Introduction: why be homeless?

There could be a lot of reasons, and I don't know any of the real ones.

Hi, my name is Will, and I like philosophy. Unfortunately, philosophy doesn't pay so well, so when I dropped out of UCLA in 2015, I learned how to code and made iOS apps for people. This was good for a while, but then it got really frustrating since I didn't like coding. I spent the next several years struggling to make sense of what I was supposed to do with myself —pursuing random tangents then coming back to coding when it didn't work out to get paid.

That wasn't fun. So one day, upset with the prospect that I couldn't do anything other than code for 💵 nor willing to go back to school and subject myself to lectures I didn't care about, I stared at a wall.

No seriously, I actually, for several months, would wake up to code (because I had to) then after coding, sit on my bed and stare at the wall for the rest of the day minus showering and eating. If it sounds crazy, it's because it is —I really lost my mind and had no idea what I was supposed to do, so I figured if I sat long enough and just let my thoughts do whatever they liked maybe I'd find the answer.

About three months passed in this state, and I found myself going to parks to pass the time occasionally when the sitting became too painful. It was really painful. When you're used to having stimuli like music or Facebook feeds or video games or porn or whatever other form of distraction you can think of bombarding your brain and it's all gone, the immediate feeling in the aftermath is wtf. It's pure silence then all of a sudden a million thoughts, your thoughts start pelting your noggin' and it doesn't stop. On February 2018 I decided to end the bizarre do nothing experiment, and the first thing I turned to was journaling —writing, bingo.

It would take a few more months for the opportunity to come up, but I was looking for a way to stop working and just write. It's what I like doing, and I'd do it even if no one in the world existed.[1] So when my landlord announced that she was evicting me in a month, I jumped at the opportunity —there was no way I was going to find housing (no proof of income), there was no way I was moving back in with my parents (desire for autonomy), and there was no way I was going to keep working my remote job (being a code monkey sucks). Life was forcing a change, so it was a good time for me to throw myself into writing: to fully commit[2].

But for the next several weeks, I kept my eye out for places I could move to, but I didn't try too hard, and the thought of being homeless continued building in my mind. I would save on rent, I would escape my room and exist in the world again (I don't get out too often when I have a permanent home), and most importantly, I would be able to do what I wanted to do. No more code. No more startups. Home free, literally.[3]

I started packing my belongings... throwing away candles, books, and other junk I didn't need. And as for the essentials...

I rolled up 12 pieces of underwear, 10 t-shirts, 3 button-downs, 2 pants, 3 gym shorts, 10 pairs of socks, placed them in gallon-sized zip-lock bags to save space and keep them clean (and in case it rained, it would prevent all the clothes from getting wet, and as dirty clothes accumulate will help keep them separated from clean clothes), and stuffed them in a normal-sized duffel bag.

I packed my laptop, cellphone, chargers, debit cards, driver's license, a spoon, pocket knife, tape, pens, napkins, toothbrush, tooth paste, scissors, can opener, note cards, a water bottle, 1TB hard drive, a spare change of clothes, and a few cosmetics[4] into my backpack, separating these items into different gallon zip-lock bags based on category. I also brought a few extra items, like extra-large t-shirts, a few drawstring pouches, and a wire that I thought might be useful for some reason. I could always throw them away later. Aside from that, my backpack contained all the items I absolutely did not want to lose and would carry at all times.

I stuffed two blankets into the trash bag along with my running shoes and a sports jacket. I'd be wearing a pair of casual shoes and a casual jacket which I'd rotate with those.

Then when my lease ended, I made my way to UCLA.


  1. For clarity's sake... it's not the actual writing I enjoy, it's the thinking that comes from the writing. Writing as a process of essentially talking to yourself and therefore discovering conceptual ideas, but writing is the closest thing. I enjoy writing philosophy. ↩︎

  2. A theme of existentialism is to fully commit to a specific life. This part is forgotten about and people talk about choosing what they'd like to make of their life (their purpose), but forget that part of existentialist philosophy is to have only one purpose —which people forget and therefore end up just doing whatever they like, which is not existentialism, it's laziness. ↩︎

  3. In the process of packing, I found a sublet for the summer that started mid-June —it wasn't confirmed until I was actually homeless, so there was a chance it wouldn't go through, but I'm glad it did: it placed a hard cut-off of being homeless to about 5 1/2 weeks. ↩︎

  4. Despite being mostly essential, I am still superfluous —hair gel, cologne, nail clippers, tweezers, etc. ↩︎


Next Tip...

  • Introduction: Why be homeless?

    Introduction: Why be homeless?
  • Tip #1: It gets cold outside... and inside

    Tip #1: It gets cold outside... and inside
  • Tip #2: Find a good storage spot

    Tip #2: Find a good storage spot
  • Tip #3: Know your food options

    Tip #3: Know your food options
  • Intermission: How did I become homeless?

    Intermission: How did I become homeless?
  • Tip #4: Keep an eye out for opportunity

    Tip #4: Keep an eye out for opportunity
  • Tip #5: Be prepared for unexpected encounters

    Tip #5: Be prepared for unexpected encounters
  • Tip #6: Know your shower locations

    Tip #6: Know your shower locations
  • Closing Remarks: Things I learned

    Closing Remarks: Things I learned
  • Bonus Tip: Everyone has a story

    Bonus Tip: Everyone has a story
  • Like these tips? Let's stay in touch.

    Like these tips? Let's stay in touch.