Living In A Storage Locker Undetected For 2 Months

A Vancouver man [007craft], also known as [Michael], posted a video on YouTube about his living in a storage locker to save money for an apartment. The small space meant he had to incorporate quite a few little hacks to make living there comfortable.

While probably illegal and almost certainly against the storage locker’s terms of service, it seems you can live quite well in a storage locker if times get tough. [Michael] lived in a U-haul storage locker which cost him around $160 per month complete with bed, bar, living area and kitchen including running water. He goes on to explain how his first problem was electricity, which he had to obtain from an outlet quite a distance from his unit, To do this he just plugged in a large extension cord and cable tied it to the wall so it didn’t look too out-of-place, while for his water supply he used two water tanks, one each for waste and fresh water. Surprisingly he says he only needed to change them over around once a week from a water fountain. He did manage to live there undiscovered for 2 months by keeping out of sight as much as possible.

The video includes quite a few small hacks which try to make the most of the tiny space available and is well worth a watch even if you aren’t planning on living in a storage unit, so check it out below the break.

143 thoughts on “Living In A Storage Locker Undetected For 2 Months

  1. This video is several years old, and more importantly, demonstrates a complete disregard for safety, either of the subject or others using the same facilities. I’m all for squatting and expropriation of structures and living spaces, but this is a terrible example.

      1. If you expect security in an unattended storage unit complex, you’re fooling yourself. It’s just nearly free rents for the owner, with none of the usual obligations and assurances. One of the best businesses to be in, if the demand exists.

        1. Must be, things are like weeds around here. Have one of those outdoor units several miles down the road. Not sure this “hack” would be that much above a tent in the woods.

        2. My dad had property that was in an ideal location in our small town for storage rentals, and he could have kept a small workshop to putter in in during his old age. He dismissed the idea as silly because he personally wouldn’t rent storage. Now I wished he had to foresight to at least investigate my suggestion because my mom would be in better finical position. Trouble free is relative if you have to deal with dead beat renters. For dad it was a moot point because he died at age 72.

    1. By several years old you I take it you mean under 1 year? I know it’s not exactly the freshest of video’s being around 8 months ago but not everyone sees video’s on day one, I normally stick to a rule of staying under one month old but I did extend it this time because it was something I wouldn’t normally write about and thought I would give it go as something different.

      1. Spare bedroom’s not the same thing. Squatting is living in buildings that otherwise are not used. Some cities have massive housing shortages, but also plenty of buildings that are empty for years at a time. Add A + B, and that’s your answer.

        I’m sure every squatter would rather have their own home, with legal assurances they can stay in it. But sometimes, especially if you’re poor, that’s not possible. Certainly London is having that problem, lots of service workers on low pay are finding it impossible to live in the city at all! Because of the Tube, some find places to live they can commute from, in areas far from work. It’s why there’s a “London weighting” or “London bonus” on wages for many workers there, and on advertisements for jobs.

        Of course the fact that British people seem to think of their houses as investments, means if a government keeps house prices rising, the mugs that vote for them will think they’ve gained something. Not realising that, to realise the value in an asset, you have to sell it. And when you sell your house, you have to buy a new house. The price of which has also skyrocketed, oops!

        To a large extent the housing shortage is deliberate Tory policy. They changed the law to force councils to sell off their council housing stock (council, like local govt, whatever Americans would call it). They were forbidden from using the money to build more houses, otherwise it might not have been a bad idea.

        There are a few Housing Associations, non-profit, that help. But it’s a huuuuge problem.

        Squatting is taking advantage of what you can find. And that’s hacking!

        1. Ah, the empty property in London fallacy.
          If you’ve got an empty property in London, you rent it out. You’d be an absolute idiot not to.
          Unless it’s not safe to use – in which case squatters shouldn’t be in it either, or it’s got an odd and useless zoning, in which case bad council.

          1. > You’d be an absolute idiot not to.

