There are people all over the world that live in their cars. Some may be doing it because they have nowhere to live, while others just want to save money.
Either way, living in a car to save money is not for the faint-hearted. You’ll need to know what you’re doing before you just dive in.
And it’s crucial to know both the benefits and risks associated with this type of situation. That’s what I plan to lay out in this article, so you can determine whether this is the right situation for you.
Benefits of Living in A Car to Save Money
When you plan to live in your car, you’ll want to know all the benefits you may get. Here are just some benefits you might see:
You’ll Have the Freedom to Do Whatever You Want
For many people, living out of their car represents freedom for them. They love that they can do what they want when they want to. Since many people find that living in a car provides them with the ability to be mobile and live or work from anywhere, I can see their justification here.
Let’s not beat around the bush here. You will save a lot of money when you live in your car. Think about this for a moment.
Even if you have a nice car, that’s still going to be a lot less to make a car payment than paying on a mortgage or paying rent.
Since this can make a huge difference in how much money you can save over time, many people living out of their car appreciate this aspect.
You’ll Probably Be Making Lots of Friends
When you live in your car, you’re probably going to make a lot of friends. In fact, over 16,000 people in Los Angeles live in their cars.
Odds are, you’ll run into people regularly who might become an integral part of your life. And knowing other people choosing the same lifestyle can be extremely helpful since it provides you a sense of community.
You Don’t Have to Care for a Home or an Apartment
Living out of a car or van makes it a lot easier than caring for a home or apartment. There is only the vehicle you’ll have to worry about, rather than multiple rooms, a kitchen, bathroom, etc.
Some people absolutely love the ability not to worry about cleaning up a huge space or having in-laws come and stay with them for the holidays.
You’re Only Responsible for Yourself
Some people like that this journey is a solo one, as they’re usually alone in their vehicle. For many people, not having to deal with roommates or other people in a home or an apartment is something they appreciate. They can be alone when they want to be.
It Can Be Exciting
Living in a car can be exciting for some people. You can change your surroundings at the drop of a hat, giving you the ability to see more of the world.
Plus, it’s different – I might even say dramatically different – which may bring an element of thrill for the right person.
People that live in their cars won’t have to worry about making a bed – ever. They usually just put a pillow under their head and throw a blanket over themselves.
This makes it easy to sleep and quick to jump out of bed without worrying about comforters, pillows, etc. It might seem minor, but those with decorative pillows can waste a ton of time and energy placing and removing them every day.
Risks of Living in a Car to Save Money
Living in a car also comes with some risks too. You’ll need to know the dangers involved to decide whether this situation will work for you. Here are some significant risks involved in living in a car to consider:
It’s Not Very Secure
Living in your car can be unstable (shocker, right?). If you can’t find safe parking, you’re vulnerable to break-ins or harassment.
One example is Karen Lush, an Uber driver who also lives out of her car. She was constantly harassed when she was sleeping in her car, or there’d be fights outside of her car.
So for many people, the instability of the situation can get to them (though some people don’t have a choice). That said, as the article I linked above outlines, finding a safe place to park is critical.
It Can Be Dangerous
Building off the point above, what starts as harassment can turn into real danger. You’ll need always to pay attention to your surroundings, and what types of people are coming into close contact with you.
It’s best that if you live out of your car, you have some way to protect yourself (i.e., mace, a knife, a bat). You may never have to use it (especially if you find safe parking), but it’s always smart to be prepared.
Homelessness is a Real Thing
According to the American Psychological Association, up to 3 million people in the United States experience some variety of homelessness every year. And it has psychological effects, including increased mental illnesses and substance abuse.
Let’s be real – not everyone has the choice of living in a car. Some do it because they have no other options.
If you’re at this point, I recommend looking at a resource like the National Alliance to End Homelessness and ask for help.
Getting the Proper Food
Eating right may also present a problem. You’ll need to get a cooler to keep your food from spoiling, but that only lasts so long before you need to buy more ice.
It’s also essential you have a portable grill so you can warm up food if and when you need to. For some people, eating out is the only answer for them, but this can also eat away at any cost savings you’re getting from living out of your car, to begin with.
Hygiene Can Be an Issue
Hygiene is naturally going to be impacted when you’re living in your car. You’ll need to be okay with the fact that you won’t be able always to look your best.
That being said, Greg Seaman of EarthEasy thinks you can find a remote spot in a camping ground to set up a space to use the bathroom (and you can always buy a portable toilet), as well as look into a solar shower to wash.
So it’s not impossible to keep up with hygiene, just more challenging.
Finding the Facilities You Need
Building off the point above, it may not always be easy to find a place to set up a solar shower or portable toilet. So you’ll probably run into issues finding the right facilities you need when you need them.
This extends beyond hygiene, too. Think medical supplies, food, etc.
Depending on where you’re parked or where you’re driving, your options may be limited.
Upkeep on the Car
Living in your car, you’ll need to make sure it’s in working condition – if not optimal condition. Make sure both the heater and air conditioning are working, too.
Remember, car repairs can be expensive, but it’s a cost you’ll have to absorb if you want to live in your car since it’s effectively your home.
Living in a car to save money is something people are doing more and more in the world today. Just know there are both benefits and risks to this situation.
The information listed in this article will help you rightly decide for yourself, though. Either way, make sure you fully understand what living in your car will be like, including any family or social impacts, and do any additional research you need before diving in.
It’s a significant life change, but it can save you a considerable amount of money over time.