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How To Live In Your Car in 2024- Incredible tips

How To Live In Your Car?!

Whether you are looking to travel or your current situation has forced you to live in your car there is often a lot to learn in a short period of time. So whatever the reason you are living in your car we’ve got you covered with our comprehensive guide of everything you need to know to make it as smooth as possible. 

With an increase in the costs of living, more and more people are finding themselves living out of their cars as a necessity. In the United states alone over 140,000 people in 2019 identified as currently living in their vehicles full time with this number rising year on year from 102,000 in 2016 (The Economist).

What do you need to live in your car? 

For obvious reasons the first thing you need to live in a car is a car. In most cases you will already have a vehicle and will have to make do. However if you are purchasing a vehicle to do so there are some considerations you must make. 

Space and reliability are the 2 most important things when it comes to buying a car to live in. You will rely heavily on your vehicle as it is no longer just a means of transportation, it is now your home as well. 

Below is a comprehensive guide to what you will need to keep in mind for successfully living in your car. 

Cooking Food in your car

The ability to not have to rely on takeaway is a great way to be able to save additional money when living out of your car. Having a reliable kitchen set-up in your vehicle either big or small allows for more independence and control over your meals. As a bare basics kitchen setup for living in your car you will need the following to be able to prepare and eat meals; 

  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Pot
  • Source of heat
  • Cutlery 
  • Plate or Bowl (optional as you can repurpose the pot) 

There are many options when it comes to cooking in your car with gadgets such as portable camping stoves and 12v appliances extremely popular. For more information on cooking in your car make sure to read our Guide to Cooking in your car.  

How to live in your car

Storing Food

Being able to safely store food comes hand in hand with cooking in your car and is important to consider especially if traveling to remote places. Coolers or 12v fridges are commonly used to prolong food shelf life particularly for perishables such as meat or vegetables

The ability to store food is great for those who like to meal prep or for keeping leftovers. For more tips on storing food make sure to check out how to safely store food in your vehicle here.

Receiving Mail

If you suddenly find yourself needing to live out of your car there may be a few things that can easily slip your mind. Receiving mail is often overlooked but is extremely important for receiving everything from government letters to parcels. 

Having mail redirected to a friend or family member is the best (and cheapest) way to receive mail, however is not practical for everyone. Utilizing services such as a PO Box, general delivery or using 3rd party mailbox services are all great options for ensuring you receive important mail. 

If you are struggling to receive mail when living out of your car make sure to see our detailed guide on How to Receive Mail living in your vehicle

Sleeping in Your Car

Getting a comfortable night sleep in your car can be a challenge. With the limits of space most people will find themselves curled in a ball feeling cramped.  

When it comes to the basics you will require everything you would have in a regular bed like pillows, sheets and duvets. As for a ‘bed’ this could be as simple as reclining your seats as far back as they go. 

Inflatable car mattresses are another viable option for bedding that is often tailored to each specific vehicle. If you are looking to use an inflatable mattress we suggest forking out the little bit extra for one with a built in electric air pump. 

If you are looking at living in your car for a long period of time we suggest prioritizing a comfortable sleeping and bed setup. Whether this is a single mattress squeezed inside of your interior or a roof top tent if suitable for your vehicle. Roof top tents are great not only due offering a bigger bed, they help free up space inside of your car. 

For further details on choosing the right bedding setup for your car camping trip make sure to read our complete guide to car bedding.

How to live in your car

Privacy in your car

Living in your car often sees yourself living in a public environment which often affects your personal space and privacy. Covering the windows on your car is often the quickest way to get back some much needed privacy and can stop unwanted prying eyes. 

There are a few ways to cover your windows including window screens, tinting your windows, making Reflectix covers or curtains. We’ve covered how to increase your privacy in your car in our Car Window Privacy Options guide.

Working out of your car

Even when living in your car, having a job or steady source of income is important to cover all of the living costs of living in your car. Living in your car whilst job hunting can introduce some additional difficulties into the mix. 

With the negative stigma of living in your car, having potential employers find out can impact your chance of success regardless of your professional experience. It is best to remain anonymous about living in your car to employers, however this can sometimes become difficult when questioned.

Job hunting whilst living in your car can have some benefits, including the freedom to travel and set up residence where jobs are plentiful. Some jobs are more ideal for the nomadic lifestyle than others including; Digital marketing, Content Writing, VA’s, Photographers, Graphic Designers, Freelancers & More.  

We’ve covered more of the best types of jobs for living in your car in our guide on How to get a job while living in your car

If you are looking for something different, there are many remote opportunities for those who are looking to move away from traditional working environments, we’ve outlined a few of them with 8 Ways to Make Additional Income Living in Your Car.

Living with pets in your vehicle

Whether circumstances have forced your hand to move into your car or if you are looking for a cheap way to live & explore having your pet live with you in your car is possible. Making sure your pets needs are met both mentally and physically is important to take into consideration. 

