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Old 03-30-2009, 12:52 AM
MARC780 MARC780 is offline
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Default Living In Your Car: Viable Survival Option. Some Important Tips.



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Today in 2009 the economic picture for many Americans has not been worse since the great depression. I know people in their 60's and 70's who have told me "I have never seen things so bad". Nevertheless, the following post may help you to get back on your feet. Depending on your ingenuity you may not only survive, but thrive.

If you are unemployed and surviving on unemployment checks (do it as long as you need to, you paid into it), retired with a poor pension, or in between jobs, this advice may be for you. as long as you have a working vehicle, you should by any means possible AVOID LIVING ON THE STREET.

Discard whatever you must including your spouse if your situation calls for it, but DO keep a working vehicle! It can be your shelter, your source of heat, light and electricity, and your protection against the elements but do whatever you must to keep a car (a truck with shell would be better yet but a car will do!)

Most of these tips are gleaned from a book i bought, here is the link:


This book is now $30, if you are still reading this chances are your money can be better spent elsewhere so i will do an executive summary for you. This post assumes that you have SOME money coming in, just not enough money.

(I have field tested his methods by the way, I have lived in my car for up to two days, the last time was right before i left the ex-beeyatch as i was too scared to come home and face her rage and spent the night in an industrial park.)Anyway if one person finds this post helpful please send me a thank you - .

Here are some rules and tips for living in your car. These rules mainly apply to loner types, if you have a family and minor children they may be of limited use to you.

1. NEVER ADMIT TO LIVING or sleeping IN YOUR CAR. To anyone! If you do it long enough there's a good chance you may come in contact with the police and depending where you are, they may have "vagrancy" laws. ALWAYS LIE! Here are some excuses: "officer i was having a terrible migraine - i didnt want to drive in this condition - i get them often from stress but my insurance ran out and they cut off my meds- i had to pull over and was just resting NOT SLEEPING. Oh no no no!" If there is no alcohol on your breath chances are the police will probably take pity and just tell you to move on.

If confronted by police, DO not act defiant. DON'T FORGET THIS... Unless you are a bank robber on the run you are absolutely INNOCENT of any wrongdoing! you are using all your mental and physical resources in order to SURVIVE. That said, YOU MUST be as submissive and wimpy as possible. Suppose you tell your story to the police what can they offer? Answer, nothing! The ONLY reason you should tell the truth to the cops is if it makes them go away! American society favors the rich, always has, always will, and so, to the cops you are either comic relief or a nuisance.

The police officer hassling you will see you as one of two things depending on your attitude towards them 1- powerless 2- pathetic. If you cop a tude, act angry, defiant, or show resistance, you are going to make your life alot worse right now! Cops are people just like you and me except they have guns, handcuffs and the law behind them. SO - Swallow your pride right now, become an actor for a moment "I'd like to thank the academy..." and morph right into PATHETIC!!! Your pride will rebuild, your arrest record and time spent in jail is forever!!! (Been there, done that - if the state gives its attention to you its going to be excruciatingly PAINFUL.) You already have enough problems now without some Gestapolen slapping cuffs on you and impounding your house!!! Your object is to survive, breathe, eat, bone, and suck it up for tomorow when you will eventually make it better! Do not hesitate to lie and lie again because your object now is simple animal survival! (Think your excuses out ahead of time and make em good - cops are NOT STUPID and your lies had better be plausible.
Simpler is better!)

Many police officers will take pity on you and not try to hassle you so long as you seem to present no threat. But some may suspect what you are doing, not like it, and take an interest in you. If this seems to be happening you should change towns. If Officer Unfriendly doesnt see you for a month or so he will probably just forget all about you, since the police in most areas have more important things to deal with than someone sitting in their car too much.

2. Get a car cover. This is not in the book but i read it elsewhere on a blog from some other fellow. Remember you must either expose your license plate or paint your license plate number on the back of the cover (in California its the law). If you have a car cover you can park at some 24 hour place where there are lots of cars and chances are no one will give your car a second thought.

