As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!
     

Extreme Frugality: Living Out of Your Car

This article was written by in Frugality. 462 comments.


A few months ago, television watchers like myself were bombarded by commercials featuring a young man attempting to “live” out of his car for a few days. However, this guy has been doing it since July 2005. Andy Bussell lives out of his pickup truck, sleeping in the back. He wakes up, showers at the university gym, attends classes, then goes to work at the Apple Store. To keep himself from going insane, he is a yoga-practicing, guitar-playing rock climber. Always pushing him towards insanity are the voluntary living conditions:

What he misses most are a kitchen and a bathroom. To deal with the former, he buys food such as yogurt and fruit in small quantities; for as regards the latter, he takes advantage of public facilities. On occasion, he has resorted to employing an empty Gatorade bottle.

sleep-in-car.jpg

Andy decided to lean towards the simpler life when his credit card debt kept piling up. Now that he has been able to save some money, his debt is almost all paid off.

This adventure takes place in California; living in the Northeast, you would need to leave the heat on in order to survive in your car. The frequent gasoline fill-ups would negate any savings you’d manage to keep.

Read the hundreds of comments below for more interesting experiences had by those living out of their vehicles. If this describes you, please feel free to share your experiences below, as well.

Seattle Times

Updated September 8, 2011 and originally published February 27, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

Email Email Print Print
avatar
Points: ♦127,500
Rank: Platinum
About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 462 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar CLS

I heard in the news today that Mattel has come up with a new addition to the American Doll collection. Her name is Gwen Thompson and she and her mother are homeless and sleeping in a car. She has her story, dad ran off when he lost his job and her mom lost her job too so this poor little girl has no home just a car. She sellls for $95.00 Isn’t that something? It’s the “Sign of the times”

I had a big scare a few nights ago. I parked in a business zone because I don’t like parking in a residential area so I won’t disturb the neighbors that could call the cops on me. Well, someone saw me and called the cops anyway. They came banging on my windows with flashlights. I sleep with a big black sheet on top of me so people won’t notice but since theywere looking in with flashlights they could see a body and even since I ignored them they continued banging with such a force I finally raised my head and they were shocked to see me and they asked me to open the door. Since it was hot, I was wearing little shorts so I climbed overn legs first, and I don’t mean to brag but I am fairly attractive and in great 24 hour fitness shape so they were a little flirty with me. They asked what I was doing, I said I was was resting. They asked if I had a home and I said yes. I had a fight with my boyfriend and I left and was just resting. I told them I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong. They asked if I was scared of gang activities. I said no, I wasn’t aware of this happening in the area. In my head I was thinking how I’m more scared of them because they could give me a ticket and impound my car and ruin my life even more. I apologized for doing something I didn’t know was wrong and told them I would go home now. I said good by and drove far away from that place and I will never go back there again.

I’m desperately looking for a job. My unemployment runs out November 21st and I will be in big trouble once it stops. All I hear is bad news everyday about the job market and the layoffs and now Mattel is cashing in on the Homeless American Doll. And they tell us that this is the greatest country in the world.

Reply to this comment

avatar Bob Johnson

I would have told them what was really up and asked if you could use the main parking lot at the police station. They knew what was really up. They don’t give tickets in situations like this. And they ran your tag before they even spoke to you. You sweetened their night a little and they usually just ask that you move on.
I’m a little scared for you. I hope you get a job and things work out.

Reply to this comment

avatar CLS

Thanks Bob Johnson. Well, the good thing is that I am eligible for another 13 weeks of unemployment so I hope I find something decent that pays me more the unemployment soon.

I found a sweet spot to park in a shopping center where they have a 24 hour fitness gym, starbucks with Wi-Fi, supermarkent and everything else I need on a daily basis. A couple of nights ago I noticed there was a new security guard taking his job a little too seriously. He was looking in to a car with flashlights because the car was parked far away from the rest. I got a little worried but thought he wouldn’t bother me. The next day I hear a knock on my window, I answered yes…and he says, you can’t sleep here anymore and walked away to his security car. I said okay and started my car to leave. I saw that he left me a violation ticket on my window. It was more of a warning ticket because it didn’t have an amount to pay. I went to a Walmart I heard has overnight parking for the RV’s that night, but there were no RV’s. The next day I called 311 which is the non emergency 911 and I told them my situation and how I wanted to know if there was a safe area where I can park and not be harrassed by the police that can give me a $500. ticket. They apologized and said they had no answer for me. They wished me luck.

Santa Barbara has a parking lot for their residents who have fallen to hard times. They have to be there by 10AM and out by 6AM. They go through a screening process to check that they are not crazy or on bad drugs. They are working on opening up in Ventura and in Venice beach. I want to know how I can start something like that in the town I live in. Does anyone know how we can start these kind of lots? Times are really bad right now. Our country is going down the drain fast. There are no good jobs anymore to help us live a average decent life. This is what Capitalist greed has done to us.

Reply to this comment

avatar Cindy Brock

I believe the one in Ventura has been open for a while. It’s somewhere near the Ventura Marina on Harbor Blvd. near the golf course at Olivas Adobe. (I’m searching for the info. If I find it, I’ll post it on here.)

When we traveled by RV, we found that Wal-Mart and Home Depot were very accommodating. All we had to do was tell the manager we were there. Wal-Mart is usually quite open to this arrangement because they want you to come in and shop. (If they were smart, they would designate an area, offer you a job, and take a small amount from your pay for the space in the parking lot.)

If you can afford it, stay one night in a cheap hotel to give yourself a shower and the opportunity to wash/rinse your clothes in the sink/shower. The #1 thing I tell my friends to use – especially those who travel on missionary trips abroad – is baby wipes. Get the generic ones with shea butter or aloe. (Walgreen’s or CVS has them cheap.) I have used these head to toe when I could not take a shower. Plus, I’ve used them on my face for years…and people compliment me on how beautiful my skin is. (I just turned 50!)

God’s blessing for each of you. Remember: God never gives you more than you can handle (though I have had my doubts at times) and if you believe he will take care of you, he will.

Sharing Life’s Abundance,
Cindy Brock (Atlanta, GA)

Reply to this comment

avatar VanGirl

Hi. I live in my campervan by choice. I refuse to rent. I am a very basic, and simple life lady, also 50. There’s some ups and downs but staying focused always helps.

avatar serp77

in alberta not all wallmarts have open parking lots, i was also doing some thinking is if their is a boarding house in any area, speak with the owners to see if you could rent their facilities at least their most if not all now adays have a phone,shower with washing machine and drier. most owners are polite with a small fee I’m sure they would accomdate you and the renters are normally 1 paycheck away from living on the street.

avatar dee

baby girl the fact that we can do this with only being disturbed by the cops is what makes this the greatest country. keep your head up im not saying its perfect but try doing wat your doing in pakistan and see if the “cops” only disrupt your rest no matter how attractive you are. good luk

Reply to this comment

avatar serp77

almost forget to mention that if you are not that worried about what your are doing for employment look into a slaughter house or processing plant, I know JBS Foods and Cargill foods are always looking for new hires and honestly these places are not that bad, you get paid every week with the chance of steady employment, you would kill two birds with one stone, full time employment with always having a place to park n live. They even have showers for the employees, as well most places will provide cloths to the work staff so they wont ruin their own cloths. best part is they have parking security. I remember hearing about a few people that worked at the plant i work at n thats what they did, live in their cars and work 12-16 hrs every day. The company management didnt say anything and the guys were left alone. i think 1 of the cars is still their. as for the doll if it looks like anyone theirs always a chance to sue the company lol any takers????

Reply to this comment

avatar Laura

Hi everyone. Well things picked up as I had managed to move out of being a lodger in a bad situation with the person I didn’t get on with at all and it wasn’t my home as in I was there living in their house. I moved into my own accomodation but it was in a bad area and not a very nice place at all. I am lucky, I have managed to move away into a flat in a better area now and things are picking up.
Laura

Reply to this comment

avatar Rebecca Ryan

I have got this down to a science now. I got a storage unit to put my stuff in. I put my laptop on the floor of the passenger seat. I have a small sedan. At bedtime I put two fluffy pillows ontop of the laptop case. I recline the seat back and sleep in it upsidedown! My legs are a bit elevated but I used to sleep this way anyway to rest my sore legs. I do go to sleep early like around 8pm because I work at 7AM. I find the darkness to be my friend. At 8pm I can move my bedding from the trunk to the back seat I have tinted windows so know one can see whats in there. Also I can get my clothes together for the next day work uniform and clothes for after work. these I also keep in three small boxes in the trunk. One for clean undies, sock and bras. the second is for work clothes and the third is for regular clothes. My trunk is pretty full. I wake at around 4AM to got to the gym and workout then shower and off to work.

I joined a volunteer organization that has a thrift store. I can work there whenever I want. I would never have gotten so involved in community activites if this situation hadn’t occured. I would go home a get lazy! Interesting?

Also I go to libraries a lot. It will get colder soon so I realize right now things are kind of easy. Its hard for me to stay up late on weekends because I got up so early so I do hangout with friends but I am usually the first to leave.

One more cool thing I found this great laundry mat. While my clothes are washing I take everything out of my car to reorganize it again it keeps me sane.

I realize most people would find this desperate but I really feel like i am getting away with something! Sort of silly I suppose. My goal is to pay off a $5600 debt. I am able to put $!000 o month on it so its going ok. I shouldn’t have to do it for too long. But I am starting to question the value of having my own place. I mean once you sign the mortgage papers you don’t really own it until its paid off. You only really signed to have the right to pay for it! And then life becomes so limited?

Reply to this comment

avatar gary

I understand Rebecca. Im a medical doctor and when my ex-wife cleaned me the first thing i did was buy a vw camper bus. You’re very smart n the way you are approaching life, and you will do well in time. Best of luck to you sincerely.

Reply to this comment

avatar Andrea

Gary
I was looking at the VW Campers but where can I find one in good shape? I too will be living in my car in about 2 days….its a voluntary thing I want to pay off my credit. With paying rent, a little on back bills, car payment, insurance and classes by the time my I get my check on Friday its gone friday evening…this doesnt allow for social things…so the debate is eiather rent or school at this point…Nothing ever outweighs my education!!!!

So since I’ll be mobile I was wondering where you got the Camper from….Im willing to travel so it doesnt matter where I have to go:)

Reply to this comment

avatar Karen Lee

I read your writing about living in your car. I related to you completely. I wanted to go on vacation last year and the year before and the year before that. I could never afford it. So last year I got in my car and drove to Austin and got a job right down town in the nicest office building there…and low and behold I lived in my car. I showered at the yoga place and other free shower places. After 3 months there I went to Tucson and worked for the census. Then back to California. Now I am rethinking the value of having my condo at all. For what? So here locally I am “practiciing” again living in my car. I find it is very liberating not to mention that I save about $275 a month on heating bills and $60 on water and garbage and internet maybe $40. So how much is that? About $375. So I’m going to take $39 a month and join a gym.

But first I want to spend the summer somewhere…not sure where yet. The best thing I got were a couple of survival blankets for $7 each from a sporting goods store. One side is blue and the other is foil colored used mainly for really cold weather for wrapping around you to keep warm. I put one on my carseat and then I put on a blanket and over that I put the second survival blanket. Keeps me toasty warm. I put another one on the passenger seat floor with a blanket on it for my mini-schnauzer. Then I put a blanket over him although he actually likes being on the cool side.

I keep a bag of groceries in the trunk including peanut butter and Matzo crackers and honey and cabbage and trail mix. I have an inverter in case I need to plug in my hair curler in the car into the cigarette lighter.

I still have to pay for gas and so forth, but I am “out there” all day. I don’t feel lonely as I would in my house and I love not having to pay heating for the whole condo. I had a problem with knots in my shoulder from working on the internet bent over in my car but I found if go to the gym and use the exercise equipment for my shoulders and pull on weights and life stuff then knots are not a problem anymore.

Reply to this comment

avatar raggabubo

I lived in my car in idaho, Mccall is wonderful, camping ubove the lake on the upper Payette River I was not bothered once all summer. Bergdorf Hot springs above and the lake below. I can tell secret places to park to sleep in town at night and hotels leave back doors open at night. I used the public rest room and did my dishes there.

Reply to this comment

avatar Acajudi

It is a shame that some of us have to live in cars. Many people hae multiple homes, which they can only live in one at at time. Greed is the reason we have to suffer, and one day God will end it all, for the betterment of the people being ripped off now, in many ways!

Reply to this comment

avatar gary

Few people have multiple homes

Reply to this comment

avatar dee

dont abuse this posting for your religious rants. save it. until u are living in a ” homeless situation” dont preach to us. however i understand what u are saying, only try to understand that we have been shunned by all, including ourselves. dont knock it before uve tried it

Reply to this comment

avatar melissa

Hey, my husband and I have a second home. We started out with an apartment. Worked overseas and saved money for a house. Continued to work overseas, saved money and found out that we needed a tax shelter. If we didn’t get the second house we would continue to pay crazy taxes. We let family and friends stay in our house and I don’t feel a bit bad or greedy. We work our butts off, pay high taxes, save for our future and don’t depend on the government for any a dime.

Reply to this comment

avatar robert

Some people want to live in their cars and chose this life. I have apartment and look forward to moving and living in my truck camper.

Reply to this comment

avatar MercPDX

Exactly Acajudi. One of the reasons that i am out here is because i got into some serious debt because i could not afford healthinsurance.
It has been half a year now. Having a cellphone, laptop, and gym membership have kept me sane.( Luckily i was able to get a credit card to help me get these things). Looking for work…its been difficult out there. Two months ago it was the heat that was a problem, now it is the cold. Winter is coming…
Hopefully our nations healthcare will be reformed and this kind of situation can be avoided.

Reply to this comment

avatar snowcat

At the very least, get a couple of those $1.00 emergency mylar “blankets” you can find at Wal-Mart in the camping/hunting section. They may not feel like a plush electric blanket, but it won’t take for you to realize they aren’t so bad, they hold in a TON of body heat, and you’ll wonder how you ever tried to stay warm without them.
Tape one up (like a pouch) to stick your feet in, and use one as a normal blanket. Add your other blankets over that………

I did find a Red Cross sanctioned survival mini-heater – again, probably Wal-Mart or similar – which plugs into the cigarette lighter and does a simple pre-heat without having to wait for the car to warm up, etc. Probably around $20.

Best wishes……..stay warm everyone!

Reply to this comment

avatar Bob Johnson

Acajudi,
Greed is a big part of it. I was making 10.00 per hour back in 2000. Today I’m making 10.50 per hour (50 cent difference in ten years). It’s very clear that by year 2030 I’ll be making 12.00 per hour.
I’m a certified volunteer firefighter, but that’s not going anywhere “careerwise”. I have way too much schooling to be a $10.50 per hour security guard. Enough of my complaints, but
I just wish the recession would end. My brother was recently laid off from a $75,000 per year HR director. This president we have was elected to try and fix the economy—-whatever happened with that? He was off to a good start and just let it go.

Reply to this comment

avatar MercPDX

Hang in there Bob. There is no magic wand when it comes to this stuff. At least it didnt get any worse. The good news is that Economists are optimistic about growth. Its not going to happen over night but we are destined to recover.

Reply to this comment

avatar Bob Johnson

MercPDX,
Thanks! :0) Just takes time I guess.

Reply to this comment

avatar Acajudi

I just read where the airlines are sending planes to El Salvador to be maintained. THEY HAVE OUTSOURCED EVERYTHING FOLKS! People need good jobs, that reflect the cost of living today! I am 67 today, and when I was in my 20′s my salary reflected my low rent, and my employer gave me free insurance after 30 days. I am not happy with Medicare!!! I am blessed that I work 30 hours per week for 10 months out of the year. I am glad I am not a young person today, watching my country hire anyone from anywhere, as long as they are not native born and legal Americans. We have so much in this country, if people were not so selfish and greedy. I pray the hottest part of HELL is reserved for the so call leaders, who sell out their people.

Stay away from the swine flu vaccine. Body bags were sent with the vaccine to the Aborigines in Australia. Check it out!

God: We need you. Help us to help ourselves. Get the greedy ones out of our pockets!

Reply to this comment

avatar gary

Ok “The Greedy Ones” look Im not trying to be confrontational. But I just want to explain, last year I was rich “>250k per year” by our presidents standards. However, I have also been targeted and have very little. I am living in a fema trailor and vw bus. So, I think we have to be careful about how we categorize people. Its not how much money you make, its how much you get to keep

Reply to this comment

avatar dee

sorry Acajudi for the post earliear maybe jumped the gun and stepped out of line sounds like you know whats going on and despite our religious beliefs, sounds like we are in agreement on the other stuff

Reply to this comment

avatar eddieswanson

I used to have an Astro Chevrolet van, I would only sleep in it after work. You see I would sleep 30 minutes or 45 minutes, before getting to the gym. I read somewhere in a magazine an article stating that, Americans are very sleep deprived. Due to long hours of work, poor eating habits, diseases and/or disorders the average American needs another half hour of sleep during the day. I tried to sleep at work during the lunchhour,but I couldn’t realy enjoy. You see I put a nice thick,padded sleeping bag in my truck, a pillow, and blanket. I felt so full of energy during that short nap. Mhhhjjjfff,, It felt so rewarding like when I was in kindergarden and I would sleep on the floor. Remember just clean up your body at work before getting to your van and get good quality earplugs. Take in mind that their are people with fancy bed matresses who have a hard time to sleep. In Mexico people sleep a siesta during their work hours, in some cities.

Reply to this comment

avatar Acajudi

People in the same financial condition should join forces. Do not rip each other off, and rent a studio apartment, and be quiet, and have a place to sleep. The monsters ripping us off stick together to harm us. I have always paid a high percentage of my income to live in the safest place, that I could find. I tried roommates, but they were did honest, so I rather work multiple jobs and overtime, then to trust another crook. I am older now, so I still pay a high rent, but I am happy and at peace, and I still work. If I lose my job, then I will apply for a senior citizen apartment, that will limit my rent to 30% of my gross income. America could do better, for Denmark and other countries make their citizens #1, and if unemployed, you get 90% of your salary for four years. They have hardly any homeless. Wake up America, and take care of your own, by STOP outsourcing jobs, and making the rich richer!! Just how much money, do you GREEDY PIGS NEED? A Brinks will not follow your hearse!

Reply to this comment

avatar rebeccaryan

Hi guys!
Going on month number two of this adventure. I was thinking of getting a tent heater but I am afraid in my small sedan I could get overwhelmed by fumes. Any advice? Had a set back I accidentally set my car alarm off one night. And I am not sure but I think someone called security. They never questioned me because I was on the way out when they headed in this complex. They did turn around and follow me until I exited. I have been too nervous to return and I have been sleeping at my work parking area. I still need a different place though any
ideas? It would be hard to explain if I get caught at work.

Thanks,
Rebecca

Thanks
Rebecca

Reply to this comment

avatar pamela

What about an rv site? They sometimes have facilities too. It may cost you a little, but, you would have some peace. Also, finding someone who would be willing to let you park on their property, like they do at biker rallies. One more thing, no matter what your religious beliefs are, pray.

Reply to this comment

avatar serp77

yes their are easier ways to heat your car/truck/SUV and van. 1 of them would be a heater but that would take alot out of your electrical system in your car. I’ve been doing research on every avenue for living in your car. For me i was very lucky when i bought my 97′ Ford Expedition (full size/4×4/fully loaded/leather with a 40/60 back seat) and yes it’s by choice to move into my suv.. If you can afford it, buy an isolator so you will be able to run your main battery plus a back-up battery. You will want to look into a different type of battery as well but it will work in your favour in the long run. you will want to change your batteries to what called agm, the battery isolator is so that you can run a 2nd battery and best part is that you can charge the 2nd battery when you go from point A-B. I figure that what i pay in rental/bills i can live off and be able to bank the rest. I bought the expedition for work, at the time i was working comercial construction. So i needed the full size bc i was the only one on the crew with my drivers and i found the Expedition was a very representible suv. which in my case it fit everyone on the crew, 1 plus 4 ;-) march 1-2014 i’ll be moving into my 97′ Ford expedition suv. oh if you are looking into heating up your car, look into a full size “heated pet blanket” they are reasonably cheap and will only turn on when your sitting or laying on them. they take only 6 watts of power so it wont even be that much.

Reply to this comment

avatar james1987

Dan, Im a College Student in Colorado, I want to live in my car through the winter, i have a gym membership on campus and think this would be a great way to save money, any advice?

Reply to this comment

avatar raggabubo

Get some cashmere sweaters, second hand stores don’t even know what it is, 3 bucks for cashmere. and it is washable by hand. but the new fabrics for skiers are great too. A wool hat and some goose down comforters. I find that having a hat on at night and wool socks helps a lot. Goose down is vital wool blankets too. I put them into bags during the day so the dog stays off of them. He slept in the front seat. My cat had a pet box and went outside during the day. I parked at a place where she could go out and find me at night. (small fourplex with a large parking lot). My horse was bored and I had a tack room where I stored my things.It is easier to bored a horse in the city, then find an apartment.
If you can park at a friends house, pay half of the electric bill and get an electric blanket or hot pad, keeping your core warm is important.

Reply to this comment

avatar alicia

I am a freshman at a community college and im so tired of florida.Im ready to move and travel around.follow the seasons lol.Im thinking of getting a van and paying off my insurancefor 6 months so I don’t have that monthly bill to worry about.make my way to colorado and get a storage & po box. I plan on putting a bike rack on the back and using my bike as daily transport,when possible,to save on gas.my moms a single mom and almost 55.she wants to move to this old folks retirement place but they won’t let her cuz I live with her.I don’t want to keep her unhappy plus I loved colorado the winter I spent there…anyways im rambling..will my plan work?? Sound good to start off??

