Surviving Poverty In a Van: “Unlike the Streets, You Can Maintain a Decent Standard of Living”

by | Nov 7, 2015 | Aftermath, Emergency Preparedness | 110 comments

Do you LOVE America?



    This article was written by Joshua Krause and originally published at Ready Nutrition.

    Editor’s Comment: Hard times may be coming for many more Americans, so learning to adapt to these conditions and survive – in an everyday sense of things – is becoming increasingly important.

    While you may not want to be there, it could happen – from a layoff, a failed job interview or an economic disaster of epic proportions. It’s good to have this option ready as one of your better options during desperate times.

    Surviving Poverty Part 1: How to Live in a Van

    by Joshua Krause

    There’s been a few news stories floating around over the past few weeks that have a common theme. In San Francisco, a city with some of the highest rental costs in the nation, it seems that more and more people have been choosing to live in their vehicles. That may not sound very surprising, but what is odd is that these stories don’t involve struggling low-income workers.

    Instead, these people are fairly well paid tech employees. The one that’s really been making the rounds on the internet, involves a Google employee who bought a box truck and sleeps in his company’s parking lot. It’s not that he couldn’t afford to rent an apartment per say, it’s that he couldn’t stand the thought of paying so much money for a place to sleep. If he decided to rent, he’d probably be close to breaking even.

    You know there’s something very wrong in this country, when an employee for one of the most profitable companies in world would rather live in a truck than pay rent. It suggests that in some parts of America, you don’t have to be poor to be homeless. Just imagine what it’s like for the folks who really are poor, of which there are many.

    On any given night in America, there are over a half a million people living on the streets or in their vehicles. As you can imagine, that’s not a good place to be in your life, but it happens. If you think that this is something that might happen to you one day in the near future (and who are kidding, it could happen to anyone these days) here’s a word of advice: Don’t wait until the last-minute, hoping for that next job interview to come through as you burn through your savings. If homelessness is a real possibility in your life, it’s something that you should be preparing for, not waiting for.

    The more money you have at your disposal when you decide to leave your home, the easier your life is going to be without a house. If you have no money, you’ll be living on the streets with little more than the clothes on your back. It’s better to put your savings towards a van or a truck that you can live in. Unlike living on the streets, you can actually maintain a fairly decent standard of living with very little money. Here’s a few basics that you need to know to get started.

    Choosing a Vehicle

    The box truck chosen by that Google employee isn’t necessarily the best vehicle for the job, nor is it the most affordable. It is roomy, but it isn’t very discreet. Our society is incredibly fearful of homeless people, and depending on where you live it may be illegal to sleep in your car (check your local municipal codes. There may be a neighboring town that allows it). You want something that flies under the radar.

    Camper vans are a pretty good choice since they’re already designed for living in, but they also look the part. Anytime a camper van is parked somewhere, it could raise a few eyebrows. An ordinary cargo van with at least a 6 foot bed may be a better choice, because you can convert it to a camper van without it looking like a camper van. And unlike a box truck, nobody will notice you moving from the driver’s seat to the back when it’s time to go to bed. Try to avoid white vans since again, our culture has deemed white vans to be “creepy.”

    Ideally, a reliable van will be worth at least $5,000, but obviously you may not have that kind of money. Fortunately there are plenty of really cheap vans from the 90’s on Craigslist that can get the job done for less.  Even the ones in the $1000-$2000 range still have some life in them. Just don’t plan on doing any long distance driving.

    When you’re looking for a van, think of it this way. How many more miles does it have left? That cheap van may only have 10,000 miles of life before it craps out, but if you keep your lifestyle local that might last you a couple of years. That’s a lot longer than most people stay homeless. And look for taller vans over longer vans. You’ll have more storage space, and it’ll be easier to find parking in urban areas. Something with a shell top is even better.


    The best place to keep your van while you sleep is probably in a Walmart parking lot. Walmart will let you park there indefinitely, (though this usually only applies to their retail outlets, not grocery stores) because they know you’ll shop there. Otherwise you can also park on residential streets, but you have to plan ahead by looking for spots that are inconspicuous.