3. If you pick the right place to sleep you lessen your chances of police contact. If you have a car cover over your car further still. The goal is to find a sleeping place where other people see your car as just another parked vehicle with no one inside. As the book author states "what people dont perceive doesnt bother them". You are not a felon on the run (hopefully) you are not living in your car to commit crimes, you are simply hiding in order to survive. There is nothing wrong with that! So if you are confronted by the police use a sob story, (think up good ones ahead of time!)if you are not drunk they will probably tell you to move on.

4. How to pick a good place to sleep: There are good places everywhere. It depends on where you live and your financial situation where and when to park somewhere. Do you have a job, or are your days free? If you have a job, you are a slave to your hours and must plan accordingly. It is probably better that people from work do not know what you are doing so you may want to choose a sleeping spot some distance from your work.

If almost all your hours are free, you may want to consider sleeping in the early morning and daytime and moving at night. If you move at night you can park almost anywhere for an hour or two without attracting suspicion. (Generally avoid residential areas and areas where children play like schools and playgrounds etc - although many residential areas are the easiest to disapear due to the number of cars - just dont park in front of peoples houses!) It doesnt get very cold here in So Cal in the winter. But in most of the US it gets very cold. Ideally plan your car living days for summertime, when winter comes you will of course need a source of heat. Living in a car in winter will not be easy, if you are utterly desperate definitely sleep in the day and move at night - bundle up in the daytime and run the heater while on the move at night. On the plus side there are probably not going to be alot of people and police around in the dead of winter, just plan things so you dont wind up dead from the cold.)
There are parks in almost every city and in most of them you can park and simply sit in your car and read, use wireless net if you have it, etc. Then get out and go for a walk and some exercise (its important to do this for your mental health!) Parks where i live have posted hours when you are allowed to be there, my favorite park has hours of 5 am to 10 pm, if the cops come by at 11 and you are there, there will be police attention and this is what you want to avoid at all costs.

5. Like i said, this post assumes you have SOME money coming in, assuming this, put your valuable possessions (hopefully you have some left) in a storage facility. If you work you can also store your clothes here and just come by when you need them.
Some prices for storage facilities in Anaheim, CA (closest to me):
5 ft by 5 - $65/mo.
10 by 10 - $130.

If you store your valuables, double lock them (lock a box inside another box), tape them up, and waterproof them (electronics and computers should be double wrapped in plastic bags, sealed and raised off the floor at least 6 inches) as the roofs on storage units often leak. Visit them often to check for tampering or damage - you have every right to come there every day if you want to.

Every storage unit i have ever used has been entered at some point, without my permission, by the managers - their basic attitude is that "it was in your contract we have the right to do this" along with some lame excuse on why they cut the lock. I wasnt storing anything illegal, not even a gun, so i dont know why they felt they had to enter my unit but they did it anyway. Basically just count on them doing this (another reason to visit your storage unit often) as you probably have little or no legal recourse, so unless things are missing, i'd let it go.

Prepare for damage or theft from your storage unit beforehand, if valuable items are missing or damaged by their leaky roof you may have recourse in small claims court. Write yourself an inventory of your storage contents and take pictures of your property if you can for proof should something expensive be stolen and you decide to take the matter further.

It might seem not a bad idea to sleep in your storage unit except almost all have cameras and many have the managers living on site so chances are this is not a viable option. Either way it is a lot cheaper than paying $1300 plus all the utilities, renters insurance, internet, phone and all the other extras a month for an apartment for your stuff (what i pay now).

6. About your car...it should be in decent shape. Does it start every time, have bald tires, blow oil smoke etc...? If not trade it in if you can, you must have decent transportation that starts every time. If this is not feasible it might be time to learn auto repair - i have spent 30 years doing it because i dont like or trust most mechanics nor do i like paying their huge labor charges.
If you own a car, its a great idea to remove your rear seat to give you more sleeping room. Many of them simply pull out and then you can unbolt the seat from underneath the car. Store the seat in your storage unit.

7. Sleeping: You may be spendling alot of time in your, hopefully tekporary, new home so you should give some thought to comfort. The author of the aforementioned book advises purchasing 4" thick foam rubber (In southen california there is a chain store called "JoAnnes" that sells fabric but also sells foam rubber very cheaply). and then placing a sleeping bag or blanket over the foam. The foam should be a little longer than your height. With the rear seat removed this ought to give you more than enough sleeping area unless you are very tall.

