Author Topic: Automobile Living  (Read 4433 times)

Zx

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Automobile Living
« on: July 25, 2015, 03:26:49 PM »
I'm reading Early Retirement Extreme right now. What a great book, a magnum opus, really. It's gotten me to thinking about how to cut costs while living in the uber expensive Bay Area.

The cheapest room to rent around here where I work is 750/month with everything included. I haven't seen cheaper anywhere expect further out, where the commute in time and gas would offset what you saved with a 650 per month rented room.

So I thought to myself that I could live in my car. I have access to showers and a locker at my job. At my second job I can eat twice for free. There is free fruit at my primary job. I can store my bike in my office at my primary job. Anyone can use a laundromat.

So why not live in my car? As it is I have Tuesday and Thursday evenings free, and Saturday mornings and afternoons free until 5pm. OTher than those times I am working or sleeping. So what would I lose if I lived in my car? Comfort and convenience, really.

The problem I see is where to park at night when you want to sleep. I've researched it and found that Walmart generally allows overnighters, but that's it. Everywhere else is a crap shoot.

I figure saving 750 per month is 9000 more per year I can put toward my debt and eventual FI, and I'm willing. My wife lives out of state and I'm here in CA alone, so why not if I can swing it?

So are there any out there who have done this and willing to share some tricks?

1967mama

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2015, 03:50:29 PM »
Sorry, I have no personal experience with living in an automobile, but I sure enjoyed this fellow's book on van living! It was available for free at my local library:-)

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/duke-grad-student-secretly-lived-in-a-van-to-escape-loan-debt-194021112.html

Zx

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2015, 03:59:43 PM »
lol yes I read that, what a guy! I have a Chevy Volt, so not quite as much room. One of my jobs is a delivering pizza job, so I need a smaller car...but maybe if I bought that van and lived in it but drove my Volt for work....hmmmmm

1967mama

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2015, 04:34:59 PM »

TheBuddha

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2015, 04:49:09 PM »
I would at least want a van or something with some leg room.

But, it's doable.

Get a good inverter so you can run things like a microwave and rice cooker.

I live in my truck (18 wheeler) and it's not so bad. I love thinking about the money I save this way.

80Westy

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2015, 05:51:45 PM »
Get a vanagon.  A lot of good info at

www.gowesty.com

bobechs

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2015, 06:48:44 PM »
Why not a bridge or underpass?  Then you wouldn't even have the tags/inspection/wiper fluid/etc. expenses of a parked move-once-a-day van.

ender

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2015, 07:03:32 PM »

yyc-phil

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2015, 10:07:31 PM »
Or there's always under-desk living! Haha!

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/30/i_secretly_lived_in_my_office_for_500_days/

I don't live under my desk but I live at my office two weeks out of every month, the other two weeks I house-sit. It is very feasible if you put your mind into it. I personally enjoy being an office hobo more than anything else. The fact that I am saving around $800-$900 a month, which is the cheapest room sharing arrangement where I live, is another important reason.

Zx

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2015, 02:04:49 AM »
Wow, I had no idea all this was going on out there. I have actually pondered living at my office. I could easily get access. I knew where I could roll out a bedroll behind a locked door within my office. The showers are on site and I have a locker there.

I guess the only thing stopping me is fear...that is REALLY living without a net. What if people found out. What if I got caught. No one shows up before 6 there, the only danger would be over sleeping, but...

But dang, saving 750 per month in rent? Priceless. Heck, all I do at this house is sleep here and keep my things here. I rarely, if ever, cook or prepare food. What am I paying for, really?

deborah

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2015, 02:29:11 AM »
There was someone here who was living in his car. He had problems in winter and summer. Particularly summer. He had several posts, and one was about how to cool down his car in summer so he could sleep. I seem to remember that he had trouble at some time of the year with everything getting wet from condensation.

firewalker

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2015, 05:45:54 AM »
For a completely different take, maybe a look at a total life arrangement makeover. You said that your wife lives out of state and you indicated you'll be doing this for more than a year. You may save some bucks, but with such distance, you may lose a marriage.

