How to live in your car

by Marshall Brain

Are you looking for a way to save big money on rent? If you’ve worn out your welcome and can’t use a friends couch or your parents spare bedroom, your next best option is to live out of your car. But how to do it right?

Here is one guy who is saving big money at Duke University by living in his van rather than in a dorm:

I live in a van down by Duke University

Living in a van was my grand social experiment. I wanted to see if I could in an age of rampant consumerism and fiscal irresponsibility afford the unaffordable: an education.

I pledged that I wouldn’t take out loans. Nor would I accept money from anybody, especially my mother, who, appalled by my experiment, offered to rent me an apartment each time I called home. My heat would be a sleeping bag; my air conditioning, an open window. Id shower at the gym, eat the bare minimum and find a job to pay tuition. And for fear of being caught I wouldnt tell anybody.

He’s not the only one trying it, as this thread attests:

Reddit, I want to live in my car again but this time not having to rent a driveway place. I need CONDENSATION solutions!

If you want to follow this frugal path, what do you need to think about? This video can help:

The video discusses the necessities:

  1. Sleeping bag or blankets
  2. Pillow
  3. Food, in a form that needs no refrigeration and preferably no cooking
  4. A small camp stove if food needs cooking
  5. Water
  6. A 120 volt inverter to power electronics

You also need to strategize about restrooms and showering. If you live on campus this is obviously much easier, since you can use the campus gym and the ubiquitous restrooms. If not, you may want to consider a gym membership.

The techniques of Living on the Appalachian Trail may also be helpful here.

Obviously a van is better than a car, since it provides a lot more space. In particular there is enough room to lie down outstretched and to have a small portable toilet for emergencies.

The next step up from a van would be a small RV. You can sometimes find really good deals on CraigsList. GM has even explored the idea of living full time in your vehicle:

The RV of the Future? GM’s entry, the GMC PAD, is a futuristic-looking, diesel-electric powered urban apartment with mobility, a creature comfort-filled concept for living in the ever-changing cultural landscape of Southern California. It is a modern alternative for those financially locked out of Southern California’s escalating housing market and provides cultural and geographic freedom for the modern city dweller. It offers a new answer to the problem of urban sprawl a flat on wheels.

The next step up: Tiny houses. Which start to look really good compared to a van.f

Other House Ideas

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