8. Hygiene and Sanitation: You will probably want to shower almost every day. There are two ways to do this. If you work, they may have showers somewhere in the building, if so, problem solved.
If not, join a fitness club. The introductory rates are usually cheap and you can use all their facilities. This is not a bad idea since you should keep active and exercise every day, even if its for five minutes. If they try and pin you to a contract, use every evasive maneuver you can, pay cash and refuse to give them any plastic with your name on it, etc. give them a PO box if you must. Even if you are living in your car you are still the one in charge as you have the money they want!!! So strike a deal thats best for you! Do not make a contract that lasts for any longer than you plan to be car-bound, you can always renew and if not there's always someplace else.

You will have to pee and poop. To pee, have a bottle of appropriate lid size and volume (ladies unfortunately i have no advice for you). If you are parking somewhere any length of time, go some distance away to empty the bottle. Plan your #2s if possible to avoid doing it in the car. Without dwelling on the more grisly aspects of car living, you can do #2 in a plastic bag if you must! (steal fast food napkins for TP or just steal some TP).

9. POLICE. Like i said if you are cold sober they may take pity on you and tell you to move on. If you are so miserable you must drink, you MUST plan ahead first!!!! It would be very bad if the police tap on your window one night and you are soused! DO NOT listen to people who say the keys only have to be out of the ignition, i read a net story where a drunk guy in his parked car with the keys in the console got a DUI anyway. If you want to get drunk in your c ar, HIDE THE KEYS first so the cops cannot find them but you can! The cops will surely ask/demand/get a warrant to search your car, if they cannot find keys then you may be home free. If you are drunk in a parked car the cops are not going to go to extreme efforts. Give them a plausible story (if you can still speak coherently at this point). Tell them you gave them to a friend who is disgusted and going to bring them to you later. (hopefully you do have a friend who will lie for you). Make up your story before you twist that bottle lid but tell them anything to avoid a DUI! Good places to hide your keys: use duct tape and tape them inside air filter housing, in the pages of a paperback book, you get the idea. Dont foget this, DRUNK PERSON IN CAR + KEYS ANYWHERE IN PASSENGER COMPARTMENT = DUI!!!

10. Concealment: You want your car to look exactly like any other parked car the kind of which everyone sees every day and night. What people dont perceive doesnt bother them . You do not want anyone that may see your car to suspect anyone is asleep inside. The author of the book advises to get your windows tinted, or tint them yourself with film from the auto parts store. There is one potential problem with this, in California i have been pulled over because the cop said the tint was too dark. So you may want to tint your windows but check how dark you can go first! Dont bother tinting the windsheild because you will just buy a windsheild blocker of the type they sell everywhere for about $5. You know the kind that unfolds and you put it under the windshield, and use the sun visors to hold it in place. Nothing unusual about this, even at night since plenty of people use these sunshields.
If you use the car cover you wont have to worry about tints or sunshields. Thats the basics for now, as a final note, this post is intended for people who are simply buying time for a few months to get back on their feet and not as a manifesto on becoming some kind of car-bound gypsy. I have talked to several people and read many accounts of people who had to live in their cars for periods ranging from a month to 6 months and bounced back better than ever. The point of it all is to - SURVIVE!

11. YOUR WEAPONS: You might think it is a good idea to have a gun nearby when you are sleeping in your car. My eply is, yes and no. Ask yourself what is more likely, being hassled by punks? (Start the car and get the F%ck out of there if possible) or the cops tapping on your window? If the latter, consider this, the cop can ask you if he may search your car. If you say no, you immediately arouse his suspicion - what is he hiding? If Officer Himmler is in a mood, and has time that night, he may decide to hassle you and get a warrant. Once he finds a gun, the game changes. Want to play? My advice is, if you have long guns, store them in your storage unit. Remove the bolt and hide it in your car to make it useless to theives (probably including the jerks that run your storage unit). If you have a pistol, you can probably keep it around, but HIDE IT GOOD. DO NOT keep it anywhere inside the passenger compartment. DO NOT keep your bolts, any ammo, magazines, or any other weapon parts accesible to a normal police search. DO NOT hide it under the spare tire. If the cop is hassling you for being in a car at night with a migraine, he is not going to tear your car apart unless you give him reason or act like an a-hole. Good places to hide a pistol, the undercarriage and engine compartment. Duct tape is your friend.

