Did you know that some people begin homesteading completely homeless? Some people purchase a piece of land and in an effort to stay debt free, they live in alternative living sources while they save money to build a house and while building the house.
It is pretty common to hear of people living in fixed up RV’s and tents.
But some people live out of their cars.
So today I’m going to share with you how to live in your car while you are trying to get your permanent home built.
8 Essential Steps to Live in Your Car:
1. Buy a Car
You might be thinking, “Duh!” But you need to really consider what kind of car you’ll be living out of. If you don’t have the funds to purchase a larger car (in the event you have a compact car) then you’ll have to make do with what you have.
However, if you can come up with some money to purchase a larger vehicle, by all means go for it. Purchasing a van is your best option. The reason is because of the excess room. You can also purchase the vans with no windows in the back for ultimate privacy.
Also, you may want to consider a vehicle with a sunroof. The stars will be your free entertainment most nights, and the sunroof also is a great way to provide ventilation since living in a car will obviously get stuffy.
2. Set Up a Mailbox
You will need to have a place to gather your mail. Which means you’ll need to do one of three things:
First, if you have the ability of setting up a mailbox on your current land, then do so. At least you can easily get your mail and also have a way of keeping all of your information up to date.
Second, you can set up a PO Box. That way you can go and gather your mail at the same location and also have a way of keeping your identification up to date.
The final option is to ask a friend or family member if you could use their address for a while. That way you can still get your mail and also have a way of updating your address.
Also, you may want to consider setting up a safe deposit box at your bank to store valuable items. Living in your car isn’t going to be a very secure place so you’ll need to consider this if you have anything that is worth a lot of money or just means a lot to you.
3. Keep Everything Up to Date
Keeping your information up to date is a huge deal. The reason is because you are living out of your car. Unfortunately, you are going to get strange looks and possibly run into some issues with the police because they’ll need to verify that you are not a squatter.
So it is important to keep your driver’s license, personal ID, and car insurance up to date and easily accessible at all times. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep any legal documents showing that the property you are on is your own easily accessible.
If you can provide proper and up to date documentation anytime you are confronted you should be able to avoid a lot of hassle in the long run.
4. Personal Protection
You are going to be living in a car, not Fort Knox. So it is important to think about protecting both you and your vehicle.
For your vehicle, consider buying a steering column lock. That way it will make it nearly impossible for someone to steal your car. In most cases when someone’s car is stolen it is only a piece of property.
But in your case, that is all you have to depend upon to keep yourself out of the elements. Do what you can to make it as difficult as possible to steal.
Also, explore any options of self-protection that you feel comfortable with. This could be anything from (responsibly and legally) owning a gun to keeping a can of mace on hand. Just realize that you could become an easy target to a criminal because of your living situation.
5. What to Do if You Can’t Park on Your Land
Some property is very hard to access in anything other than 4 wheel drive if you don’t have a driveway readily available.
So what do you do then?
Well, you might have to find an alternate way to sleep on your land or an alternate place to sleep in your car.
If you want to stay on your land, then you may want to consider investing in camping supplies and sleeping in a tent.
However, if that isn’t an option then you may want to consider parking your car at the local Walmart. They allow people camping to sleep in their parking lots overnight.
You could also consider sleeping in a church parking lot, a business park parking lot, or at a local camp ground. It is always a good idea to seek permission before parking your vehicle on someone else's property, though.
6. What to Do About Hygiene
So you are moving onto a piece of bare land? What about practicing proper hygiene?
Well, that is a great question because you don’t need to let yourself go in the process of saving and/or building your home.
When it comes to showering, consider visiting your local recreation center or purchasing a membership to a gym if you are close enough to a town to do so.
If you are not, then you need to look for a body of water on your property. If this isn’t an option, then you need to hit the interstate in search of rest areas that provide shower facilities or truck stops that provide showers as well.
For the issue of a bathroom, you have multiple options right where you are.
First, you could build an outhouse with very few materials. If you have a wooded area on your property, then you are probably better off just making use of that.
However, do remember that it is proper pioneer technique to dig a hole first so you can easily cover your area up and keep anyone from stepping in your waste.
Second, you could always use this idea of a camping toilet. You just need a five-gallon bucket and a pool noodle. Then you’ll have a portable toilet.
Finally, if you have the money, you might want to invest in a chemical toilet. This would be a much better option if you are planning on living in your car for any length of time.
You’ll also have to deal with the issue of laundry. You’ll need to remember to store your dirty clothes in a separate bag. You don’t want to carry any smells over to your clean clothes.
Also, you’ll need to use a laundromat when possible, or even ask a family member if you can come do laundry at their home. If you have running water on your property, you could also wash your clothes by hand.
These are just a few daily items that you’ll have to consider and plan out before taking the plunge into living out of your car.
7. Items You Need
Things you will need if you are going to live in your car are pretty basic. You’ll need a pillow, blanket, and if your car is large enough, a mattress.
You’ll also need a backup battery and air compressor in case you have a failed battery or a flat tire. If your car is your only means of shelter, then you’ll need it to work properly.
Next, you’ll need food. Remember, you don’t have refrigeration so you’ll have to eat simple. Having staples on hand like peanut butter and crackers, or food for sandwiches will sustain you for a short period of time.
However, if you’d like to cook over an open fire, then you can always go to the grocery store every day or so and store the food in a cooler with ice.
Finally, you’ll need an adaptor for your car and a good quality flash light. The flash light is obviously to help you see when it’s dark, and the adaptor is to charge things like a cell phone and lap top. Don’t forget ear plugs as well. If you are forced to sleep in parking lots the noise of other vehicles could potentially keep you awake.
8. A Few Extra Tips
I’m going to be blunt with you. Living out of your car should absolutely be your last resort. It is cramped, not very practical, and just isn’t the ideal situation.
So I’m definitely recommending camping, living in an RV, staying with a friend or family member, or staying at a local motel before you go with living out of your car.
However, if you decide that this is your only viable option, be sure to check with your local regulations. You don’t want to break the law in any way.
Also, a lot of homesteaders have full fledge families. You need to make sure that you aren’t going to run into any issues if you have children because the last thing you want to do is have legal issues during this time of transition.
Finally, if you do live out of your car you are going to desire some privacy at some point. If you purchased a van with no back windows, then you may have enough privacy.
But if not, then you might want to consider using material to black out your windows, or the reflective windshield covers to block out the front windshield.
Well, there you go guys. Now you have a few practical tips and what you’ll need to consider if you decide to live out of your car while transitioning to your homestead.
But I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Have you ever lived out of your car? What was your experience? What are your tips?
If you built your own home, where did you live in the process or while you saved to build it? Any tips for those starting out would be greatly appreciated as we are all here to learn and bounce ideas off of one another.
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