    You have to find spots that look more public than private, and your van will likely go unnoticed on a street with lots of parked cars. It’s also a good idea to change spots every other night. And while we’re on the subject of going unnoticed, you should consider getting some curtains for all of your windows too. Not only will this keep the sun out, but it will also prevent people from seeing you inside.

    Preparing For The Elements

    Vans are notorious for being very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter, and you shouldn’t completely rely on your vehicle’s heating/AC unit (more on that in a moment). Insulating your van is a must. Most people with little money may insulate the walls, ceiling, and floor with cardboard or blankets (magnets and paracord are a good idea). Others will go the full mile and deck out their van with some combination of fiberglass, foam, and foil backed insulation.


    A good battery will be the backbone of your electrical system. You’ll have to find a deep cycle battery, because your car battery will quickly burn out if you keep charging and draining it (like using your vehicle’s AC all day when you’re not driving). You’ll probably need one with at least a 100 amp hour capacity, though you’ll have to consider how much power you’ll be using on a regular basis, and how often you’ll be able to charge it. Keep in mind that you’ll have to run AC and heating devices through this, as well as your computer and cell phone. (consider turning your smartphone into a wifi hotspot)

    And remember, these batteries are super heavy, so you may need to buy several smaller ones and connect them in parallel. AGM batteries are probably your best bet since there’s no off-gassing, they last a long time, and they’re maintenance-free. After that, you’ll have to find an inverter to convert the DC batteries to AC for your electronic devices. Add the total wattage from all of your devices, and buy an inverter with a capacity that is at least 1.5 times higher.

    If you have any friends that are willing to help out, you shouldn’t have any trouble charging the batteries at their house. The amount of power you’ll be using will be negligible for them, and it only takes a few hours to charge them (plus you’ll need an address for paying bills and ordering packages). Otherwise, you might want to consider mounting a solar panel on the roof.

    Food and Water

    Obviously, you don’t want to be eating fast food for the duration of this experience. Fortunately it’s not that difficult to prepare your own meals in a van. For starters you’ll need a really good cooler, and if it can be helped, it shouldn’t be one of those cheap plastic ones you see in the grocery store. A small Yeti Cooler will maintain a cool temperature for a really long time.

    As for cooking, you should probably avoid electric stoves and microwaves. They will probably eat up your electricity at a faster rate than any other electronic device. Contrary to popular opinion, you can use those little camper stoves that run on butane or propane without coming close to asphyxiating in the tight quarters of a van. You just shouldn’t use those stoves to stay warm. Keep your cooking time to less than a half hour for each meal, leave a window cracked, and you should be fine. If you’re really paranoid you can put a carbon monoxide detector in the van, but I’m willing to bet that it will never go off.

    And for water, you should probably store it in a mini water dispenser, or at least jerry-rig an ordinary container to dispense water. Just make sure it’s made of plastic and not glass, and secure it when you’re driving. And since you’re no longer connected to the grid, that means you’ll have to find water by other means. Unless you want to be seen taking a large jug to a public water fountain, just go to the grocery store. Most grocery stores have a water dispenser of some kind, and it usually costs far less than bottled water.

    Bathroom Business

    This is probably the most controversial subject for van living, and for good reason. Dealing with your waste while living in a van sounds really unsanitary. You could set up a composting toilet and pee in bottles, but depending on your situation it may be best to simply rely on public facilities. If you want something that is more reliable though, you should sign up for a 24 hour gym. Depending on where you live it’ll cost you anywhere between $30 and over $100 a month. It’s probably worth it though, since that will be the best place for you to take a shower and shave as well. Overall, it will make your van living experience a lot easier (and cleaner).


    Though van living may sound incredibly dangerous since you’re not in the comfort of your home, it’s not as bad as it sounds. People who break into cars generally aren’t the kinds of people who are looking for a fight. If they were, they’d be breaking into houses, mugging tourists, or robbing banks. They’re looking for something easy, and if they know somebody is inside they’re probably going to run.

    However, it’s still a good idea to have something you can protect yourself with like a bat, knife, tire iron, or heavy flashlight. Keeping a firearm at the ready in a vehicle is not recommended for legal reasons, though I’m sure the laws vary from state to state. Even where it is legal though, it’s going to be frowned upon by most cops you come across since society really doesn’t trust homeless people. And rest assured, this lifestyle will attract the attention of the law from time to time.