12. Keep moving. Do not spend two nights in the same place unless it is particularly devoid of people and otherwise seems a good place, such as somewhere you have talked someone into letting you stay for awhile. Avoid any behavior that would cause people to perceive you as a threat. Avoid places where children play and stay away from places that have security or cameras. Remember your object is to disapear for right now, survive, and get back on your feet.

13. About your car. Try to keep it maintained inside and out. Use water in buckets if you must but wash it at lwast once a month if you can. Clean your interior and dont let trash pile up, wipe down the console, sterring wheel and dash with windex or whatever is close you can afford. If you are at the stage of dumpster diving to save money usually they are full of clean napkins, paper towels and items you can use as a rag. If you cant vacuum, use a wisk broom once a week or so on the carpet. This is your house for right now so keep the squalor to a minimum and this will help keep your morale up if you are not living in garbage and dirt.
Maintain the car as best as you can. Personally I have alot of car knowledge and plenty of tools so i can do most important maintenance and repair items (i have often worked on my cars in an industrial park that is hidden from view from the street and on saturday when everything is closed). But i realize that many people do not even know how to change their own oil. If you dont know how to work on cars you can get away with ignoring certain things, since hopefully living in your car is temporary for a few months. Change your oil every 3,000 miles even if you have to eat canned beans for a couple days. Change the engine oil to Mobil 1 and you can avoid changing it for up to 10,000 miles if you have to. But do keep your tires inflated and check the headlights and tailights and fix any burned out ones right away so you dont get pulled over. (If you are a lady you can often sweet talk the auto parts guy into changing your bulb for you, otherwise most of them are fairly easy to access on modern cars.)

13. Essential items: *Dishwashing soap. You can use it to wash your hands, hair and body and also to wash the car. You can even shave with it if you have to. Bar soap is good for washing and shaving but then you have to store wet soap
in a soap box or it will go to waste.
*razor for shaving
*several clean 1 or 2 gallon containers to hold water. Bleach bottles are ideal for this. Bleach is very cheap and you can use the bleach to sterilize your eating utensils. Many car washes have sinks and taps that you can use to fill your water containers for free otherwise many buildings have water taps on the outside that you can use. Always have at least a gallon of water on hand at all times.
*Cell phone. If you have one now its probably best to keep it if you can. If your phone bill is too high and you dont need full sevice, call your company and drop the plan to a cheaper one. If your phone is expensive i think its better to buy the phone insurance if they offer it. If you have the expensive kind of phone that gets internet this can be a huge morale booster for you so hang onto it if you can afford it.

I have been depressed to the depths of hell more than once and prayed for God to take it all away after i lost my love of 14 years. I have had days, weeks and months of permanent midnight that i would not wish upon my worst enemy. Yet somehow i survived. Times are not good right now and American society has never favored the weak with anything but benighted contempt. If i weathered my unpleasant times of life, you can do it too. As the great HS Thompson said, "Dig deep!" keep your sense of humor, check in here, you will find help and advice, know that whatever you are going through, the agony of divorce, loss of job, loss of pride and even loss of self, it is all temporary and you can and will endure.

All feedback on this post is welcome.

Last edited by MARC780; 03-31-2009 at 09:20 AM..
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Old 03-30-2009, 01:01 AM
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Excellent post, thanks. BTW, does the book say you should tint your windows? Maybe I missed it in your post.
Old 03-30-2009, 02:39 AM
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When I was much younger I did a stint of living out of my car for a few months. Hotel parking lots, and truck stops are usually good. Highway rest areas will get you robbed or worse.
Old 03-30-2009, 02:57 AM
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Well done and stated (been there done that)
Old 03-30-2009, 11:44 AM
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I think wally world lets RVs and trucks stay in their lots overnight. I'm not sure about cars though.
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Old 03-30-2009, 12:25 PM
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there was a blog somewhere by a feale who lived in an astro van. she travelled the country and would on occasion dance topless for money to keep going. it was a great place for info.
Old 03-30-2009, 12:51 PM
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I lived out of a truck for a spell while i was building up a cushion of money. I had a job but after a rather ugly divorce I had little else. I gave my ex everything with the exception of some, not all, cloths.

