One Google employee brings new meaning to the term “company man”: For nearly two years, he and his wife lived in a small RV in the parking lot of the tech giant’s Mountain View, California, headquarters.
They’re not the only people to live on the company’s campus — which is known for perks like free meals and fitness classes — and they claim to be the longest-running residents of the lot.
Pete, 33, will have been at Google for five years this April. He started as a temp and now works as a program manager for the research-and-development team. Nearly two of those five years, from January 2012 to October 2013, were spent living in the Google parking lot with his wife, Kara, 28.
They had no electricity or water during their parking-lot stint. It was basically “glorified camping,” Kara described on their blog, “Pete and Kara Living,” but it allowed them to save 80% of their take-home pay, despite living in the notoriously pricey Bay Area.
Today their “mini Winnie” is still alive and kicking, but now it’s parked in the driveway of their home, which they bought with their sizable savings in the summer of 2013.
Business Insider talked to the couple about their unique experience and their transition to traditional home ownership.
The couple purchased their 21-foot 1985 Winnebago Lesharo in September 2010. At the time, they were based in Chicago, where Pete was finishing up a summer contract with the Chicago Park District and Kara was teaching at a Montessori school.
They found the lightly used Winnebago Lesharo for sale in Warrenville, Illinois, Kara wrote on their blog. “We went to see it, took it for a test drive, and made him an offer. It was ours for $1,900, about half of what we originally expected to pay.”
Shortly after, they quit their jobs, sold all of their belongings, and moved to Pete’s parents’ home in Attica, Michigan, to prepare the Winnebago before setting out on the next chapter of their lives: living as full-time RV residents in Austin, Texas.
They kept renovations cheap — under $100 — which consisted of ripping out the back passenger seats to build a twin bed with storage underneath and installing “a peel-and-stick wood-looking floor,” Pete tells Business Insider.
While renovations cost next to nothing, repairs ultimately became one of their biggest expenses. Pete estimates that over time, they’ve put $10,000 into the RV, mainly for repairs.
Measuring a little less than 100 square feet, the Winnebago came with a small kitchen area with a propane stove top and sink, a kitchen table surrounded by two booths, and enough storage to accommodate their two bikes, clothes, and spare parts for the RV. It also had a shower and toilet, which they didn’t use often.
After finishing preparations, they left for Austin in early December 2010. They set up camp in an RV park and started looking for work. “There was quite a bit of uncertainty at this time because we had no jobs and only $10,000,” Pete tells Business Insider.
Four months later and in the nick of time, Pete got a call about a temp position at Google. “We were on our last $50, shopping at Walmart for rice and beans,” Pete remembers. “There was some legitimate fear and uncertainty at that time and we were a few weeks — if not days — from losing everything.”
The call turned into a job, which he started right away in April 2011. He worked remotely until January 2012, at which point Pete, Kara, and their Winnebago left Austin and headed west to Google’s headquarters.