Society

College Student Spends Year and a Half Living in Car by Choice

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A college student from San Diego has spent the last year and a half living in his car, by choice, in order to teach himself how to appreciate his life. 

James Seckelman, 22, lives in Santa Cruz, Calif. in his 2006 Toyota Matrix. He attends Cal Poly and majors in computer science and business. Despite living in his car, he comes from an upper-middle class family. 

Feeling that he did not understand how lucky he was to come from a family that was able to support him financially, he decided to live in his car. He not only lives in his car, he cooks in his car and uses McDonald's bathrooms to freshen up. Essentially, he is entirely homeless.

Though his lifestyle makes him feel like an "outcast," and makes attaining friends difficult, he says he would not trade it for a more normal life. 

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"I don't want to live in a house because I hate the concept of rent. I think it is pointless…I don't think that half of our month's income should go towards rent, or even a third. I think that's bullshit, so I guess I'm rebelling against that," he said. 

"It is through the struggle that you realize that outside the sheltered life of your parents, this is how the world really works, and to get out of this situation you have to try harder."

Living in his car is, understandably, difficult at times. He remembers his first night spent in his car vividly.

"I remember I was in tears," he said. "I had to park because my headlight was out. I didn't want to risk getting pulled over by the cops. I parked in a Wal-Mart, and it was somewhere up north. The temperature dropped to, like, 23 degrees. I didn't have a blanket or a pillow. It was a really hard night, and the following day I drove to Santa Cruz."

Soon, he adjusted to life in his car.

"I bought a little camp-set stove," he said. "I built, out of wood and nails, a little cooking station in my car."

"Prior to that, I went to a fabric store and bought black nylon and cut it into the shape of my windows in my car, and sowed magnets too, so they'll clip onto the sides of my car windows, so I have more privacy at night."

He then obtained jobs at the Gap and Laili Restaurant. He works 25 hours a week on top of his studies. 

"If they ask where you live, I have a set address. But because I couldn't be like, 'You should come over and crack open a few beers or something,' it's been difficult to make friends," he said.

He plans on taking a break from the homeless life this summer by moving in with his parents.

"I have a much greater appreciation for my parents, my family and the things I take for granted, like a sink and a proper stovetop," he said.

Sources: Daily Mail, Cab Voice