Author Topic: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)  (Read 4792 times)

RyanBurgandy

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Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« on: September 18, 2017, 01:56:46 AM »
So I have a bit of a dilemma. I am going into my sophomore year at university studying computer science and math. Last year, I drove 45 min too and 45 min back from school every day, which is obviously insane and unsustainable. This year I am going to attempt to live out of a car while going to school (The rent in the city where my university is, is insane.)

I have a maximum of 3500 to spend on a new used car. Does anyone have any recommendations on a car that is big enough for a 6'4 person to sleep in, but also has relatively good gas mileage AND doesn't look conspicuous parked on a side street in a rather rich town?

It's kinda a lot to ask from a car so I'm hoping for any advice I can get.

Classical_Liberal

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2017, 03:07:19 AM »
I have a 2007 Scion Tc.  The Tc's look like sporty little cars, but hide a hatch-back and with the back seat down have small SUV amounts of cargo space.  I'm 6 inches shorter than you, but I sleep fully extended with some room to spare when the back is set up for cargo. I've done it for max of about a week at a time on road trips; I haven't tried full-timing it in such a small vehicle. I will say that it only takes me about 5 mins to transform from "bed" set up, to everything in trunk and "regular vehicle" set-up.  I bought mine for 4K with 130K miles two years ago on CL, I assume a similar model would be under that now. I get about 30mpg mixed, 35+ highway and I do a very poor job of hypermilling (meaning I don't do it at all).   Scions are Toyotas, I've had zero mechanical problems 40K miles later.  The only problem for stealth is the large back window, but you could buy one of those sunshields or something to put up.   

My suggestion would be to buy an old minivan.  Those things have very low resale and would offer a ton more space for a full-timer.  I'm sure you could pick one up for well under 3500, it would be my choice option if I was forced to full-time it on short notice.  Some even have the "stow & go" type seating in the back so you can convert to a regular vehicle quickly and without leaving seats in someone's garage.  Watch some youtube videos of people living in cars/vans to get more ideas, there are a metric shit-ton of them.

Oh! and check out this thread from awhile ago, he was full-timing it in a volt.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 03:13:40 AM by Classical_Liberal »

catccc

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2017, 08:47:56 AM »
A sprinter van?  I mean, IDK if it qualifies as inconspicuous, but it's probably great for living out of.  Do you have a home base (parents or friends) that you can use once a week or so for laundry, a hot meal, etc?  Or possibly someone that lives close to campus that would allow you to park w/o worries?  Maybe you don't need to worry about mileage so much since you won't be driving a ton? Good luck, I hope you find something suitable!


Classical_Liberal

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2017, 09:22:44 AM »
A sprinter van? 

If you know where someone can get a Sprinter van for $3500, tell me now and its sold.

405programmer

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2017, 09:50:48 AM »
I have an older mini-van that I bought for construction and camping trips. With the backseats removed it has a full 8' of room behind the driver and passenger seat. This is especially nice for construction materials as you can lay down a 4' by 8' sheet of plywood or drywall and close the rear door. Makes buying materials on a rainy day a total dream.
I haven't slept in it because I'm a fair weather camper so I would much rather be under the stars enjoying the weather. 

I paid $2300 for my van although it did need significant maintenance caught up on it and some new tires. The MPG on my van is pretty abysmal because it's a chevy astro but parts are dirt cheap. I get about 21 on the highway and 17 around town.

Whichever direction you go on cars I would look into finding a safe place to reliably park and sleep .If you have plenty of room to lay out you could get an actual twin size foam bed and get pretty good rest. Might look into getting a gym membership for a shower. We can all skip a shower here and there and not smell but I know I couldn't go a week and still feel clean.

Another option is to really ask around your department on publishing lectures online. I know later in my undergrad in the upper division CS courses the only days that were mandatory attendance were exam days. Try to feel people out and see if you can hack your schedule so that you only have to commute 1-2 days a week. A lot of this at most schools will vary professor to professor so ask around and consider motivating any CS student groups to push for that. Dean's and department heads LOVE student groups that push for modern changes because then they can implement your good ideas and use them for recruitment.

ketchup

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2017, 10:50:17 AM »
I have a 2001 Volvo V70 station wagon that would probably be perfect for something like this.  I paid $1800 for it with 140k miles on it a few months back.  (If you look into them, get a 2002 or later or else you'll run into the same ETM issue I did at some point - it's not a dealbreaker but it's kind of a pain in the butt to fix.)  It's even got a little "cargo cover" in the back that could help make you less conspicuous.

Gas mileage is good-not-great for the size.  I get about 24MPG on a suburban commute, 29MPG on the highway.  I have the low-pressure turbo engine, the high-pressure one gets worse MPG, the non-turbo gets better MPG.  Manual transmission sadly not available in the US.