Reply to this comment

avatar Merc

alicia, do not live in your car in the winter and especially in colorado. It Sucks! Also, be careful about leaving your bike on your car, it might get stolen.

PS. I tried using a thermal survival blanket that somebody on this site suggested that I use, but condensation collects on it and makes everything wet and the cold still gets in.

Reply to this comment

avatar serp77

look into whats called “heated pet blanket” it only takes 6 watts of power and it only heats up when your sleeping on it. it wont drain your bettery and i don’t think their will be any condensation. full size blanket is a fair size. as long as theirs heat does it matter what its made for??? hope this helps

Reply to this comment

avatar Janet

You have to find secure places to park. Food that will keep you well nurished I did oatmeal made into shakes that almost no one would have drank (water , powdered milk , protien sometimes shake in a covered cup) Bottled water you can refill at water fountains, I ate lots of applesauce (you have to eat this right away or find a way to keep it cold water bottles work as ice chest too sometimes. Peanutbutter ate it right off spoons. Old coffee can (or plastic container will work in a pinch for female bathroom if all others are closed due to middle of the night) Gym to clean up in. Organized car trunk helps one box clean clothes one box dirty clothes one for work one for weekends almost like a dresser. Keep in mind if you have to drive coworkers or clients around put your blankets etc. back in the trunk every day. (Mylar blankets will keep you warm, it gets really cold even in Florida and CA in the winter!)

Reply to this comment

avatar pamela

alicia, just a word of warning, I am from Colorado, grew up there along the front range and it has changed. I don’t know when you were there last or where you were, but crime has literally taken over there. Colorado springs and Denver, but really all over. I would not recommend Colorado to anyone! If you like the winter or seasons, I would recommend Flagstaff, Arizona. Beautiful country and the winters are not bad.

Reply to this comment

avatar Dan

I’ve always found that parking in an apartment complex is a relatively safe place to park overnight, and I’ve never been hassled by anyone, police or otherwise.

Many of the apartment complexes around this particular area are gated and have keypads at the entrance, which makes it an even more feasible place to stay overnight. You can either follow a car through the gate, or rush through an open exit gate after a car leaves.

I’ve managed to find out the keycodes to ~200 gated communities around the Houston Area (talking to management during the day, speaking with people who live there, or are out by the pool, etc). I recorded them all, and I have them organized in my laptop.

Being a smooth talker can help you find out stuff like that. Social engineering works wonders when it comes to surviving like we do.

Reply to this comment

avatar serp77

for another spot look around for any busy hotels where the people are constantly in and out. reason being is when i stayed with holiday express due to work reasons i noticed that the staff was always polite regardless and if one was quiet enough they could park right in front without being hassled. unless you make it a point to make a fuss then no harm no fowl right??? oh yeah as i was saying the traffic in general when it comes to cars their was always changing so their was no way for them to know who was where n whatnot. if you found 3 -5 different hotels you can rotate and most places do have wifi all you gotta do is call front desk and ask them what the password is ;-) cheers

Reply to this comment

avatar artie

please any info on camp sites in ( so. e. arizona ) needed= cost,= time stay= limits=what ever =thanks heaps= greatest site ive ever read about this subject so far=every one keep on= we dont have much freedom left ==

Reply to this comment

avatar Dean

Artie,

There are several sites online that can tell you where to stay, cost and time limits. Just search RV parks in the area you are looking for. most of them cost about 45 a day but if you stay for a month you can pay as little as $350 a month. If you find a resort that needs help, and there a lot of them, you only have to pay for electricity. You have shower, laundry, swimming, club house and garbage service. These are usually included in the price. You also have internet access. Good look and be safe.

Reply to this comment

avatar Kimmie

I have been living in my car for five years.I have two incomes and I stress this is not a plausible way to live.If the elements don’t kill you then the fear alone and depression will send you over the edge.How have I done it so long.I am a strong-minded human with good health but i personally hate it.You not save money because your vehicle and bills will use up what you have.This a unacceptable for a female so I suggest some other avenue.Please dont do this, you will someday regret it.

Reply to this comment

avatar CLS

I’m a female and I’ve been doing it for a little over a year now. I’m not afraid and lonely like. I feel like a true free spirit. If you would see me you would never suspect, I’m not on skid row so there is a difference. The only problem I have is that everything takes longer because I have to drive from one place to another for something that I could have right at my door if I had a home to live in. I have to drive to my storage to change my clothing, drive to the P.O.Box, drive again to the gym to shower whether I’m going to work out or not and to eat 3 meals a day is another extra mileage, gasoline and time. The good news is that I finally got a decent paying job. It’a only a temp to hire, part-time position but if they hire me permanently it will be a full time 40 hour a week job so I will be able to afford a place to live. The only reason I want to find a home is so I can save time.

Reply to this comment

avatar Anaheim_Ducks_Hockey

OK, I have a question.

How can the police impound your vehicle if you’re just taking a nap or sleeping in it temporarily? How is that legal? I am insured, have a valid license and registration. Can someone please answer this who knows the law. I would never let any officer take my vehicle, for just taking a nap or sleeping in it!!! Where is this car-vagrancy law?

Reply to this comment

avatar dee

illegal lodging

Reply to this comment

avatar pamela

Anaheim, that is a good question, I am a Paralegal, and I will answer as best I can. First, it depends on the state, city you live in, some have ordinances that would restrict this. Second, there is a difference between napping and living in a vehicle. This is illegal if there is an ordinance against it, or if you are on property that forbids it. Although this is an ordinance violation, if you are ticketed, your vehicle can be towed if they find you have come back to the same local. This is called reasonable means, which is simply another way of saying, either you obey the ordinance, or we will take the means to prevent this from happening. Sad huh?

Reply to this comment

avatar Anaheim_Ducks_Hockey

Hey CLS and other so. cali people,

I am in the inland empire area, do you have any tips or good parking spots for my car-living-adventure. I do work but need to get ahead and save some money. I need to know the laws as well. Please tell me they can’t take your car if you’re fully legal. As for giving you a ticket…REALLY, in todays times? What crappy cop would give a ticket to someone sleeping in their car, who is fully legal and without warrants???

Reply to this comment

avatar CLS

Hi 182 Anaheim_Ducks_Hockey,
From first hand experience, I have learned that our justice system is not just. The law is very unfair and they could do what ever they want because they have guns, bars and a court system that backs them up. You could always tell them you were driving home and felt really sleepy so for safety reasons you decided to take a nap because you didn’t want to cause an accident. Isn’t that what the driving manual recommends? You should be ready to give them a physical domicile address though just to cover yourself. As for looking for an overnight parking spot, I would look up the local Walmarts online, call them and ask if they allow overnight RV parking and park there. Also, now that summer is coming I recommend you find a shady spot to park during the day so that you don’t roast at night.

Good Luck!

Reply to this comment

avatar Anaheim_Ducks_Hockey

Thank u CLS.

I understand what you are saying. I have thought about this and have decided to try the hotel parking lots. Not many police go through those (at least, not the nicer ones) and I would park in back. As far as dealing with police, I would just tell them, I am temporarily sleeping in my car for a set amount of time. I have to be honest. I don’t know how anyone could sleep in a Wamart parking lot, too much noise and activity. Hotel parking seems the most logical, safe, quiet place to be.

During the day, before work, I am allowed to park anywhere, pretty much. You can use public parks.

I really wanted to use state and fed campgrounds (called Prado regional park) but they charge 30.00 just to pinch a tent!!! That is ridiculous. K.O.A is not much better. R.v. parks are exspensive as well. I think it’s ridiculous that a person cannot camp or park on public land…which we all pay for in our taxes, for free or a very reasonable fee.

Good luck everyone.

Reply to this comment

avatar CLS

Well 184 Anaheim_Ducks_Hockey, you should do what is best for you. The experiences I’ve had with the police, along with other people close to me has taught me that honesty doesn’t get you anywhere with them. They’re not here to protect and serve me, they are here to screw me in anyway they can. I don’t know, maybe you’ll be lucky and really run in to a nice one, but that’s very rare nowadays.

As for sleeping in Walmart, the RV’s are allowed to park far away from the store so you don’t really hear any noise from the customers going in and out of the store. I usually go late anyway so the store is closed by then. The hotel parking lot sounds good, but, I would worry about the clerk spotting you and calling the nice police officer. You’ll see and learn. I’ve changed my routine around many times to make things work better. Good Luck!!!!!!

Reply to this comment

avatar Wanderer

Well, I’m disabled living on a fixed income, and I decided to live in my little Ford Focus wagon after my wife kicked me out. I’m actually having a great time traveling around the country, and I plan on living the nomadic lifestyle as long as my health permits.

Reply to this comment

avatar robert

Great for you I hope to be doing what you are doing soon.

Reply to this comment

avatar Anaheim_Ducks_Hockey

Whoa,

I have done a ton o’ reading…has anyone tried Flying J or TA truck stops?

I read they welcome rv’s and motorists alike. They have certain areas for the non-truckers to park in over-night. Truck stops are huge, with lots of people so I believe they should be somewhat safe.

Walmarts seem to be cracking down. While truck stops don’t come right out and say it’s ok, they want our business. If staying overnight, like the truckers do, just be lo-key.

Please give your opinions and stories.

Reply to this comment

avatar Jaime

Ahh, this question. When I was on the road, I looked into truck stops as a safe haven for sleep without the dreaded knock of the cop. Unfortunately, I came upon a truck-driver forum, all about Lot Lizards, that made me change my mind fast.

Apparently, some truck stops are in such condition (and location) that these crack-addled “ladies of the night” will open any locked doors and begin their performance without confirmation just to get some cash, or to steal your stuff and resell it for that next hit.

There used to be a truck-driver forum that spoke of the safe vs. the worst stops. Blast that I can’t find it now. But I believe it was on this site, and here is a similar query:
http://www.thetruckersreport.com/truckingindustryforum/questions-from-new-drivers/63782-lot-lizard-free-truck-stops.html

I <3 Walmart and campgrounds. National & State Forests are a LOT cheaper than National or State Parks, just not as many amenities. Walmarts, if you can nest yourself between a few RVs, aren't the BEST of sleep, but they really help to supplement the budget. Plus, I'll usually go in and buy an item under $10 to support the store – or because I had to pee and didn't want to be seedy. : )

How much a cop pays attention to you varies by local ordinance – The good guys will move you along, the bad ones will harass you AND move you along. In my town, we've had officers give homeless a ride north to the next city, just to get them out of our village.

Reply to this comment

avatar HoboJoe

Hi,trucks tops are great places to stay. Most all have a tv room and there’s always Bored truckers that enjoy talking with a person. As for a shower. I keep DVDS on hand that I have watched and hang around around the machine where they get their shower ticket from and offermtomtrade amDVD forgone of their extra shower tickets, Works real well for me. I am not begging. I am battering, plus they have waste dumps. Nice people at the trucks tops.

Reply to this comment

avatar robert

Truck stops are free and so are many 24 hour restaurants. There are many places to park and stay for free.

Reply to this comment

avatar serp77

I read up on truck stops and any where a truck is parked would give a notion that its ok as well. like in general how many truckers have you seen being harrassed my the police for parking on the side of the road, if anything i’ve seen as many as 15 big wheelers parked along the side of the highway over night in front of a small truckers restaurant. The reason i know this is I was the only car parked in the back sleeping ;-) To be on the safe side of things, call around and let the establishments know that your on a road trip and finding the best spot in town to park n eat etc, stretch it a little you would be amazed on how much information you can get just by saying “hi I’m planning a road trip” works everytime. I’m getting ready to move into my expedition once i start my new job ;-) so in what free time i have calling the area and they have been really helpful, since i know i’ll be working nights i’ll be able to crash in the employee parking lot since working 12 hrs i wont want to drive, already told my new boss that from long hrs i’ll be crashing before going home. he said not a problem, as long as you are safe ;-)

Reply to this comment

avatar Anaheim_Ducks_Hockey

Hi CLS,

I understand re the police. But if you lie, won’t they know you’re living/sleeping in your car and be more hostile??? Please give me some info.

Do sob stories work or shouls I avoid them and just say I got tired or use another excuse. I thought lying would be worse than try to play the sob story. Like you just need a few weeks or a month and you’ll be back off the streets.

As far as hotels, medium size ones work well with out security guards. They have multiple entrances, use one that does’nt go by the front lobby. Park in back, away from street sight. Sleep soundly! You don’t want a nice/ritzy place and you don’t want a small roach motel.

Reply to this comment

avatar CLS

Hi 189 Anaheim_Ducks_Hockey
I don’t know what would be best when it comes to the cops. I would think that the only way they would know you’re lying is if you’ve been spotted sleeping in the same spot for a while and then you tell them it just happened because you were tired. The one time I had the dreadful nightmare of having the cops pounding with flashlights in my car, I was sleeping in an industrial area and I know it was a big truck that pulled up behind me and saw me so he called them. I told them I had an argument with my boyfriend and left. They asked for my license and registration and I told them I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong and I would go home now. The 2 questions they asked were if I was having sex in the back seat of the car and then they asked if I had home. I answered no and yes. I apologized and said I’m going home then and left. The way they were pounding on my glass stayed stuck in my head for months. It was terrifying.

The parking situation is a big problem if you want to be frugal and save money on rent by sleeping in your car. The other thing is how comfortable are you going to be sleeping in your car? I’m a petite girl and I’m a little too big for comfort but somehow I’ve managed. I’ve been doing this since February 2009 and it’s starting to get old. As soon as I can, when I get hired full time on this temp to hire part-time job I now have, I plan to rent a studio apartment somewhere.

There are no truck stops around where I stay, but I remember hearing on the news that because of the bad economy they are going to start closing them down. The story that Jaime told up above is scary.

I wish you all the best!

Reply to this comment

avatar Anaheim_Ducks_Hockey

CLS,

I appreciate you telling me, I know it’s hard. I think most people woiuld need a van if they have a pryer of doing it for mor than a month or two. I know I would. My car will have to do, I only need a month or so. I have no one to stay with but I think I can park in a friends driveway. Otherwise it’s hotels and truckstops or wherever. Hang in there and get a room for rent, they’re cheaper. Then you can find an apartment. Most everyone would love to rent to a female vs. a male living in their home. I wish you and everyone else, all the best!

Reply to this comment

avatar CLS

Hi 87 Anaheim_Ducks_Hockey,

I don’t know how far back you started reading this blog, I started writing a couple of months before I took the plunge in February 2009, and I explain how due to my past terrible roommate experiences I made my decision to sleep in my car instead of paying someone that’s going to rob me.

Reply to this comment

avatar Anaheim_Ducks_Hockey

December 29, 2008 at 7:27 pm

Yes cls, That is the date you first started to post. I have read all your posts and I know you’ve had a hard time. I;m moving for similar reasons. My neighborhood is crime ridden and my friend/landlord, ripped me off for 460.00. I am moving in a few days and I might park in a friends driveway or do the hotel parking thing. I do have a job, it’s just not enough. I don’t take drugs and I do not look like a “homeless person”. I wish we could rent/share an apartment..haha, since you and I are in so. cal. That was a joke, I’m not a stalker lol.

Well, since everyone saye what knid of car their sleeping in, I guess I’ll share mine. 2009 Chrysler Sebring, nice ride but interior is sorta small for me, being 6’1 in height.

I cannot believe you’ve been doing this for over a year…wow! Thankfully, I will only need a month or two. I wont ask about your family situation, cause I know how dysfunctional families can be. Mine is, and my parents are muti-millionaires. I gues I’m the black sheep, who didn’t go to college and I broke their hearts and they basically dis-owned me. I’ve always worked, and worked hard. It seems a shame that you being a young female, is out on the street. If you were my sis or daughter, hell no.
I’m doing this to get ahead a little.
Like Bob said in a previous post, I’m worried about you. Rent a room, it’s the cheapest way to go. You can find a good situation, just look. Try living in a married couples house. Maybe try living with older roommates, in their 40′s/50′s. I know a studio is better but a room is cheap and easy. Just find some good people. Take care CLS.

p.s I’m in Corona if you know where thats at. Yes, the crappy inland empire lol. If you want to talk to someone nice, who’s not a weirdo, then email me and I will give you my cell number. No, I’m not trying to hit on you, just would like to talk, sometimes talking to other people helps. ATJL72@YAHOO.COM

p.p.s. If you’re ever over this way, I’d be happy to buy you an early breakfast, or an late dinner, before we scout our places to park! :)

Reply to this comment

avatar CLS

You’re funny 184 Anaheim_Ducks_Hockey. Thanks for the invitation, but I have to gracefully decline. I do have a long story behind all this but I really don’t want to get in to it. It’s so funny that you mention I should rent from an older married couple. I did, that was the last place I rented. They were in their early 50′s and she was a clepto. I didn’t realize it until I moved out and realized all my brand new clothing was gone once I got to my new place. Every pretty thing I wore she made a fuzz over how much she liked and wanted to borrow and at the ended she ended up stealing it from me.

I did this to save money. Everything happened at the same time including a $500. camera ticket in the mail for a classic California Roll and after hearing all the doom and gloom in the news about the economy I thought this would be the best I could do. I’m not scared. I’m okay. I can’t believe more than a year has gone by too. It went really fast and I learned a lot on how to live this lifestyle as comfortable as possible. I didn’t save money though, but I have been paying the car and keeping a healthy lifestye.

My car still looks new and clean. I see that yours is newer. There is a new breed of car sleepers out there that aren’t on skid row, we are just trying to make it in this terrible economy One of the people that I recognize parking where I park has a brand new infinity and he watches movies late at night. It’s a new world. Please don’t worry about me. I’m a strong girl.

Take care

Reply to this comment

avatar SherryR

You are strong!!!!! I have to agree with you about the cops. My ex is a cop and he was abusive. They get away with everything. I guess that is going to my biggest fear about living in my vehicle. I know how they act like they are God. They like the power of the position. Well thanks for sharing your experiences.

Reply to this comment

avatar Dreamer

Hey everyone… Gonna make the plunge, start living out of the covered bed of a pick up truck. completely invisible to passersby. yay. my question is, what kinds of penalties are there for living out of your car? if the cops catch you and it’s obvious you are living out of your car, what kinds of monetary fines are there? can they repo your vehicle? i’m sure it varies from city to city, i’m just wondering if the money saved on rent outweighs the potential and possibly recurring fines. thanks in advance to all who reply.

Reply to this comment

avatar robert

You park at truck stops- rest areas- 24 hour restaurants so you do not have to worry about that.

Reply to this comment

avatar merc

I have been busted by cops before. it aint no big thing as long as you do not have warrants or are not in possession of anything illegal.
I had a friend who got busted for drinking and sleeping in his car. even though he was in his own vehicle and not moving he was cited for public drunkeness!!!!! Watch out for that. Also, no open containers of alchohol and most if not all states.

I have had the neighbors call the cops on me. they problable thought i was a stalker. most of the time the cops will just tell me to find a different place. no bigeee

Reply to this comment

avatar Bob Johnson

Always keep the keys OUT of the ignition if you are intoxicated. You can’t be charged with anything. The police are mostly liberal when it comes to these circumstances. But there’s always that ONE who’s having a bad day and will take it all out on you. Just be honest—-let’s face it, the economy sucks and you will unlikely become the first car-liver he/she comes across on patrol.
No one here is homeless either. Your vehicle is your home. It’s like an efficiency on wheels.

Reply to this comment

avatar Mark

This is true. Just keep the keys in your pocket. Then it will seem that you were not wanting to drive while intoxicated, you were just sleeping. You can’t be charged with DUI.

Reply to this comment

avatar shawn

Great site. I enjoy car living in my 1988 corsica 2.8fi v6. Its great. And a great place to park is beside a lake. Or in summer time just go camping. Without the tent or with. Whatever is best for you. If the cops came. I will just say. I’m parked here so I can start early on my fishing. Good luck to everyone. God bless. Shawn from edmonton Alberta.

Reply to this comment

avatar Kathleen

An increasingly relevant discussion, at least to me. Congrats to the new breed of pioneer!

I’m currently thinking of selling my car and buying a work van to convert. I find I’m actually looking forward to taking up this lifestyle, dangers and all. I believe it will actually be good for me as I’ve kind of gotten myself in a rut. However, I just celebrated my Big Five Oh, my kids are gaining their own self-sufficiency, and I’m ready for my second childhood – this time I really am gonna run away from home, at least to someplace warmer and drier. I want to do it while I’m still young enough. There is a silver lining in the middle age thing — though I am not unattractive “for my age,” it makes me pretty much invisible already. LOL Of course this is too easy a perspective in the beginning and hellish days will follow but, that is not contingent upon living in/out of one’s car, is it? Crap happens even if you have a house. Sometimes especially if you have a house – that is the point, isn’t it?

Thankfully, I have disability income and none of the expenses that come with holding down a job. I really don’t need much and, curiously, the more I get rid of, the better I feel. Hello, George Carlin. God willing, I’ll be able to save 1/3 of my income for the inevitable rainy day. Maybe the rat race isn’t for us because we’re not rats?

Here is my list of anticipated monthly expenses:

-$150 – Rainy Day Fund
-$100 – Fuel 400 mi.
- $70 – Insurance ($400 2x/yr.)
- $50 – Camp fees, laundry?
- $30 – Prepaid phone min.
- $25 – Disposables & toiletries, soap, TP, etc.
- $25 – Cigs (I know, eww)

What am I missing as a regular expense? Obviously, It’d be nice to afford a gym membership but saving is more important to me and, I’ve been homeless before and it’s not that tough to find a place to shower plus, I have a pocket puppy who needs exercise, too. We can hike in the winter and swim in the summer. Velcro attachable weights don’t take up much room.

