Choosing to be homeless: How I’d live out of my car

Published July 25, 2016   Posted in Having some fun How to Save

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.

Pinterest: How I would live in my carA 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? 

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23 responses to “Choosing to be homeless: How I’d live out of my car”

  1. What a way to get us thinking on a Monday morning! I actually had thoughts of this (clearly – just thoughts as meant in this post) when I took a job about 3 hours from home. They made my schedule so I could be there Tues-Thurs – so I chose to stay over 2 nights a week (this is at a college). I ended up renting a studio apartment but definitely could have stayed in my big office those nights! Great workout facilities – fridge, kitchen, etc – all I could have needed! I thought about a dorm room too – but the apartment was actually cheaper! As far as mail goes – here is a great suggestion from Jeremy over at GoCurryCracker. There is a cost – but this is really interesting for anyone considering traveling.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for the comment, Vicki. Sounds like you have a pretty nice working arrangement at the moment. Ain’t nothing wrong with 4-day weekends every week! 🙂

      Appreciate the link. Very cool system!

  2. Sounds like you got it all figured out. For the weekends, I’d park near public hunting ground and roll out of bed early to bring in the day’s meal. Something about living out of a car and living off the land seems to tie together for me.

  3. I would live out of my car, but I would not live in my car with my family. Add more people to the mix and this situation becomes less than ideal.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Jolly! It’s true, with a family in tow, it would make that situation very different and probably unworkable – at least in the way that I’d do it if I were by myself.

  4. That sounds like a great plan…but what if you had a family? Suddenly that plan doesn’t sound so feasible.

    An RV might be a better option with a family.

    • Steve says:

      Yup, completely agree. With a family, this isn’t so easy. But, this was a make believe situation, though, assuming only yourself. 🙂

  5. Apathy Ends says:

    I have thought about this before and landed at the same conclusion as you. We actually have a gym/shower in our building along with 24/7 access. I could pretend to be a work-Aholic and hang out and watch Netflix in our building.

    We have a fridge and microwave, could get creative and actually get away with a crock pot in here.

  6. Mr. PIE says:

    I hope the readers get the essence of the point I think you are getting at Steve.

    To look at what is around you and ask yourself
    Do I really need it?
    Can I make do with an alternative way?
    Can I save a few dollars by taking the road less traveled?
    What could doing all this mean for our lifestyle and future?

    Until you start thinking hard about this stuff,it is easy to let it all wash over you and miss the boat ( or car!!) as it were.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for the comment, Mr. PIE. It is interesting how little we actually “need”, isn’t it? Most of us really can get away with far, far less – us included. 🙂

  7. Mr. SSC says:

    Provided I was “sans family” I would probably go the camping route. Find a decent campground KOA sort of deal, and pitch a tent. Then you have showers, water, electricity and privacy, and more room than in a car and the rent for a campsite is still probably really cheap.

    In my current situation with a wife, and 3 and 5 yr old and 2 dogs. God help us all… I could still go the camping option, as we have a bigger tent, but man oh man would that make “looking forward” to Monday morning have a totally different feel to it. A spring in the step if you will, hahahaha

    • BAMFmoney says:

      I’m actually seriously considering this, but for a road trip across the states to visit the national and state parks. It’s just me, so no big deal, and it would be short term for fun.

      Things I would need:
      Few days of clothes for summer and winter
      Small solar panel to charge batteries and devices
      Cell Phone/Camera
      Tube for floating lakes/pump to inflate
      Basic set of tools for emergency car maintenance (thorough check up before hitting the road)

      I can just shower at the camp grounds and wash clothes at laundromats. Just buy food as I need it, to travel light.

    • Steve says:

      Yup, nothing wrong with taking the camping route! We are at a KOA at the moment with all the amenities, so it’s definitely a step up from bumming around the streets trying to find a place to park. Nothing like camp living to make you look forward to Monday? 😉

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I am in a quasi homeless position. I am working overseas for 10 months per year where I get my (modest) housing provided. I am seeking my house in Canada as renting it is proving to be too difficult and is costing me too much from bad tenants. So I will be homeless for two months ever year when I return to Canada (if I return). I am selling everything in the hous but may keep some things of sentimental value for when I set up a home again – whenever that may be. I am possibly considering the car or van option for when I come back for the summer. Who knows?

    • Steve says:

      Interesting situation, Elizabeth. Hopefully those two months, if you return to Canada, aren’t in the winter. I’d be interested in knowing what you end up doing!

  9. If it was just me by myself I could do it. Get a little gas stove, buy a little van, and a little generator. It would probably get old, but it would be cheap!

    • Steve says:

      Darn tootin’. Cheap, but I agree, it might get old after a while. But then again, you may also get used to living with less. Who knows…and I hope that I never have to find out!

  10. Jack says:

    Not an option for families with small children like myself, but as a solo? Sure. Been there, done that.

    Spent a summer in Alaska working on the Exxon Valdez oil cleanup and lived in my station wagon for over 3 months. Worked 14 hour nights, and my 2 main meals were breakfast and dinner provided in the office. Parked my car at the camp ground every morning and showered and slept. Curtains are a must, even if you have some tinting.

    It was an adventure at the time, and earned a ridiculous amount of money with all the overtime. But I wouldn’t want to do it on a long term basis. And I wouldn’t want to do it again.

    • Steve says:

      Wow, interesting story. Curtains, yes – even with a tint, I can see the benefit of curtains. Ridiculous amounts of money, but you wouldn’t do it again. Sometimes, money isn’t everything!

  11. I would never choose to live out of my car if I didn’t have to. My back would kill me for sleep (I’m not sure if my car can be cleverly arranged with a foam mattress) and if I ever go out to drink with my buddies and I drink a little too much and get to home vomiting everywhere.. That would not be pleasant! This is certainly a thought-provoking post, however.

    • Steve says:

      Ha! Thanks Finance Solver. You bring up an excellent point about the vomit. When your “home” is about 15 square feet, every inch counts! 🙂

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