If you get one in good shape and keep it clean and waxed, it looks like a solid "old money" car so it should "fit in" to the area you describe.

catccc

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2017, 11:17:15 AM »
A sprinter van? 

If you know where someone can get a Sprinter van for $3500, tell me now and its sold.

oops.  I figured anything old enough with enough miles on it would be close, but it seems the lowest I can find is just under $7K!

terran

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2017, 12:26:29 PM »
I just finished reading a book you might enjoy: https://www.amazon.com/Walden-Wheels-Open-Road-Freedom/dp/B00CQAVRD6/. The author did exactly what you're contemplating while in grad school.

mm1970

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2017, 02:20:41 PM »
I just finished reading a book you might enjoy: https://www.amazon.com/Walden-Wheels-Open-Road-Freedom/dp/B00CQAVRD6/. The author did exactly what you're contemplating while in grad school.

I've read this book.  Great book, and worth a read if you are contemplating this!

JoJo

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2017, 05:53:16 PM »
Another vote for van or mini-van where you can remove the seats.  I've tried sleeping in a sedan a few times on camping trip and it's not fun.  A van lets you hide out too if it doesn't have windows or windows are covered.

Pizzabrewer

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2017, 06:44:19 PM »
I'm 6'3" and the best sleep I get is in my 2002 Subaru Outback on my hiking air mattress with sleeping bag.

CanuckExpat

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BTDretire

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2017, 06:09:53 AM »
Yes, a van of some type.
I've followed this young lady from living/traveling in her car to getting a van to getting the roof extended on her van.

Here are her top 10 suggestions on were to sleep/park.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7379aanKuZE&list=PLvPOgOQgKD19AZPliCMphfX6YZJ5YteRZ
 She has lots of advice like how to get your mail, bathrooms, heat/cool.

This is her homepage with at least 40 videos.
 She's living a Mustachian retired life before FIRE.
Here's a video that explains how she ended up making the choice to
live in a van and traveling. Probably a good starting point.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKhf_XarJmE&t=477s

EDIT: I just rewatched this video, I'm a 62 yr old male and my eyes teared up again
at this young ladies enthusiasm for lifes adventure!

« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 02:11:11 PM by BTDretire »

former player

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2017, 06:22:03 AM »
Don't buy the van until you have found a safe place to park and sleep - someone's driveway or garden (with their agreement) would be best - with nearby toilet facilities.

I'm assuming that as a university student you will have access to cheap cooked food, a gym for showers and an air conditioned, comfortable library to spend your evenings in, which is what would make this doable.

Classical_Liberal

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2017, 06:53:06 AM »
This...
I'm assuming that as a university student you will have access to cheap cooked food, a gym for showers and an air conditioned, comfortable library to spend your evenings in, which is what would make this doable.
Makes this....
Don't buy the van until you have found a safe place to park and sleep - someone's driveway or garden (with their agreement) would be best - with nearby toilet facilities.
Totally unnecessary. 

Car/van-life is badass, don't the the snobby "new" attitude of the MMM forum tell you different.

lentil

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2017, 07:39:42 AM »
A safe place to park the minivan is an important element, at least if you're in the US, because so many cities have passed laws against sleeping in cars (yes, including a legally-parked car that you own). Not every city, and every city has different laws. For instance, ironically enough, the suggestion to find a driveway to park in would not work where I live, because in my town, it's a misdemeanor offense to sleep in a vehicle on private property (yes, even with permission of the property owner) for more than 14 days/year. Which is an unusual ordinance, but hardly unique...fun stuff.

OP, you might have already done your homework, so apologies if this is unnecessary. It is definitely worth checking your city's municipal and traffic codes to figure out the legality of sleeping in a car. Do not rely on word of mouth -- I have never, ever found that what "everybody says" is accurate as far as either local laws OR police enforcement practices. If your university has a law school, the easiest thing would just be to go to the law library and ask a librarian for help looking up muni codes. But it's usually pretty easy to do yourself -- your city government's website should have both their muni and traffic codes, and searching for terms like camping, sleeping, and sleeping in a vehicle should get you a list of the relevant laws. If you live near multiple jurisdictions (i.e. have the option to sleep inside city boundaries or out in the county), then definitely check both.

A ticket for sleeping in a car might not be a big deal (in some places, it would basically be a traffic ticket, i.e. dealt with much the same way as a speeding ticket). Or it might be a misdemeanor offense, which can be a somewhat bigger hassle (depending on your current/future plans). Fines are all over the place too. Either way, it's always worth being informed, since it can make a difference in terms of making this work long-term.