The_path_less_taken

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2015, 08:50:51 AM »
San Francisco used to have an ordinance that prohibited sleeping in a motor vehicle that wasn't a motor home parked in a designated motor home area.

Being in a car means that you are visible to anyone passing by...so, very difficult to conceal. A van, on the other hand, is very doable. But, more gas for your job.

I think in a high COL area like the Bay Area you might be better served getting a gig like a live in caretaker or support person for someone with disabilities: many of these come with food/housing and if you schedule your outside work around those hours.....everything you earn is gravy.

There actually are (LOW) paying jobs where you sleep on site in a home for wayward teens or whatever...so while there is some monitoring and paperwork, for the most part you are paid to sleep.

uppy

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2015, 10:12:21 AM »
I did this for a year once. It was an '89 Chevy Blazer with tinted windows, the back folded completely flat. Granted, I was younger then, and it was in a temperate climate, but I didn't even use a mattress or sleeping pad and I had an airline pillow and a thin blanket -- that's it.

I found it awesome. No rent. No utilities. Saving that much money you can afford to eat out whenever you want -- but I rarely did. Mostly I ate raw things like fruit and nuts, and canned foods right out of the can. I also had a job where I could eat at least one meal a day. With enough looking around, you can find a public shower (mine was at a beach but you could use a YMCA or public pool). I had a network of bathrooms to use for shaving, washing up, and of course using the bathroom. Unfortunately peeing in a bottle was a necessity sometimes.

My favorite places to park at night were behind big hotels. No one thinks twice about cars parked in hotel parking lots. Mine was an "Extended Stay" so a vehicle parked long term was not a problem. You hear some really interesting things in those lots at 2 AM.

There are unexpected challenges but unexpected perks. Timing, looking presentable at work, what if people see the inside of your car (it will look like someone is living in it). But I was able to find most things I needed extremely cheap or free. I knew a guy who had a laundry room in his building that was accessible without a key, much cheaper than a laundromat. Keeping clothes from being wrinkled was a complex matter of folding, rolling, and hanging certain things on the suit hangers. Tinted windows really helped from being spotted. You can get fined for vagrancy. If you can't find a bath you have to use baby wipes -- which work surprisingly well.

An interesting twist on this was that the car had a moon roof that was stuck in the open position. Seriously. I had to rig up a tarp with ropes, which created a pool hanging down above the drivers and passenger seats I had to carefully empty after it rained. The rope broke the seal on the doors, so sometimes you'd get a nice cool shower when you took a turn too fast, down the back of your shirt.

Overall I've found older vehicles work better for this than newer ones, because people expect them to look like junk and no one thinks twice about a junker with -- for example -- a shoe sticking out back hatch to hold it just slightly open, for ventilation.

Having a tailgate is VERY nice for sitting on, eating, watching the sunset. I've sometimes fantasized about doing it again sometime, even short term. This time I'd use a full-size pickup and actually put a bed in the back and a propane stove with a custom-built counter, shelving or drawers beneath the mattress, etc. It's an excellent way not to care about anything in the world. You can go where you please, spend exorbitant amounts on things on a whim, put any money you need into your car because it's your sacred home space. You will need a curtain behind the front seats so no one can see you sleeping in the back through the windshield.

That said, I would never live in a camper. Too expensive and too damned convenient.

Zx

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2015, 06:11:09 PM »
I did this for a year once. It was an '89 Chevy Blazer with tinted windows, the back folded completely flat. Granted, I was younger then, and it was in a temperate climate, but I didn't even use a mattress or sleeping pad and I had an airline pillow and a thin blanket -- that's it.

I found it awesome. No rent. No utilities. Saving that much money you can afford to eat out whenever you want -- but I rarely did. Mostly I ate raw things like fruit and nuts, and canned foods right out of the can. I also had a job where I could eat at least one meal a day. With enough looking around, you can find a public shower (mine was at a beach but you could use a YMCA or public pool). I had a network of bathrooms to use for shaving, washing up, and of course using the bathroom. Unfortunately peeing in a bottle was a necessity sometimes.

My favorite places to park at night were behind big hotels. No one thinks twice about cars parked in hotel parking lots. Mine was an "Extended Stay" so a vehicle parked long term was not a problem. You hear some really interesting things in those lots at 2 AM.