We’ll probably drift up and down the Left Coast with the seasons. I won’t be mobile-homeless; I’ll be a snowbird! LOL I’ll admit I’m looking desperately for any and every silver lining because, even though it’s been many years, I did sleep in my storage unit for awhile; I spent days working and used the municipal pool to shower, it was scary — but I had lots more responsibilities and drama back then.

About security, I once received an email several times which advises to keep your key fob on your nightstand so that you can press the panic button in case of burglary. I’m under the impression that this isn’t exactly standard equipment on a van but, even aftermarket, especially with remote starting capability seems like an even better idea than using it from your bed in a prison cell …. I mean house! /humor

Anyway, what a relief to know I’m not really alone. I won’t consider myself homeless OR “willingly” homeless either (and really, is there such a thing? circumstances MAKE one “willing” only as a last resort, greedy mothafukas). I’m a homebody to a fault, but it’s been due to finances and responsibilities that I haven’t done more traveling. My dad built his own camper before I was born and I practically grew up in that thing. I’ve inherited only a fraction of his ingenuity for which I’m always grateful. When I find a good survivalist forum, I get in this zone and lose track of time. I think I’ve got myself talked into detailing my really cute fun to drive car and putting the For Sale sign in it (I printed it out a couple of weeks ago … it’s just been sitting on my desk but I know in my heart that the S WILL HTF and I’m too smart not to be prepared. I’m probably going to have to do it eventually and having the time will be crucial to my success. Oh, courage, don’t fail me now.

Until I get this set up, I’m living vicariously though you, so any words of wisdom or encouragement are more than welcome. I’m looking forward to reading your updates. Disenfranchised, unite!

Reply to this comment

avatar Sonja

Kathleen – Sounds like you’ve got the right mind-set and optimism to deal with the hardships that can come with vehicle-dwelling… Honestly I had way more headaches with home ownership than I’ve ever had while living in my van. That’s right – we are not rats, screw the rat race… I’ve been in my van for 2 years now and can’t think of many bad things to even say about it, other than my vehicle breaking down on occasion, but even then I had AAA to call for a rescue… Whether you can vehicle-dwell or not comfortable really depends on your resourcefulness and mindset. As for your expenses, don’t forget food! lol. That is where most of my money goes. Or vehicle repairs and gas. I’ve got a financial budget on my page, just go to http://www.faliaphotography.com and click on “cost of living” along the right side. Yes, S is going to HTF, so I would recommend getting as prepped as you can in your vehicle.. I highly recommend joining the WhenSHTF.com forum for survival info, too – lots of great stuff there. As for needing courage, honestly I have found van-dwelling to be more free, fun and exciting than fearful, worrisome, or dangerous. You’ve got to prepare for the worst, but keeping a postitive outlook is key. Maybe check out the book “Transcending Fear.” It is an excellent read and has helped me in many areas.

Reply to this comment

avatar Janet

Kathleen,

Your list is missing food and a POBox so you have a place or way to pick up your disabilty check and other mail.

Reply to this comment

avatar Kathleen

Sonja, thank you. I think I might have found my way here using a link from your site yesterday. I’ve just scratched the surface of the info you’ve provided. It’s not that I don’t look forward to this but the transition is probably the scariest part. I’m adaptable, though.

It’s not so much fear of the unknown as it is just being stuck in a rut but …. drumroll please ….
First baby step: I’ve offered my daughter a commission for selling my car. She can use the dough and she’s not so attached to it. A van will be more practical whether I end up living in it or not.

Since I’m on disability, I’m also on food stamps which, I realize, are not “supposed” to be for those who live in/out of their car. As far as they’re concerned, I’m camping. So, food: check.

I didn’t want to tempt fate by naming the “Rainy Day Fund” the “Auto Repair Fund” instead – why take chances? LOL Comparing your budget to mine, I feel as though I can make it, if only barely and God willing.

Reply to this comment

avatar Tony

Food stamps are given to homeless people and people who have shelter, there is no rule. My friend lived in his car in Oregon and was given food stamps.

Reply to this comment

avatar Jaime

Good’on’ya for giving the road a go, Kathleen!

One word of warning on your budget – Campsites, during the ‘on’ season, will bleed ya. Seek National and State Forests over National or State Parks, and Walmarts are always a good deal when you get stuck. Private campgrounds vary greatly, but may offer a discount earlier in the week if its a non-holiday. Weekends are rough.

Best of luck! Keep reading, there are more and more van/car/truck livers than you might imagine, and a lot of ‘em have blogs.

Cheers!

Reply to this comment

avatar Acajudi

Hi my good people.

I do own a van, and it seems all I do is pay rent etc. I know I should not complain, but I almost feel like putting my “stuff” in a storage locker, getting me a gym membership and bank the money, that I am spending for the very high rent! I do work, so if I did it for a year, I could pay cash for a small house. It would mean living very frugal, but I can do it. Hang in there, and thanks for letting me vent. I am debt-free, because I listen to http://www.daveramsey.com. I just want to save some of this rip off high rent. Perhaps I can care for an elderly person for free rent, when I am home. I can purchase my own food.

Reply to this comment

avatar Kathleen

Jaime, thank you. You’ve described my campground plan perfectly. I shall use them only when absolutely necessary.

Now, I’m dithering between buying a box van or a full-size passenger van. I’ve read that box vans (even converted ones) aren’t exactly welcome at campgrounds, even if they’re self-contained? OTOH, campgrounds ARE expensive but, would be good to be ABLE to use one when need arises. Either way, I plan to have a little gas-powered scooter in/on the thing.

So, thoughts on box/cube truck v. full-size passenger van? City stealth v. country stealth v. comfort and roominess.

Reply to this comment

avatar HoboJoe

Pros. Diesel engine,roomines
Cons,not the best for stealth,diesel prices,

Reply to this comment

avatar DK Thompson

I have read this entire page of amazing and great storys about “Homeless Mobile” or is it “Mobile Homeless?”….
I am SWF, disabled & have SS income, no pets, no kids that care, no friends to speek of.
I have an old 98 Ford ranger. ….anyway are there any other negatives? I know you have to be safe, parking, hygene and so forth is there more that ppl don’t talk about?

My questions
1. What about the looks of your vehical? mine looks like it needs to be scrapped,just like me.
2 What about being alone and lonely? 3 What do I do during the day for example 7 am to 8 pm?

I have a laptop & play a game on the web, that helps me when I am lonely and excape reality,
you can kill only so much time at the library and malls and so forth,….then what?

A gym memshp would be great but I can’t work out
I see most of the ppl here are athletic,young and healthy.
My only bills are…Storage,Cell phone w/internet, truck insurance, a personal loan (hopeing it will help fix my credit again) All this takes about less than half of my income. not including food, gas,.. And I am trying to stop smoking. No lectures pease,I’m to old to hear any more about that.. I did say I was trying to stop. I read that you need to save at least 80% of your income or not live in your car. Is this true for everyone? Or is this an individual thing?

Why don’t more ppl mention Homeless shelter? Never thought of it? Did it & didn’t like it? Not one around? what???
I live in Texas, and it is hot hot hot. I have researched until I am blue in the face, Scared to death,need a friend or 2. One thing I have taught my self is repeating “Change can be good too”, not always bad. I hate being alone. I wan’t sure if I could leave my email here or not,just incase someone could help. I have been encouraged by the ppl that have and are still living in their cars.thank you

Reply to this comment

avatar Jaime

Not sharing the same background, one item I’d recommend is: California. At least there you would not be alone. So many transients there, who live out of their cars but sleep mostly on the beach. The weather is fantastic, if you really get hard-up they treat the homeless so well, and there will be plenty of folks to talk to.

Venice Beach is a good place to start. Safety is certainly an issue, but if you’re in such dire straits anyhow, it couldn’t hurt to have a look-see. In my opinion, it’s the absolute best place to be homeless.

Now, if your job is in TX, and you don’t plan on leaving TX, forget it. Hopefully someone else here can help you with your other queries.

Good luck!!

Reply to this comment

avatar LosAngeles99

@Jaime –

Where do people sleep on the beach? The beaches I’ve been to in LA seem to close at sunset.

any good places to park in LA for sleeping in your car?

Any suggestion for best places for free internet?

Reply to this comment

avatar HoboJoe

Go out in your truck to WalMart and do an overnighter. See how that works. Then go to the next town and do a two nighter.See how that works out for you? Will also give you an idea of what you need and what to leave at home. Hope this idea helps. HoboJoe

Reply to this comment

avatar Eric

I have three words for all you guys and gals who sleep in their vehicles – if you want privacy both in the day and night:-

TINT YOUR RIDE….

I have been sleeping in my car for more than one year, at first i didn’t have any tint on my windows and i was forced to use several dark cloths to cover my windows at night…if you sleep in your car you will end up having lots of stuff in your car….laptops, blankets, etc….thieves only steal what they can see….so i decided to tint my windows….

i paid $75 for my tint…..and the minute i got into my car I was in a whole new world…i could see outside but they could not see me. the first tint i put on my windows was so dark and illegal [5% VLT], i had to row down my windows at night when i was driving. i managed to drive for several months without getting a ticket but i had to drive to 2000 miles to seattle WA. and back again, so i removed the tint in the front and put 35% tint, in the front windows. you can get a ticket if your tint is too dark.

Today I would never sleep in my car without tinted windows…even with tint you will still need windshield sunshades and several pieces of dark cloth if you want absolute privacy.

Reply to this comment

avatar Renat Tsukerman

I have 35% tints on my car “toyota camry” including back window and i drape the car in towels at night to go to sleep in the back seat.
I have been doing this since June, I’m in college, work out daily (my body would kill me if I didn’t) and I shower at my gym. Currently out of work (thanks to our great economy) In credit debt and just trying to get by day by day. I have two more years to go in college and hopefully I will find a Job and a place by then.

Truly only thing that get’s me by week to week is spending $20 a week to eat and watch football at my fav bar watching the DETROIT LIONS.

Good luck to anyone else doing this (and if any car company wants to pay me to live in there car ill do it, heck make a huge luxury commercial about it and how it’s so comfy you don’t even need a house (get your marketing execs to make it better) lol

Reply to this comment

avatar acajudi

hi everyone. i do have an apartment and a van, so i am blessed, and i try to help others.

Reply to this comment

avatar sapos

This is fkn kool folks. Well, after getting kicked out by the angry live in girlfriend..yeah i slept in a car freezin cold..for like 16 days yup just to keep my sanity..I was able to keep my job by this..it pays good but dang it seems that cost of living is higher..the trunk is not a good place to sleep..had too bad neighboorhood one night….Definitely it helps by saving money…alot.but use it to progress unless u want to chill in a car for longer time…o yeah shower and yup keep a caterer handy…..ja ja…better yet JYm…well…good hearing ur stories…keep on van camping folks…lessons learned is wisdom earned..peace

Reply to this comment

avatar Living Light

I understand and applaud this man’s determination to get out of debt. I also lived in my truck… my 1986 Jeep Cherokee Laredo.

I was probably the only graduate student at Duke University to live in her Jeep throughout most of my dual Practitioner program. It is amazing at the resourcefulness that one develops. Logistics is big as campus police wouldn’t let me stay overnight in the parking lot THAT I PAID ACCESS TO. Sometimes I would get to the hospital long before my shift, garment bag (and toiletry kit) in hand, find a deserted staff lounge and shower/prep there…and walk out in my lab coat to take care of my critically ill patients. In extreme weather I utilized libraries and study buildings as long as possible at night to study and rite papers, catch up on news, etc. The nursing administration building had a student computer lab and lounge..with a kitchenette. Microwavable meals, especially having HOT WATER for tea at night…went a long way to keep me warm during winter snow and ice storms. Once a week a late night diner was my big treat… all the coffee I could drink and one ‘sit down’ late night breakfast was my self-reward. The faculty and my colleagues never knew…good thing, as I would probably have been thrown out for disgracing the almighty name of DUKE.

My best advice to anyone contemplating this: fluffy sock slippers, two trashbags with a towel in between will provide much needed insulation for foot warmth…the floor of jeeps gets quite cold in winter. An extra large down comforter will be your best friend…and compacts nicely into a stuff sack to stay clean and out of sight during the day!. I used a duvet cover that matched my upholstery and parked in dark locations to minimize the likelihood of someone peeking in and noticing the apparent “bum” sleeping in the jeep ;(.

I did save money…besides school (and two residencies) I was working full time in one of the ICUs and auto-deposited my not-so generous Uncle Duke paychecks (minus $50/week for my complete expenses) back home to take care of my children. It was almost ten years before I was able to tell my children how rough it was.

For the past 8 months I’ve been doing something similar: living out of my car and sleeping in a hammock in the woods (yes, even in winter storms). I’ve learned even more during this adventure. I sold most of what I had, house included, bought gold and stashed it away for the future, and decided to save more to pay cash for a house next year. I am debt free except for basic bills (a storage facility, cell phone bill and car insurance). Funny thing is that I sleep better than I ever have before…with more energy to do what I do during the day. I’m in a different and colder area now but I receive strength from being free and independent while working expeditiously towards a bigger goal. One thing that is easier now is that I can go to see different family members, bring supplies and cook dinner, enjoy their company and have the benefit of regular hot showers! The kids (now adult) still think I’m a bit odd…and they are right… but they love to go camping with me!

Reply to this comment

avatar Matthew

I decided to live in my car by choice. I take showers at the gym where I also workout and bodybuild regularly. Living in a car has changed my life in so many ways for the better. It’s peaceful, no overhead to manage and can travel freely. When it gets cold, use a sleeping bag. Get tinted windows for optimal privacy. It’s not that bad, even in a sedan, but only if you’re single. If you have pets, get rid of them. I personally don’t care for them. They’re too much maintenance. I go bar hopping on the weekends, party every day and meet new people to stay with who invite me over to stay for a while. It’s really not that bad. It’s actually quite enlightening. I’m doing this by choice and will have no plans to ever rent or own any property in the future.

Reply to this comment

avatar brian

I realy like what you had to say about living out of your car. My dog is the tuff part. He is 50# and i will allways love him. hate to let him go. i think i agree to get rid of the pets. i think i am making to much of living out off my car. your comments made me feel better. The time is now. it’s like what really is there to plan??. every thing will hopefully work. staying in the moment work

Reply to this comment

avatar RC

I googled this “living on my car” this website came out . I was going trough so much stuff that the best way for me to leave that was living my house. After a month I can said wao!!! I never expected to live in my car it is incredible how I manage to live with so many limited resources and I am so happy because I have learn tons and tons of stuff. Before I used spend money like crazy or I did not really care.Now that I am living in my car and at the same time going to college. I make sure where every cents goes. For me it is definitely a learning experience I have learn a lot. I never thought about about being able to live like this !!!

Reply to this comment

avatar jamesd

i am currently working and still cant afford a place due to how mutch i pay in chiled support.
so i have been getting my truck ready to live in. but i have lived in colorado for my whole life
and know where i can camp and be left alone so my girlfriend and i have bought a small camper and a huge army tent to park the camper in when its -20. we also have a toyota truck and 4runner both 4×4 and 4cylinders so we can make it to work and back affordabley and with very few repairs.

Reply to this comment

avatar Stuart

I have no idea how old this thread is, but I thought I would toss in my two cents worth. Have any of you live-in-car people thought of visiting so-called intentional communities? Yes, just like in the hippy days of old, there are quite a number of communes still in existence. Most want “interns” or visitors for extended periods of time to help with the work. You might learn something about organic farming. You’ll certainly have company. Heck, you might even like the lifestyle so much, you’ll become a member! It seems so many of you are desperate to get right back on the mortgage treadmill, back into the ratrace, when there are alternative lifestyles out there. Check out the http://www.ic.org webpage. Under “Find” you can narrow down the communes to the ones you might be compatible with, to the ones in your state, or the ones along your travel itinerary. I suspect they will be very understanding of your situation. Many expect interns to “tent,” well, your car is your tent! If the commune doesn’t appeal to you, just drive to another. It’s just a thought… I wish you good luck.

Reply to this comment

avatar KD

if you are interested in this you should also google WWOOFing, it’s a program where you can go somewhere and in exchange for ~2weeks-2months of farm work you can live on their property. alot of places that do this are communes. some of them want you to take care of yourself food-wise but others feed you too.

Reply to this comment

avatar SherryR

What an awesome blog. I am so glad that I came across it. I have been living in a friends apartment garage for free. But now her son and his girlfriend want to move up there so now I need to leave. I went through a bad custody battle and lost to an abusive ex. It is all about who has the most money. And it wasn’t me. So now I am in debt with to attorney fees (2 attorneys), and medical expenses. Even if you have insurance you have to sell your lung to pay for things. So now I have been trying to decide what do I do now. So I decided to live in my car. Right now I am packing. I am excited about the experience. I got a gym membership so I can shower, and I found a Loves truck stop where hopefully I can get a goods night rest. I dont have a PO Box yet because there is a waiting list. I didn’t realize there was such a high demand for PO boxes. I am trying to find a 24 hour storage close to my work so it won’t be out of the way when I need to go there. Same thing with my PO box. I live in Texas and I don’t have any family. Plus I was in foster care growing up. The closest thing I have to family is my co-workers. They are amazing! But I don’t want anybody to know.
If I get desperate I already drove by a shelter that would take me in.

Reply to this comment

avatar SherryR

One more thing… Does anybody know how to keep your car cool without leaving your car on all night? I am about to hit hot summer weather and I want to be prepared.

Reply to this comment

avatar raggabubo

re: SherryR and the air conditioning: I sould find a really safe place like a friends driveway to park. If you could pay them for the place to park even. Because i would be afraid of leaving my windows all the way down on a public street. kI was in Idaho where it cools down at night in the mountains, or in the valley, I was in a safe parking lot where I could leave windows down. That is a difficult one. I said before I was at Mccall Idaho for a summer. I couild go to the state park, ponderosa, and buy a day pass. dawn till dark and you can swim in the lake and barbaque read, lay on the beach ect. It was a cheap place to lay over during the day. I went there after work, when I found work. A lot of locals started out camping out until they could buy land. Winters are harsh there so, finding roomies is good.

Reply to this comment

avatar Cindy Brock

Have any of you thought about living in an RV? My parents are no longer able to use their 5th wheel, truck and camping package. This is a rare combo because it includes a camping membership that allows you to stay free anywhere the camping club has a park in the US and Canada. Granted, if you have a job, this probably isn’t feasible; but if you’re disabled or retired, it’s a great option. (And, no: I’m not trying to sell you my parent’s RV package!)

There are lots of camping options that would take you one step above living in your car. It’s still very frugal. In fact, my husband and I did it (with 3 pets) for almost a year.

I have a question for some of you in cars that have jobs: have you considered upgrading your vehicle to a mini-van or something with more room? Used cars are very cheap right now (because of the economy) and you can probably find a great deal. (Again, I’m not trying to bypass those of you who have serious financial issues.)

If anyone happens to be in Georgia (I’m 30 miles north of Atlanta in a town called Cumming), you are more than welcome to stay in our driveway. Feel free to send me an email at calamitycindy@gmail.com.

Reply to this comment

avatar Pikester

So I moved out to socal from Chicago in august 2010 with my gf(soon to be ex) were living together in LA and I need out and don’t have enough yet for an apartment. Reading this feed really helped I’m getting storage so its a little less obvious to cops and a gym membership for hygiene. I have a jeep cherokee ill be living out of and I work in Santa Monica. Where are some good spots to park to sleep downtown Santa Monica? I work on 5th and Santa monica and a ymca next door luckily.

Reply to this comment

avatar FLRes

Positivebro, can we have an update on your current situation. Its very fortunate that they let you park at that VA compound. I have lived in my car before and I’m thinking of moving to the LA area.

Reply to this comment

avatar SherryR

I womder if it is ok to park at a travel stop all the time? I know that people that live in their vehicles do not stay in the same place due to not wanting a run in with the cops. But I wonder if it would ok to stay at a Loves travel station every night to sleep. I am about to live in my vehicle in less then 2 weeks. I looked around and found a Loves in a safe area. I really do not want to be going from place to place to sleep. But I will if that is what I have to do to survive. Any advice.

Reply to this comment

avatar Cindy Brock

Hi SherryR!

That’s a really good solution. Obviously, truck drivers get to stay there all the time. In fact, they can even take showers, get food, etc. They *probably* allow them to do this at no cost because they buy diesel from them.

I’m still the advocate for checking with someone first. They probably have security walking the grounds and if they find you, they will probably ask you to leave.

Good luck.

Reply to this comment

avatar SherryR

I would rather not ask someone if I can park there every night due to the fact that I don’t want anyone to know that I will be living out of my car. I don’t want to be a “sitting duck” for any criminal activity. I don’t know maybe it is best to move around.
I dont want to be harassed by cops either. I had enough of that abuse from my law enforcement ex-husband. Well thank you for your advice, it is appreciated.

Reply to this comment

avatar jcasil

I have been in my car for almost a year now, and I get a lot of checking from police. I mean they are nice, and also offer help. but is this typical? really need to know.

I have found that neighboring cities can be very different. one city in the phoenix area the officers will encourage you to leave, Glendale, but in a neighboring city, Chandler, the officers will not.

if police do speak with you, ask them if there is a code or law where they could fine or arrest you. they will usually say that you just need to move your car.

also, security officers, if they are not totally intolerant, they are so suspicious that it makes parking there too uncomfortable.

Construction sites or stores in a mall that are not rented out, have been the best places for parking. since there is no business going on, just as long as you do not sit there 24 hours, but move around a bit.

ever noticed how all parking lots are designed so that there is no shade? the parking spaces have little or no shade? that is to discourage us, and other bums, loiterers. supposedly attracts crime or ugly people, not good for business.