    So there you have it. Those are a few of the basics for living in a van, though it is by no means a complete guide. Whole books have been written on the subject, and there are plenty of websites dedicated to vandwelling. If this is something that interests you, there is an abundance of research that is available, and you should take advantage of that. This isn’t something to take lightly, and you need to know what you’re doing. Hopefully now, you at least have an idea of what you’re getting into.


    Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

    Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

    This article was written by Joshua Krause and originally published at Ready Nutrition.


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      1. Yeah I read about something similar to this over a year ago. It could have been the same individual for all I know. It’s crazy because out in San Fran homeowners are now renting out tents for $39 a night and I’m sure the price will go up. You might want to bookmark this story because when the SHTF sleeping in your car or van may not sound like a bad idea.

        And honestly, I’d rather sleep in my car than pay $39 for a tent rental.

        • i spend nights at walmart in my motorhome when driving cross-country, but MANY won’t let you stay there(they USUALLY have a backup place to send you)….and they USUALLY DO limit the time you can stay to one or two nights…at least that’s been MY experience….BTW, ALWAYS look for 22LR when you park, AND before you leave in the morning.

          • If you drive a regular vehicle there’s a 99.99% chance you’ll be left alone. It’s campers, RV’s that invite attention just because of what they’re used for. Hospitals with a parking garage are also good places to stay at. Public parks or tourist areas are other places. The key is to blend in with the surroundings.

            • What conspiracy theory will the tinfoil hats come up with for the ops at LAX?

              • There is a case in Federal Court initiated by the ACLU claiming that local “urban camping” ordinances are not Constitutional.

                The Depart of Justice has sent a letter to the Court as a “friend of the Court” coming down on the side of the ACLU stating that sleeping is a necessary requirement to the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, as per our founding documents. I expect the ruling by the Court will eventually void all city ordinances making it a crime to sleep in your vehicle.

                With 500 food banks (and additional soup kitchens) spread across the country to facilitate the invasion of America by hispanic catholics, no one should find it difficult to locate free food and a hot meal and anyone in that position should take advantage of that opportunity.

                Planet Fitness is a 24/7 hour facility and its only $10 a month. When my LA Fitness ($35) contract expired, I switched for the cheaper rate, better facilities, and more big screen TV’s to watch while riding the bike or working out.

                Don’t use it past 9 pm but it is nice to know that I can and I have used the toilet there in the wee, wee hours of the morning when most things are closed.

                Pun intended. 🙂

              • let me correct your post, Vic, i THINK you meant conspiracy FACT will they come up with.

          • off topic. right now 3;55pm pst i see 3 military choppers headed to LA for the second afternoon in a row. link to story follows.

          • walmart has security at pretty much EVERY one of them i’ve slept at…i would MUCH rather stay there than on the side of the road somewhere….there’s always gonna be haters of walmart out there(even ME once in a while)…but god bless ’em for that much. BTW, usually it’s a CITY ordinance that won’t allow you in their parking lots, not THEIR policy.

      2. This is a great option, especially in the days of the “soft collapse” where the infrastructure stays in place but the economy takes a huge hit.

        • Good phrase, Charley. soft collapse it seems that is where we are now.

        • If nothing else, it’s a good fallback position to have. I’d like to have something discrete set up just in case, maybe under a tarp, ready and waiting.

      3. Gone from $80k a year to $12 an hour, I may there sooner than I think 🙁

        • You should get a fast food job. They make $15 an hour!!!

          • Sure, if ya wanna work for some snot-nosed little punk who calls you “Pops”…

        • I went from $77k to $15+commissions and thought I landed soft for this economy. Customers faded away and shut down the store. Unemployed again and not even finding Christmas helper work. I am glad I downsized 3 years ago but what if it wasn’t enough? I am crying to make it 6 months to social security without losing my modest trailerstead and garden. At 61 I have never been scared until this global collapse. As far as I can tell… no recovery has happened. It collapsed half way down and started a slow slide. Thank God my son is still chugging along but his house is upside down and that is unstable.