            There are a certain number of people with more money than sense… And if London is anything like Vancouver or Sydney, that would include some foreign investors who don’t care about receiving income from rent, as long as their money is in housing in a ‘safe’ country

          2. My understanding is that there are practically uninhabited streets of mansions in London where the empty buildings are on lots that are overgrown with weeds, because most of the buildings are owned by foreign investors who have no intention of living there. They might even be owned by sovereign wealth funds, in which case the Investment Corporation of Dubai or Hong Kong Monetary Authority Investment Portfolio aren’t going to move in.

          3. It is documented the number of commercial properties left empty in Sydney, Australia. No rent, no income, no nothing!

            Depending on your tax arrangements the owner could be better off to have a recurrent losses year after year. Also leasing/renting means to keep and maintain the property: cleaning, security, alarms, maintenance, etc.etc. That cost$ money. A lot of.
            The final gain is when selling.

            No, i is not a fallacy in Sydney.
            And I *guess* is not a fallacy either in London …

          4. Everywhere in the stability of the western world that Chinese billionaires can hold investment properties beyond the reach of the Chinese government, they do. This does not include America due to their real estate legislation. Every Australian capital city worth living in (Perth and the whole east coast) has had housing prices skyrocket as a result. The AVERAGE house is over a million dollars in Sydney, around 3/4 of a mil in Melbourne and 1/2 a mil in Brisbane.

      2. This guy was renting the unit so technical he was squatting. Here in the US some states has some pretty strange laws when it comes to actual squatters/squatting Even at that it’s not permissible to trespass if the property owner says no.

    2. > a complete disregard for safety, either of the subject or others using the same facilities.

      I can’t watch the video, could someone explain how it’s dangerous to others? I understand it’s a terrible idea to live in a crate, but don’t really see how it puts anyone else at risk.

    3. Now that’s better then been homeless or asking for hand outs you’re independent on your own and that’s a Blessing having the opportunity to have the knowledge to find everything in use!!! Fantastic.

      1. Immoral!?
        Would you steal a place to sleep at night?
        Violation of contract terms is civil not criminal, where is the immorality?
        This is up there with playing a DVD at a house party with friends over, or letting your girlfriend sleep over at your apartment.
        The bigger problem is what would happen to him and his stuff if they evicted him and his stuff, that is mostly why it is ill advised.
        It is also a problem with stupid zoning laws which strangled to death the YMCA, YWCA, YMJA, etc type starter bed-only uber cheap closet housing people once took advantage of to make the jump from rural to urban life or just go somewhere new or restart their life after abuse or other running away from trouble.

        1. “Violation of contract terms is civil not criminal, where is the immorality?”

          Cheating on a spouse is arguably a civil violation of a marriage contract, not a criminal violation. Are you saying there’s no immorality involved?

          1. Actually in several states it is Criminal. Take Idaho for example. Adultery is a criminal act. Granted, I haven’t heard of anyone pressing criminal charges for it in a long time, but it is, nevertheless, a criminal act, if someone chose to pursue the matter.

  2. It’s been done, sure. The hack is in it’s a great way to survive the Canadian winters. Hackaday readers should remember that not everyone is financially secure, or have a Mom’s Basement nearby.

  3. The likely reason for his need for living like that, about 3:20 in the video. I was also going to say, speakers, toaster ovens, and cooktops will not help you escape detection. Sounds and smells. I doubt that people expect to smell cooking in a storage complex.

      1. My storage place has cameras everywhere and logs in and out times on the entrance gate. Even if they missed the power cord, how did they miss him entering and not leaving every-night until the morning?
        Either someone there knew and didn’t care, or didn’t care to know.

        1. Because you can fob out easily enough without actually leaving. Seriously, it’s like fobbing in but not coming in, just opening and closing the door. Looks fine in the logs. Unless someone then checked the CCTV against them, it’s invisible.