Reply to this comment

avatar truckguy
avatar truckguy

There are some grocery stores that will let you park every night for months and others that wont allow one night… sometimes if you see someone parking that looks like they do it regularly you can ask them politely will anyone hastle you… sometimes this underground community can be a great rescource, if you need a jump, if the group watches out for one another. If questioned by the police dont say your just doing it once.. tell the truth and they will work with you. definately need a charged cell phone every night if you need to call 911. Being female I would try to sleep so that a person doesnt know your in the vehicle, or that your a woman(beany hat or covers pulled over your head. Have met some wonderful people who will look out for you without looking for a return… God bless and keep you

avatar drive7

No place will really let you setup camp in their parking lot. Truck stops, Walmarts, etc. are lenient b/c truck drivers & RV’ers buys a ton of gas. And they know that they will leave after a night’s sleep or so. But it’s not for vehicle dwellers. If they allow it, people can sue them should something bad happens as their parking lots are not zoned nor suitable for dwelling. You need to blend in and be stealthy. Many people get a cargo van for this purpose and are able to park like they’re there working. Apartment complex parking lots are another good place to park. But you cannot stay more than 2 nights at the same place. You need to scope out a new place just about every night. Anyone would immediately notice a stranger’s car in front or close to their house, let alone one that’s parked there night after night. And always stay away from playgrounds, parks with lots of kids, school zones, etc…as a van hanging out too long will look very suspicious. With out of state tags, it makes things even harder. Good luck.

Reply to this comment

avatar CW

I wouldn’t advise attempting to use Apartment Complex parking … these belong to the people who live in the apartments ,& these people most likely pay for them . Parking is hellish in LA so be aware you are going to generate considerable animosity if you do this . We have started to see more & more vehicle dwellers parking in our area ( Los Feliz) & i am personally ok with it as long as they respect other people & don’t dump their trash & blast music from their vehicles …sadly many do . If this persists i for one will be glad to call the police & have them removed . RESPECT is the key word here !

Reply to this comment

avatar jcasil

With all this heat, I look for shade. Fields are a great place, because they have shade, privacy and are more quiet. Also great if you have a pet, or like to help the occassional stray cat/dog with food and water or rescue.

The deep shade of a field with trees and shurbs is a lot more cool than shade of a building, or car shelter. Because the cool ground and plants cool really off the air. that is how all these animals can live in the heat without A/C.

I found cheap fabric at walmart, for $3 a yard, that I simply put on my windows at night to keep out bugs. just some kind of white netting like material. Put it over the open car door and shut the door on it. you can also just hang it over the car keeping the door open for maximum air. Also a fan at the window if you have electrical power.

It is so hot, my car would not cool off at night, i have to keep it in the shade.

To find a filed, just look for a shrubby background and drive around the area and explore. I have found that people who own parking lots next to fields are really the most tolerant. Helpful, really.

In one situation the owner of the property owner was pleased for me to park there, because they were having problems with criminal activity being it was so empty all the time. The crooks might become a little more brave, but I am not planning a fight.

Just make sure you stay well out of the way of any business going on, be nice to any passing customers, and neighbors. I also volunteer to keep the grounds clean.

Secluded fields around a driving area/path are not obvious, you are going to have to drive around side streets. When you find one, park in it for a while to check it out. If you like it, speak with the business or property owner if it seems one is there. But if you think that the property owner will not, usually wealthy establishments or chain stores, then just wait it out – until you are asked to leave.

In a snall town I found a field behind a fire station and the fire fighters asked me if I wanted to use their facilities to clean up. The field is along a ravine, deep shade, which is just great for hiking or contemplation or using your port-a-potty.

In a big city I found another field besides another fire station. Try the local fire station in your area.

Cops and security like to scare you against field areas, always saying there are lots of homeless people wandering or going around them. the answer to that: give them good decent food or help and talk a bit humble. I do this anyways.

however in the south, very near the U.S. boarder, that could be a serious issue that you want to avoid fields.

so you might encounter some serious police acitivity near a field, I mean checking on you, in the middle of the night, but if you get the property owner’s permission, they will stop. Or after checking and watching you, they might realize you are really just not threatening.

one time the night police came at me with a helicopter-and-spotlight then three cars. no kidding, an inner city field. but allowed me to stay and stopped that checking.

Reply to this comment

avatar Glide

Dear sherry,
U can get away with it to some exstent but u really need to find more than one place like loves to park because ur gonna attract attention to yourself if u stay in the same place so find other spots ur comphy with an move around from place to place every 2-3 days,,walmarts are good,,travelers are always staying there while passing thru so u can use that as an excuse unless u have been camped out for days when u get asked,,,ive done it,,,the main thing is b polite if ur approched by secutity guard,,most of them dont care but is thier job so leave an give it afew dats before u come back an most wont mind!,,good luck an god bless!

Reply to this comment

avatar frankherbold

i sleep in loves almost every night. had no problems thus far.

Reply to this comment

avatar jessica

what is “loves”?

Reply to this comment

avatar star999

Love’s is a brand of truck stop like Pilot or Flying J. Love’s is a bit cheaper and less uptight than Pilot.

avatar shit bird

Most cops don’t give a fk and will be reasonable if you aren’t an asshole to them. All “security guards” are f-ing douche-bags and your best recourse with those is to tell them to fk their mothers and drive away. You need to find mutliple spots, like at least 10. Some spots are better than others, some nights/days you are going to be f-ed though and there will be no way to avoid the suck of it all. Travel light. This can be an ideal way to live given a few very important factors: A) you do not have to rely on strangers for paper checks or cash (e.g. a “job”) & B) you do not have to remain in any one town or city any longer than you desire to be there. Cannabis is helpful (particularly on solitary nights in the wilderness) and alcohol is a straight up killer. Nothing worse than waking up with an on deaths doorstep hangover in your f-ing car. Avoid that at all costs.

Reply to this comment

avatar Brandon

Travel stops are hotbeds of shady activity. I would NOT stay at one if I had a choice. I’m currently living in my vehicle and I have found that churches are fantastic places to park. Leave out the part about whether YOU are religous or not and ask to speak to the pastor of the church. Explain your situation and that you are living in your vehicle. They are very sympathetic to such circumstances. Explain that you will not be leaving trash anywhere or wandering around the parking lot in your pajamas during times when services are being conducted. Finally, tell the pastor that you don’t have a great deal of money to spare, but make an offer to contribute $20 or so to the church’s general funds (in most instances they won’t take your money). Granted, all you have is a parking lot and no showers or amenities, but in most cases they’ll tell you you can park there. Do this at several out of the way churches and those off the beaten path. Find ones that have parking lots that wrap around the building and you can park BEHIND the building so your vehicle can’t be seen from the main street. Nobody ever really cruises through church parking lots looking to cause trouble and, if you can’t easily be seen as a target from a main road, nobody will suspect you’re there. SAFETY IS GOLDEN!

Reply to this comment

avatar marc

I park at my job. Of course not everyone can. Not everyone can live out of their car either. However, I’m bouyed by the thought of the money I’m saving and not being stuck with 25 or 50 bucks after each pay period.

Reply to this comment

avatar SherryR

Well my last day living in my apartment is coming up. I know that this is going to be such a challenge. I can’t just be lazy and decide to take a shower in the morning instead of in the evening. I am going to have to take advantages of any opportunities. I found a gym that is rather cheap, but it is not open 24 hours a day.
I got a great deal on a storage. And it is open 24 hours, so if I need something I can just go by there to get it. On top of that they provide a moving truck for FREE!!! So I called and cancelled my Budget truck rental. Things seem to be falling into place for the good.
I think the only thing I am concerned about is finding a place to park without having to move around a lot, and keeping cool through the hot, humid summer days that are already here. Well wish me luck!!!!!

Reply to this comment

avatar drive7

I wonder if you can make a deal with someone to park in their driveway or near their home. Maybe for $50-100 a month depending on what they allow you to use….ie. get water from their garden hose, plug in an extension cord for some electricity, etc. What kind of vehicle are you living in? To keep cool for a van, people install a ceiling hatch fan (used in RV’s) that runs off of a secondary battery. It pulls a lot of air, keeps condensation down, etc. Much safer than leaving your windows down. You need to check out some of the “van dwelling” sites for proven ideas.

Reply to this comment

avatar jessica

i have a question for sherryr. could you not live in the storage area? discreetly of course.

Also, have you considered bug bombing your car? My car has teeny little spiders, even though i never have food in my car, and am a very clean person. would it be safe to set off a bomb?

Reply to this comment

avatar SherryR

The management for my storage facility lives on site, so I would not be able to stay there. They even mention it in their “rules.” I have a Nissan Altima. I have tinted windows thank goodness.
But right now I am not living in my vehicle. The day I was moving I feel and sustained a trimalleolar fracture to my lower leg, plus I dislocated my ankle. I had emergency surgery. I dont know what happened with things “falling in place?”
I am staying with someone but I feel uncomfortable, so I am waiting for me to get better and then I am going to try it again.
The good thing is that the weather here in the south has hit record highs, 100′s. So I have had some where cool to stay.

Reply to this comment

avatar harodB

try vandwellers.com for blogging/emails. A great how to site is cheaprvliving.com. He has written a book and covers most all areas. Try the rd=edneck air conditioner. Get a 50 gal. cooler, cut a piece of stiff foam insulation to fit the top of the cooler( lid raised) get a small fan, mark the outline of the fan. cut it out. Get a 2″ piece of pvc plastic pipe. cut it about 4′ long mark the out line on the insulation at the other end. Cut it out. Fill the ice chest 3/4 fullof ice. tight fit the insulation into the top of the ice chest. fit the fan cace down in the whole in the insulation. fit the pvc pipe in the other hole. ass an angle to the pipe for direction controll. turn on the fan. cold air comes out the pipe. A guy tested it out and found the air comming out is around 60 degrees and it cooled his van to around 70 degrees. I’m going to make one for my self. H.

Reply to this comment

avatar Heidi Engel

Shari,

I work nights and spend the days at a Korean Spa for about $12.00 per day. They usually have sleep rooms, fresh towels, and a way to pamper myself when I wake up. Unfortunately my home is several states away and is rented out at a loss…. but I still have a mortgage payment since the market is so bad. At my age I have to hold onto something. I never thought I would be homeless.

Reply to this comment

avatar la cosa mia

Sherry, here are other places to stay. At upper class hotels
Apatment complexes, truck stops, try to stay and blend in at
Residential places. At apartment complexes you can even do your
Laundry there. Find an ideal place with in 10 block radius where
You can hang out. Here are ideal living conditions; you sleep in your car
With tinted windows in a safe place. You wake up, put your cap on and go
To any hotel lobby where they have free coffee. Take two one for you
And one aunt sally. Try to join a fitness center between 10- 50 dlrs
A month, 24/7 you can exercise and shower there. If you have a job where
You earn 800 dlrs a month you can make it. Find a good Christian church to
Attend and learn from Gods word. Be faithful and attend regularly
And be a servant, help out in cleaning or anything else.
Gravitate towards the good things in life: good people, a good church, any
Good opportunities, get good advice. Stay away from those that want to
Hurt you. Hang in there, you will be ok…

Reply to this comment

avatar Dan
avatar GO WITH GOD

I have been living out of my car since hurricane Wilma in 2005. From that time I have rented rooms and have had positions of employment to care for the elderly as a live-in companion. My day begins at 4AM, as where I park I do not want to draw attention that I park there. I have a small bottle of water that I drink as I drive to a Perpetual Addoration Chapel to pray. After going to Holy Mass I have a cheap breakfast at Burger King and Lunch is also cheap at the same place as senior drinks go along way. I do not eat or drink anything after lunch (12:30 pm) as I do not have access to any facilities where I park. I park at a hospital parking lot and as far away from the main entrance as I can find. Everything else I depend entirely on God to take care of. I go the the library where it is cool and quiet and have access to the computer to continue my search for employment and for a room. The economy is really in bad shape and has taken it’s toll on alot of opportunities, but I keep looking and by God’s Good Graces, I will find what He helps me with. I take one day at a time, and I also volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul Society to serve the poor in the community I am close to. There are alot of people hurting out there,and alot of times those families with young children. I consider myself to be very much blessed as I have a roof over my head and I can lock my doors and an ignition key to leave if there is a situation should occur, I can leave in a hurry. God watches over me and cares for me as He does for us all. He asks that we love Him, and trust Him and thank Him, He’ll take care of the rest. And at night, instead of counting sheep, count your blessings!!!!!!!!!!

Reply to this comment

avatar dee

if ur renting a storage unit u should be able to park there

Reply to this comment

avatar Mark

I plan to live in my Land rover and the only thing holding me back is what to do with my mail?Do i have to have a permanet address to still be working full time?Will a PO box solve the problem?other than the mail thing I am totally down to doing this.Please help

Reply to this comment

avatar Bill Gates

Yeah it’s important to have some kind of address and a PO box will do.

I actually was living in my car for about 5 months while I rented a really cheap office in North Hollywood for around $200/month. I had free internet, air conditioning and electricity to work and do graphic design jobs all day and at night I would park somewhere safe to sleep in my ride.

Reply to this comment

avatar Nomad

That sounds fun, I love graphic design and 3d modeling. I live in San Diego though.
You inspired me. ^_^ Cops in San Diego won’t let you sleep in your car and if they catch you they will write you a ticket for illegal lodging. I had to go to court for this and they asked me if I wanted to plea to disturbing the peace instead. I ended up paying 125$ and the case was dismissed.

Reply to this comment

avatar ragg

you dont have to have a permanet address unless you have public assistance. They most likely don’t give it to homeless people anyway.
A PO box is not necessary if you use a debit card, you could get mail at your parents address if you have parents.
Privacy is a good reason to have a PO Box.
I was put out of my home maliciously and the Postal Servace has been the biggest one to discriminate against me. Small town postal workers don’t like to put my mail in the box, they just return to sender, I guess it makes their day. The rest of my mail was re-routed to bangor maine.
I sent myself mail just to see, and I was correct, not paranoid. They are funny ha ha.

Reply to this comment

avatar jcasil

Some shelters and other welfare agencies allow you to use their address to get all kinds of mail. all you need is your i.d. to get your mail. and you do not have to be staying at that agency. you will just have to call one of them in your area and ask. or a church will know their number.

Reply to this comment

avatar Heidi Engel

Mark,

You spend about $6.00 a month and get a post office box. Its not that difficult. Instead of using the USPS, go to one of those mail box etc. stores to sign up… somehting on a convenient. I found myself on the highways about 3 hours per day and now feel like a turtle.

Reply to this comment

avatar Nomad

A PO Box requires a residential address, something about homeland security.
I have used both PO Box registered under a grandparents home and also the Welfare office. I prefer not to use the welfare office because they require you to check your mail at least once a week.

Reply to this comment

avatar marc

I have my mail sent to my job. I plan on a PO Box but I really don’t get paper mail except for utilities of which I have none. I use an ex’s address for my license.

Reply to this comment

avatar cynthia wells

After 16 yrs living in nys our landlord decided not to re-new our lease. By passing my tale of woe, I started researching everything. without sufficient funds to secure another place to live I was introduced to the mobile homeless via a u-tube video
Mail was my 1st concern as my hub gets both ssd and his pension..Here it is, if you cannot afford a P.O. box and your basically stationary or staying within a 10-15 mile radius pick a zip code and as follows
John Doe
General Delivery
middletown, NH
11094
Stop by and speak with the supervisor of Post office and let them know of your situation and that mail will be sent there for you ( ask if they do it) I know for a fact one of the post offices in Manhattan NY do this for the homeless so they can p/u cks. Checks will be held up to 30 days.
Also if your on SSD as of March 2013 all disability checks with out a direct deposit will auto go into a debit ck the day it is to be received ( kinda scarey thinking of the number 666 where you cannot buy anything w/o the mark of the devil ) Or george Orwells 1984- inserting a bit of humour here..we will be officially homeless in 3 1/2 weeks with our rat terrier to boot and 19 yr old son, If it doesn’t make me crazy it will make me stronger~ Cynthia

Reply to this comment

avatar Zorro

Mmmm My story. I have a truck with a topper shell I’ve been in it for almost three yrs now in Colorado. Showers at the local rec center for a Buck. Cooler w ice and easy prep food. Have a job good pay. Just don’t NEED the whole house bathroom kitchen thing. Air mattress -40 sleeping bag. Toasty all winter long. If anyone needs help or pointers on staying sane or being inconspicuous or anything else don’t hesitate to ask.

Reply to this comment

avatar klasc

Hi, I need to live in my car for at least a year. My only hesitation is that I live in Chicago, any suggestions on how to get through winter?

Reply to this comment

avatar Reina

I am renting a a basement and was just told their house is being foreclosed on and I may need to live in my car for 6 mths as I paid my rent up with them for 5 when I moved in hence there was my savings I also live in a sub of chicago any tips thanks!

Reply to this comment

avatar jcasil

I highly suggest you get a marine battery deep cycle, like an optima or another kind that is not lead acid, and an isolator. you can use this battery for extra electrical power, like a small space heaterheat pad, or electric blanket . the isolator is a device that regulates the charging of your car battery and the marine battery, so that both are kept charged and in good condition. the marine battery recharges from the isolator whenever your car motor is on.

the lesson that I learned is not to use you car like a generator. for extra heat or electricity, but get a deep cycle marine battery that is not lead acid and sealed.

if you have access to an AC outlet several times a week, you can buy a regular marine battery recharger and get it recharged from that AC outlet. otherwise you will need an isolator.

to get the electricity from the marine battery to your heater or other electrical device, you will need an inverter. it will invert the DC power to AC power. an 800 watt inverter at the least is about $80. a 1000 watt inverter is about $100. try to find a liquidator store in your area to get these things at a discount or a sports outlet store.

here are some websites to start reading.

For Inverters
http://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1RNAN_enUS434US434&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=inverter+1000+watt

if you can get some old marine batteries, maybe from a recycling center or a farmer or mechanic, that are not lead-acid (lead acid batteries will send off fumes into your car) you can desulfate them yourself which is far more cheaper than buying them new, and they will certainly last you six months.

For homemade desulfators
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=home+made+battery+desulfator

you car puts out 600-1000 extra watts of electricity when the motor is running, and this is a great way to capture that power without making any more pollution.

otherwise, buy a small 1000 watt generator (they run on gas like a car motor) and a good chain with padlock. you have to put it out the car to run it, it is illegal and dangerous to run it in the trunk of a vehicle or any where else. But it is not any louder than a car, if you get a small one – so people should not mind if you are discrete. chain it to something other than the car, in case you need to leave in a hurry, you can always go back and get the generator, so get a real good chain and padlock.

get a small generator like 1000 watts. because the larger ones consume a lot more gas just to get the generator to operate. the 1000 watt is just enough to run a couple of devices, like a small space heater and something else.

Reply to this comment

avatar marc

Get a good, I mean good, sleeping bag. Never sleep in your shoes and once you start to aquire money find a cheap motel with weekly rates for the coldest periods. Always be prepared to go back to the car and amass that money Jack!

Reply to this comment

avatar chris

hey you sound like you no how to do things being homeless, i ben homeless for the better part of this summer and right now im living in my truck with some bare essentials in the back and a bed frame in the bed but i sleep inside the cabin and no job except scrapping metal and finding money in parking lot anyway i ben sleeping at apts, walmarts, trcuk stops, rest areas, hotels but am running out of places to stay and getting low on money any suggestions? thanks

Reply to this comment

avatar marc

For work try Day Labor places otherwise I don’t know what to say. For sleep Walmarts are good – but always have a plan B and plan C. Only keep what u really need – there will be time to aquire “stuff” later. Carry only a week’s worth of clothes (tops) but two weeks of underwear. U can always throw clothes away and restock at the GoodWill, underwear u gotta buy new (expensive). Several loads of laundry can cost more than a pair of pants and two shirts at the G.W. although decent pants are the hardest to find. If u can, avoid fast food period. Train yourself to eat on 15 dollars a week. Cans Jack. Collards, peas, yams, beans. Treat yourself to burger on the weekends. Buy a 78cent gallon of water from Walmart and stay hydrated. Never pee in the cab of your truck if possible – one spill – even a little and you’ll regret it. Brush teeth every day. Have a secure place to do #2. Above all, save as much as possible and force yourself to see your own advantages. Take care of your vehicle. ” cash heavy and baggage light” – naturaly, money in the bank. Don’t be ashamed of your plan – no need to explain it to others – just be cautious, clean, smart, safe.

Reply to this comment

avatar tosh

Thank you Marc. You have just helped me cross the threshold. I’ve planned and packed but couldn’t get out of the door. I’m heading north for awhile.

Reply to this comment

avatar Alrick Forbes

Hi Everyone my name is Rick From Edmonton Alberta in Canada.
I have been living in my van since August I really enjoy being on the Move all the time . I had an apartment that was fully furnished with all the amenities and necessities one can think of with wireless computers and flat screen tvs in the bedroom and living room yet I was bored out my fucking mind, i didn’t had a girl friend nor a wife so every day it was drudgery coming home to this isolated existence, I snapped when I lost my job at the Pick n pull and after listening to Lauryn Hill song I get out of all your boxes and psychological locks I get out I really did get out so I rented a uhaul took all my furniture to the good will store after hours and dump all my belongings except my clothing. I dont miss a thing up to this day I have a storage for my clothes which I visit twice a week I had a lock on it i recently took it off , I dont care if someone want to enter my unit everything is replaceable, I am glad I took the steps and doing the homelessness thing,I have found out that I have Attention Deficit Disorder Hyperactive Disorder which makes me cranky and restless , so far I hate apartments many acquaintances trying to get me back in an apartment but I hate apartment living,you cant blast your stereo ,you have no freedom , basically the landlord expect you to pay the rent ontime and shut the hell up , that is too much control over me .I like to be free, I have a full time job looking a part time as well too much time on my hands. Currently I am hanging out at the 24hour macdonalds surfing the net sleeping in the parking lot and my gym is just a few blocks away ,where I showered and work on my Cardo .My biggest problem area is eating a well balance diet Macdonalds doesnot cut it , I cant afford eating at buffet every day
My next dilemma is surviving winter in a dodge Caravan , but I am thinking the Eskimos did in igloos why cant I ?

