Reddit user BlueMcCrew began living in his tiny Honda Fit on the streets of New York City — where the practice is legal — in November 2013 (two months after I started doing the same). He does it "to avoid outrageous rent costs and save enough money to pay back his student loans.
Now, he saves $600 every month out of his $3,500 paycheck (after taxes), and is honest with his coworkers and parents about his living situation." I learned about his story on Business Insider (http://www.businessinsider.com/what-its-like-to-live-out-of-a-car-2014-4).
I really enjoyed reading from another car camper who is doing this to pay off debt and save money. I decided to "interview myself" by answering some of the same questions here.
How do you stay clean?
The first two weeks, I washed up daily in the bathroom of my storage unit building. I felt yucky everyday be evening. Now, I shower at the gym which is $16 a month (which includes yearly renewal fees).
What is your typical day-to-day routine like?
Wake up, go to the gym, then go to storage and put on an outfit for the day, and then work. After work, I hang out at the school because it's comfortable, or I find a fast food restaurant/library/park/mall to hang out at. At 9:30 I begin preparing for bed, then I make it to my sleeping spot by 10:00. I survey my surroundings, then climb into the back seat and sleep.
What’s your car’s set up?
Because I'm an undercover car camper, I keep my car looking like it's NOT lived in - clean, bare interior. The trunk carries blankets or sleeping bag, snacks, gym bag, laptop case, and box for wet towels from the gym (on their way to storage where I keep a clothes hamper).
Like BlueMcCrew, I may get window tinting, window shades, or a Memory Foam mattress.
What are the top five things you rely on?
Cell phone (alarm and Internet and communication to combat emergencies and isolation),
zero-degree sleeping bag,
zero-degree sleeping bag,
Do you ever feel unsafe?
I'll just BlueMcCrew's response:
"I never feel 100% safe, so [I’m always alert], but I sleep pretty soundly and I’m pretty sure I could handle any situation that could arise.
"I don’t really miss not having a room.”
What do you do for internet?
I have data on my phone and I use the library, fast food restaurants, and work."
Have you had any trouble with cops or parking?
No, but I have trouble with the DMV when a cop pulls me over and tells me my tags are suspended because I never got notice of a speeding ticket, emissions testing overdue, tags expired, etc. I don't get DMV mail at a post office box.
How long do you plan to live in your car?
"I’m kind of addicted to having two paychecks a month, and seeing my loans go down."
I'm with him on that one. I'm thinking I'll do this until debts are paid and I have no other financial goals that I can only afford by making this sacrifice. Winters are doable, so at least 1/2 of each year I can live in my car.
Have you ever analyzed how much you are saving per month?
When my uncle raised the rent to $600, I saved 600 a month rent minus laundromat, gym, dog care =
600-82 = 518 saved a month
If I were still living in my condo or a one-bedroom apartment at $1000 a month or more:
1000-82 = 918
With the money that you are saving, are you planning to upgrade your car to something more conducive for your lifestyle?
I'm planning to upgrade just because my car is so old and has been through so much. However, I'll definitely keep this lifestyle in mind when I choose the next car to PAY CASH for.
Do you have a contingency plan in case your car doesn't provide you the shelter you need such as in the event that you are sick?
I have an emergency fund now to cover staying in a hotel. I also sleep in hospital parking lots sometimes so I hope I could walk into the emergency room if I needed care.
The first few weeks I stayed in my car, I woke up with stiff legs. After a while it went away. I don't know if it's because I got used to sleeping in the car or because I started stretching at the gym each morning.
Have you had the misfortune of having a bout of diarrhea at 3 in the morning yet?
No, and I normally don't need to use the bathroom during the night. However, I have had to change my maxi pad in the middle of the night, and I did.