  4. Most of the storage facilities I have used have some sort of security like cameras or unit door detection. With the external modifications to his unit, any worker who walked past would have immediately known something was up. He either had an under the table deal with the someone there or he found one that just doesn’t give a shit what happens on their property. The reason that people don’t do this is because you end up in jail and you lose all of your stuff.

    What the video here doesn’t show is that he was caught and evicted.

    1. That’s exactly the message I would send out as a company when such a video surfaces. Not catching this guy wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but all the other people that might get ideas is.

  5. Circa 2007, I once had a call center job in a pretty upscale sort of place, the kind with big lounges and a gym (complete with showers). Cubicles were nice and (relatively) secluded, and the entire operation was 24 hours. After seeing some of the Gran Turismo team practically living in their cubicles (laundry facilities, tea rooms, etc.), I figured that if a guy had a pretty active social life, he could conceivably live at this call center a few months at a time. Sure, people might get suspicious if he’s there all the time, but if he just checks in to work, use the gym, and only occasionally gets caught napping under his desk off-hours, no one’s really going to bug him about it. However, it’s not a lifestyle, it’s barely above vagrancy and just below camping. At best, it’s a social experiment. That’s my takeaway from this guy’s over-engineered “life hack”, that if this guy can go under the radar for two whole months despite a sound system and a power cord zip-tied to the wall, just think of how many other squatters in lesser places are eking out a living.

    1. Nearly 20 years ago they had a news segment of people living in the offices in Silicon Valley (20/20 or 60 minutes). Some even had couches in their cube to sleep on. And that was before rents really got ugly.

      1. Yah but that was more due to a poor work life balance vs money issues back then.
        I saw a video from around the same era where a guy made his office a second home and even had a bed under his custom made desk.

  6. Anyone who is living in a storage unit but can afford to have a fancy TV and speakers and other gear is stupid. Sell off all the crap you dont need and use that money to afford an actual place to live…

      1. don’t know where you are but rent around here could be as low as $500 a month around here AND its in a decent area. Throw in power and water and it could be just over a $600 a month and that could be worst case for those utility bills.

        1. Yah… what he said. Too many people get the idea that they HAVE to be in a certain area then they wonder why they can’t afford to live.

          I can see that if you are there for a particular school. In that case just do what the rest of us did… learn to put up with people and get a bunch of roommates. It’s a good life experience to help you deal with people later in life anyway.

      2. > rents are $1000 a month or more

        My rent is $650. PER WEEK (not including power, gas, or internet). I’m in a pretty good suburb, but it’s far from the most expensive suburb. A house here is $2M+, a 2 bed apartment is $750k.

        Buying a TV makes fuck-all difference in the scheme of things…

        In the USA, it seems that housing is WAY cheaper than it is in some other countries, like Canada (video guy), or Australia (me).

    1. $1000 dollars for rent. You usually need first, last, and security deposit up front before you can move in. Then you’re required to pay for insurance, to get at least electricity turned on–which might require an additional deposit like $300–etc. So, like bare minimum $3300 and more likely 3450 with insurance. This guy likely just got back from a 3-6 month PCT through hike and burned through all of his financial reserves because you never truly know what you need until you hit the trail. A 32 inch 4k tv is like maybe $400 and it sounds like it was the only thing he bought.

    2. I was thinking the same thing for the money spent on the TV and stuff he could have bought a scooter or a good used beater car and traded the Civic he showed in another video for a truck and camper or even for a used RV vs destroying it trying to turn it into a very crappy stealth camper.

  7. I have a storage locker but you wouldn’t want to try this at my facility.
    About 1.5 years ago I stopped by to get some stuff and forgot to lock the door.
    Same night I got an email from them telling me I forgot to lock it and that I could stop by during office hours to get the key for their lock.
    Just imagine what would happen if you were in the locker and the guards locked you in.