ETA: sorry, got distracted before I finished the thought. None of this is meant as dissuasion (I think sleeping in a vehicle makes a ton of sense given the fucked up housing commodities market, and have done it myself). Just that knowing the laws helps you make smarter choices -- from how much stealth is actually required in your vehicle, to where to park, to how often to move. Good luck!
« Last Edit: September 19, 2017, 08:10:52 AM by lentil »

ElleFiji

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2017, 07:03:20 PM »
I wish I'd camped through university. We even had a forest. Is 45min where your family is? I.e., you can leave mail and out of season clothes, and just bring a few weeks worth of stuff at a time?

I would say that student housing is an ideal time to trade $50/month to other broke students for access to their WiFi, parking, bathroom and electricity. But university campuses have enough amenities that you wouldn't need that option.

No specific ideas, but if you're only driving once/week I bet you could enjoy a minivan.

Prairie Gal

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2017, 08:21:10 PM »
Could you find a small Class C (I think that is what they are called) camper van within your budget? That way you have bathroom and cooking facilities too. Wal Mart used to let people stay overnight in their parking lots, and here in my town the casino does too. So, check around for those kinds of places.

sequoia

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2017, 09:28:26 PM »
So I have a bit of a dilemma. I am going into my sophomore year at university studying computer science and math. Last year, I drove 45 min too and 45 min back from school every day, which is obviously insane and unsustainable. This year I am going to attempt to live out of a car while going to school (The rent in the city where my university is, is insane.)

I have a maximum of 3500 to spend on a new used car. Does anyone have any recommendations on a car that is big enough for a 6'4 person to sleep in, but also has relatively good gas mileage AND doesn't look conspicuous parked on a side street in a rather rich town?

It's kinda a lot to ask from a car so I'm hoping for any advice I can get.

- Does it have to be a car? A minivan, van or SUV would be easier if you take the seat out because the floor is already (relatively) flat.
- If it has to be a car, can you remove the front and rear seats? If you can (meaning that the car become one seater), you should have room to lay down. Your head will be when the front passenger seat, your leg in the trunk.
- For cheap car, look for older large American car - buick, cadillac, oldsmobile. Low resale value because no one wants to drive that, but roomy inside which what you are looking for.  Look for car that previously belong to some old lady who only drives it to church on Sunday. You can get a low mileage, not abused, good condition car. I drove a big oldsmobile when I was in college that was belong to some old lady, so I kinda know what I am talking about :) I never slept in that car long term, but I had done it on long road trips.

John123

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2017, 10:57:13 AM »
Last year, I drove 45 min too and 45 min back from school every day, which is obviously insane and unsustainable.

I don't think this is insane or unsustainable.  Anything under an hour is easy. I personally think living in my car would suck.  I would choose the 45 min drive every single time over living in my car.   Now, if you could swing a full height sprinter van that you can stand in and deck that out with a bed and stuff, that would be a lot better.  More like RV living instead of...well, living in your car. 

bigalsmith101

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Re: Best car to live out of? (For tall people)
« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2017, 01:01:29 PM »
So I have a bit of a dilemma. I am going into my sophomore year at university studying computer science and math. Last year, I drove 45 min too and 45 min back from school every day, which is obviously insane and unsustainable. This year I am going to attempt to live out of a car while going to school (The rent in the city where my university is, is insane.)

I have a maximum of 3500 to spend on a new used car. Does anyone have any recommendations on a car that is big enough for a 6'4 person to sleep in, but also has relatively good gas mileage AND doesn't look conspicuous parked on a side street in a rather rich town?

It's kinda a lot to ask from a car so I'm hoping for any advice I can get.

I get 40+ mpg in a $1k dollar Honda Civic. What is so insane and unsustainable about commuting to and from the university if it's $5/day or less?

If you are fully committed to living out of a vehicle close to campus, I think the only feasible option is a minivan of some sort. In my experience, the Dodge Grand Caravan or Chrysler Town and Country, with stow-and-go seating are basically the best options. Seats fold flat, and you've got a lengthy sleeping area, and can fold up when you leave it parked, so it looks like a normal car (very inconspicuous) rather than something your sleeping in. They also get 20+mpg on the highway, and so are pretty economical when compared to other bigger vehicles. They are readily available in good driving condition for $2500-$3500 as well.

I'm 6'6" and have slept in many a different vehicle, from station wagon, sedan, van's etc. If I were contemplating what you're doing, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a van.

https://seattle.craigslist.org/sno/cto/d/2006-stow-and-go-package/6300379470.html

https://seattle.craigslist.org/see/cto/d/2005-chrysler-town-country/6311297784.html