I spent my evenings at a park. It was a stocked power plant reservoir. A couple of jugs of water helped with most of my daily needs. Went to truck stops that had showers. It was horrible but I would have to say a long way from thriving. Oh it was winter and in S. TX may not be as bitter as other places it was still plenty cold. A propane lantern was a great source of heat at night.
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Old 03-30-2009, 02:34 PM
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there was a blog somewhere by a feale who lived in an astro van. she travelled the country and would on occasion dance topless for money to keep going. it was a great place for info.
Can you find the link please?

Quote:
Excellent post, thanks. BTW, does the book say you should tint your windows? Maybe I missed it in your post.
The author details at length why and how you should tint your windows since you need to be invisible. But the problem with tinting your windows too dark as it can attract police attention and you do not want this since they can and will only harm you. In California the highway patrol actually has some sort of gauge they look through to tell if your windows are too dark Maybe the answer is the car cover, i would make a small hole to peek out through though.
He also includes several paragraphs on avoiding INFRA RED DETECTION. He asserts that some police forces have and use such devices. Personally if and when i do this im not going to bother since where i live there are literally millions of parked cars so the chances of getting busted by such are probably nill. If you are seriously considering living in your car and have the money now, i'd buy the book, it is a good read.

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Old 03-30-2009, 03:30 PM
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I had a friend back in college who did this. Pulled into 24 grocery store lots at night. In the morning he's go to the gym work out and take a shower. After work he'd hit one of the local bars that had a buffet. He'd spend 6 dollars for two beers and get a steak and salad or whatever they were serving that night. He wound up saving a ton of money over a couple of years.
Old 03-30-2009, 05:42 PM
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Get a "solar shower" bag from academy or wallymart. Somehow insulate it, then put it in the engine bay. Now you have a hot shower at the end of the day.
Old 03-30-2009, 09:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wulf23 View Post
I had a friend back in college who did this. Pulled into 24 grocery store lots at night. In the morning he's go to the gym work out and take a shower. After work he'd hit one of the local bars that had a buffet. He'd spend 6 dollars for two beers and get a steak and salad or whatever they were serving that night. He wound up saving a ton of money over a couple of years.
hopefully he got laid once in while.
I wish to thank all of you for all you comments. Let's cut through all the bull**** here and now. The bottom line is, forget govt aid, forget state aid, you can and must depend on YOU.

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Old 03-31-2009, 09:35 AM
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Can you find the link please?
http://www.hobostripper.com/62/van-pics/
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Old 03-31-2009, 11:15 AM
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To everybody out there. When times get tough it is important to be as versatile as possible. To be multiskilled. Life favors those who can adapt. Perhaps one might consider upgrading their driver's license to a "truckers". Even if you never use it you know it is there and it is a viable option. Most trucks have sleepers and many are very comfortable with all the luxuries of home. Parking is rarely a problem or finding a hot shower. You get paid to see the country and you have a lot of time to think about your next move. To hell with paying rent or a crazy mortgage. Trucking has one of the highest number of job vacancies out there. And with a little luck if you are so inclined, you might find yourself behind the wheel someday.
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Old 04-03-2009, 04:27 AM
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Lol Hobo stripping... good link... Perhaps she's a bit long in the tooth all things considered, since she will not show her face. Even worse, men PAY IT.

For the 99% men reading this "sex worker" option is not viable. Personally i feel as a society it may be perfectly viable if handled, regulated and taxed properly (which it wouldn't be). America has comercialized everything else with complete abandon and no remorse whatsoever, yet they seem remarkably hesitant on this. My only guess is the few remaining intelligentsia running things now, perceive it would mark a descent into a third world mentality. My answer is, this descent is rapidly approaching.

To the muckity mucks, i have this to say. Your facade extends only so far until "buy in" disapears and reality makes a rapid reapearance. Fake smiles and worthless flirts are no answer to homelessness, joblessness and increasing desperation. Probably best to pull your head out now if you are running things.

