Today, living in a car isn’t something that many people would recommend. However, if by either circumstance or choice you don’t have a home property to live in, then living in your car might be the only choice most especially if you don’t feel safe at a local shelter. Unfortunately, in most places sleeping in your car is not only frowned upon but also illegal. So, it’s very important that you choose the right car, find the right parking spots and find appropriate and cost-cutting spots to access basic amenities such as showers. All in all, living in your vehicle should be temporary as you look for solution. So, I have provided with some of the best survival tips that you should follow when living in car.
Steps On How To Live In Your Car Comfortably:
-Find a suitable car-type: You can only live in your car successfully if it’s working. In fact, a windowless delivery van of some sort will work perfectly for you since it can provide room under your platform bunk for storage. You can also install a rooftop skylight/hatch for air, a rooftop rack for storage and even lookout when the skylight is open in your van. On the other hand, you will need a new or “newish” car or be a good mechanic to live in an older car. In fact, if you have an old car keep in mind that you’re liable to break down at an inopportune moment if you don’t stay on top of maintenance.
-Before you start living in your car, use your permanent address: Rent a post office box or a Private Mailbox (PMB). Although PMBs tend to be more expensive, you can receive packages at them and some services will let you use an address format that makes it appear to be an apartment. In fact, this can be useful when someone requires a physical address. Sign up for a gym membership or a more affordable alternative depending on your location like enrolling at a local community college where you’ll then be able to use their gym facilities. Likewise, renew any paperwork that will require an address to process soon. Lastly, put any valuables in a safe deposit box at a bank. Additionally, if you have friends or family who can’t (or refuse to) help you with your living situation or you refuse to ask them for help, then think about at least asking them if you can use their address.
-Keep your personal identification at all times: You should keep your driver’s license, car insurance and any other current personal identification documents with you at all times. In fact, have it readily available for police inspection.
-Get a steering column lock & use it: Since if your vehicle gets stolen, your home is stolen. So, you should buy a steering column lock and use it secure your vehicle from thieves. In fact, steering column locks are readily available in most automotive local or online stores.
-Find a safe and inconspicuous place to park: First check with any friends or relatives to see if they will let you park on their property. If not, then check to see if there are any organizations or businesses in your area (or a nearby area) that designate parking lots specifically for people in situations like yours. In fact, Walmart allows people to camp overnight in their parking lots. However, if there are no such lots available and you live in an urban area, then consider looking for streets with no sidewalks, no overlooking windows and adjacent to woods. In fact, the area should be sparse enough to avoid nosy onlookers but populated enough that the car does not stand out. Additionally, parking lots of big-box retailers (especially those that are open 24 hours and have restrooms, such as Walmart) are great to clean up in and have security as long as you spend a couple of dollars there and don’t park in one place too often. However, parking lots can be noisy particularly in the morning as trucks arrive carrying food and goods. On the other hand, church car parks are often quiet during weekdays, industrial estates and business parks are often noisy by day but very quiet at night, university car parks may require you to get a parking permit, camping grounds are another option, although they usually have time limits and some are almost as expensive as a hotel room, Yacht harbors are notoriously ‘free zones’, a free hospital parking lot is another great option & also try a hotel parking lot. Additionally, if there’s no restroom, then having a creek nearby helps for rinsing purposes. Lastly, once you find a spot, try to arrive late at night and leave before 7am because this will help to draw as little attention as possible to yourself.
-Consider getting earplugs: Due to noise, you might find that you will need earplugs to sleep. In fact, earplugs will block a lot of background noise to a level that is bearable. Additionally, earplugs are very good at blocking out traffic, birds, animals, talking and background music. However, they will not block out very loud noise or close noise like someone tapping on your vehicle.
-Search for a place to shower: The most logical place would appear to be a gym since it will help you keep your sanity and give you a purpose to your morning. In fact, maintaining a well-kept appearance can help you maintain a positive self-image during a time when you’re being seriously challenged. On the other hand, most councils, churches, and support organizations have free showers. Additionally, Community or Recreation centers also have gyms and showers at a cheaper option than the nationwide chains. In fact, many Rec or Community centers yearly memberships cost about the same as the monthly memberships at a national gym. Likewise, you may also consider booking a cheap motel or hostel once or twice a week and clean up thoroughly there (if you can afford it). Swimming pools may also provide a discreet place to shower. You can also ask around for a shower coupon at a truck stop if you feel safe allowing people to know that you don’t have a place to stay. Lastly, some toll roads especially state turnpikes have large rest areas with free showers for truckers and they are usually open 24-hours.