      4. Ive done this a few times in my life and I just did it again for 5 months.
        I took a oil field job which fell thru one week after I started but got offered another job almost right away. It was almost Impossible to find a place to live and when you could it was $2000/month 3 months in advance and a years lease.
        The best type of van is a cargo van with no windows. I have a GMC Safari van. Put a curtain up between the drivers seat and the cargo compartment. If it has windows paint them so no light can get out.
        Buy a 3000 watt harbor freight inverter and a 12 volt deep cycle battery and wire the battery separately to the alternator with a bypass switch. From this you can run a small microwave (750 watt, charge a laptop, run some tools if necessary. Also have a small 400 watt inverter for small things. They are much quieter .
        If you don’t have a phone with data, get a Verizon ellipsis hotspot and you can have great prepaid internet service.
        You can build a bed but I found a camping cot works better with a 0F sleeping bag and some pillows. If you are in a cold place look around for a VW gas heater for a old VW beetle or bus. You can mount it under the back of the van and it runs on gasoline.
        With the cot you can fold everything up and it dosent look like someone is living there. You can also put stuff in the van.
        A home depot bucket with a Lid is your bath. Just keep a 2 cup plastic measuring cup for scooping up the water and you can wash your hair easily. The best way I found to heat the water is with the microwave. I also had a gym membership for $50 per month and went there to tke a shower and swim in the pool.
        Wallmart is a good place to stay. Also interstate rest stops and places where truckers stop for the night.
        Cops still will harass you. Even if it is legal to stay where you stay. So the quieter you are the better.
        Everything was fine until my boss found out and fired me for living in my van. His Loss…

        • This was really good! Thanks. It is sad that after an estimated $20 trillion spent in the socialist War on Poverty, we are worse off than ever before. Not for nothing Bastiat wrote that socialism is the great fiction, whereby everyone endeavours to live off of everyone else – including my next door neighbor – she DID have a bad accident years ago, with brain injury but now I see her out running, usually 2 miles per day. Yeah… real disabled. You telling me she couldn’t even bring in grocery carts or similar?

          Leftist won’t be happy until the whole country is Detroit.. plus their Learjet leftist enclaves and limousine liberal deluxe mansions. OH, and don’t forget Michelle-Marie Antoinette “Let the vacation in Aruba” Obama’s monthly uberluxe, carbon spewing vacations.

          • Silly wabbit… the Federal Reserve dumped about 17 trillion on the banks in one year. Over and above the bailout which the banks are now suing We The People. Even the foreclosures were fraud… they bundled and insured subprime mortgages… and sold them 5 to 10 times. When they did not fail in sufficient numbers to kick the insurance in… they illegally foreclosed 4.1 million homes. No jail just Deferred Prosecution Agreements in place since Bush. If Bush had jailed them the first time around they could not have compounded it to a global collapse.

        • Ed, great points! The only thing I could add is a solar panel on the roof so you don’t have to run the engine to charge the battery. Now you got me thinking of how to setup a van lol.

        • Ed elaborate on the wiring for the deep cycle battery to alternator connection?

          You don’t need heat to sleep in a van. I’ve been there many times. Just:





          • You dont need heat to sleep in a van but you do need heat to crawl out of that sleeping bag when it is below 0 outside.

            About the battery. There are battery boxes that are for RV’s. Avoid those. They break in 2 months and then are useless. Just make a box out of plywood and seal up all the joints with caulk. bolt it to the floor behind the drivers seat and dril a hole thru the floor and push a piece or 2″ pvc thru the hole then seal around it. This is a vent for the gasses that can be created when the battery charges. I never had a problem even with the battery just sitting in the van but plywood is cheap. Make sure you can get the lid off and on. just use screws and a piece of rubber weatherstrip between the box and the lid. Batteries have a lot of power so put a circuit breaker rated at whatever your max current draw is on your inverter such as a xscorpion CB250. Whatever you do make sure the terminals are well protected from everything.
            I had a meltdown or 3 so I bolted the inverter to the side of the battery box and covered everything with rubber shower pan liner from home depot. No more problems.
            To charge the battery get a battery isolator (Look up battery isolator wiring on google) This will automatically keep both batteries charged. You can also use a 3 way switch in place of the battery isolator. Just remember to switch it back or the other battery wont charge.