Reply to this comment

avatar Kim

I was wondering how to heat my van? I am in Michigan and it looks like am going to be in my van for awhile. What is the safest way to heat at night?

Kim

Reply to this comment

avatar Shells

Hi, I would love to get some pointers from you about where to stay in Coloraod when living in your vehicle. I have a chvy blazer and I plan on buying a pop up camper to pull. I can’t afford rent anymore so please help.

Reply to this comment

avatar Zephyr

Do you have one of those coolers that plugs into your lighter yet?
I have been living out of a vehicle for over 14 years, off and on. Some situations are cush, some less so. I worked trails and fire for the park service for years so it made sense. I now live in boulder colorado and sadly my little 85 nissan truck doesnt get much love these days…
I am always looking to connect with other people who have outfitted their trucks to make them livable. Do you have a water tank or solar panels. I knew a guy who had those to heat the back of his truck. So many ideas, sometimes I geek out on imagining all the ways I can live for free. Ever done it in Boulder? You have any special accouterment in your truck? Always curious-
z

Reply to this comment

avatar scott

hey im tired of living pay check to pay check I am going yo live in my car in wisconsin how do i make it threw the winter months. were are some places to sleep im going to go from first to third shift so I can sleep during the day I think i have a better chance not to stick out.and getting a gym membership to shower and work out. its open 24 hrs I hear walmarts churches and some truck stops are good.and I would be living in a jeep liberty I thought of tinting the windows also. any thing else can you think of. and I use to live in colorado im from longmont.

Reply to this comment

avatar audrey

Ok so starting the 1st of july I will be living out of my car in san diego in order to save money but im having a hard time figuring out where I can park at night without being bothered by cops! Im busy all day with school, work and working out and i go to LA every weekend so I usually end up only getting 5 hours to sleep 4 days a week then im off to LA which makes it pointless to rent out an entire room for 20 use of 20 hours a week. Im completely prepared except for the thought of cops waking me up left and right. There has to be a better way or some trick I haven’t heard of yet! Im hoping that is. Please email me back if you have a solution to my problem :/ audreyspice89@gmail.com

Reply to this comment

avatar Nomad

I asked the cops if there was any place in San Diego I could sleep in my car and they told me no and wrote me a ticket for illegal lodging in a park and ride which I was only in for less then 2 hours. Cost me 125$ at the El Cajon Courthouse. I talked to some cop friends of mine and they told me that I can get away with sleeping in my car if its private property and as long as the business is open. I tried a burger king after they closed and the cops kicked me out.
I felt lucky I hadn’t fallen asleep yet cause they would of rolled me up again. From what I can tell 24 hour walmarts are so far the best bet. You just need to park wisely. Try to find a hidden area in the parking lot but don’t park so your the only car in the back of a parking lot. The welfare office gave me a address in spring valley that has a private parking lot that allows you to stay in your car there but like most people I do not want people thinking I’m living in my car. I just can’t see giving half my income to some stranger for rent. San Diego kinda sucks for renters. Arizona I found you can actually rent a 2 bedroom home for 300$ a month. Only problem is I don’t know anyone in Arizona and I have tried to live in Arizona many times and always end up back in San Diego. SD is just my home even if I don’t have a home. The second best place is a motel/hotel parking lot.

Reply to this comment

avatar shit bird

San diego is the worst. Cops are on the fascistic side there. San diego is an all around pain in the ass/unpleasant situation for car dwelling. If you drive around enough you’ll come across some obvious spots where others are doing it and clearly not being harrassed, it is in shitty, nasty, dirty spots. Would reccomend leaving san diego before trying to live in a car there. San diego sucks, sorry.

Reply to this comment

avatar BVan

So i have a full-sized conversion van. I has fold out bed in the back and it does not look too camper-like, no running boards and a latter. Right now I live in an apartment but when my lease is up in October Ist will not be able to afford to live here any more because they are going to raise the rent and I barely making it as is. So aI figure I live in my car and save up some money and find a cheaper apt in the future. I was thinking if I got a membership to 24 hour fitness I could shower there and I have a brand new porta podie. I live in Ventura right now but one of my big fears is staying away from areas that might have crime. I guess my question is, what’s a safe bet for places to stay without getting robbed or killed? I know I sound paranoid but I was attacked by a gang once back in2004 and ended up in the ER, I don’t want to run into that again? I hear some churches let you park and Costco? Thanks for any advice

Reply to this comment

avatar Zorro

Hey bvan. Places I like to stay are walmarts, costcos, big k’s, park n rides, apartment complexes, churchs, police stations sometimes will let you. Be careful of truck stops. Denny’s, village inn, 24 hr fitness.

Reply to this comment

avatar jcasil

I packed my car, just totally packed it. food, drinks, blankets, clothes, cleaning things, etc.

I use all kinds of organizers – different size clear plastic containers, so you can see what is in them. at wal mart or big lots. large travel bags of different kinds that have a lot of organizational sections is really helpful. I get these at thrift shops, they are way too expensive retail. so you have to shop around and be patient and PRAYERFUL .

I did have to remove the back seats entirely or I would never have enough space. some good mechanic school volunteered to do this and some other work. ask around at local car mechanic schools if they will do some small things or some repair or maintainance for reduced cost or free.

I put a 800 watt inverter under the front hood for electrical devices. Ran electric cord from inverter under hood to surge protector in car, has 8 outlets. for all kinds of things. use special heat reflecting tape to cover inverter – tape that sells at Auto Zone for $20, meant to cover things near engine, like wires, so they do not get hot. or the 800 watt inverter will turn off when it overheats, as safety. then you can cook in a little electric rice cooker anything, while driving.

when I need to sleep, I just move things from behind the driver’s seat to another place, like the dash board or near the gas and break pedal and rest my feet on them. Then I put the back of the driver’s seat down. I am short and cannot sleep flat anyways. but you can make it flat with blankets.

my cat travels with me and enjoys it. he alone requires one entire seat area, that is below the seat, all the seat itself and behind it, for his stuff. food, litter, bedding, carrier. but I let him sit anywhere he wants. his carrier is behind the driver’s seat, on a small tall plastic container with his food. So I can still put the driver’s seat all the way down to sleep in. his litter box is actual near the front passenger door. so that when he uses it I open the door and pull him out before he starts to scatter the litter about. usually we stop at a field and I put the litter box outside for him to use. you have to get a plastic container that comes with lid you can securely snap shut. so that when driving a higher speed, you put the secure lid on, so that the litter will not go everywhere in case of an accident.

all kinds of plastic durable boxes. It is very organized. but the space is packed. one most important rule that I found was never to stack more than 2 or 3 boxes up. 2 works best. because you will frustrate yourself trying having to move more than one or two loaded box to get to something underneath. and you will not do it. also do not stack things more than 2 or 3 deep in a box for the same reason. you will also forget what is at the bottom. that is why I use clear plastic boxes.

before I did this, made sure that I have at least $800 always accessible in case car breaks down and needs big repair. but you might need more depending on your vehicle.

my car broke down on the road one time and I slept overnight in the car at the mechanics place I was towed to and they did not mind at all. first time I slept in a car.

Reply to this comment

avatar Abia The Cat

Jcasil, you sound like a pro at living in your car. I’ll be traveling with two happy cats back and forth in my F-150 truck after I build a plywood camper top for it. These metal and fiberglass camper tops for sale now are extremely expensive and easy to smash with a hammer by a determined thief.

As the economy weakens even more and the costs of maintaining a house rise, I pretty much see myself living in a long wheeled base pick up truck for the rest of my life. Designing my new home now which will include a flushable camper potty and solar electricity panels on top for charging a deep cycle battery and inverter hookup. It’s a doable life and keeps me a whole lot less materialistic.

Reply to this comment

avatar jcasil

Do you know about homemade desulfating of an old deep cycle marine battery? I do not really have the money for a new one, so I was thinking of desulfating one that someone is discarding.

I would like to build a website where people can input and read really ORGANIZED information about how to live out of a vehicle. anyone interested?

Reply to this comment

avatar jcasil

I forgot to mention that if you are going to put an inverter under the hood by the engine, it needs to draw in cool air from below, because the air around the inverter will be extremely hot. the inverter necessarily has its own cooling system – just a fan, but that needs outside unheated air.

so I had to get a metal automotive hose. they sell ones that are already heat reflective. designed just for that purpose of drawing in cool outside air and keeping it cool. or you can get a metal one and wrap heat reflective tape around it, they sell that tape at Autozone, but the best thing is to get the hose that is already heat reflective. ask if they can special order it. I tried the tape idea, and the glue did not work, so I then had to buy metal foil tape at Home Depot and put that around it.

if not, the inverter will automatically shut off, sensing it is overheating. and you will have to turn it off and on manually to get it working again. if this overheating keeps happening, the fan or other part of the inverter will get ruined.

another thing about inverters under the hood or in the back, where you are not. do not get one with an alarm, or get one with an alarm, but then disable it. that is open the casing and rewire the wires so that they just bypass the alarm.

it is a stupid alarm, it goes off after it stops inverting power. not before as a warning, but after, continuing to drain power off the low battery. you get no electricity so you know the battery is low, it is just foolish to add an alarm. get an inverter that stops inverting when the battery is low, and disable the idiot alarm.

if you forget to turn off an inverter with an alarm, the alarm itself with drain the battery dead – very very low. and it will be hard to recharge it. if this happens several times, it can ruin the battery.

just walking away from the car for some hours, when the battery is low, or going to sleep, forgetting to turn off the darn inverter, and the battery is very dead.

I have a 600 amp jump start battery with me, this is also a must for living out of your vehicle.

but when the battery is very low, it takes 2 hours for the 600 amp battery to charge it.

I could get a jump start from a passer-by, that would take about 3-5 minutes when the battery is that low, but I hate attracting any more attention to myself. however, I have done that on occasion out of necessity.

Reply to this comment

avatar chris

Hey i really enjoyed reading your article and it gives me hope that while im living out of my truck that someday ill have a job soon and everything. I graduated college in may and have ben pretty much homeless eversince i had a gf for a week then she kicked me out and i met another girl and she didnt wanna date me cuzz im homeless, but alrthough parts of it are hard (shower, food, blending in etc…) i have found out a lot about myself these few months i ben out on the streets and you gota look at the positive of it… how many people can go from a subpar life and make it homeless? the answer not many! you dont take things for granted everyday and with a truck i can scrap metal and thats ben helping me out a ton and then some, i got $40 today for scraping and got me some fried catfish. I shower wherever i can school or truckstops you learn to be nice to people. Good traveling and God Bless ps i miss tv and video games but i also would like to comment that i believe it would be beneficial is one should try their own homeless experiment to learn about yourself more and no wats it like but i do not endorse anyone taking me up on that tho

Reply to this comment

avatar jcasil

Chris, I had some serious issue to deal with, totally forgot to check my email and this message board.

One thing is a must, if you are going to take a companion cat, dog or other, is pet insurance. gopetplan.com is a good one. monthly rates range from $15 – $30 for cats. this is really a must for any outdoor/indoor pet.

To not be bothered, make sure that you do your activity (around/in your vehicle) in a place separate from your sleeping space. not the same space. people will notice your activity and call the police. to pretend like they are seriously concerned, get rid of the “homeless garbage.”

a park is a good place to do your activity, no one will call the police there, but make sure you know and observe the closing hour of the park. the police come by a little while after closing to make sure no one is there.

but then, you will have passer bys looking at you in a park.

do your activity in one place, prepare you and your vehicle for sleep; then drive to your sleeping place and just sleep.

twice I had the police pop up from behind the bushes! at night. I was prepareing food and someone noticed me. you will have to realize, peopel are evil, and just want to get rid of the homeless bum – make them work, get a job. they know that you are not criminal. they just want you to “get off your but” so they will harrass you.

the police have to respond to a call, that is check you out, but they do not have to make you leave, unless the owner called them or it is really illegal. sometimes police will tell me, “just leave if someone tells you to.” or they will ask me if there is anything I need, like a shelter or social service. I was humored when a Colorado officer gave me his business card.

I currently do not have work, ect. Keeping a regular scheduel is a real complication I have not had to deal with.

Another warning, is that the police will often think that you are mentally ill. so be sound minded, calm (even mildly bored) and normal with them. police do not need a court & trial to take a citizen immediately to a mental state hospital – prison – for “observation.”

If I preceive a threat or tension of any kind, I stop all what I am doing, hold my CRUCIFIX in one hand and READ THE WORD . CHRIST IS the best COMPANION in all this, and I would not do or suggest so otherwise.

(written August 29, 2011)

Reply to this comment

avatar Abia The Cat

From what I’ve read of other folks living in their rides, keep clean and conservative looking and that goes for your car or truck, too. No hippie or Mohawk haircuts, biker beards, weird clothes, marijuana leaves painted on your ride or dope promoting bumper stickers on your bumper or back window. Be very nice to the cops and their snarling dogs when you meet them.

Keep your car inspection stickers and car tags current. Keep your car insured, too, so the cops won’t have any reasonable reason to arrest you and tow your car or truck. If you have the time, volunteering a respectable organizations like the Salvation Army, Red Cross, or other community based non-political organizations keeps your street record 5-star, too. Here in Jackson, MS there is a city department that helps the homeless find safe places to live or stay. Some of these organizations throw in a free meal and shower, if you volunteer with them.

A clean and conservative image appears to matter a lot when living out of your car or truck.

Reply to this comment

avatar SusReed

Thank you Flexo for this place to connect. I have been sleeping in my car for about six months and am trying to figure out how to keep warm in winter. I have not found a battery powered small heater, but only propane ones, which might not be safe. Any suggestions?

Also, for what it’s worth, I am one of a growing number of people forced out of their homes by the installation of smart meters. A certain percentage of the population is sensitive and gets sick when exposed to microwave emissions. Before the meter went in, I already had discovered that using a cell phone would give me a headache and wifi was also a problem. Argh. I had nothing against technology, but there was a clear problem with these transmitting devices. Anyhow, you may see more people like me here if they have access to or can tolerate using a computer. The new transmitting utility meters being installed nationwide are creating a whole new group of nomads.

Needless to say, places with “free wifi” do me no good, and sleeping near a cell tower does not work too well. BTW, I go home during the day and spend as much time I can there before feeling too bad to stay. Then, I drive to a park or lot and bring things to do. The utilities have refused to replace their smart meters with the old, safe ones even if you have a letter from your doctor, or a legislator tries to intercede. As I said, they are creating much suffering and a whole new group of homeless people with nowhere to turn.

Once a person is sensitized they cannot go back to not being sensitized. Putting smart meters on people’s homes puts everyone at risk for many health problems. Smart meter protests are building, esp. in California, Maine, Texas and Wisconsin. Some of the sites include Stop Smart Meters and the EMF Safety Network. Thanks for letting me vent.

I wish you all safety and security out there.

Reply to this comment

avatar jcasil

a sleeping bag for sleeping in the cold.

lots of blankets – three or more folded ones. I make sure to cover the ares where drafts come out of. the come under the car seat and around the door.

heating pads, two or three, that people use for muscle aches. they only draw out 50 watts each. you can get a 100 watt inverter to plug into your cigareet lighter. but usually these heat pads are designed with an automatic shut off after an hour. so try to find ones that don’t. ask the pharmacist. go online. inverter is about $20 and a heat pad about $13. try to find a salvage store or liquidation/outlet store.

I usually use these during the day, when resting, reading, or napping. because I have ones with the hour-limit. Use them on my lap or for a cold stomach. when you are cold in one place, like your lap, your whole body will feel cold and it really is not. Good warmth from one area, like your lap, which is a large area, also spreads quickly to other parts of you.

Also I use an electric blanket. but that requires an inverter, to turn the car battery (which is DC) into AC electric power, which is what you plug into in your house. a 400 or 800 watt inverter. check how much total wattage you need to run all your electrical devices. for boiling water., that will require an 800, because most hot pots use that

an 800 watt inverter will cost about $80 or $40 at a liquidation or outlet store.

but that will run your battery empty in a few hours. the inverters have an alarm and stop invertering power, but the alarm itself may not shut off and that can drain your battery.

you can get an optima deep cycle battery, $200-$250. and this will give you all kinds of electrical power. like for your electric blanket all night long. connect it to the car with cables so that when the car is running, it is charging the optima battery. an optima yellow deep cycle battery or blue deep cycle battery will give you lots of electrical power. you can drain it to almost nothing lots of times and not ruin the battery. it does not put out fumes. only get an optima battery, others put out toxic fumes. they are more for boating or open air applications.

I have not installed one in my car as of now.

Reply to this comment

avatar SusReed

Thanks for the heat ideas. A sleeping bag and a couple small dogs at the foot might work, too, until the dogs hear something to bark at. ..

Have you seen those small personal portable fans that run on 4 batteries? Why couldn’t they make a small personal heater like that? I don’t like electric blankets, but maybe could warm up the car inside and turn it off to sleep.
Thanks lots for the ideas.

Reply to this comment

avatar jcasil

space heaters require a lot of energy. the lowest wattage that I have seen is about 700 watts, that will drain the car battery in a few minutes, and those batteries are large and heavy. blankets and heat pads use a lot less.

as far as I know, optima batteries are the most advanced, and they are still heavy.

a car like mine, when running on the highway, puts out about 1000 watts of extra energy continually, and it just gets wasted, and in stop and go driving, 600 to 800 watts. that is why I have an inverter, only that I need to get an optima or other battery to capture that power so that I can use it when not driving.

there are electric blankets that are designed to take weight, that is you lay on top of them. used to sell at wal mart, twin size, 5-year warranty for $25. better, more versitle, than the top-only electric blankets.

another way to keep warm without danger might be to try soy candles. read this article:
http://www.massagetherapy.com/articles/index.php/article_id/1149/Can-lit-candles-be-toxic
about toxic candle fumes.
I have not tried this. I don’t know where to get soy wax cheaply – as finished candles it is very expensive. but you can use any old large tin to put block soy was in and use regular yarn for a wick.

Blankets are more versitle than a bag. you can drape one around yourself to keep warm while seated in the car. or for a pet or stray pet for warmth. and also to go to an outhouse, drape one all around you to keep warm all around.

there are a lot of electrical devices that I found I use and trying to get battery powered all the time, will require then a battery recharger and lots of rechargeable little batteries, like lighting even. Might as well just get devices with a cord and an inverter and a deep cycle marine battery.

I plan to do this and when I do I will write how it goes: There is something called a desulfator, you can find online or ebay – about $40 – $50. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Battery-Desulfator-Optimizer-Solar-Wind-Bank-any-Ah-/200658557885?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb82e9bbd
these can repair most dead batteries to about 70% efficiency I had read. a farmer or garage mechanic might have old dead batteries that they do not want, ask them for a few of the largest ones and run the desulfator on it and see if it repairs the battery. you can run the desulfator from the vehicle battery directly, so that it is working while you are driving.

just remember when you run a battery, it puts out toxic fumes, Only the optima batteries do not. if it is a lead-acid battery you will need to place it outside of the car when using it, or seal it in a battery box and vent it, so the fumes go out the window. and any fumes that are in the trunk will get into the passenger area. so you cannot put it in the trunk without sealing and venting. usually it is only some thick carpet like fabric that separates the trunk from the passenger area. and the gas/fumes easily go through the fabric or sofa material.

you can always put the battery right outside the car when parked, being that when the car is running, you use the car’s electricity. get some bulk chain at home depot (whatever size and length you want) – and a padlock – and chain it to something, not the car, if you are concerned about theft. you might need to drive away in a hurry, so do not chain it to the vehicle.

Reply to this comment

avatar JCasil

I actually tried that candle idea I had this year in the spring. I got a this layer of smoke on everything in the car. rather stubborn thin vauge smoke layer on everything that I had to clean. I did not like that. And you need rather a lot of candles, I did not take a record of the degrees, but in the cool spring I would need at least 4 large candles, sometimes 6, with the windows partially down.

Someone told me that a small tea light candle in a closed car will keep the temperature below freezing point and keeps small candles in the car in case of an emergency.
.

avatar Nomad

Electric heaters suck a lot of power. Battery powered heaters just are not practical.
You would kill normal (D) batteries in just a few minutes and you would kill a car battery fast too. Depending on the Car Battery you would probably range 1 hour max with a marine deep cycle battery and probably 15 minutes or less on a standard car battery. Also depending on the wattage of the heater too. Heating uses pure energy. Your best bet to stay warm is simply a sleeping bag and blankets.

Reply to this comment

avatar Sandra

I thought the same thing about two small dogs.You’d be surprised how many homeless people have dogs for protection,warmth and companionship.Id like the idea of my dogs warning me if somebody tries to break into my car.Over in Africa they rate how it is cold at night by how many dogs you have to sleep with to stay warm.Makes me think of the 70s band 3 dog night.

Reply to this comment

avatar SusReed

P.S. Flexo, since you are focused on aspects of consumerism at your site, what do you think of the forced installation of products consumers do not want on their homes by the utilities? That is NOT capitalism or a FREE market. Consumers should have a voice and a choice regarding products to use in their own homes, especially when health concerns or issues exist, not to mention protecting our property rights.