There are unexpected challenges but unexpected perks. Timing, looking presentable at work, what if people see the inside of your car (it will look like someone is living in it). But I was able to find most things I needed extremely cheap or free. I knew a guy who had a laundry room in his building that was accessible without a key, much cheaper than a laundromat. Keeping clothes from being wrinkled was a complex matter of folding, rolling, and hanging certain things on the suit hangers. Tinted windows really helped from being spotted. You can get fined for vagrancy. If you can't find a bath you have to use baby wipes -- which work surprisingly well.

An interesting twist on this was that the car had a moon roof that was stuck in the open position. Seriously. I had to rig up a tarp with ropes, which created a pool hanging down above the drivers and passenger seats I had to carefully empty after it rained. The rope broke the seal on the doors, so sometimes you'd get a nice cool shower when you took a turn too fast, down the back of your shirt.

Overall I've found older vehicles work better for this than newer ones, because people expect them to look like junk and no one thinks twice about a junker with -- for example -- a shoe sticking out back hatch to hold it just slightly open, for ventilation.

Having a tailgate is VERY nice for sitting on, eating, watching the sunset. I've sometimes fantasized about doing it again sometime, even short term. This time I'd use a full-size pickup and actually put a bed in the back and a propane stove with a custom-built counter, shelving or drawers beneath the mattress, etc. It's an excellent way not to care about anything in the world. You can go where you please, spend exorbitant amounts on things on a whim, put any money you need into your car because it's your sacred home space. You will need a curtain behind the front seats so no one can see you sleeping in the back through the windshield.

That said, I would never live in a camper. Too expensive and too damned convenient.

Awesome story! Hey, I've been giving my Chevy Volt a serious look but I don't know if I could swing it as far as room goes. I think I'd have to tint the windows. I have a spot I could park, I have showers and a locker, and I have a place I could store my bike in my office. But I'd only be up 750 per month. Maybe I should do it anyway.

Jeremy E.

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2015, 07:02:01 PM »
My coworker and good friend lived in a van for a while every tuesday-thursday(he lived in a different city and worked remotely from home monday and friday), he bought the van for $2,500 used, he rented a car space at a storage lot for $30/month(LCOL area). He would store the van in the rented car space friday-monday, tuesday night he would drive to wal mart, walk to storage facility, drive van back, he'd leave it there just for sleeping/hanging out for a few hours after work. He would drive his car to work and shower at the gym facility at work. Thursday morning he would drive van to storage and walk back to his car and drive to work, heading home after work. Wal Mart didn't give him a hard time for having the van there 2 nights/week, it worked out well for him, he'd use the bathroom at wal mart, get pretty much anything he needed there. I think if a van was there for 7 days a week every week, it might cause a ruckus. I can't think of too many ways to do this 24/7 without moving around a lot, maybe coming up with a bunch of places to rotate to and from. In a Volt, I think you'd need to take out the front passenger seat, unless it folds down? Also get some pillows, blankets, or something else to try and get a flush/level sleep area to put a bed pad on, on top of tinted windows you'll need one of those silver windshield cover things. My friend used a 4" memory foam topper in the back of his van, but said it was much less comfortable than his bed. If you have room, I'd go for a Tuft & Needle Twin Mattress. (39"x75"x10"). It's very comfortable for $350(but also thick and you won't want to move it around much). Your won't be able to give other people rides without them knowing you live in your car.

Zx

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2015, 10:19:26 PM »

bryan

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2015, 10:57:51 PM »
Bay Area is great for living in your vehicle.. Weather is good year round, high wages, high rents, easy to find a parking space.

Personally, for saving $750 it's a bit on the bubble.. Sure you save money but is it worth it? If you're talking about saving $1000+ then I would go for it.

Been doing it more than a year here. Very easy but wish I could do more cooking or hosting friends.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2015, 11:00:40 PM by bryan »

patrickza

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Re: Automobile Living
« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2015, 04:32:08 AM »
I would do this if I was single and had a safe place to park. In fact I'd live in my office in an instant, but we have 24 hour security and they'd kick me out.