Living in Your Car

Living in Your Car
21 Feb 2016

If you have been forced to live in a car for whatever reason, keep reminding yourself that your situation is just temporary. However, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you might be living in your car, here are some tips to help you out.

Your own safety

Safety should always be your first priority when living out of a car. First, keep your keys near the ignition so you can drive away at a moment’s notice. Food preparation knives and tire irons can be used as weapons.

But make sure you have a good car

Not all vehicles are great to live in.  Often, you do not have a chance to choose what the car is you are going to use but, if you do, here is our advice: get a van.  With a van, you may sleep on the floor, or even better you can build a platform bunk with a mattress or sleeping pad.  The larger the vehicle, the better.

Get a safe place to park

See if there are businesses in the area that allow you to stay overnight in parking lots. Walmart, for example, lets people park overnight in their lots. It’s not only totally legal, they may have a security force that will keep an eye on you. Marinas are another option. Given the transient lifestyle of fishermen with their boats, they typically offer many services like bathrooms and hot showers.

Find methods of generating electricity

A cigarette lighter converter is an option. These are useful for powering 12V devices like computers and smartphones.  You can also buy converters that take your cigarette lighter’s 12V and convert it to 120VAC.  These converters will not power devices with high amperage requirements, such as cooking gear or space heaters, but they will power most everything else. Note that depending on your power load, you may have to idle the vehicle while getting power.

Note: A good purchase for a temporary vehicle resident is a “low voltage cut out device”.  Available at the majority of RV centers, this device protects your car’s battery by cutting off electricity once the battery voltage gets quite low. It leaves just enough power so you can still start the car. These typically sell for around $25-$40.


No doubt, you need somewhere go to the bathroom and shower. Recreation or Community centers often have gyms and showers you can use at no cost.  Truck stops are another option and marinas almost always have showers and bathroom facilities, in addition.  Just be careful to not wear out your welcome at these places.

Inexpensive food options

If you have to eat cheaply, you have tons of options. Tuna, peanut butter and other protein sources are great staples.  You can also make use of food pantires for getting free food.  Most towns have some kind of pantry and they allow just about anybody to pick up expired yet high-quality food.  The biggest issue you might run into with food storage is refrigeration.  Ice coolers are not really an option because of the ice problem.  There are ice coolers that plug into 12VDC sources that do not keep items frozen but “refrigerator cold’.

Remain Positive

Spend every day hitting the pavement and looking for a job. To build your funds, consider food banks, food stamps and soup kitchens. Most importantly, talk to people such as religious organization workers and social workers who will sympathize and understand, and try to assist you.

Article Courtesy of: Button Dodge


Derek Sloan

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