Reply to this comment

avatar DDPrice

Thanks everyone for your post here. I too find my self in the same position. Very good information here.

Reply to this comment

avatar Abia The Cat

Has anyone written a blog or a book on the points to remember to successfully live out of a car or truck? As the economy grows weaker and weaker, such a book or blog will be very useful.

Will be living out of my truck within a couple of years or less, after I put a plywood camper cover over it. I own a hiking tent, but would feel safer with four solid walls around me as I sleep. Plus, I will have two cats with me and don’t want them wandering around while I’m trying to rest.

Reply to this comment

avatar DDPrice

I was hoping to find a forum or something like it. Saturday I have to haul my motorcycle to a friends house 3 hours away and store it there. For how long I don’t know. Keep the post coming.

Reply to this comment

avatar Nomad

I hate to say this and I do love cats but you really need to find them a home even though you won’t have a home yourself. My cat went to my sisters house and I simply visited her and paid for all the food and litter and vet visits but unless you own a motor home of reasonable size its just not a good idea to have a pet. Especially 2 cats. Its going to be hard enough taking care of yourself on the road. My sister offered me a room for $500 a month but I prefer to live free(away from all her kids) I do love them all but they would eventually drive me nuts. I wouldn’t want to live there for free even. =^_^= Cats are creatures of the night. They require a litter box if they are locked inside and I really don’t think anyone wants to sleep next to 2 cats stinking up your car/truck while you sleep.
Anyway, Just my opinion. Some times people must learn the hard way.

Reply to this comment

avatar Abia the Cat

Built a small camper (10.5′ x 6.5′) for the cats and me. We’re doing okay. Looking for a job now. Fear the USA economy is going to get even worse, so I will live cheap and sharpen survival skills.

Reply to this comment

avatar brian

Hi, Im getting ready for living in my Volvo . Big Car . Im going with my dog pepper. i want to get some gold. My dads maps are cool. they are all mapped out. know that i have lost everything, except for my son, who lives with my ex. I wanta go gold panning whilke i camp out. ? what the hec, im totaly bored bummed out salesman dude. i am on unemployment and caught up on support. THOUGH the toll it will now taken. Im totaly embarressed to the point of anger with myself. I have lived out off a car for 6 month once before. It’s been 1 yr. im on the bottom with now else to go ,but up. bri

Reply to this comment

avatar DDPrice

Don’t give up hope Brian. I am very lucky to have some really good friends. I lean on them hard. I don’t want any of there money I just want someone to talk to, and they have been there for me. It has helped me get through some thought time like now. With out them I would not be here. Good luck panning for gold. I hope you find lots of gold.

Reply to this comment

avatar John

im gonna be living out of my mini-van for awhile. just graduated college and dont feel like going into the work world right away. just wanna drive around, travel, explore. i hate running into cops. For awhile I didn’t have internet in my house, so I would drive around to the nearest public place to surf the web. This led me to have so many run ins with cops. hate it. i can’t imagine how hard it’ll be to avoid cops when i’m living out of your van. I’m planning on going to the southern tip of florida in order to be in the warmest place possible for the winter. I wonder if it will still get too cold there at night during january?

im pretty much fed up with life. school was such a drag, and i’ve just been ITCHING to be free. i’ve got a bunch of books i want to read. I’ve got a bit of savings to pay for food. a portable propane stove. figure i’ll wash clothes at a laundramat or in a bucket. it would be great to just find a hassle free place, to just live, read, meditate…find myself. shower could be a problem. i figured i could just find a local gym, and go there morning and night; but then I worry about finding a good place to sleep. i swear i’m alergic to cops knocking on my window in the middle of the night. i wonder if it’ll ever get too hot in my van all closed up. maybe i’ll have to get a battery powered fan, i’m not trying to mess with any complicated stuff to extract electricity out of my car battery that might drain it.

i just want to be free. i don’t need much.

Reply to this comment

avatar leap

Since you want time to meditate, you might look into meditation retreats — sometimes they are free/donation-based and would give you a safe break from the world.

Good luck!!

Reply to this comment

avatar John

Do you have any recomendation for where to find these free meditation retreats? I would really REALLY love to do something like that.

Reply to this comment

avatar leap

Here’s one organization — mostly West Coast, but a few out your way:
http://www.dhamma.org/

Reply to this comment

avatar jonothon

I been living out of my Saturn for almost 22 months here in the L.A. area. Staying everywhere from Long beach to compton to Hollywood. The best places are dennys, 24 hr fitness, some ralphs are 24 hr and even street parking in some spots is cool. Just don’t stay in 1 place for more than 2 nights in a row and be careful that you park from locations that may allow you to get hit. I got hit by another car last night while I was sleeping. I’m still living in my car and hope to get out soon. If you don’t have to, than don’t because it does mess with your sanity. Anyway godspeed!

Reply to this comment

avatar Gregory Jackson Haley

I am male 38 years old and I have lived in my 2005 Prius in Dallas,Texas for 9 months. I have chosen to adapt my life to living out of a car to see what life it might create. After getting rid of 85% of my stuff and buying a Dreamtime Therma-rest pad from REI and a piece of plywood to extend the backseat by 4 inches beyond the seats laying down, I am living in plushville. So far missing a internet connection in the car has been the biggest thing i would like. I am thinking the 3G iPad will be my next logical leap. I also realized that past 85 degrees sleeping in my car is unpleasant ( i am a bit of a princess and i prefer not to sleep with the car on except in extreme weather conditions). I need to procure a solar powered fan with a battery by next summer (note to self).

This post was inspired by my first experience with a police officer. I was parked in the Mockingbird DART station parking lot( I really like this spot for some reason). After having parked there for over 4 months I got a knock on my door. They told me to get out and hand them my license. They checked my record and asked me to move on. They asked me has anyone ever told you you can’t park here? I said no.
No warning
No ticket
Just move on.

Oddly i am wondering what attracted their attention.I have a low profile vehicle – i mean NO ONE lives in a Prius. did you know a 6foot 4 man can sleep fully stretched out in the back with the front passenger seat pulled fully forward. I use a front windshield sun visor to block the light in the front(which i am guessing is what did it -since it is winter and sun is not an undesirable thing) I also use fabric stretched from the rear hatchback to the sun visor to block out the light on the two sides. I usually back up to a wall or a bush.

I would love to find out if I could be charged with anything. I do realize that at City run DART station is more likely to have a law protecting it. I just wonder what they would charge me with. If vagrancy is the charge i would be charged with what does that mean for my record?

I guess i am just sharing since i am starting to realize how fantastic this mobile life really can be..

I saw that people are worried about showers. I have a yoga membership that i am going to and will be moving to the King Spa in Town at the end of the year but in a pinch or baby wipes are a dream. In fact I find it more comfortable to wipe down before going to bed every night. I like my bed clean all the time.

I see this form of living to be more and more common. Whether it is by choice or not. I am excited to see how this new understanding of living can become a part of a nomadic life. I admit it has taken some time to figure out what i need and don’t need.

still curious ( and happy about it)
Gregory

Reply to this comment

avatar Rich

In the Dart parking lot they likely would or could charge you with trespassing, since you are not a customer of Dart.

Reply to this comment

avatar Maureen Martin

I’m a 40ish year old woman living out of her van in Southern California. At the time of this posting (November 2011) I’ve been doing it for just over two months. Click on my name if you want to read about my experience.

Reply to this comment

avatar Sarah

I have been living on a college campus for 6 months out of my truck. I am a professional staff, but find it amazing how much money I can save. The biggest problem I have is in teh summer the sun is up at 4:30 am or 5:00 am and it doesnot get dark until about 10:30 pm, so I have to fill my days up.

Reply to this comment

avatar Jeff

Anybody tried this in Austin, Texas?

Reply to this comment

avatar John

Jeff: Yeah, I was in Austin about a month ago living out of my van. I’m travelling across country and have got this down to a science. If you’re in an RV it would be A LOT harder, cuz you would be 100% visible all the time. In my van, I had the back seats removed and spread out a small mattress & sleep down below the window line. I can pretty much do that anywhere where there are cars. I find it’s better to park “in plain site” so that it doesn’t raise red flags to cops if you’re parked in some dark corner somewhere. Get a membership to some ymca for showers. Get a portable stove to do cooking if you want to save money on food. I didn’t have even one run in with any cops and I was there for like 3 days.

Reply to this comment

avatar imasquirrel

For heat when sleeping in car or truck the absolute best thing is electric blanket, in the northern areas and am sure online you can buy them in any truck stop they plug directly into your cig. lighter and work awsum. A great blog I found that may answer many of your questions is: http://guide2homelessness.blogspot.com. I just found it the other day, the dude is a fantastic writer and wrote a small book addressing most issues you can think of regarding being homeless in a how to fashion.

Reply to this comment

avatar wutwut

I’ve been living in my car for 22 months so far and it has been a pretty interesting experience. I started doing this because I was about 2k in debt and had trashed my credit to the point where I felt I probably wouldn’t be able to move into a nice apartment. My goal was to pay off my debts and have enough money to start over again. I paid back all I had owed in a little over 2 months, but decided that I needed to have a little bit of money in the bank before trying to put my life back together, something like 2k. I would eat a loaf of bread a day and drove my car as little as possible to cut my expenses. I really was so frugal, but it had paid off, I had reached my goal, saved up 2k and could move into an apartment now. But I looked at my life and it was 100% better than it was when I was living with my ex. I was happy, I wasn’t drinking anymore, I had time to think about what I really wanted, and the more I thought about it, the less I wanted my old life. So I stayed in my car and continued just throwing money in the bank and living frugally. Since the first day I moved into my car, I have learned how to play guitar and harmonica, built a website learned how to program in HTML, CSS, Javascript, and some PHP, traveled a ton, and read classic books that I should have but never did when I was younger. It has been almost 2 years and I have been able to save almost 30k working at a low wage part time in retail. I have never been happier in my life, and I still eat a loaf of bread a day.

Reply to this comment

avatar imasquirrel

wutwut, 22 months wow! If you read this some tips and advice on you you do it would be greatly appreciated. Your day to day living, where you park your car at nights or how you find a good spot, what you do during the winters ets.. Any contact with the police when you were living in car, how did you deal with it? Any tips and pointers would be great for me and rest of people reading.

Reply to this comment

avatar wutwut

You need to keep your body and mind in good shape. Eat as good as you can and exercise regularly. You should already have a gym membership for the hot showers, take advantage of the gym since you are paying for it. Get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night. You don’t need to have a huge social circle, but a few friends will help you from feeling lonely. If you can’t make friends, there are tons of people on line to talk with about whatever you want to(this conversation counts). Doing all of these things will keep the chemicals in your brain and body at healthy levels and keep you from such feelings as anxiety or depression. Also you should try to lift weights when you are at the gym. Heavy lifting increases your testosterone levels which will give you motivation.

The little things like what to eat or where to park are easy problems to solve. I’ve only once been encountered by police and that’s because I was parked in a very obvious area. Stay out of big parking lots, or if you are going to park in them, don’t park far far away from any other cars, park with the crowd and it will draw less attention to you. If you are going to park on the street, park on the side of a house (at the street corner)where people can’t see you if they look out there front windows. I prepark somewhere before I go to where I got to the place I will sleep for the night just to get all of my bedding set and ready to go so that all i have to do is climb in the back.

You should try to get in the best physical and mental shape that you can though. Once you get those things in line, everything will fall in to place effortlessly. Fix Your diet, exercise, make a friend or two.

Reply to this comment

avatar Maria

This is amazing. Do you supplement your intake with vitamins? I mean, a loaf of bread is great, but what about the nutrients one needs on a daily basis? just curious.

Reply to this comment

avatar wutwut

I get my carbs from bread and oatmeal, my fats from raw almonds, and my protein from fat free milk and whey protein. I sometimes eat out just to feel like a normal person, but the nutritional value is much worse than what I normally eat. I drink water, OJ(for vitamin C) and coffee (for internet access (I’m writing this post from a starbucks) and because I love it. I don’t take any multivitamin but am considering fish oil. Sometimes I get tired of bread and treat myself to some bagels. I get around 2.5k calories a day, sometimes less.

Reply to this comment

avatar i will call myself Lady Rose.

For over 3 years, I have lived in my Van. I am 54 years old. One Thing homelessness has taught me is that, we people do not need as much as we think we need. There have been many people who try to laugh, and look away from my situation. However, they do not realize, they could be in this situation very easily. Since I have an east coast style of dressing, many californians are shocked when they find out that I live in my Van, because I wear double-breasted, mohair, silk, or wool skirt suits. I use baby wipes to clean my body when I cannot shower. I buy my food at the 99 cent store, and I wash my clothes every week the same way I did when I had my house. I stay near a lot of factories, and the reason they don’t chase me away, is because I never throw any garbage or waste on the street. The people know me now in this neighborhood, all the cops know me, they are all very friendly, because I am a very clean woman. They always see me on my laptop looking for more work, or attending online college. In my spare time, I write music, read my Bible, and sell my hand-made pouches. I am a good-looking woman, so ocassionally, I accept invitations to dinner dates.

Reply to this comment

avatar Linda G

Hello Lady Rose,
I found this website and was taken by your post. I, too, am a 54 year old lady and I am just now desperate enough to be considering living out of my van. You post gives me hope and the vision I need to step out in faith. TY so much for writting.
If you would like to e-mail me, I think I would like it and we could be friends.

Reply to this comment

avatar jcasil

I might be an odd one, but..

I like a car because it is small, meaning the driving is easier, cheaper, more fun, and I can easily fit into any space. It also keeps me from collecting too much stuff. and forces me to organize and keep things clean.

but I like my comforts, so I have the car packed up to the window line, Actually about 1/3rd up on the side windows, but I can still see what I need to see.

So it is obvious that i am either living in my car or moving in my car. but close up, it looks like living in my car.

and I like the alone places, because I love quiet for meditation. For thinking, for studying, for anything and everything, I love quiet, stillness. even lots of continual motion just looking out the window makes me sick and I have to cover it up.

so I do get an usual number of police encounters. I think they look on their computer and keep some kind of journal of me there, by my license plate. it is a like a conversation in series from one officer to another, one town to another, in whatever area I stay in.

My only regret is that I do not have room for someone needing a ride, I meet homeless hitchhikers and they are nice people, but I can never give a ride, so I give food and money and company. they have some great stories, really important, especially the older ones. I suggest you try this.

Reply to this comment

avatar imasquirrel

About sleeping in truck stops.
I am an ex trucker. The major truck stops are: T/A (Travel Centers of America), Loves, Pilot, Flying J (Pilot bought out Flying J). Those companies listed are about 95 percent of all truck stops. They create the standard that almost all few smaller ones follow. Truck stop parking areas (for trucks) are all considered private property. This prevents the DOT from harassing truckers and gives the T/S owners and management more controll.
Some things to keep in mind. Truckers get harassed mercilessly at truck stops by beggers looking for handouts, lot lizards (prostitutes), people trying to sell pirated DVD’s or other hot items ets… Becouse of this most truckers have a very low tollerence for homeless people or beggers. DOT HOS (when you can drive and when you cant drive and HAVE to shut down) are very strict, and places to park an 18 wheeler are limited especially if you are not familiar to an area. Needless to say, if a trucker especially if they are using E-logs which cant be tweeked aka cooking the books needs to shut down at a certain time and the truck stop is mostly full they will be very unhappy if truck parking areas are full of 4 cars/jpickups and they risk loosing there job. Truckers are nasty fockers. A lot crap and urinate in sleepers becouse they to lazy to walk to bathroom. If you sleep in truck stop area look out for plastic bags filled with poop, or poured out urine and or used tampons/pads. Truck stops are a cesspool for diseases. If you do use on never walk bear footed, and always wash your hands when you touch anything. Never sit on a toilet seat without using an ass gasket. Showers are easy to acquire though. Virtually all truck stops give out a free shower to any truck driver (and co-driver) who purchases $50.00 of fuel or more. Truckers usually acquire a surpluss of showers on the variouse fuel cards they use. You want a free shower, just look like a trucker (homeless bum is perfect) with your little back pack or whatever and hang out near deisal counter and ask any of the drivers if they can spare a shower. Most will be glad to give you one becouse it doesnt cost them anything. They will hand you a little slip, this slip will have a customer #, example: customer 62. You look for the sighn for showers there will be a little screen nearby usually waiting area that says showers. When you see something like 62 shower #3, you find shower #3 in the back and punch in the code at bottom of shower slip into the touchpad by door, it unlocks and your good to go. Leave the towels in the shower unless told to do otherwise. Last thing is that Truck Stops gouge the hell out of truckers. The price of food/drink is way overpriced much more so that the normal convenience store

Reply to this comment

avatar Autumn Cather

While my name is fictitious so that I can remain somewhat anonymous and cower in shame, slightly. I am an educated person who is currently living in her mini-van due to a long arduous and exhausting set of circumstance. I have been living in my vehicle for 2 weeks now and I can’t say I much like it. I pray it’s temporary. I’m working hard to overcome it. I can say a few things about the posts listed above…

1. If you are homeless, living in a vehicle (which by all means can be a cleaner and safer place then some of the homeless shelters out there, believe me one that I tried to stay at had body lice/bedbugs crawling everywhere. I took off like a chicken with it’s head cut off running from that place, gasoline is expensive. Limit your driving to school, work, or job hunting. Truck stops are on the outside of town usually and are likely a bit of a drive. Many organizations in the Minneapolis area provide free showers for the homeless staying in a shelter, the Salvation Army is included. However, if you elect not to stay at the shelter, you are on your own in showering here in MPLS most of the time. I have a LA Fitness membership for $29.99 per month and it pays to have a shower every day, especially considering it allowed me to interview and not be so smelly I didn’t get the job. I have two jobs now, which equate to full time, but it will take time to save enough money for deposit and first month rent.

My suggestion to those living in their vehicle is this. I follow some very simple rules.

1. Don’t park on the public street in a rich, upper class area. They are more likely to have security and it is too risky.

2. Don’t park in a bad, inner city area, where crime is more prevalent. I like to park in a suburb of Minneapolis. Yes, I have to drive there, but it’s quieter and I feel safer.

3. Do not park, ready to bed down for the night, until after 11 pm, as people usually don’t go to sleep until that time or later. When I pull into a spot. I sit real still and survey the area. Is anyone looking? Can I bed down safely? Is anyone peering out their windows at me. If anyone is seen in 5 minutes of sitting real still in the drivers seat, I leave and find a new place.

4. Do not play music, talk or do anything loud in your vehicle. Get a cheap sleeping bag or nicer one if you have one already, climb in it in the farthest back space available in your vehicle, put a hat on if it’s cold, gloves, also, and take some melatonin to sleep. I rarely ever can sleep without it. Do not move around alot or rock the car, be still. Set your alarm, cell phone if you have one, or just be ready to wake early. In my mini-van, I’m concealed with the tinted glass more then you would be in a car, so I generally can sleep longer. If you’re in a car or other more visible vehicle, leave early. I would say 5:30, so no one notices you. You can always nap in your car later, when your not working. During daylight hours I think it’s fine to sleep parked in a McDonalds parking lot or other less conspicuous place and nod off a few hours. If someone wakes you, simply say that you’re working a 12 hour shift and trying to get an hour of sleep in between. Most people will leave you alone. People get more concerned at night, about burglary and theft.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. My difficulty right now is figuring out how to not spend so much of what I’m earning on food right now. With living in your car, you don’t have any cooking stove or refrigerator, so you end up eating out which is very expensive. There are some food kitchens that are free at dinner, but there’s driving and at $3.89 a gallon, is it worth it to drive 15-20 miles to get a free meal, when you only get 16 mpg because you have an old crappy minivan. Any ideas on somewhat healthy, yet non perishable, yet portable food that doesn’t need cooking would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Autumn

Reply to this comment

avatar jcasil

Regarding your experience, Autumn:

1. Don’t park on the public street in a rich, upper class area. They are more likely to have security and it is too risky.

2. Don’t park in a bad, inner city area, where crime is more prevalent. I like to park in a suburb of Minneapolis. Yes, I have to drive there, but it’s quieter and I feel safer.

I find Inner city people, the “bad” areas, are a lot more nicer to me, more accepting, less harrashment, even the security at stores. because I look poor and have alwatys been.

I think it is a class thing: I heard of a woman living homeless in her car in very wealthy California area – forgot the names, but she was doing fine, because she was always wealthy. Had a nice car, and knew tricks to keep her appearance high fashion, like the wealthy – really interesting story. Wonder why the wealthy car-livers are avoiding this website?

She was making lots of good money, but did not want to spend it on an apartment in the area, they are really lots of money, so she was living in her car, saving up money to buy a really nice house, no to rent or any common thing.

The rich do it too! not just the huge RVs that ignore everything in site.

Reply to this comment

avatar imasquirrel

My personal experience living in my car. First thing is Im a dude. In order to get out of bad relationship with my ex i got my CDL and got a job at as a truck driver OTR living out of tractor trailer while on the road for a few years till I rolled it, I have enough savings to get an apartment for a solid year or so with no worries, but worry about loosing financial safety blanket. So I bought low miles car and been living in it last couple months.

I live very frugal cutting expenses at every corner in a series of routines here is how I do it. I live in a smaller city (about 300,000 people) in California. The car I bought is a smaller car (I’m a small dude) with large trunk which is perfect for me, it gets great fuel mileage, even though its tight, it has enough space to store my stuff and still be livable. . I keep it spotless inside and out, dark purple, looks like a granny car. I keep all my stuff extremely neatly concealed at all times. The back of the rear seats fold down over the top of the back seat to expand storage. As far as general public and cops go the car is invisible.

