You don’t need to be homeless to live in a car. Thousands of students, travelers and others do it to save money. Most of the time, it’s just for a short period of time but sometimes it can be longer. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you might be living in a car, here’s some suggestions to help you out.
Find a suitable car
Obviously, not all vehicles are the best to live in. Often, you don’t have a chance to choose what the car you are going to use but, if you do, here’s our advice: get a van. With a van, you can sleep on the floor, or even better you can build at platform bunk with a mattress or sleeping pad. Obviously, the bigger the vehicle, the better.
Find a safe place to park
See if there are any businesses in your area that allow you to stay overnight in their parking lots. Walmart, for example, allows people to park overnight in their lots. It’s not only completely legal, they may have a security force that will actually keep an eye on you. Marinas are another great option. Given the transient nature of fishermen and boats, they typically offer a lot of services like hot showers and bathrooms. Campgrounds are another option. Most offer a shower and toilets too, some for a nominal fee.
Rent a post office box
Unless you have a local address you can use, consider renting a PO box. This not only gives you some place to receive mail, it looks good if you are searching for employment.
Find ways of generating electricity
A cigarette lighter converter is your first option. These are useful for powering 12V devices like smartphones and computers. You can also purchase converters that take the 12V from your cigarette lighter and convert it to 120VAC. These converters won’t power devices with high amperage requirements, like space heaters or cooking gear, but they will power most everything else. Note that depending on the power load, you may need to idle the vehicle while drawing power.
Note: A good buy for any car dweller is a “low voltage cut out device”. Available at most RV centers, his device protects your car’s battery by cutting off the electricity once the battery voltage gets too low. It leaves just enough power so you can still start the vehicle. These usually retail for about $25-$40.
Find a place to shower
No question, you need a place to go to the bathroom and shower. Fortunately, you have a lot of options. Community or Recreation centers often have that have gyms and showers you can use for free. Truck stops are another option and marinas usually have bathroom facilities and showers, in addition. Just be careful not to wear out your welcome at any of these establishments.
Cheap food options
If you need to eat cheaply, fortunately you have a lot of options. Peanut butter, tuna and other sources of protein are great staples. You can also get free food from food pantries. Most towns have some sort of pantry and they allow just about anyone to pick up expired yet high-quality food. The biggest issue you may run into with food storage is refrigeration. Ice coolers aren’t really an option because of the ice issue. There are ice coolers that plug into 12VDC sources that don’t keep items actually frozen but keep them “refrigerator cold’.
Safety should always be your number-one priority when living out of a vehicle. First, keep your keys near the ignition so you can drive off at a moment’s notice. Knives used for food preparation and tire irons can be used as weapons. Pepper spray is another option. Criminals seek out people who appear vulnerable, or travel alone so be careful at all times.
If you have been forced to live in your car for whatever reason, keep reminding yourself that the situation is only temporary. Spend each day hitting the pavement and looking for employment. To build your funds, consider food stamps, food banks and soup kitchens. Most importantly, talk to people like social workers and religious organization workers who will sympathize and understand, and try to help.
Article Courtesy: Button Dodge