- Table of Contents
- Why Listen To Me
- Why Live In Your Car
- Roadside Survival
- How To Survive Living In Your Car
- Safety, Threats, and Dangers
- Vehicle Maintenance
- What It’s Like
Table of Contents
Have you ever lived in your car? If you’re considering it, this is a must read. Welcome to the Ultimate Homeless Survival Guide on how to survive living in a car.
It seems that there is lacking something when you look for real-world advice out there on how to survive being homeless. I looked up “How to live in your car” and the results I got weren’t helpful at all. Most of the posts were either Top 10 lists that included a bunch of buzz words or it was an article written by a recent college graduate that got a job as a “content marketer” with a 35,000 salary. Neither people have a clue about being homeless and especially not how to survive being homeless.
Why Listen To Me
Now who am I and why am I the one to make such a post that you should listen to? Good question. I lived in my car for two years. Two entire years living in a car and not by choice. I had to figure things out and guess what. I learned a thing or two that you simply can’t learn and wouldn’t know unless you went through an extended period of living like that.
Why Live In Your Car
Before we get into the practical how-to information, let’s talk about the why. Why do it? Why live in your car? The “why” is the backbone that will keep your will strong while you do it. Without the strong why, the how won’t matter.
The primary benefit to the car camping lifestyle is the financial aspect. Many people choose to do this for six or twelve months just so they can stash away a nice sum of money. Not having to pay rent will allow you to save a nice chunk of change.
The perfect example of someone doing this was the story about a Google employee that lived in a van close to work. The results? The man saved 90% of his income, after taxes.
You can read more about his story on his website.
Broke By A Thousand Lattes
Stop buying things, period. No coffees, no espressos, no Starbucks lattes. When it comes to finances, usually it’s not the big expenses that blunder you. It’s the million little small expenses on a daily basis that accumulate without them feeling like they are emptying your bank account.
Now that you know what vehicle to get or if you’re just going to be using the one you currently have.
If your vehicle is going to be your home, your domain in which you live. Taking care of it is your primary concern. Think of having a home and a car. The amount of times you would clean your home and your car, combine those numbers and that should be the number of times you’ll want to clean your car. Since you’re using it more often and living it, you’ll want to double the effort put into cleaning and maintaining it.
There are a few things I’ve learned from a long time doing this that would have saved a lot of frustration in the beginning. There are a few items that you want to have in your car at all times.
- Roadside Emergency Kit
- Vehicle Tools
- Garbage Bags
How To Survive Living In Your Car
This is the how-to part of the guide. How do you actually do it?
Get a case for everything. It makes all the difference. When you have everything you own inside of a vehicle, it’s ironically easier to lose things. When there are 100 items in a small amount of space, it’s easy to lose items. Digging through dozens of items because you can’t find something is not fun. Being as organized as possible is essential.
The best way to do this is to get a quality case or other storage item, for everything. When I did this, it became much easier. I use to keep everything in garbage bags. That works for about a day until you realize that it causes much more frustration and time waste than the few pennies you save by not buying proper storage.
So get a case for everything. I recommend you get a bag for the following:
- Toiletry Bag
- Gym bag
- Car Trash
- Electronics Case
Here’s the key with storage. Notice above that I said, quality case. Spend a couple extra dollars on a quality, sturdy case that won’t break after a week, won’t have a zipper malfunction, and will actually keep it’s contents safe and secure.
This is the bag I bought for all my toiletry items. Hands down the best bag or case I’ve ever owned, for anything.
It has more than enough compartments for everything you need. I use a few different hair products and even I only fill this bag up to about 60% of its full capacity.
Having a quality gym bag will likely be the most important bag you get.
I got a bag from Under Armour.
It’s made properly with durable materials and construction. I’ve had it for about a year now and it shows no signs of deterioration or wear and tear.
There are a couple aspects of living in a vehicle that you can’t do a whole lot about. One of those things is trash storage. You may not think you would accumulate trash living inside of a car since you’re not buying many things, but trash definitely builds up. Throwing away every single piece of trash the moment it becomes trash in your car, isn’t practical.
So what do you do?
I got this trash can alternative for the car.
It’s small and it does the job. It can fit a few things in it. It can also hold any potential liquids or other things that would otherwise be prone to spilling out in your car.