    1. This is the big, glaring red flag for me. I’d sooner live in a tent in the woods than put myself in a steel room with one exit that can and will be locked from the outside. Sure, he’s got the convenience of electricity, but this is a deathtrap.

      If this place is so poorly monitored that for two months nobody has noticed the extension cord, the antenna, the cooking smells, or the music, how long do you think it’s going to take to get out once you DO get locked in? And how long will your water supply last when this happens? Sure, you’ve got your Internet connection and/or phone through the cellular antenna, but that depends on both the antenna and the AC power, either of which are easily lost.

      “You have to become a ghost.” Yeah. That.

  8. I did this for about a month, also lived out of my car in a friend’s parking lot for a few months too. The car was actually better, lol. Had the passenger seat removed to sleep in the floorboard. As for the storage unit, mine only had a light socket, so I used one of those adapters that has a 120 plug in it that are dangerous as hell. My only food was ramen cooked in a coffee maker. The bugs were terrible, I slept in a hammock strung above it all, with my face wrapped in a blanket, even when it was hot. Had one of those magnetic window-open alarms on the door while I slept, since it couldn’t be locked from the inside. 24-hour convenience store was less than a block away, so I used their bathroom and befriended the night clerks. I worked at McD’s at the time, traded stolen food for showers every few days. Eventually paid down my debts and got out of that phase of my life, but it’s good to know I could do it if I had to.

    1. During my breif stint in a storage unit, i used a C clamp to secure the sliding door while i slept in. Had a few looky loos try the door, hoping to score some abandoned goods, no doubt. It was a good place to bunk while i was between apartments though.

      1. Just an FYI. Public Storage in many places require you to use their round cylinder lock.
        Which can be used to lock the door from the inside…

        umm, they usually have the first month free (or a low rate like $1) for any size unit for small 3 month commitment. Just ask the sales manager if there is anything he/she can do to get a free month. These guys get bonuses based on the percentage of units rented so it is pretty easy to talk them into it.

  9. This is the dumbest post I’ve ever read on this site. As others have said he made out like he was poor and down on his luck and then buys a 4K tv and surround sound. If this is a sign of what the future content will be like then I’m not interested.

  10. How to afford an apartment:
    1) Set up YouTube account.
    2) Make controversial video of yourself living in a ridiculous way for a couple of months.
    3) Get 2.5 million views.
    4) Profit.

      1. By paying $5 a month for the electricity. The staff most probably knew he was staying there and turned a blind eye. They could always turn him out immediately if he caused any problems and until then he was a paying customer. Of course, when he put up the video he had to go, head office, the insurance company and probably local bylaws would insist on it.

    1. Many 24/7 high level gym memberships give you 24/7 access to a shower and don’t care if you only come in to shower and poop…

      I have one since I live over an hour away from where I spend some of my weekends, and I occasionally actually use them for working out :-P

      Also, pooping and peeing into a 5 gal paint bucket is not that difficult, you can get camping toilet seats meant for that exact thing(even ones that seal up tight similar to a toilet in a plane).

      Search amazon for B004KLY5CE to see an ultra cheap version, or B004SFKJIQ for a better one.

  11. I think the point many people are missing here, is the potential business venture; people are apparently willing to live in storage units to save a few quid, perhaps that could be turned into a legitimate business.
    Ultra economy apartments!

      1. i always thought something like this would be great for the homeless population. of course not as fancy to keep the cost down (more like the prefab cells that prisons use, minus prison features).

      2. Considering all the complaints I’ve heard over the years about the high cost of housing it might. Affordable housing seems to be an oxymoron these days even in rural areas.

      3. Define ‘unfortunately’.

        I guess you could say that it would make a good home for people who otherwise would have even worse conditions. (under a bridge maybe) But.. if it actually caught on… I could see the rent for it climbing up towards the low end of today’s apartments while anything we would consider an apartment today becomes an extra-high priced luxury item.

