When Levi Joseph scored a manufacturing internship in Seattle for his last summer before graduating college, he waited a little too long to scope out a place to stay.
A friend in the area had a spare room … but not until July, leaving Joseph without housing for 40 days.
Limited to options costing over $1,000 a month — out of his budget — the 22-year-old decided he’d book a space in a campsite through Airbnb for about $600 and live in his
Subaru Outback through the month of June.
Looking back on the experience, he says the biggest challenge was the lack of
space to decompress after work. You end up spending your spare time in your car if you’re not careful, Joseph said.
“I didn’t feel homeless, but I didn’t feel cosy in the same way I would if I had an apartment,” he said. “That, combined with starting my first ever serious corporate internship, was a lot of additional stress.”
So he tried to spend his non-work hours elsewhere. “At first I found I was spending that time in my car reading or doing emails,” he said. “Then I started going to coffee shops, but I didn’t want to spend all that money. I was staying in a suburb so I started going to a cute neighbourhood library after work. I befriended the local librarians.”
He also joined a local rock climbing gym for its utilities and companionship, and ultimately found a community of fellow climbers sleeping in their cars (or vans) in the parking lot.
There were some upsides: “I do think it forced me to be pretty resourceful for a month and to appreciate basic creature comforts,” he said. “I sit on the couch in my apartment now and I’m like, ‘I love this couch.'”