            • ” you don’t need heat to sleep in a van…”

              Yes that is correct, but you best have good warm clothes if you are camping in the northern states in winter, and a good sleeping bag.

              In 1989, my brother, our neighbor, and myself were on a cross country trip to go hunting in Montana. As part of our trip, we headed north to swing by Mt. Rushmore on the way out there from the East, Southern Appalachian region. i remember it like yesterday, as we were driving across South Dakota on the interstate, in a 1986 Chevy custom van, about 11:00 pm, we cracked the seal on a pint of R & R, to celebrate the last hour of my birthday.

              The weather report on the radio station said an Arctic Cold front was now blasting into the region, and some areas would see lows drop from the normal of fifty/forty, to single digits, with wind chills below 0. The wind was so strong it was moving the van around on the deserted interstate. A couple hours later we pulled into a truck stop out on the plains, a short drive from Rapid City, and dog tired sleepy from the liquor.

              My brother and i crawled into our sleeping bags, on the bed, and our friend stretched out on top of his,in the floor, while leaving his boots on. it was rather toasty in the van at that time. We had the alarm set for six, and when it went off, i turned on the small light overhead so we could start getting up to go in and shower before breakfast. Our friend in the floor had opened his sleeping bag during the night and draped it over him while leaving his boots on and still sticking out. He said, “I can’t feel my feet, damn it’s like a freezer locker in here”. he got his flashlight and shined on his boots. From the strings down to the toes, they were completely frosted over. We laughed so hard we shook the van.

              • I’m in Montana. A year ago it got to 28 below one night and the walls of our little house and the floors creaked and cracked all night. I had the heater going and was still cold. I cannot imagine staying in a vehicle during that, well, I could if the heater was running all night.

            • Add an inexpensive Mylar blanket to your gear.

          • You could also get a battery box intended for a race car from a local speed shop or online retailers like Summit Racing. These are designed to be used in a vehicle long term and include venting to the outside. It is critical that the battery is vented otherwise you can get a buildup of hydrogen gas in the box, which can lead to an explosion.

            As for the charging circuit, there are several ways to go about it. The cheapest way would be to use a fusible link wire for the charging wire from the alternator and just have it switched with a high amperage switch or relay. This will prevent an electrical fire in case there is a short. You could also automate it with something called a battery isolator. These are usually found at car stereo shops and are used for multiple battery setups for cars with high draw stereo systems (as would be seen in SPL competitions.)

            Likewise, you could also add a second alternator to charge your batteries quicker. If you go this route, try to find a stretch limo at the local u pull it and get it’s system. Otherwise, you might also find one in an ambulance. Ambulances are also a good source for high amperage alternators. If you choose to go this route, try to find one from a Chevy or GMC ambulance with either a 10si or 12 si Delco alternator. These are popular with hot rodders to retrofit into older vehicles with external voltage regulators such as Fords. They can be wired using only 1 wire, so long as you rev the engine to excite the regulator (I think it needs to see 3,000 RPM to start working). Otherwise, you can excite it from idle if you route the red wire from the 2 wire plug from the internal regulator to the positive post on the alternator. (The orange wire is for the dashboard idiot light and is not needed for operation.) This alternator tends to be popular with people building small wind generators and micro-hydro installations as well since they are so inexpensive and easy to use (GM used this style of alternator in a variety of case sizes and outputs during the 70’s and 80’s.)

            I would also add a voltage gauge to your system. I usually get digital ones off E-Bay for around $1-2 with shipping direct from Shenzen or Guangzhou (search by lowest price, Buy It Now). These have given me a cheap way to monitor my charging systems on my old beater cars, and have saved me from an expensive tow more than once!. There are also thermometers and ammeters for cheap too. Just be sure that they can function on a 14 volt circuit. (Most automotive 12 volt systems charge around 13.5-14.5 volts. Any more or less than this while the car is running means you have a problem.)