          1. Rick: Of course building codes are intended to protect people, but building codes are designed by people who have no concept of “poor”. To people who can’t afford rent, the risks of substandard housing are far lower than the risks of living in the streets.

      4. If that ever comes to the US, it will be swarmed by hipsters trying to out-hip each other, and drive the rent up to San Francisco penthouse levels within a few months, completely defeating the purpose.

        As always, hipsters are why we can’t have nice things.

    1. The sort of people attracted to ultra cheap rent living space are not the sort of people you want living in/renting any of your property. People tend to be a lot less “low-profile” if they stay somewhere legitimately. And it tends to get worse in low cost living arrangements.

      1. Kind of another way of saying “trailer trash”. Problem is separating the wheat from the chaff, and promoting the wheat. Not easy unless one wants to take on a very hands on approach.

      2. I came close to considering similar things during my college days. I don’t think I was ever any trouble to my landlords or neighbors. I ended up discovering that there were plenty of people advertising for temporary roommates and subletters though so… it never came to that.

        1. Oh, trust me, I so badly want to be able to live in a capsule hotel and do all of my hacking and WFH at a hackerspace. The one in Cincinnati was working on a project to put a stack of capsule hotel rooms in so people working late on a project could crash and get back to working on it, but the zoning laws prohibited it. Unfortunately, for people trying to get by, housing like this thats in a reasonable commuting distance to work is not available because of zoning laws.

      1. And insurance costs of business/storage vs housing. I had an office for a while in a converted manufacturing building. We were told a few times not to live there… Because someone had done that on the down-low once already and the owner nearly got in trouble

    2. reminds me of the F1 hotels in France. You just get fresh sheets and towels, and maybe breakfast and use the shared bathrooms (which were always very clean) on the hallway. They’re perfect for traveling through France without making reservations. We’d just ask google for the nearest F1 hotel whenever we got tired or it got dark, crashed there and moved on the next morning. They’re all over France, so it’s perfect and really cheap to travel through for months at a time. A few years back we payed €11/night with breakfast. So you could probably live there for ~€300/month, as is apparent these days as they’re now often filled with foreign workers and now likely migrants too. Have some good memories from those long trips through France though, and our stays at these hotels.

    1. which says a lot about the safety in that place. large power consumption (likely stolen), lots of waste heat and an unmistakable smell that is hard to miss. Either the owners were in on it, or the place was pretty much abandoned.

    1. A lot of the homeless are there due to mental illness, so housing would only solve a small part of the problem. An important part, but still small. Also on the subject of “hack” one could live out of a storage container with a similar effect as a storage unit.

  12. I’ve fantasized about buying an insulated refrigerator truck then commuting where it’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Saves electricity that way and you’re always comfortable.

    1. RV living for the win. Just ween yourself off of the modern concept that it *must* be 72F, and you’d be amazed at what temperatures you’ll find comfortable.

      1. I half agree with you. I’ve lived through more than one winter with temperatures well below freezing, without any heat. I make my own heat, so it’s just a matter of sufficient insulation. But there’s not much you can do when it gets too hot, and many shut-ins have died in their apartments in the summer.

      1. I already have a camper, but I would trade it for a refrigerated truck if I were stealth camping for two reasons: Better insulation and more clandestine. Blends in much better.

        But then I remember that I have a wife and kids and if we ever do a road tour we’d stay in standard campgrounds.

        So I’ll keep the camper for now.

  13. I remember something not too long ago about a guy who got a job at Google, lived in an old U-Haul truck in the parking lot. Goal was to save enough $ that he could pay off a bunch of debt + have a down payment on a house, vs paying thousands for a studio apartment.
    Guy I work with lived in his motorhome in the parking lot when he was in college, security came up to him once and asked if he lived there, he thought great so much for my gravy train, told them he did.. They ended up hiring him as night security, paid him plus he got a tuition break.