Clothes or Food Container
This compartment container has been a life saver.
It’s incredibly sturdy. No need to worry if it’s going to break or give in.
This case has been perfect for holding all my electronics. My laptop and cellphone chargers.
One of the first questions people will ask you if you tell them you live in your car, is how do you shower? The answer is simple. The gym. If you work at a company like Google, shower at work.
If you’ve never gone to a gym, here is another benefit to this lifestyle. It pushed you to go to the gym every day.
Another case to consider getting is for your hygiene, personal care, and toiletry items. I got this leather bag for all of that and it’s outstanding.
It will hold everything you need. These are the items I keep in it.
- Hair products
- Shaving Cream and Razor
- Skin care products
And the bag is maybe at 50% capacity.
Now, you’re in a car. So you can’t exactly hang up a towel after you use it to dry. So how do you dry off after showering? I simple use the paper towels at the gym. I stand at the paper towel vendor for 30 seconds and take out 20 or 30 sheets of paper. I just use those to dry off. Throw them away after, nice and easy.
Before you go and buy 7 towels to use for drying off after showering, consider the fact that you won’t be able to dry those towels right away. So you’ll have to put wet towels in a garbage bag or something similar, stacking them up day after day inside of your vehicle. So you’ll always have this stockpile of wet towels taking up space in your limited space environment that are also building massive amounts of bacteria, even mold if you plan on washing them once a week. I opted out for the 7 towels and building up a garbage bag of wet towels in a car and decided to pass on that option and just use paper towels from the gym.
Learning how to live in your car teaches you how to be efficient and self-reliant more than most things. Because you’re forced to be sufficient with a limited supply of resources. Living in a car for two years taught me a thing or two about what foods to buy and which ones just won’t survive being kept inside of a vehicle in 104F summer days.
When it comes to food, not everything needs to in the cooler. Ketchup, mustard, and relish, for example, do not need to be refrigerated. But, often end up in the cooler because it is convenient to keep them with the rest of the food. Below, we’ll go over 7 of the best foods to store and eat in your car that don’t need to be kept cool. Nuts These first two items are the bulk of what I would eat. You can carry any kind of nuts in your vehicle and don’t have to worry about them going bad. They have protein, tons of fat and are overall they are good for you. Protein Bars These are a staple for me. Now, most protein bars and loaded with sugar and are incredibly unhealthy for you.
There’s one brand that I’ll buy and that’s it. Quest bars. These are the only kind that doesn’t have tons of sugar. Many other brands claim they don’t have sugar, they’re lying. Look at the label and look at the sugars. Many of them will have “sugar alcohols” or some other strange term to try and hide the fact that it’s still sugar.
NOTE: See the best survival bars for energy inside the Ultimate Survival Gear Guide here. EDITORS NOTE: The cookies and cream ones are my favorites, you can get them here.
After safety is ensured and your vehicle is up to spec, the next thing to figure out is how you’re going to eat on a daily basis. I eat out every day. I usually spend $10-20 per day just on food. I keep some food in my car, but it’s limited. This is mostly my preference and I also do it for convenience. I saves me a lot of times so I can work more. You may not want to do this. So storing food in your car will be important.
How to Store Food in Your Car
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Here’s some of the best emergency food items to keep or store in your car.
5 Best Foods For Storing In Your Car
- Citrus Fruits
Finding non perishable food to keep in a car is tough at first. Your options are very limited. There are only so many choices for foods to eat in your car that don’t need to be kept cool.
Sardines are great. They taste great, they last a long time, and are small and easy to pack and carry.
2) Citrus Fruits
These last four items can be stored in a vehicle, but not for very long. You can buy oranges and grapefruits without worry for at least a couple of days.
You can have melons like cantaloupe which lasts a couple days. More if you cut it up and store the melon in a sealed container inside of a cool bag.
Bell and hot peppers can be safely kept without refrigeration as well.
If you want to get fancy and don’t mind doing some cooking, you can cook rice in a thermos and then you’ll have rice for at least a couple of days at a time after cooking a batch. Jerky Jerky was my favorite option.