            Another good source for batteries is wrecked electric and hybrid cars. These batteries are usually considered to have failed when they will not go above 70% charge. However, when you consider that even a small hybrid like the Prius C has a 0.9 MW battery, you can see that worn out ones still have a lot of energy storage left. You just have to regulate the charge properly as they last longest when used in a window between 20% charged and 80% charged. Also, be careful when dealing with them as they have enough amperage to kill. Still, it is a viable idea as even Toyota is doing it and is recycling worn down hybrid batteries into power storage devices for remote locations ( A bank of old Highlander Hybrid batteries is now in use at a remote building in Yellowstone, if memory serves.) It’s also interesting to note that electric cars like the Tesla Model S use lots of what are called 18650 cells. These are just laptop batteries used on a massive scale. So, you could even build a battery out of old laptop batteries. How you do it though is beyond the scope of this post, but it is done so the internet is your friend here.

        • That comment had more value than the entire useless article.

          • Want to know how to live comfortably in a vehicle? Check…
            I’ve been a regular there for about 10 years.

        • Saw an electric heater at Harbor Freight a few weeks ago for $32. It looked like a pretty decent sized fan and had two speeds. Go electric with a deep cycle battery if you need a heater.

          With anything else you are asking for trouble, maybe even death in the night. 🙁

          • BTW, I saw a very small cigarette lighter adapter/converter module with one built in 110 volt plug at Wally World for less than $30 to plug in a heater.

            Hint: Carry a spare battery.

            Its one of those “gotta have gadgets” everyone should have, (if only as a safety item) that fits in the palm of your hand; even if you have a small hand.

            Try the computer / electronics area. 🙂

      5. I lived in my SUV on and off for about 2 years. Now, I live indoors and I want to tell you that I REALLY MISS living in my truck!! It was rough in some respects, especially during real hot weather– had to live with relatives during harsh weather– but other than that, it was a good time, for the most part. I was able to save A LOT of money (free rent!!) and was able to stock up on food,etc, (put it into my storage unit with my other stuff) and was relatively happy. I was a lot happier then than I am now, living indoors! that seemed like the good old days!

        Unfortunately, my vehicle was towed when I moved into a room and I wasn’t able to get it back. Also, during all the time I lived in my truck, I NEVER GOT SICK!! NOT EVEN THE SNIFFLES OR SORE THROAT!! EVEN IN SUB-ZERO WEATHER!! (I had a great mattress cover which I doubled over– it was pretty thick!!) and layered a sleeping back over top (folded also) and when I got into that thing (inside the folded mattress cover) I was snuggly warm and went right to sleep!! 🙂

        Since moving indoors, I keep getting these horrible colds!!!

        Anyhow, you don’t know what you have until its gone… those were the good old days.. ;(

      6. Also, food was never a problem for me… there were great restaurants– really good, nutritious foods– at cheap price!! It never even occurred to me to cook in my SUV– no way!! too dangerous and certainly not necessary at all!! I saved tons of money. Now I just barely break even each month, really scary times for me nowdays, financially! Back then I felt secure financially. No more. Now, scary times!! ;(

      7. Sofa surfing is ok.

        Travel light.

      8. Oh, also I found these cool dark blue sheets– brand new that someone had left at the storage company. I cut them up and made these really cool little curtains for my truck. I was able to pin them at top, above windows. At night it only took couple minutes to draw the curtains shut and in the day time, I pulled them aside and tied them.

        One night, this guy was checking my door handles, trying to see if he could open them… thankfully, they were all locked. I am female so that rather made me upset and the following day I applied for a gun permit. Other than that, no problem. Also, I have a car alarm– noise is the one thing that burglars are terrified of… so if any one was to acutally open the doors from the outside, the alarm would go off (sounds like a siren!!)

        • You dont really need a gun. I found out all you got to do is move and cause a little squeak and whoever is checking your doors runs Like hell.

          • You don’t really need a gun until the criminal checking your van for access to the interior gets inside, regardless of you being there first. Then you need it.

            • I always have a gun But Ive had many people try to get into my van while I was in it and every single one scurried off faster than I could get to the door.

