you choose your own life, and live with the consequences.

Does your supervisor / manager / CEO know?

yes, probably not, yes. As I was walking out to the shower with a towel draped across my shoulders our CEO walked past and casually asked "are you living here?" Difficult situation, eventually people are going to tell the CEO that there is an employee that lives at the office. Do you want to be seen as a lier? Best to give the story about not being home for a while.

Wont you get fired?

It hasn't happened yet, but is certainly a possibility. They would try to find some other reason to fire me I'm sure, but you have to remember that I'm in the office more than anyone, so I get a lot more work done.

Have you ever been told to get out?

No. I've been told that "this isn't your place" but it was more a philosophical argument, like, "don't you want a place of your own?" No, I don't.

How long have you lived like this?

On and off for the last 5 years.

You're just stealing rent!

How? I'm the only one willing to live in the space, it's not like they could rent it to anyone else, and the roof doesn't disappear after business hours.

Isn't this just a stepping stone to true homelessness?

You just may be right. I sometimes look at homeless people and think that I could do that. But there is something about having a roof over your head that is comforting. However, considering yourself homeless when you have the luxuries that office living provides is an insult to the poor, so don't even think you deserve the label.

May 3, 2001
updated: May 15, 2004
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