Making rice and beans with this method is a staple for many people choosing to live out of a vehicle. Rice and beans are cheap and filling. They provide a lot of calories, carbohydrates, and protein. If you want to save as much cash as you can while doing this, rice and beans in the way to go since they’re dirt cheap.
Safety, Threats, and Dangers
Here’s something you can’t learn from someone that hasn’t actually been homeless for more than a day.
5 Threats and Dangers of Being Homeless
It’s important to know beforehand that by doing this, you’re going to be exposed to more threats and dangerous scenarios by default. Being in public 100% of the time makes it far more likely that threats will arise. I’ve been in a couple strange yet dangerous situations because of this. If you’re in a city like I am, it’s bound to happen.
You’re More Vulnerable To Threats
As I mentioned above, being out in public 100% of the time will automatically make you more vulnerable to threats. This is something to keep in mind at all times. It will make you extra cautious in general as your only safety will be inside of a car.
People will treat you with less respect. People will treat you worse overall in general than they would someone else.
People don’t like homeless people. This goes back to tribalism. It signals to ouur brains that this person isn’t a good member for our tribe and will put the tribes survival at risk
Don’t Talk To Other Homeless People
This could be the most important thing I tell you in this entire guide. Don’t talk to other homeless people. This is one of the biggest, if not the worst mistake you could make. And here’s why.
99% of homeless people, including people living in their cars, are out of their minds. And that’s me being nice.
Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. It’s true. Don’t talk to them. Don’t hang out with them.
So who do you hang out with? Easy. The answer is simple but profound. Ready? Yourself.
Leonardo Divinci said “man cannot accomplish big things without solitude.” It’s true. Most people never spend any sustained period of time alone by themselves. With themselves. With nothing but themselves, their thoughts, their mind, everything. It forces you to confront your demons and either fall to your knees before them or fucking kill them by facing them head-on destroying them.
Beat them until their knees buckle and their eyes ooze blood. Keep beating them until like a snarling bulldog ripping through a cat like it hasn’t eaten in weeks. Make sure they stay down.
Cleaning them won’t be enough. Cover the seats with something. Protecting your valuables -trunk -lock doors Foods Nuts Bathing / Bathrooms This is the sole reason homeless people congregate to cities. Public bathrooms and public drinking fountains. Summer Survival You’ll have to clean your car more often than the rest of the year. Clothing Buy 19 Tips For Living In Your Car Keep in clean I learned this the hard way. I didn’t clean my car for a long time.
Let’s just say the sight wasn’t pretty. But there is a smell that will build up if you don’t clean it and clean it well. That the smell which is terrible, will bee everywhere. The steering wheel. Your hands develop a permanent smell because the smell develops on your steering wheel which you’re always holding on to in the car.
What It’s Like
If you’re just curious about what it’s really like living in your car, this section will enlighten you. What’s the day-to-day the reality being a homeless person?
There are a couple questions that are worth answering about this.
What you should do or not do?
Surviving living out of a vehicle isn’t easy, especially at first It’s stressful, embarrassing at times, and makes almost everything a little harder. If you’re staying in a normal-sized car and not in a luxury camper.
Buying foods that are able to be stored in a car easily without taking up much room will make it much easier in general. What foods do you go for when you can’t refrigerate them? I’ll be the first to tell you. Living in your car sucks. A lot.
But it’s not that bad… if you have a couple of things. As far as I’m concerned, you only need two things to live semi-normal being homeless without much discomfort. working car. gym membership Vehicle As long as you have those two things, it’s very manageable and doable. Without either one of those, everything will be much worse by multiples.
Your main issue will be sleeping. If it’s summer, sleeping will be three times worse. Get used to sweating. The larger the car you have, the better. For food, the normal recommendations for survival food goes. It difficult to cook without a kitchen. You can. But you need a few supplies and need to work more. It all depends on whether or not the tradeoff is worth it to you or not. For me, the extra work and mess weren’t worth being able to eat some rice.
Foods that won’t expire in your car. Buying food that doesn’t require refrigeration after opening is hard enough. But You’ll have to store the food in your car as well. This limits your options quite a bit. Here’s a list of the go-to foods.
I hope this homeless survival guide on how to survive being homeless helped you. If you are or are planning on living in a vehicle, these tips will be valuable to you.