The most important aspects to ensure your pet is happy and healthy is ensuring they have access to adequate ventilation, food & water in a hygienic environment. It is also important to have sufficient restraints for traveling alongside bedding and some sort of temperature or climate control

As with humans, pets often have their own unique personalities which may make it hard for them to remain still in the confines of a car. You know your pet best so make sure to monitor their mannerisms for signs of distress.   

Hygiene Living in Your Car

Showering whilst living in your car

One of the disadvantages of living in your car in comparison to other vehicles such as vans or motorhomes is the space available to have your own amenities. Luxuries like your own personal shower inside of your car is often not possible. 

Portable showers are a solution to this and often consist of a bag with a shower nozzle at the end which is gravity fed. These are typically solar heated so are only ideal in warmer months unless you are fond of hypothermia. If you are living in an urban area, using a portable shower in public is often frowned upon

If you are staying in a designated campground there are often public shower facilities for use which are great as they reduce the need for storing your own. Depending on the campground you will often find these can be unsanitary and unkept. 

Gym memberships are often a cheap, reliable source of showering facilities where people will not ask questions. These memberships are particularly good if you are living nomadically if you sign up to a nation wide gym and access to the gym equipment is a sweet bonus.


How to live in your car


Unfortunately living in your car doesn’t magically stop nature calling and with space limitations having a reliable toilet can be a challenge. Utilizing public restrooms reduces the need for transporting your own portable toilet however access to public restrooms can be sporadic in remote places

If you are living in your car in an urban area, shopping centers such as Walmart or gas stations and truck stops are a great way to keep you out of trouble. Having a gym membership often allows access to better facilities along with showers, however this often limits how far you can travel. 

Having your own toilet for emergencies or everyday use is the best way to increase independence and is great if you are looking to explore remote areas. Portable toilet options include Portaloos, DIY bucket toilets & hiking/ disposable toilets, which we have covered in detail in our guide to Toilet Options for Car Camping

Doing your Laundry while living in your car

Staying on top of hygiene can sometimes be a challenge when living in your car and deodorant can only help so much. Having clean clothes consistently not only helps with hygiene but can help brighten your mood. 

More than likely you will have to rely on either laundromats or friends and family with a washing machine and dryer to wash clothes however there are portable options available. Washing clothes can be as simple as a bucket and detergent along with elbow grease to portable washing machines that are often used in caravans.      

Dangers of living in your car

Living in your car can be inherently dangerous and poses some additional risks that you may encounter. Being aware of these dangers and having a plan in place is the best way to ensure you are as safe as possible. 

The most common dangerous when it comes to living in your car include but are not limited to the following; 

  • Increased risk of theft & petty crime
  • Vehicle fires
  • Isolation or breakdowns in remote areas
  • Sickness or Injury
  • Wildlife exposure 

We have gone into detail on how to prepare for these risks along with an outline of additional steps to stay safe living in your car in our guide of The Dangers of Living in your Vehicle. 

Legalities of living in your car

In most states living in your car is not specifically against the law; However, there are some legalities when it comes to where you can legally park to do so. Parking regulations are one of the biggest issues when it comes to finding a spot to set up for the night to avoid getting a violation or fine. 

If you are looking to stay somewhere overnight make sure to read up on the parking regulations in the area and keep an eye out for street signage. Areas such as 24hr shopping precincts, casinos, truck stops & dedicated campgrounds are often the best choice however there has been an increase in stealth camping in urban areas.  

Entertainment in your car

Living in a confined space for long periods of time can become overwhelming for the best of us, so having a source of entertainment or hobbies are a great way to keep on top of mental health. From video games to binge watching tv shows, having these small luxuries make a big difference at the end of the day. 

Not all activities have to require spending money or an internet connection. Hiking, fishing or biking are all great hobbies that are low or no cost and allow you to explore what life has to offer. Staying connected with family and friends are also great mood boosters when living in your car.


  • Zaara

    Zaara, a kindred spirit of the open road, has nurtured a deep-seated love for RV travel since her childhood. Journeying with her parents, she learned early on to cherish the little things that make life rich and fulfilling. This emotional depth and appreciation for simplicity have become the cornerstone of her life philosophy. A firm believer in the idea that true happiness is found in nature's embrace, Zaara continues this legacy of exploration alongside her husband, Augustus. Her passion extends beyond landscapes to the joy of connecting with life's purest forms - the unconditional love of dogs and the innocence of babies. These connections reflect her nurturing soul and emotional acuity. Zaara is also a culinary enthusiast, delighting in creating meals that blend flavors from their travels, infusing each dish with memories and love. Her expertise lies in living fully, finding joy in every moment, and inspiring others to seek happiness in life's simple, natural wonders.

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