          • An old tape recorder with a big dog bark tape

        • About that gun. Having the gun is fine, as a backup.
          A better weapon is pepper spray. (Bear Spray is best IMHO)
          1. You less afraid to use it – meaning you will use it in time, not until you have waited too long.
          2. No permanent damage – squirting/shooting have very different outcomes if you make a mistake
          3. No collateral damage – no accidently shooting the guy in the next room
          4. Effective – that’s why cops use it.
          To go over your incident, this time with spray vs. gun and the doors unlocked.
          The intruder enters the vehicle. You with a gun what do you do. Shoot or threaten, debate, what
          ? With bear spray you spray him done – he’s done.
          Does pepper spray always work – nothing always works
          That’s why cops use guns as backups only after all other methods have failed.

          • Bear spray is nice, because it has a longer reach and it ejects much stronger, and so less chance of missing the person’s face even if they try dodging.

          • You do realize bearspray has a high chance of killing a person and in a cramped area (say the inside of a van) could kill you both.

            Bearspray is not something you want to play around with.

            Get a gun.

      9. And why the need for this article? The US has now dropped out of the top 10 most prosperous countries. More Obama-esque “Dope and Change!” Leftists must be reeeeeallly proud of turning the US into one giant Detroit (the first major city to adopt the socialist Model Cities Program a few decades back, a daughter programme of the War on Poverty, which has now spend somewhere around perhaps $20 trillion
        Ten countries have now become more prosperous than the United States. The U.S. is ranked No. 11 in the latest annual Prosperity Index, which was released this week by the Legatum Institute, an international think tank based in London. The index ranks 142 countries overall and in eight categories:
        • The economy
        • Entrepreneurship and opportunity
        • Governance
        • Education
        • Health
        • Safety and security
        • Personal freedom
        • Social capital

        More details on this at or

      10. I saw this guy the other day– he had a really nice car– and he was quietly making his bed in the back. He was pulled over to the edge of the parking area at a grocery store– by the forest. I knew what he was doing because I used to do the same thing!

        I said, “Oh, I’ve done that before– sleeping in my car” and smiled. He looked rather shocked at my remarks. I said, “but I had a SUV– real long bed in the back”. He said, “yeah, that makes a difference”.

        • I seriously miss my Isuzu Trooper. Built a wood platform to fit over the folded rear seats, about 6.5′ from door to front seats. Very comfortable, and could store my stuff under it.

        • It’s ridiculous that in this country, people have to choose between their home and their transportation, because they can’t afford both anymore.

          • Some people choose to for more than financial reasons. I understand what you mean though

      11. For cleaning and cat baths, I had a privately locked bathroom area I could go to at my storage place.

      12. Good article. Good info.

      13. Yeah, the toilet problem was the worst part. In the day, you just go to the bathroom at the gas station, the grocery store, etc. But at night, it wasn’t too cool. I had a bucket (got at the dollar store and replaced it with a new one, as needed– it was only a dollar!) but when I had to use it at night, I covered up the waste with leaves, usually, or scraps of paper. Leaves take away any odor. that was the only really gross part– no indoor toilet at night!

        • Shit parcels.
          Take a shit into a news paper then dispose.
          Nothing beats laying a perfect turd.

          Now go ‘n’ wash your mind!

      14. There are many people living in vehicles and in tents in the woods. I view lots of homeless vids and play close attention, where they live. What materials are being used and what manner. How they cook and winterize their homes. The animals they care for. The stories they tell.

        They are living that lifestyle and the video’s prove it.

        When the support systems fail, everybody is going to in a world of pain. They are ahead of the game.

      15. I drove a truck over the road (OTR) for 6 years. It’s basically the same, you live in your vehicle. Truck stops and rest areas are always open. Safety is a concern at rest areas but as stated, wally world is a good choice as well as 24 hour grocery stores. Truck stops have showers too, they can be about 10 bucks if you don’t get free showers for buying a certain amount of fuel. They do have loyalty cards that earn you points you can put to showers so with buying supplies there, might help out.

        • Seriously annoying when people can’t put a little effort into finding a place, just ‘park at Walmart’. All you guys bitch about Walmart anyway, wtf? Especially OTR rigs taking up 14 fucking park spaces, making it hard to see other traffic and get around. I always honk as I drive past you pathetic D-bags, wakey wakey you asswipe! Camp in the fucking Walmart parking lot??? Jesus Christ. GMAFB.