I bought a cheap gym membership close to the center of the city. I store a couple towels and my gym clothes in a locker and lock it so I dont have to store it in my car. The gym has signs saying you have to pay to rent a locker, if you want to keep your stuff there overnight, and all lockers not paid for can be cut and stuff removed by staff. I just change lockers every couple days or every day if I feel paranoid, Its a cheap gym how are they going to know.

Where I sleep at night. There is five large department stores in completely different locations close to downtown but bordering on the outskirts with huge parking lots that I sleep at on a rotation. I picked them out because they are huge, there is lots of shrubs on most of the borders, and best of all there are always a few cars parked in them in the back 24/7. A lot of people park there cars in all of them to car pool, some park in them to walk to where they work close by dew to limited parking ets. In two of them there are even little tree and shrub islands more so in the rear areas of the parking lot. Sleeping in my car is not as hard as I originally figured it would be. I usually crash at between 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. I have a -10 degree sleeping bag I bought a few years ago witch gives me lots of padding and ensures I never get so much as even a slight chill in the brutal California winter. I lay the backs of the rear seats down so the bottom of the trunk of my car extends to the backs of the driver and passenger seat. Crawl back into my trunk and curl up in my sleeping bag which goes diagonally with stuff on both sides. I have a semi folded up dark sheet that I set in the rear window ledge and let the unfolded part run down. Giving me a perfect tent. I keep all my stuff in my trunk or the foot areas of the rear seat area, the passenger side is bare and clean armor-all clean. So when I sleep me and my car are also almost invisible to cops and public.

How I spend my time I wake up whenever between 05:00 and 09:00, hit the gym (about 8 blocks from closest sleeping spot, 2 miles from farthest sleeping spot) for about 45 minutes or so, shower shave change cloths and I am gone again. There is a unemployement/welfare building about .5 miles from gym. I dont collect unemployment, or any other government money or subsidies (dont qualify for any), a few times a week I go there after the gym to kill a few hours using there free computers to check my email and look for work online. They did an awsum job helping me put together a great resume, perhaps the first gov. assistance I have ever received in my life.
I spend a lot of time in one of the few parks going for walks and just being lazy, I go to the library a lot and use my own laptop with the free wifi to get on the internet to do things the govt. building would frown on like coming and posting here and other web sites, reading news, playing games ets.. I do make it a point to turn in 3-4 job applications a week sometimes more and am on call at 5 temp agencies which I keep in contact with. I also read a lot which kills lots of time.

How I keep my cost low. I drive a fuel economical car which sucks, but being homeless aint an easy gig, and its lots harder without money, with the price of fuel and high unemployment rate its a necessary compromise to long term survival. Even though I have a nice car I force myself not to use it as much as I like. I often put on back pack and walk to gym in the mornings. I try to park car in central areas and spend most of the day on foot. I dont have to I have the cash for fuel, but I force myself to. I almost never eat out, when I do I usually hit the little ceasers $5 pizza cause it taste great and for 5 bucks you get more than other fast food places. The stuff I eat mainly comes from a can all generic labeled. I’ll hit the super walmart and buy lots of different cans of fruit, cans of mac and cheese, chilli. Walmarts great for saving money because it list the price per ounce in little red tag next to food, Those little red tags is what I always look at when I buy food. I always buy a few of the generic 2 litter Cola for like ninety cents cheep cookies ets, cause its cheap and you gota treat yourself, life is two short. Besides I am small, in great shape, and cant easily gain weight so not an issue there aether.

One last thing is if anybody has the option of a shelter or living there car, always choose a car. Even if you cant afford fuel, you can always park it a couple days and move it and so on. All a shelter gives you is shelter (what your car provides you and so much more). What they take from you is your pride and most importantly your freedom. They say you have to be in at a certain time, you have to leave at a certain time and a gazillion other rules nessary to efficiently manage such a place. Maby you can only have so much stuff ets… Lots of rules that take away your freedom and pride a tiny bit at a time till its all gone. I have never been in a shelter so could be wrong. The free meals and showers offered by shelters I think you can get without sleeping there probably depends on which shelter. A lot of drug users people with mental disorders ets use the shelters. Which means risk of theft, loss of safety, lots of potential diseases ets is always a present risk. Probably quite a few disruptive people ets. Once you figure it out temparily living in a car is something you can do, and you still you have all your freedoms, your life revolves around you not some institution used mainly by less-desirables. Live in your car, look for work, keep yourself clean and in shape, spend time in the parks, libraries ets.. Life could be worse, how I choose to cope with the hard time I am facing hope something I said helps somebody else cope a bit easier.

Reply to this comment

avatar Jessiejo81

I wish I could live in my ford focus, but my 4 siblings would freak out and commit me.

Reply to this comment

avatar serp77

you should’ve picked up a focus wagon, lol i have a 06 focus zx4 back in vernon but right now in Brooks i’m driving my 97′ expedition which i’m working on camperizing for when the time comes to move into my suv. rental is cheap but starting to not like living here and main reason just going to stick it out till it warms up late feb-early march. although you could always hnt round for a roof rack or something so that way you could store your stuff uptop at night and have more room in the back considering its like a twin size bed

Reply to this comment

avatar Oso Negro

Everything posted above is great information
From California to Mile High City
I sign up at a homeless shelter… use their proof of address to receive a new id card with the state I am residing..
any new tips I can not think of that is not mention above
all the tips above are great
MRE are very very awesome… if you know anyone who have MRE I strongly recommend
tThey are Military Meals Ready 2 Eat….. I bought mine for $5 each… just wish I knew how handy they are…. would had bought more

Reply to this comment

avatar JonLee

Starting this Tuesday after Memorial, I will be driving out to California to begin a new chapter in my life, titled “My adventure to freedom and a newer me”. I will be living out of my car for the next 4 months at the least. This is not a must but a choice which is why I feel good about the title. And, this will not be a first experience for me since I have lived out of my car, different car, in my earlier years. For a almost a year I lived out of a Pontiac Grand Prix. And, In this situation I had to do it. Today I choose to go back to that life style cause I want to rid myself of the waste and the lack of drive towards self achievement. What do I mean? I meant the monotony of my everyday routine of sleep, 45 minute drive to work, 8hrs of yes sir no sir, 45 minute drive back home, eat, watch tv, contemplate going to the gym but instead, falling asleep on the sofa.(what a waste of gym membership), and then do it all over again. Sure, I had a very good paying job. Between my wife and I, we made 97,000 last year. We own a 4 bedroom house in an affluent suburbs. We have 2 grown children with their own careers and one married. I had established a decent savings and few retirement portfolios. My friend envied me because of my salary. I have it good in the eyes of most people, right? Wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was in a cage feeling trapped, and the only way out was to wait for death. I felt something missing! Something that I will regret at my death bed if I continue this path of life. Most people of my age go through midlife crisis and do things to deal with it best they know how. Hell, my neighbor bought a Harley and huge RV. I wish I had his RV, LOL!!!
For me! My solution is to experience life and see the country while I am able. I have decided to quit my work and commit to traveling. Now, my career is in medicine so finding work is not at all difficult. But, rather than work for THE MAN, I opted to freelance. I offer my expertise to any company that are in need of healthcare professional temporarily. I work under contract. The facility provide me a salary, travel expense and housing subsidies. I choose which state to work in and in which city. I do not want housing so living out of my car is exactly what i prefer. I read everyone’s advice and helpful tips which I will definitely keep mind. I idea is to live without and just do everything natural. I need to improve my body and mind so not having a place to live will cause me to spend more time being outdoors. I will only eat fruit and vegetables. Canned if I need to store. Nuts and dehydrated meats, water and supplement vitamins and minerals. Get a membership at gym to shower and actually work out. I love to read so now plenty of time to sit at parks or beach or Starbucks. I will not waste a day without having accomplished something. Everyday counts at my age! However, I will be without my wife. I won’t worry about my children cause they have their own life and happy. I just worry for my wife and will definitely miss her while on the road. Thank God for cell phones and unlimited text and data plan!!!!!!!!! Skype anyone? She supports me in everything and over 25 yrs of togetherness, she is ready for some time to herself. I love her which is another reason I choose to live meager. My salary goes to her. I may be away but I am still caring for my soulmate. If there is truth to the old saying “distance make the heart grow fonder”, I will find out. I hope to keep going with my life for a longer term. But, if not then at least I made an effort to change.

Reply to this comment

avatar Theresa

If he got a jump start booster pack and plugged it in every day when he drove around then at night he could easily plug a heater into the pack to keep him warm. I don’t think it’s a great idea to keep the truck running to heat up the cab since there is always the worry of carbon monoxide and also the waste of gas is costly.

I think as long as his vehicle doesn’t have any major break downs or issues he certainly could save money living in his truck. Normally, he would in an apartment still need a vehicle to get to work so the insurance and truck expenses would be the same. I think it’s smart to get out of debt to feel freedom from that pressure instead of just ignoring it and having it pile up.

Reply to this comment

avatar girl on a mission

Hello recently I’ve been living in and out of my van, not very long but I’m really worrei. I have a few places to stay here an there but nothing perminet atm. Due to an aray of events I left my house hold because it simply was not safe there and I left in a hurry. I have a job that pays decent working in a hospital but dont have the funds available to get my own apartment as of yet. I’ve tried to look into different oganizations to help with this situation but help is limited or non-exsistant. I’m not against living in my van ya gotta do what you gotta do to be safe. The problem I’m facing is that it’s sooooo hot! Idk what to really do to keep cool. I work midnights 6pm-6:30am 3 days a week and during the day it’s VERY hot to sleep. I’m a girl an get super nervous about creepers messing with me if i leave the windows down too much. I bought a battery operated fan and used it a little bit and it helped so perhaps buying a few more fans might be good?? IDK i’d ike some advice plz. With ahving alot of fans I’m worried about spening a crap ton of money on batteries. I read some people were doing generators or the sort but I’m really not looking for that since I’m mechanicaly inclined and would like to give as little as possible that i’m living in my van. I’m not sure where to park but have a few ideas. My mom belongs to a sportsmans club and you have to be a member to get in (camping, boating, very safe small town place and I have a sticker to show i’m a member) and they ahve showers so i’m thinking about staying there when I can. Also since I work at the hospital do you think it’d be ok to stay in the parking garage on days I work? I have a sticker that says I’m an employee so I doubt they would hassle me because I have that sticker and working 12 hour shifts ppl wouldn’t think much about it. I’d just be SUPER embarrassed if security was to find me sleeping there because I have to work at this place and I dont want people to feel bad for me, ya know? The windows to my van are tinte which helps and I’ve been putting towes pinned up on the back seat windows when I sleep. You can’t see them due to the tinted windows, I’ve checked lol Any suggestions to make this work easier would GREATLY be appreciated especialy on the lines of how to keep cool. That’s a big one right now. Also any info on how to keep up appearances because working in a hospital I dea alot with the public an don’t want to be looking dirty or totaly unkempt. Thanks so much! :)

Reply to this comment

avatar JCasil
avatar grzegorz

hey guys !
pickup truck with a shell cap(without windows)is the answer
also for winter sleeping use the best quality pro sleeping bag like westernmountaineering
they are expensive something like 500-700 usd
if you handy you can install flat flexible solar sheets on the top of your pick up truck and produce some power for your devices
mount a few hidden day/night cameras on your truck so you can always see what’s going on around you
I know this will require some money up front but it will make your life a little easier I think
Good Luck to all of You !!

Reply to this comment

avatar tim

I am in Europe (English person in Luxembourg) and have just read the above posts. Some excellent info there, thanks. I am 14 days away from the same situation except the car is going too. I am considering buying a 500 euro (650US) Ford Fiesta type car, maybe something a little bigger as Renault Megane type cars have a low resale. But insurance etc will be expensive and require an address…. I can earn some money as an English (as a foreign language) teacher but need to look the part; especially for the adult students who tend to work in banks and therefore have higher standards. I also want to keep fit and so will continue to swim and shower by the pool (before entering water and after!). I think shaving and teeth cleaning (English people do you know) will not be accepted by other users so that will be a no-no. This is not like America so a parked car not in a residential street will attract attention, especially if old and cheap. There are homeless people here and a community that drinks beer in the square but I prefer to avoid that (I don’t know where they sleep, altho they are well dressed and so i guess they get clothes from some charity). I have read about US tent cities and that would be great here too but not likely to happenas lack of the outdoors would be a problem (everything/where is private). So my plan B is to live in a small survival tent. This can be carried in a pack (I hope) and if I walk off the track in the woods each evening and put up the tent in a densely treed or ferned area, i should be almost invisible including from above. I am worried that I am living in a fantasy and will freeze to death. In winter, it can be -15 C (5F). This site gives me hope. I hope that all or most of the posts are real.. Anyway, I have been reading about little one man tents and that seems fine. The sleeping bags seem Ok too. I have around 800 dollars in cash and can earn enough to eat / drink / swim but nothing else. I have clothes / books etc and I am not sure what to do with them. Storage sounds good but too expensive (unless i live in it but that seems too difficult to get away with). So nearly everything will have to go although some can go with friends (who i am not telling about this). But I can buy a few things to survive/live. I am 54 and in reasonable shape at 160 pounds. My first question is whether it is feasible to sleep in one of those blizzard survival bags. Are they just a one day thing or could they perhaps go inside or outside my bag? Don’t tell my ex but the thing I will miss most is my two cats. I dream about keeping them in a tent to keep me company and keep my feet warm but sadly that IS a fantasy. So blizzard bags? Anybody tried living without the car or even keep the car, possibly to store some stuff in the boot (trunk) but sleep outside it to avoid police attention. Sorry for the long post but I have little time before I leave the nice flat that I am currently sitting in. Thanks, tim

Reply to this comment

avatar Peregrine

Those survival blankets? the ones that look like aluminium foil? they are good. It takes a lot to rip them, they are cheap and take up hardly any room in a pack. If you are in a tent or a hammock wrap yourself in one of those emergency blankets and then get into your sleeping bag. Socks, hat, gloves. If you choose a hammock, get one without a space bar and made of parachute nylon which folds up small, Ticket to the Moon makes a good one, buy a double size and sleep in it diagonally, that way your body will be flat and not like a banana. Hennessey is good too. Maybe tape another foil blanket to the surface of your hammock underneath. If you put the foil between hammock and sleeping bag it gets all scrunched up. good luck. If your pool showers have cubicles you can shave and clean teeth in the shower where no one will see.

Reply to this comment

avatar Boucaneer

To the English guy in Luxemburg.

Hello mate, I,m from London. I think what your talking about is what we call Bothy bags for shared use up in the mountains. Otherwise it may be smaller Bivybag. I use an ex British army gortex Bivybag with a good winter army sleeping bag. The thing is you have to insulate yourself from the ground so a foam roll up mattress would be best for the woods. You would also need a tarpaulin to keep the rain off you and there would be no protection from Mosquitos or flys or other ground insects. I used to wake up with lumps and bites, I did make myself a huge mosquito net bag to place over me and it can be very muddy if it has been raining overnight. Butthere are better, more comfier systems. One of the easiest most comfortable systems is to buy a Hennassy Hammock, made in USA and exported all around the world. You can string it up between a few trees and it has a built in mosquito net and comes with a great tarp to keep wind and rain off, but you can still look around you to see if there’s any danger. Entrance is through the bottom via a velcro snap opening and one can escape to enclosed hammock in seconds should you need to with a quick push down of both heels of the feet to open up the velcro fastener, and no, you cannot fall out bu mistake. If one must have to sleep outside of vehicle then this is one of the best systems. They cost around £120 then you gotta buy yourself a decent sleeping bag.

I used to be a traveler back in 1993 traveling all around England and Scotland with a convoy of new age traveler, all of us sleeping in old ambulances, army trucks, vans, box vans etc. we even had a fire engine with us. Then the government jumped all over us a banned us living together and introduced laws to disband us. It was the most fun time in my life and met great characters I can never forget. I’m might leave my flat and live in my 16′ cabin cruiser on the River Thames and may even buy a van in the future. I plan to live in my vehicles in England in the summer and save up and in October to to Kerala in southern India and spend the winter out there cheap and come back to England in April and do it all over again. Saving up for a river side retirement home in Kerala. I am forty this January so I have around 25 years to get the money together. Good luck and god bless to all those great people here living alternative homesteads. May you be blessed with what you need. Rex.

Reply to this comment

avatar Boucaneer

P.s don’t leave your flat first, try it out and see what you think. You may hate it. I’m slightly concerned about ya, but hope you have a good head on your shoulders. I started traveling and vehicle sleeping when I was 18 or 19 and had a very strong crew around me to teach me to make it easier. It sound attractive but not something to enter lightly if you have to leave a cheap flat, ie social housing as you may have to wait years before ever getting another one again or if you plan on leaving a loved one. You done the right thing by researching, do more research and learning as it is so helpful. I am still learning things every day about alternative living. Good luck mate and you can email me if you want to on 73foster@ live.com. All best! Rex.

Reply to this comment

avatar CP

Hi All,

I sure am glad I found this site. My gf (correction, ex as of last week) wants me out. I’m on the lease, but it’s easier to just leave. It’s already getting ugly. I’ll be living in my car a few days after Christmas. I have money, but no job nor the time for one (in my last semester of college this spring), so a new apartment just isn’t realistic.
My expected set-up is this (for southern California): living in a four-door car with limo tinting. Rod with black curtain hung across the back seat. Popping down the back seat to sleep half in the trunk with a 25 degree sleeping bag. Rotating between 3 and 5 locations for sleeping. Showering at a gym on weekends, showering at the school during the week. Free internet at school, plenty of parking during the day. Lots of schoolwork to keep me busy. When I graduate, I sell my car and move home, and hopefully buy a house in six months. I might try to work part time to make the no-rent time of my life productive (as if getting a degree wasn’t productive enough!)… but my courseload is heavy, and school is my top priority… why else would I dare live in a car?
The question I have is food- how do I minimize my costs without starving or eating crap (McD’s). I figure fruit keeps for a few days, as do nuts and breads.

Reply to this comment

avatar Peregrine

You’ve got the right idea about food. If you have a camp stove that runs on butane canisters or liquid fuel, good. they are reasonably cheap. Peanut butter sandwiches, with additives if you haven’t any means of cooking. Jam. pickles, parsley if you like it, for iron. If you can cook, try dicing two washed potatoes, one onion, boil in salted water till soft, don’t drain the water, add milk powder and more salt to taste, eat. Practically a complete food. and surprisingly filling and yummy. Eat it out of your saucepan, and you won’t want takeaways. Potatoes will keep in a dark place. Onions will keep.

Reply to this comment

avatar JCasil

Sill need suggestions about keeping food? If you’re going to do this for months, realize it could be twice as long as you desire. Things might not turn out right. So prepare right. Get yourself a large deep cycle marine battery and an automobile cooler. you can put enough food in there and the best ones cool down the air by about 40 degrees. They plug into the cigarette lighter, but you can buy an inexpensive socket like that that has wires and clips exactly for attaching it directly to a battery. Look at Amazon.com. There are many good ideas here:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=DC%20socket%20with%20clips

Make sure you keep the cooler in cool shade for the best effect. Your vehicle is too hot in the sun or closed up under the shade in hot weather.

Food packaging is too bulky and empty. So get a lot of small and medium size zip lock bags and take ALL the food out of the packages and put it in those. And you will have more than enough room. But those zip locks occasionally leak, So get several small containers that will fit nicely in the cooler and put the zip lock baggies in there. (32 ounce SQUARE SHAPPED hydrogen peroxide plastic bottles sell at WalMart for 88 cents. 16 ounce SQUARE SHAPED hydrogen peroxide bottles sell at Big Lots for 50 cents. After I use the liquid I cut the tops off to make containers for my cooler and other places in my car. These fit perfectly into my cooler.) Never fill a baggie full or it will leak from the pressure. (however I do purchase the cheapest ones.) With liquids stay less than 2/3rds full.

This is costly, almost $200 at this point, but is far less than the cost of eating prepared food or illness from junk food. Look – getting ice for a cooler for a month in hot weather will cost you $60 and daily effort. So you really are saving this way. I did that for a year and I would never suggest it, it is a waste of money and time.

To recharge the battery charge it with your car, whem you are driving it. You will need 2 guage wires. I found them at WalMart.com.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Motor-Trend-25-Jumper-Cables-with-Parrot-Clamps/17617230
These were $50 when I bought them, but are $90 now, so go online and look for deals on 2 guage automotive wires. You will have to cut your wires from this Walmart package. So you will need two pairs of eyelets for 2 guage wires (Autozone). The eyelets allow you to attach your wire to the battery posts. I found someone at a car garage that would weld the eyelets onto the wires without charging me.

Put the marine deep cycle battery under the dashboard, run the wires from under the hood to the cycle battery. My wires pass between the right car door and right frame without being crushed. I cannot describe it without a picture.

The cooler will just have to be outside somewhere. In the car will just not work unless it is in the shade with the windows down or in the trunk with the top ajar.

If you can get a line of electricity from an outlet where you are parking, you will then need to buy a very long cord and a battery charger and just charge the battery when needed. I purchased this one for $65, but it does not function very well.
http://www.amazon.com/Schumacher-XC12-SpeedCharge-Battery-Charger/dp/B004EIBXAA/ref=sr_1_39?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1387225686&sr=1-39&keywords=schumacher+battery+charger
I really don’t recommend it. It is working for a year now, but I would have preferred something better for $100 if I knew which one that was.