  14. I’m pretty sure this is fake.

    – The extension cord is kind of obvious where it enters the door.

    – The antenna is really obvious and it looks like he even messed up the door molding to put it there! I would definitely investigate that if I was running the place!

    Fridge, Big TV, Toaster oven, computer? We saw all of these turned on at once and he has other electric items too. I might buy it if he went through a process, unplugging things or turning things off so that only one of those ran at a time. As it was though, he was running them all at once. That extension cord must be getting kind of warm! How many amps can that outlet pull before a breaker flips?

    Cooking smells?

    Speakers? If he used them then how did that not get him caught?

    Water from a drinking fountain? 10 minutes or more at a time waiting for it to fill. That’s 10 minutes waiting for someone to come by and bust him. Surely he could have found a gas station that would let him use their spigot or something!

    Where did he use the toilet? Sure, there are plenty of possibilites, gas stations, restaurants, etc… But.. that’s one of the first things one usually explains when talking about living somewhere that is not intended for living in. It’s also the first thing people think to ask. It’s just plain weird that he never mentions it.

    Buying a TV when you don’t even have a legal home? That’s nuts! Although.. these days… many people are that irresponsible.

    So much detail… for a 2-month stay? How long did it take to set all that up? How long even to think it all up?

    Finally.. he was saving for an apartment right? How do you save for something which then becomes a recurring charge? Did he save enough to last a lifetime? Well.. nevermind that.. saving implies having a job. How many people can hold a job without some form of alarm clock? Or… did nobody notice the sound of a morning alarm going off? That’s pretty fishy.

    I think if I were to spend a couple of months in a storage unit…

    I would use batteries for everything. I’d probably charge them at work or something.

    I would not cook at the unit. There are always microwaves at truck stops and convenience stores. Of course there are restaurants. The goal is to save money though so… foods that do not need cooking would be the thing to eat a the unit. Even taking a camping stove to the back of some abandoned parking lot would be better than cooking at the unit.

    For refrigeration.. assuming no fridge at work… I’d go for a 12V fridge in the car. Yes, he did say he has a car.

    Speakers… NO! headphones. But then I wouldn’t need much entertainment at the unit as I would try to stay away except to sleep. The more you are there the more likely to get caught!

    1. This.

      It would probably cost a fair amount of money to build all the stuff with 2x4s and brackets and whatnot.

      It’d make more sense to just rent a second storage unit for actual storage, then there’d be enough room in the “residence” that it wouldn’t require so much custom-built stuff.

      His plan to turn his new apartment into a climbing gym also suggests to me that he’s mostly about YouTube income via ridiculous stunts like this.

  15. I like clever solutions and this was a clever one. Search YouTube for “stealth vans” for another approach to this problem. Free first month health club memberships offer a place to shower.

    When I had a sailing boat moored near a college campus, I recall thinking to myself, “If I were a student, this would be cheap housing.” The moorage was $120/month and included a portapottie. Showers were nearby on campus.

  16. Of all the things to have in there, TV! What a wasteland.
    One of the things I have seen on TV (not mine) is a show series about the bottom feeding sharks that work alongside the storage facility owners at profiting from the confiscated property that non paying users get separated from.
    If he got caught… TV etc…

    1. When I was in college is was a fairly common sight to see all somebody’s stuff out in front of an apartment complex and several passers-by combing through it. I was surprised to see that so I asked an apartment complex manager how that works. I was told that there was a long process full of waiting periods before they could do that to a person. Meanwhile it was no surprise, there legally had to be every possible attempt made to contact them. If there stuff made it to the curb they probably abandoned it.

      I would hope/imagine that storage units would be handled similarly.

    1. came here for this. Also he needs to be practicing swordsmanship with a piece of rebar.

      I had a coworker who did this “squatting” thing from one of our agency’s storage warehouses. Furniture, tv, etc. all stuff from the warehouse. Pulled it off for almost a year. then was promptly fired when caught.

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