Homeless by Choice: Living in a Van

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POSTED Tuesday, November 12, 2013-- 5:30 p.m.

"This is a 2007 Ford cargo van. It's also my home," said Matt Cook.

28-year-old Matt Cook lives in a van-- not because he has to but because he wants to.

"There's a lot of things in my life, possessions that don't lend a lot of meaning. They're just stuff."

So Matt got rid of his stuff and moved into the van in August-- now with just enough space for a bed, clothes, and a couple containers.

"It's all very specific things that serve a purpose in my life. I don't have anything I don't use anymore," said Cook.

Matt showers at the gym, eats out or non-perishables, and keeps warm with a down comforter.

"As a single guy right now, it doesn't take a lot to keep me alive."

Matt isn't unemployed.

"I'm a computer programmer with a good job at a design firm here in town."

He also isn't alone.

"I do have a huge safety net of friends and family and finances," said Cook.

It's what he calls a "life experiment," and it began over a year ago when Matt rented out a warehouse and lived in a trailer.

"It does financially free me to do other things with my money that are more important than renting an apartment."

For Matt, giving up an address meant gaining perspective.

"It's about figuring out what matters to me in life. I know that it's not the things I own. If they don't matter, why do I even have them? Why do I bother?"

What he's found that matters is people. In fact since moving into the van, Matt says he's built *more relationships, even meeting his girlfriend by asking to use her oven.

"The more homeless I've become, the more successful I've been with women."

Jokes aside, Matt says he's not trying to prove anything or diminish those who are truly homeless.

"If someone has a real problem with what I'm doing, I'll stop. I'm not trying to offend anyone or anything. It's not that important to me. It's an experiment to me, a temporary choice," said Cook. "it's not any sort of tax evasion or living off the grid. It's just for myself I'm doing this. We'll see what life has in a store a year from now."

Matt plans to continue living in the van through the winter. He's hoping to make it a full year until next August.