-Try to be discreet: Keeping your situation under wrap minimizes the embarrassment and helps avoid becoming a target for police officers and criminals alike. Likewise, rotate among several parking locations to avoid getting noticed. When it’s sunny in the daytime, use a sunshade for the windshield. Additionally, use reflective window shades in your back and front windows if you need and want more privacy. You can also get your windows tinted as dark as legally possible. Lastly, keep the windows cracked open while you sleep but not wide enough for someone to reach in while open-enough to allow fresh air and reduce condensation on the windows.
-Buy the things you will need: The basic essentials for living in a car include: a blanket, pillow and mattress or some other padding. Once you have your sleeping gear, you’ll want a blanket to place over the back seat and draped over the two front seats to help block light and people’s views. On the other hand, you may also need a cheap cooler, a portable chemical toilet and a lot more.
-Get a combo backup battery & air compressor to maintain your car: Consider having a spare tire and at least one can of tire sealant. Additionally, acquire portable car battery charger or jump-starter that will help jump-start your vehicle if it gets stuck.
-Look for alternative ways of generating electricity: A cigarette lighter converter is one option since it can power-up low-consuming devices. But if you plan on using your vehicle for cooking, then you’ll need to draw power more directly from your battery or you’ll blow the fuse. In fact, running electric cooking appliances from your car is fairly impractical without an expensive dual battery and inverter system. So, consider acquiring small 12-volt water heaters and skillets. On the other hand, you may need to idle the vehicle while drawing this power if you don’t have a dual battery system. All in all, a great buy for any car dweller is a low voltage cut out device since it will protect your car’s battery by cutting off the electricity once the battery reaches a voltage where it can still start the car but can’t really run plug-in devices much more. Another alternative to electric cooking devices is to use gas for cooking but do not use this inside the vehicle for safety reasons.
-Get something portable to store your items: Purchase bags that you can fill with your soaps, clothes, cellphone, etc. In fact, keeping things in order will save you a lot of hassle. Additionally, keeping things neat inside the car will draw less attention from people passing by who happen to look in the windows. However, if there is not enough room in the car for a week’s worth of clothes and supplies then try to leave them at a friend’s for safekeeping and then you can have a reason to come over and they may give you a shower and a place to hang out. Additionally, when you do laundry, be sure to get clothes dry as you do not want damp clothes to mildew or smell bad in the car. Lastly, when you’re not in the car, leave windows cracked and dryer sheets scattered about to keep the interior smelling decent. Try to wash your sheets once a month or else you risk smelling like a homeless person which will blow your cover and get you treated like a homeless person.
-Keep dirty clothes separate in a plastic bag: You should consider keeping dirty clothes separate in plastic bags so that they do not smell up all your clean clothing. In fact, this will help to keep your vehicle smelling clean at all times.
-Purchase a good quality flashlight: Get a 3 or 4 battery Maglite flashlight since it can serve two purposes of lighting and security. On top of that, it’s large enough to act as a metal baton to defend yourself, should the need arise.
-Evaluate your food options: Consider eating peanut butter, tuna and crackers since they are great staples. Have a box for food so it does not get smashed. Additionally, gallons of water are a necessity for a lot of things. However, the amount of food you can keep at any one time will be limited by the lack of refrigeration. On the other hand, with old-fashioned (large-flake) rolled oats, powdered milk, bottled water, plastic cups and chocolate protein powder, you can ensure that you always have a nutritious snack to fall back on. In fact, fast food tends to be expensive when you’re living off it.
-Always stay positive: You should keep reminding yourself that the situation is only temporary. So, spend each day hitting the pavement and looking for jobs. Additionally, use the local library and bookstore not only to search for jobs but also to become more knowledgeable in ways that will help you get through this and find a job. Likewise, search the Internet for free community voicemail services or get a prepaid cell phone so employers can call you. To build your funds, consider food stamps, food banks and soup kitchens. Lastly, talk to people like social workers and religious organization workers who will sympathize and understand so as to try and help you. You should also try to pray daily for God to make things better soon.