Imagine the money that you would be able to save without the burdens of a traditional home, utilities and other necessities of living like a home dweller. Believe it or not, people choose homelessness to save incredible amounts of money, and here is how I would do it if I ever become crazy enough to try.
A couple quick points before I begin: First, this is purely hypothetical and in no way represents my future plans. Secondly, I am choosing homelessness rather than being forced into it. This means I have money. I have a job. I have a car. I have the things that a “homeful” person would have, minus the home. Also, I might do this for a fairly short period of time – say, 3 to 6 months, before re-establishing myself in a traditional house.
This blog post is meant to be fun and creative. How would you live if you ever chose to be homeless for a while to save some cash? Let me know in the comments section below.
Choosing to be homeless
I would live in my car., which brings up the first problem. Many cities enforce ordinances that prevent people from living out of their cars on city streets, but other options exist, like Walmart parking lots or even the lot outside of your office building. Nearby wilderness areas may have areas to park, and I’d definitely tint my windows as much as possible and use sun shades to maintain privacy while I’m “home”.
But honestly, I wouldn’t spend much time home.
Since I’m working full-time, I would most likely enjoy my climate-controlled office quite a bit more than I otherwise might. If you work from home (like I do), co-working spaces are available in many cities. These spaces provide a desk and a [sometimes] quiet place to work, along with Internet access, restroom facilities and very often coffee and refrigerator access. At these places, you’re renting a single office (which may just be a seat at a large desk).
And bingo, a controlled and relaxing place to spend 8 to ten hours a day.
About my mailing address, I would use a family member or friend’s home as my mailing address during my homelessness. Naturally, this needs to be a trustworthy person and someone whom you don’t mind seeing on a weekly basis.
What about showering and brushing my teeth? I have an LA Fitness membership and would use it to shower and do my sink-stuff, like brush my teeth (I’ve seen people brush their teeth at LA Fitness). Of course, I would also work out there as well to keep myself in shape, and any gym with shower facilities works great for this.
Additionally, I’d use the gym and office for my, umm, toilet needs as well, along with stray bushes if I’m out in the middle of nowhere – just me and my car.
Sleeping might be a bit of a challenge, but nothing that a little creativity can’t solve. In smaller cars, a foam mattress pad laid on top of folded-down rear seats might provide a good enough sleeping arrangement. In larger vehicles like a minivan, remove the rear seats and enjoy a huge oasis of space for your mattress and possessions.
Speaking of possessions: I need a laptop and Internet access, the latter of which the co-working space or office provides. Basic clothes like socks, shoes, underwear, a collection of a few shirts, shorts and pants. I only need about a week’s worth of clothing at a time, re-wearing where possible and washing at a local laundromat. Also, focus on adding layers rather than hauling heavier coats that take up space and only need to be worn on colder days.
A sheet and blanket for my mattress pad. I would store all my toiletries in a bucket, like soap, shampoo, tooth brush, those wet-nap anti-bacterial things for impromptu hand-washing, medication and anything else found in your bathroom’s medicine cabinet.
Also some solar techno-gadgetry would be nice, like chargers for my cell phone and laptop – but even these items aren’t strictly required unless you plan to spend significant time away from your co-working space or office. A little outdoor space would also help this process.
Eating and drinking presents another creative issue to solve. Working, I’d drink as much water as I could possibly stuff down the hatch. Yet again, I would take advantage of my office to heat up my Cup-o-Noodles, soup or some such preservative-laced, cardboard “food”. If the office has a refrigerator, that would be my go-to for anything I need to keep cold, though I would keep my footprint to an absolute minimum. I don’t want to make what I’m doing look obvious.
To maintain some semblance of health, fruits and veggies will need to be procured. A small cooler that I keep packed with store-bought ice would keep apples cold and fresh, along with any beverages (beer?) that I need to chill but don’t want to use the office refrigerator for.
If I was feeling especially resourceful, a self-made solar oven would give me the ability to cook.
Check out this Quora discussion thread about choosing to be homeless. People do it, like this guy and this guy. While far from ideal, the reasons to ditch your home are plenty, and you’ll find amazingly creative solutions to everyday problems that most of us take for granted.
So, tell me – how would you choose to live out of your car?
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.