Don't bother trying to disarm us either. Not gonna happen. We will all march on DC first, - unarmed.
Old 04-03-2009, 10:27 AM
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Outstanding post. A lot of useful information!
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Old 05-29-2009, 01:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jordanmills View Post
Get a "solar shower" bag from academy or wallymart. Somehow insulate it, then put it in the engine bay. Now you have a hot shower at the end of the day.
Thats an absolutely ingenious idea! I think i might take it one step further and get a metal gas can and just put water in it since it will not melt like plastic.
You can also heat food on your exhaust manifold since it gets so blazing hot. You can wrap some food in foil and attach food to it with wire, even coat hangar wire. One caution though, dont attach canned food unless you ventilate the can first or the can will blow up for sure!
Old 05-29-2009, 02:12 AM
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Originally Posted by rockchucker View Post
To everybody out there. When times get tough it is important to be as versatile as possible. To be multiskilled. Life favors those who can adapt. Perhaps one might consider upgrading their driver's license to a "truckers". Even if you never use it you know it is there and it is a viable option. Most trucks have sleepers and many are very comfortable with all the luxuries of home. Parking is rarely a problem or finding a hot shower. You get paid to see the country and you have a lot of time to think about your next move. To hell with paying rent or a crazy mortgage. Trucking has one of the highest number of job vacancies out there. And with a little luck if you are so inclined, you might find yourself behind the wheel someday.
rock thats a great idea but it is alot harder to become a trucker and keep your license than it was before. Maybe the laws are easier in your state but it is a huge expense and hassle in Kalifornia where i live.
Old 05-29-2009, 05:16 PM
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Dude, you rock! I tell people continuously that there is only one person that we can really count on...
Old 05-29-2009, 06:57 PM
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Myself being an old hippie , have always had a van , usually a Ford E150 cargo van.

I would build a raised platform bed in the back high enough to be able to slide boxes under it for keeping clothes , food , camping gear, or whatever under it.

Hang a curtain behind the seats, and had total privacy, and I know for a fact that you can live in one for an indefinite amount of time.
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Old 05-29-2009, 09:34 PM
Bajatacoma Bajatacoma is offline
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I had typed out a longer reply but changed my mind about posting it. Suffice to say, a van is probably your best compromise choice. You have room to store your stuff and actually move around as well as a measure of privacy.

If I'm not mistaken, I posted some info on living in your car/stealth camping on this board a while back but I'm too lazy to search for it at the moment. Several points off the top of my head in no particular order:
  • Have a story prepared before you need it. I've never been hassled, but I have been asked what I was doing. The migraine story works as does "I ate some bad food, got sick and had to stop to rest near a bathroom". I've also said I was on my way home, had been driving a long time and just couldn't keep going (it was the truth when I told it and I had the fuel receipts to prove where I had been if I had been asked).
  • Alcohol and/or drugs in your vehicle is asking for trouble; just don't do it.
  • Light and movement will give you away if there are people around.
  • Some folks advise you to stay quiet if anyone including the cops knock on your door and they'll eventually go away. I snore like a mofo, they'll have likely heard me when they walk up so I wouldn't try that myself.
  • Truck stops work, but carry earplugs. Same with Wal-Marts.
  • If you are going to do the stop on the highway routine, pull over on the entrance ramp like truckers do. People are accelerating instead of exiting at high speed and you are less likely to get hit.
  • Vent your vehicle. You give off lots of moisture when you breath and you will condensate your windows- especially when it's cold outside. This is not only a give-away that someone's in the vehicle but it makes it hard to jump in the driver's seat and drive away when you have to wait for the windows to clear.
  • Blankets, lots of them. Wool socks and a good knit cap make a huge difference. If you tend to poke your hands out from under the covers, a pair of wool gloves helps too. Even catalytic heaters need to be vented; the Mr. Buddy heater is NOT a catalytic heater. I don't sleep with it on and I keep a smoke detector/CO detector in my van for when it is in use.
  • A good mattress can make the difference between fitful sleep and actually getting much needed rest.
  • Cleanliness. You and your stuff will start to smell if you don't keep things clean. Handywipes are great for you. Make sure you throw away trash, clean any spills, and keep your stuff organized. In tight living quarters anything out of place becomes a much bigger issue- more likely to get lost, broken, fall out, etc.
  • If passersby can see the front seats and there's nothing else to catch their attention they'll usually assume no one is in the vehicle.


Here's a couple of links that have some pretty good info. Each has some links off of it too.

http://cheaprvliving.com/index.html

http://www.carliving.info/101.htm
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