How to Live in Your Car?

While some might find living in a car pretty uncomfortable, for some, it is relaxing and a way to enjoy nature. Undoubtedly, it is not for everyone. If you are going through a tough time and decide to live in your car to cut costs, you can try the followings to make your stay comfortable.

Step 1: Buy a Decent Car

Living in a small car will be challenging as you won’t have enough space to sleep and do other tasks. We recommend you buy a larger car. If you can get an RV, you can turn it into a full fledged home with all the amenities and luxuries you get in a brick-and-mortar house.

If you are purchasing a new vehicle, go for something with a sunroof, as sleeping under real stars is really a dream comes true.

Step 2: Set Up a Mailbox

You need a place where you can collect your mail and stay updated. It’s better to set up a mailbox in your own land as it would be easier for you to get mail. Alternatively, you can set up a PO Box to collect your mail and keep your identification up to date. You can also ask your friends or family to use their addresses for a while.

A car is not a safe place to store your valuables. You can set up a safe deposit box at your bank to store your valuable items until you have a secure place.

Step 3: Update Everything

Since you would be living in the car, you may expect some strange looks from people and may even run into issues. Police may ask you to show your ID and other proof to prove you are not a squatter.

Therefore, it’s crucial to keep your driver’s license, car insurance, and personal ID updated and accessible all the time. If possible, keep a photocopy of legal documents showing that the car is on your property.

Step 4: Prepare for Protection

You must consider protecting yourself and your vehicle while living in your car. Buy a steering column lock as it is the most robust lock available in the market, which makes stealing a car nearly impossible.

Take necessary measures to keep thieves from stealing from your car. You can do that by locking your car windows all the time, using a touch sensitivity alarm, car proximity alarm, and more.

For your safety, consider keeping a can of mace or pepper spray, a taser gun, or legally purchasing a real gun. Living in a car in a secluded place may make you an easy target for criminals, and you need a weapon to defend yourself.

Step 5: Parking Your Car

If you don’t have your own land to park, you can also go for other options. Ask your friends or relatives if they will allow you to park on their property. You can also check for organizations nearby your location that have designated parking lots for people in the same situation.

You can park in the parking lots of big-box retailers like Walmart that are open 24X7 and have restrooms. Parking in such establishments is excellent for security and sanitation as you only need to spend a couple of dollars there. However, avoid parking in the same spot all the time.

Church car parks, industrial estates, business parks, university car parks, camping grounds, and yacht harbors are some car parking options.

Step 6: Think of Your Hygiene

Take the following measures to maintain proper hygiene while living in your car −


You can visit a local recreation center or purchase a gym membership to have regular access to a shower. You may look for waterbodies nearby your parking spot, or you can search for rest stops or truck stops offering shower facilities.


Look for public toilets near you, or you can build an outhouse. If your place is near a wooded area, you can make a toilet by digging a hole and covering it after you are done.

You can also create a portable toilet using a five-gallon bucket and a pool noodle. If you have money, it’s better to buy a chemical toilet, as it offers more privacy and is more hygienic.


You can ask your family members or friends if you could use their laundry or visit a laundromat whenever possible. Meanwhile, you may need a bag to store your dirty clothes as you cannot leave your dirty clothes lying around in the car.

Step 7: Buy Utilities

The basic things you need include a pillow, a blanket, and a mattress, depending on the size of the car.

You should also keep a backup battery and air compressor to deal with a flat tire and a failed battery. Even if you use your car only for shelter, you must ensure it works.

Since you won’t be having a refrigerator, you need to limit the type of food you eat. Foods like bread, crackers, peanut butter, and cookies have a longer shelf life. If you are planning to cook on an open fire, you must visit the grocery store daily. You can also purchase a cooler with ice to keep your food fresh for a longer duration.

Don’t forget to buy a flashlight, an adaptor, and earplugs. You need the flashlight to move in the dark, the adaptor for charging your phone and laptop, and the earplugs to protect your ears from the outside noise.


Living in the car will not be super comfortable for you. However, if you are in an unfortunate situation and it is your last resort, then make sure you have arranged everything in the list above to make your stay comfortable. You also need to check the regulations in your area so that you don’t break any laws.

Updated on: 20-Mar-2023


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