You might think “forget the battery, etc – I will just plug the cooler directly into the line of electricity.” But then you cannot take the cooler with you, when you drive. In that case, you will need a source of ice to stock your cooler when it is off. And you will need a transformer you plug into the cord, and plug the cooler into that.
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Schumacher-DC-to-AC-Converter-6-Amp/13005735

When the cooler is off, put a folded blanket on and around it, to keep the cold in for as long as possible. Also air is terrible insulation. Buy some of those bags they put in mail to keep medicine cool during shipment. When your cooler is low in food and drinks, just throw those in – improves the insulation.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dautomotive&field-keywords=ice%20bags#/ref=nb_sb_ss_fb_0_7?url=search-alias%3Dgarden&field-keywords=refreezable+ice+cubes&sprefix=refreez%2Cautomotive%2C351&rh=n%3A1055398%2Ck%3Arefreezable+ice+cubes

I actually do all these things, depending on the situation, which varies. It does cost, but you are saving money in less than a year and EATING WELL. that is extremely basic.

Look around, ask around for salvage food stores in your area, or discount food stores. Especially ask people who work at Thrift Shops or liquidations (not charities or shelters). There are some in your county or area, you just have to find them.

What is the best kind of deep cycle marine battery? I don’t know and have not found anyone with that answer. I got the largest that my local AutoZone store sells. It has a 1 year replacement warranty. WalMart sells a similar one with a 3 year replacement warranty. Of the two I would choose WalMart because you are really going to be using that battery. DEEP CYCLE MARINE battery – not something else. not DUAL PURPOSE.

Reply to this comment

avatar JCasil

I forgot to state that I use the hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant, especially for hands and eating supplies. I mix half and half with purified water and put in a spray bottle they sell for $1 at dollar stores.

Reply to this comment

avatar JCasil

IMPORTANT: I put a plastic baggie or plastic glove around the eyelet of the wire, when passing it through the door and door frame, so I does not spark touching the metal frame. I forgot to mention that. You must cover the eyelet with plastic when you pass it between the door and frame.

I cut the 2 guage wires 10-11 feet long. Any longer and they loose power.Those long 2 guage wires that run from under the hood to the deep cycle batter are long enough to go to another vehicle to jump you car really well. I easily remove them from the battery and take them back out from between the door and door frame easily.

Reply to this comment

avatar jacawit

I have read most of these post and there is a lot of good advice in them. To the people trying to keep cool; I lived in my old Ford Aerostar last year for about two months. It was pretty warm — but I always tried to keep it in the shade during the day because if it is in the sun..it retained the heat at night. I went to Home Depot and got one of those vent covers for a couple bucks and cut a hole in the side of my van – low to the bottom and installed the vent. Then I purchased a $10 inverter and a 12 volt Ryobi batt operated fan to place in front of the vent to draw outside air. It seemed to work pretty good. On a full charge it ran most of the night. Fast forward to now….. I am now living out of my new van and realize how much more I spend on gas since I have to drive around a lot. At first I kind of liked it. I got a mini laptop which holds a charge for over three hours and I downloaded a lot of documentary’s to watch, but lately I am getting a feeling of hopelessness. I know/hope it will pass as I have a job out of state coming up in April 2013 that I can make some pretty good money on. I am a contractor and sometimes make pretty good money, but from the times I didn’t make good money — I went well in debt. I don’t want to give up my Credit score, so I’ve opted to live this way. I sometimes think I should just let my credit go and not worry about it but that thought scares me as I am 53 years old and want to buy a house when I can save up enough money. I have found that if you can park your car beside a library at night you can get free wi fi. I also have a gym membership. I have been doing this for 24 days. I broke up with my partner of 10 years. He was fine with us until he got his masters and a good job and then he didn’t need me anymore, which is the best thing for me anyway. Just have to get over the feelings since I am sensitive and it still hurts. I haven’t told any of my friends or family I am doing this. I would be so embarrassed — I just couldn’t–hubris I guess. My friends and family ask me all the time where I am staying now and I tell them “with a friend”. I am happy that some people find this enjoyable…I’m sure that helps–but for me it is not fun at all. But I will do what I have to do but I hope this will be the last time I have to do it.

Reply to this comment

avatar grandma on a move

Hi all, I am seriously working on getting out of my situation. Housing costs and debts and mostly lack of freedom due to a mortgage. I am about to retire and I want out of this…I am going to let my best friend who is homeless pay the mortgage and condo fees and if all goes well. I will pass all of this on to her and her children. I have way too much material things and it gets all in my way. I wanted to do this years ago but was talked out of it…oh well, now is the time. I will continue to work and live out of my car but I don’t want the family to know that. I am thinking I will tell them I have taken a job in another county…close by and they provide everything. I really need to do this..I am 62 years old and I figure I have enough spunk and realism to make this happen. I am open to any suggestions but seems like all the leads are already posted here…Thanks! and to all others, I pray that life continues to treat you well.

Reply to this comment

avatar Jacob

I’m twenty years old, and I live in my car, in Louisiana. There’s not much here for me, I’m wondering if there’s anything at all for me. Well, as I lay here itsnice to know I’m not the only one doing this. There’s not much I can do here, jobs are scarce.. But I believe goddoesnt give you more that you can handle.
Ill make it momma, don’t worry.

Reply to this comment

avatar mjfbinks ♦106 (Cent)

What a lifesaver it is finding such a helpful resource as this website. I haven’t needed to wonder where I would be laying my head down for a nights sleep in many years. Now I’m allot older, some would even say I’m old and not in the best of health and frankly kinda scared cause I know homelessness is coming for me and coming quick and when those kind of hard times come you find out how few if any friends you have, they’re all really sorry but they can’t help you, they have their own families and all the problems that go with it. It’s those times when things are at their worst that even family disappears. So the only one that can get me through this is me but at this point in this tough old man’s life prayers will be indispensable and definitely welcomed.

Reply to this comment

avatar Peregrine

I’m 58. Once I knew I had to do it, I started thinking of it as an adventure of late middle life! It is possible, don’t be down hearted. If you are a praying person, include God in your adventure every step..

Reply to this comment

avatar hardtimes

my husband and I are trying this living out of the car experience. we really have no money. he just started a job bmeut the friend we were staying with live to far away. we wouldn’t be able to afford the gas for the commute on top of our regular bills. as soon as I find a job we plan on saving as much as we can so we can bring our toddlers( who by the way are in a wonderful living condition with my mother in law) out here with us. we have been very disheartened and down on our luck this last month or so. we are currently in Durango Colorado and weep
need ideas on where to park and sleep at night. if anybody knows of any where within the Durango limits please let me know. I’m thinking about investing In a car cover so we can sleep without being disturbed or looking too suspicious. with a cover I think we could definitely sit in an apartment complex or somewhere similar. reading these posts has been extremely helpful not only do I can learn do’s and don’t's but it kept me sane through my first night of in car living experience.
any information about Durango Colorado would be extremely helpful!!!
thank you

Reply to this comment

avatar Ex-security guy

I was a security officer for about 13 years, and I can truly tell you what cops and security look for: Things that are out of place…things that don’t seem like they belong there. For example, in an apartment complex, if you park with the other vehicles (blend in), and keep a low profile (no lights at night…cigarettes, lighters, reading lights, etc), then you probably won’t get noticed. However, if you park in a secluded spot, I can almost guarantee that you will get the attention that you don’t want. Cops and (professional, trained) security look at things in black and white: Normal, or NOT NORMAL. It’s the “NOT NORMAL” things that trigger a response. Keep that in mind and you’ll do fine. :)

Reply to this comment

avatar Shane

I was thinking of a car cover with one clip off so I could still slip inside, in apartment areas. has anyone tried this ?

Reply to this comment

avatar Jake Marlin

I’ve been stuck in sticky, humid, big-ridden Louisiana for years and am sick of it. I’m 22 and am planning on driving out to Flagstaff, AZ and living out of my car until I can get a job set up and find a little apartment. Let me say that I read every comment here after I thought of Googling “living in your car” and the sea of information presented will be incredibly helpful. I never would have thought that there were people whom actually preferred it to a conventional house.

Reply to this comment

avatar PrairieWoman

I’ve noticed few of you have pets. I have 3 dogs and a cat – all indoor pets and geriatric. As my fiance keeps threatening to throw me out every time he gets mad I’m seriously concerned about how to keep my pets comfortable if I have to live out of my Jeep Cherokee. Getting rid of them really isn’t an option as they’re like kids to me. I’ve considered purchasing a tent to camp in for the summer but in hot weather it would be a death sentence for the pets while I’m at work. I’d love to get another vehicle since this one seems to need repairs constantly but I still owe on it. I’m also concerned about the winters here since it gets into subzero temps. I’d consider moving to another area but just don’t have the cash to accomplish it.

Sorry for rambling but would like advise on living with pets out of a vehicle.

Reply to this comment

avatar JCasil

Is it too late to respond to your comment? I saw someone on youtube show how you can make a portable air conditioner wih a couple of small fans or one small portable fan and a large cooler of ice. The fan blows the air in, and the air hits the ice and cool air comes out the other end. This man used it for his car when the AC broke and stated it works great during the summer driving in his car. You would need a source of electricity for the fans, even if they are low wattage like 50 watts. One or two deep cycle marine batteries could work, with a small inverter. And a daily source of ice. and it would have to be a confined shaded space to work effectively. the old friends could stay there all day when you go off somewhere. If the fans fail, they could always put themselves up against the cooler loaded with ice to stay cooler. In my experience I had only one fan fail, but that was because I hit it hard.

I been sleeping in my car with pets sometimes. And if you still need suggestions, just ask.

Reply to this comment

avatar Orsen

Wont go into why but I’m 8 months into living out of my car and haven’t really encountered any problems. I think I benefit from living in a “tourist town” where there are 2 casinos and plenty of hotels/ motels. Every hotel on “the strip” (not Vegas) has computers in their lobby’s with free interent connection which I use 3 or 4 times a week. Never been hasseled about it. There are two or three hotels which have washrooms close to the pool area that have a full shower. I have used these on numerous occasions and never been stopped. Try going into any major hotel and find the pool/spa area and you might find a washroom with a shower. As far as parking my car at night to sleep I have used Wal-mart without any problems, motel parking lots and 24 hour coffee shops. I’ve pretty much done the same as others have said here, including using “wet wipes” to clean up, work great. The one thing I did do that may be unique is before lift-off I bought a small digital tape recorder and taped a ton of hours of tv programs so that I could replay them in my car for, well, “comfort food”. This little digital recorder holds tons of tv shows, I could’nt believe it, I’m still not half way through them all. The blind have been listening to TV for years and once you do it for a couple of shows its just like listening to 2 and Half Men on the radio. Winter is coming so I’m going to have to work with the cold as best I can. Thanks for reading, Orsenl

Reply to this comment

avatar Student

I am a business student and I am 26 yrs old and I have recently struggled with jobs. I currently do have a part-time and interviewing for a full-time today. I am thinking of living in my car because my family is finally separated and I don’t no where else to go. If anyone knows others in the same situation in IL or has valuable information to assist me please let me know.

Reply to this comment

avatar JCasil

Someone suggested a pet blanket that only uses 6 watts. THAT IS NOT POSSIBLE

Reply to this comment

avatar serp77

actually it is possible, they are designed only to be turned on when their is pressure applied kind of like a switch you turn on and off. i’ve researched on them bc they are the only thing reasonable when you have an open space, i do not remember what name they’re under but check amazon.com you will find em their, as well if you are looking for old batteries be careful unless you can put them in the back of your truck due to charging chemicals. I also remember that you can usually find them at auto wreckers for rather cheap and also at the auto wreckers you can also find all sorts of wires that you will find lot cheaper than the usual store, for the reason as they just want the stuff sold, another place you can find great deals is 2nd hand stores such as salvation army and Value Village. I spoke with my gf and she does not agree with me moving into my SUV, but since she is not living with me i kinda feel like i have to since it’s just me, why spend round a grand on living in someone else home when i really dont mind living in my truck??? i just remember when i was 13 and lived on the streets the “freedome feeling” that anything was possible. so till March 1st getting my Expedition camping ready with 200 amp alternator,200 amp battery isolator with 4 1000cca agm batteries. with a 12k debt sitting on interest of 39.9% i’m finding it hard to breath. if i come across anything that may be useful for this site, i’ll keep posting maybe it’ll be able to help someone and yes everything that i have been posting is true, i will be using the same stuff in my truck that i will be posting on here. take care and be safe……..

Reply to this comment

avatar JCasil

THE PAD IS CONTINUALLY ON LIKE A SURGE PROTECTOR DIODE LIGHT. THAT IS HOW IT IS ABLE TO DETECT A DOG OR CAT ON IT AND TURN THE HEAT ON. IT IS CONTINUALLY USING 6 WATTS OF POWER. THAT IS A SIGNIFICANT

Reply to this comment

avatar JCasil

FOR YOU TO KEEP 6 WATTS CONTINUALLY DRAINING YOUR BATTERY, IT WOULD RUN IT DRY IN A DAY. that is like leaving the glove compartment open all night so the little light stays on and the battery is dead in the evening. MANY devices are like this, being digitalized today. They are continually on, using a little bit of power, like six watts, like the diodes on surge protectors. It is always on, so that when you turn it on, it is ready to go. DVD players are like this. You laptop power cord transformer box is like that. so it is necessary to remove the laptop cord when not needing to charge the laptop battery.

That blanket you are referring to is not a good device to have, being it will drain dead the batteries six watts at a time unless you remove the cord, or get a switch plug (A plug that has a flip switch on it to totally cut off power.)

You stated you just read about this online, you have not owned one. I have owned heat pads and devices that are always on like surge protectors or AA battery chargers. My cell phone charger takes 5 watts of power to charge. YOU CANNOT GET WARM WITH SIX WATTS, six watts does not have heat to warm you. it is just not there for anyone to access.

you misread this online or they printed it in error. This has happened to me. If you could keep warm with 6 watts, you could cook food in 12 watts — what do you need four 1000 CCA batteries for? that set up you described is a good set up, a LOT of electrcity, becuase you will need it. Even smaller slow cookers are 70-100 watts but they take hours to cook.

I would not advise getting batteries from a junk yard. waste of money, and they could be leaking or damaged. they certainly wont hold a lot of power and go bad fast. Batteries that have been dormat for a long time are NEVER good. not even new ones. Autozone rotates their NEW batteries every six months. if the battery was made (not shipped but made) more than six months ago, they take it off the shelf. They will not sell it, and they give only a 1 year replacement warranty on NEW batteries.

Get a good large size battery with a 3 year REPLACEMENT warranty. wal mart sells them for about $100. NOT DUAL PURPOSE batteries but deep cycle batteries that you can drain low and recharge. They are not spillable, they require no maintainence, the chemicals will not come out of them.

however looking for wires at an auto salvage seems like a good idea, something to try, thank you for that suggestion. And the alternator, four batteries, ect is a good set up. But people cannot be thinking they can keep warm on six or twelve or eighteen watts, or so.

My vehicle cannot have another kind of alternator, so I had to go the other way that I described. And many vehicles are like that. Ask a professional if you can change the alternator on your vehicle, and I would get more than one opinion on that matter. Because with a wrong alternator, the damage could be disasterous.

I am looking into Solar panels, homemade solar set up, but that is in the months or years to come.

written Dec 16, 2013

Reply to this comment

avatar JCasil

WARNING!!!
Changing the alternator to a different size will prevent many businesses from servicing your vehicle. Places like WalMart and AAA have strict policies in which they can not work on any vehicle that has modifications to it.

Adding wires as I suggested, wires running from the vehicle battery to a inverter or other batteries in the vehicle, however you run those wires – is NOT a modification to the vehicle, but putting in a different size alternator is a modification to the vehicle.

One WalMart I went to and one AAA mechanic shop told me that they could not service my vehicle at all because I made modifications to it. Because they saw all the wiring that I had in my car.

Adding wires does not modify the vehicle. like adding a superior stereo system is not considered modifying the vehicle. WalMart itself sells different kinds of vehicle inverters and wires and stereo systems. They want you to buy those things when you are having your car serviced there. If they say you have modified your car, you can walk them through the store and show them the inverters that they sell or go online with your laptop and SHOW them the many inverters that WalMart sells.

Drawing electricty from the battery is not a modification or everyone who has jumped their car to another has modified their vehicle and cannot get service anywhere.

I showed these walmart people that I could easiy disconnect the wires, so they could have no problem servicing my vehicle. A modification, like a different kind of alternator, you cannot just remove or disconnect and have the car fully running and operating. that IS a modification to the vehicle.

I was amazed these WalMart people, the whole crew working in the middle of the weekday, were so stupid, that they thought there was a modification, when their own store sells inverters and wires. So I asked them to contact a store manager, and he put the issue to rest. so the WalMart workers were able to do an oil change on my vehicle, which is what I came there for.

Granted I have a lot of wires in the seating area, because I have lots of little devices, like net book, heat pads, cell phones, AAA battery chargers, lamp and so on; what you put in and around the SEATS is no modification to the vehicle.

Mechanics are not so stupid, WalMart was just maintenance, so when a AAA mechanic shop told me the owner said I had modified the vehicle and I had to leave and take the vehicle with me, I knew it was not that issue, but that they were greatly offended when they saw all the things in my car that they did not want to have anythiong to do with me – bums.

Some shop owners are exceedingly niggardly, and will put that lie on you (modifying the vehicle) or some other professional bs because they want nothing to do with you, you are a louse.

But changing the alternator IS REAL MODIFICATION. and be aware that many places will not service your vehicle and you cannot afford that. I would prefer to not change the alternator on that ground, even if I could change my alternator, because when I need my car taken of, I really cannot have no where to go, or have a difficult time getting to a mechanic, because I have no other place other than my car.

So check out this matter with your regular mechanic or maintainence company. Wal Mart and AAA as far as I know, will not service any vehicle with modification. Check this out before you change that alternator!!!

Note: I had the catalytic converter removed from my car, because it was so clogged it was causing problems. And WalMart still serviced my vehicle. The car still operates and runs the same in every way without it. I don’t think it is considered “Modification.”

Reply to this comment

avatar serp

I have inquired about bigger alternator for the suv and I was told that it would be fine, regardless on how many batteries that also is no concern to the shop, the only thing they ask is that their be no random wires in the open, as long as the suv is clean that would be fine, the shops ive spoken with have never refused to do any work what so ever on any vehicle, unless it was in violation bylaw on the vehicle or the person (registration/license/insurance)

Reply to this comment

avatar JCasil

Someone suggested using a pet blanket cause it only uses 6 watts. THAT IS NOT POSSIBLE for humans to get sufficient heat with 6 watts. Animals like to curl up tight and have fur and other things. I use a human (plastic cover) heat pad on my lower abdomen, becuase there are so many blood vessels there in cool weather it keeps me warm all around. If the blood stays warm, you will feel and be warm. With cool weather clothing – but not when it gets very cool. They are 50 – 100 watts. You need to find one without a timer. Rakuten.com sells a “king size heat pad” that has no timer. You just cannot do with one small car or suv or truck battery. You need to get some larger deep cycle marine batteries. there is no getting around it.

Reply to this comment

avatar Soulseer

Due to child support from three seperate states for three kids I have been living out of cars and in tents for eight years now. Being homeless is alot easier when you get farther away from mainstream society and camp. If you can afford it stay in a campground with showers etc. If not try finding a quiet place on the river or lake somewhere. Or up in the hills close to a spring or small stream. I hated being homeless in the city but popping a tent in the wilderness is not that bad and is good for the soul.Nature will provide all that a person needs if you know where to look and how to use what is available. Circumstances are different depending on the region you are in. Personally I have a strong spiritual connection to the forests that I frequent and over time a person will develop this. The more you realize that you are a part of the earth the more in tune you become with your surroundings. You do not own the earth. The earth owns you. lol.

Reply to this comment

avatar gwen

I am wondering if you are choosing to be homeless as a way to escape parental responsibilities. Granted, the system will not show mercy to fathers in efforts to collect child support, especially when once your obligations are garnsihed you have nothing left to live on. This presents options to living and simply leaving undone tasks undone can be a solution. My other question, how do you eat, get suppiles, etc. and what part of the country can you stay in wilderness without man, animals or the elements keeping you constantly on the move…just curious

Reply to this comment

avatar jcasil

Moderators of consumerismcommentary.com:

Can you remove gwen’s threatening comment from your website?
This inhumane gwen has clearly attacked everyone of us “homeless trying to escape responsibility” and other things.
We know these people exist in our communities.
Please keep these kinds of animosity and harassment out of this particular discussion which is for encouragement. FOR us.

Reply to this comment

avatar serp77

in all do respect for each owns self with well being, we are all our own person, with being said that much it’s also called honesty to the people that we come in contact with each and every day. Every one on this site has become or becomes homeless for 1 reason or another, passing judgement towards one person is the same as saying we’re are all identicle. I must apologize but we are all living in our cars/trucks and suv’s for the simple fact is that we can not afford to have the life style as the next person, some by choice while others have no choice. 1 things is for certain, we all have our reasons for doing what we are doing and why we do what we do, right??? I would rather hear n read the worse from the person on my right then hear n read lies from the left or vise versa right??? it’s not that I can not afford to have my place any more, I would rather live this way for what I remember when I was a kid and living on the streets, rules with no regulations, and absolute freedom of the concrete jungle where we all know it as Town/City/metro etc. their are two things that will destroy each and every dream, 1 is called money 2nd is time. which one is the reason u r where u are??? Honestly for me it’s both. Be safe I hope the best for everyone ;-)

Reply to this comment

Leave a Comment

Connect with Facebook

Note: Use your name or a unique handle, not the name of a website or business. No deep links or business URLs are allowed. Spam, including promotional linking to a company website, will be deleted. By submitting your comment you are agreeing to these terms and conditions.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Previous post:

Next post: