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Living in Your Car: No Longer Just for Bums

Living in Your Car: No Longer Just for Bums
Photograph by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

By most standards, Jessica Spaulding has a successful life and career. The 31-year-old Californian splits her time between Long Beach, where she runs fundraising drives for public radio station KJazz 88.1, and San Diego, where she’s pursuing her master’s degree in accounting at National University. Because of her busy schedule, she decided to give up her posh apartment in Santa Monica. “I work 50 to 60 hours a week and felt like I never saw it,” she says. These days, her housing is a little more humble. For the past five years, she’s lived in a 2007 Prius.

Her co-workers and fellow students have been mostly supportive, although they still occasionally offer to help her find a proper home. Spaulding recalls a recent conversation with a co-worker who offered to “ask around to her friends for a spare room I could rent. That’s somewhat common. People think I can’t find a place to live because of my strange in-town/out-of-town schedule.” She insists that she prefers this living arrangement to the alternatives. “It’s like traveling with your entire house with you,” she says. She realizes that public perception is that anybody living in a car must be doing so against their will, but she hopes that as upwardly mobile people such as herself increasingly go public, living in a vehicle will finally be seen “as a viable option.”