Housing can be a lot more difficult than just choosing a place and moving in. Sometimes, when the situation calls for it, creativity and innovation come in handy. Here are five stories of people that have disregarded the “traditional” way of living and found their place on their own terms.

Regardless of whether it’s because rent prices are getting ridiculous in certain parts of the world (we’re looking at you, San Francisco) or because some people just like a bit of unconventionality and adventure in their lives, we’ve seen quite a few articles out there about people who have gone against the grain when it comes to their living situation. Here’s a short overview of their stories.

Luke Iseman lives in a shipping container

With the housing costs of San Francisco going through the roof, there aren’t many options left for a lot of people. Garages are converted to studios, offices to lofts, living rooms to rentable units, many without permits. According to the Department of Building Inspection, as many as 60,000 San Franciscans live in illegal housing, and there are more and more people who seek for other options to make it work.

Luke Iseman, for example, lives in a 160-square-foot shipping container, which is one of 11 miniature residences inside a warehouse he leases across the Bay Bridge from the city. If all goes according to plan, he’ll get a startup out of his response to the most expensive U.S. housing market.

An interior view of Luke Eisman's converted shipping container, complete with a kitchen and shower, is seen as it rests in a warehouse in Oakland, California, U.S., on Thursday, July 9, 2015. Luke Eisman and a group of friends have started a community living in converted cargo containers in response to high housing costs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Photographer: Michael Short/BloombergThe inside view of one of the containers. Photo: Michael Short/Bloomberg.

“It’s not making us much money yet, but it allows us to live in the Bay Area, which is a feat,” said Iseman. “We have an opportunity here to create a new model for urban development that’s more sustainable, more affordable and more enjoyable.”

Across the bay, Iseman collects $1,000 a month for each of the 11 structures parked in the 17,000-square-foot warehouse he rents for $9,100. Tenants include a Facebook Inc. engineer, a SolarCity Corp. programmer and a bicycle messenger.

Read the whole story on Bloomberg Business.


A Google employee lives in a truck in the company’s parking lot

When 23-year-old Brandon headed from Massachusetts to the Bay Area in mid-May to start work as at Google, he opted out of going for an overpriced San Francisco apartment (this is becoming a recurrent theme, isn’t it?). Instead, he moved into a 128-square-foot truck, and now saves 90% of his income. His only fixed cost is truck insurance – $121 a month, as he doesn’t use electricity and his phone bill is handled by Google.

 truckBrandon’s 2006 Ford, which cost him $10,000. Photo: Business Insider.

As for food, showers, and charging his laptop – that all happens on the Google campus. He eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner at work and showers every morning in the corporate gym post-workout. Besides one friendly run-in with security after getting home late one evening, his truck lifestyle hasn’t been a problem.

His choice provides more than financial freedom – it forces him outside of his comfort zone, an essential learning experience considering he hopes to travel the world.

“If I do plan on traveling the world, I’ll need to be comfortable with unconventional living situations, and this is certainly a good place to start,” he writes. “Plus, there is never going to be a better time in my life for me to try this. I’m young, flexible, and I don’t have to worry about this decision affecting anyone else in my life.”

Read the whole story on Business Insider.


Leonie Müller lives on trains

Most people get off the train at the end of the journey, but not Leonie Müller – she actually lives on them, and says she likes it that way. The German college student gave up her apartment in spring 2015. “It all started with a dispute I had with my landlord,” Müller told The Washington Post. “I instantly decided I didn’t want to live there anymore — and then I realized: Actually, I didn’t want to live anywhere anymore.”

leoniePhoto: Felix Mayr

Instead of renting another place, she bought a subscription that allows her to board every train in the country for free. Now, she washes her hair in the train bathroom and writes her college papers while traveling at a speed of up to 190 mph. She says that she enjoys the liberty she has experienced since she gave up her apartment. “I really feel at home on trains and can visit so many more friends and cities. It’s like being on vacation all the time.”

Living on a train is also supposed to have an academic purpose: Müller is documenting the unusual experiment on a blog, and her final undergraduate paper will be based on her experiences as a modern train-nomad.

Read the whole story on the Washington Post.


Daniel Norris lives in a VW camper van

The future of the Toronto Blue Jays, Daniel Norris, has always lived by his own code. His code also includes waking up in a 1978 Volkswagen camper. This is where Norris has chosen to live: in a broken-down van parked under the blue fluorescent lights of a Wal-Mart in the Florida suburbs.

norrisPhoto: ESPN

He bought the van in 2011, a few weeks after signing his first contract out of high school with the Blue Jays, and the VW has been his best friend and his spiritual center ever since.

The van is his escape from the pressures of the major leagues and a way of dropping off the grid before a season in which his every movement will be measured, catalogued and analyzed. If a baseball life requires notoriety, the van offers seclusion. If pitching demands repetition and exactitude, the van promises freedom.

“It’s like a yin-and-yang thing for me,” he says. “I’m not going to change who I am just because people think it’s weird. The only way I’m going to have a great season is by starting out happy and balanced and continuing to be me. It might be unconventional, but to feel good about life I need to have some adventure.”

Read the whole story on ESPN.


Kurt Varner lived out of his car for 4 months in Silicon Valley

A few years ago, a Silicon Valley product designer named Kurt Varner saved a ton of money and learned a lot about life by living in his car for four months, and also wrote about his experiences on Quora in March 2013 and explained pretty much all the details of his arrangement – what he ate, how he slept, how he managed to keep his privacy etc.

kurtvarnerKurt Varner and his former home (photo by Kurt Varner)

By going for his mobile arrangement, Kurt managed to cut down his monthly costs to $219 – $100 for a 24/7 co-working membership, $39 for a 24/7 gym membership, and $80 at the grocery store.

Today, he has his own version of the Silicon Valley dream — he resides in Mountain View (not in a car), and has a job as a Senior Product Designer at the on demand shipping startup, Shyp. Beyond the obvious cost savings mentioned before, he’s said that period of his life helped him gain perspective on what really matters, including compassion for others less fortunate and the focus to pursue his true passion of design.


What are some of the most interesting living arrangements you’ve come across or heard of? Is there a story you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments!