Jared Polivka


How to Live in Rented Office Space in San Francisco

#throwback to scrappy 2012… this post is an answer the Quora question: “What are the challenges of living in rented office space in San Francisco?

As Bruce Feldman suggested, living in an office might be detrimental to your health. But weren’t those high-rise, asbestos insulated, moldy dorms unhealthy during college?

In the hunt for your office space/apartment, you should look for an office with the following characteristics:

24 Hour Access

The office being open 24/7 is crucial. You never want to be trapped in your office at night. Luckily, the majority of offices have 24 hour access. A small percentage of offices have showers; if your office doesn’t have a shower, make sure you have ‘round the clock access and go shower at the nearest gym.

Private Room with a Door

Here’s why:

  • Go to sleep when you want without people noticing. Close the door, draw your office curtains and turn in. Better than sleeping in common areas or open spaces where you have to stay up until everyone else is gone.
  • Offices have cameras. Usually focused on common areas and entry ways, cameras are practically never in private rooms. Know the path that avoids the cameras and gets you to the bathroom at night. Otherwise stay in your office until morning (and put a bucket in the corner or something).
  • Storage. In order to pull this off, you need to be a minimalist. You can’t own a lot of stuff. You should own 3–4 shirts, a couple pairs of pants, undergarments, a pair of shoes/sandals, your computer, your shower/bathroom kit, one pillow, one sleeping bag (you are camping bud), and a sleeping mat (go to REI) and that’s about it. Storage is important. You won’t be able to store this meager assortment of goods in the small locker that you are renting at your gym… unless you join a higher end gym that actually does laundry and has decent sized lockers (e.g. Equinox). But that’s a lot of extra cost.
  • Bring “friends” back to the office… ahem, everybody needs private time

Relaxed Decorating Standards

Get a couple of cardboard boxes for storage. You must be able to close the boxes to hide your clothes and sleeping gear. If anyone ever discovers your gear and asks you about it, just say that you store your Yosemite camping gear at the office.

For your desk, save money and buy two saw horses or get concrete blocks. Get an old door and set it on the concrete blocks/sawhorses and lean it up against the wall. These are known as “artist desks” or drafting desks. Should cost you $25–50 total. Find a chair. Done.

*Note, when questioned about your spartan office decor, just say “I’m bootstrapping.” They will nod knowingly and complement you on your frugality

Here’s an example of desk and sleeping setup:

(picture of the apartment, located in Austin at 8th and Brazos, that my co-founder and I shared in 2012… this is the kind of minimalism you should strive for)

Clean Air (so you can rest)

The air must be clean and breathable. Mold or dust will be bad for your health and disrupt your sleep. An air purifier can help but try to go with an office that has good air.

If your office space has these characteristics and you are careful, you will not get caught. Good luck.

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