          • If you see a tractor trailer at a Wal-Mart or other business parking lot, the reason is the driver is typically out of hours. DOT law will not let you drive for more than 11 hours and you can’t be on duty more than 14 hours. There is also a total number of hours for the week, in which you must do a 34 hour reset. You can’t leave. Also calm your disgust for drivers, everything you eat or buy comes by truck. No trucks, SHTF for you trying to find food and water without preps. OTR drivers always prefer a truck stop like TA, Pilot or Petri. Safer and services are available.

            People that recommend a wally world lot for living in a van or car know its tolerated and there is some safety. An underground parking lot is good in winter. 4 bucks for parking. Did that when in a band in the 90’s. We’d go to the lowest level and keep quiet, no probs with security or thugs.

            • Wal Mart had a shooting in Cottonwood Arizona that I believe resulted in the death of a local LEO last year. It seems the folks from Idaho did not appreciate his interest in their felonies.

              Since then, Wal Mart has changed its policies here in Arizona and long term campers in the parking lot are towed away.

              About a month ago, and I noted it here previously, I saw a big 5th wheel trailer parked at a Wally World in Prescott Valley, the pick up missing. About that time I saw a HUGE tow truck back up to it and snatch it, with an occupant inside.

              Probably cost the owner $400-to $500 to get it back. 🙁

            • I’m familiar with DOT rules, logbooks, etc- I ran a bobtail interstate for years. Yeah I know trucks delive goods. Sorry, but I have real contempt for OTR assholes, weigh station pricks, overpaid sneering menstrating repulsive waitresses, the whole deal. My cross to bear.

              RE: Sleeping (living) in a Walmart parking lot= ‘safety’ for them, intimidation for me. Same with the professional panhandlers with their fucking cardboard sign and pityful dog in tow- it is a lifestyle choice completely void of personal pride. If I ever get that low my sign will say WILL WORK. And I will. I’ve slept under a bridge, in my car, and on a twin mattress in a van. I have NEVER begged.

              ‘All you zombies hide your faces.’

              • i would never give to a person who has a perfectly good meal right there at the end of that leash.

                • and once he eats that, then he’s STILL in need.

            • So in conclusion:
              I must admit it- I despise the ‘two-week wonders’ driving rigs out there. Fat, smoking, hungover, tatooed, alimony-dodging dim brains– they got a poodle bitch that leaves dog hair all over the sleeper named ‘Harley’, they wear faded POS black t-shirts over their pasty pimpled bellies and give you that mean dimissive glance as they grab their Skol can and 64 ounce Dr. Pepper off the counter and waddle back to their rig- the same assholes gonna be tailgating you in traffic.
              Americas heroes.

            • Thank you, Simon.

      16. Live your life the best you can.
        Sure you’ll make some enemies along the way but the true love of just one makes life well worth living.
        Cyril Wardale. Over and now finally out folks.

      17. When are you people going to get it? All these things you complain about are nothing more than the result of free market capitalism. Grow a pair, put om your big boy pants and improve yourself. Unless, of course, you want to change from capitalism to a communist/socialist model. You people would feel right at home with Obamaites.

        • Dumbass comment. Our economy is no longer free market. Ever heard of “bailout”? This the opposite of do or die, sink or swim, Darwinism. The elites are protected. The club is set and we ain’t in it (thanks George Carlin). I am all with you on free market, but that ain’t this. Obamacare? What’s free market about that?

      18. People have been reduced to living in the car and they talk about how to get by like this. Stop doing drugs and get a job damn I don’t know where you live people but I’ve seen now hiring signs out everywhere. Just piss in the cup and get a job. So you got laid off from your job you had for 10 years or whatever. All is not lost just go get another job. My attitude is I’m gonna be here long after the company goes under so I don’t give a fuck what happens. Just gonna get another job. Shitting in a bucket behind your van at night is not the answer. I’d rather let my work think I’m their slave and do as little as possible without getting fired while having my own agenda to persue on the side. Management teams are weak like dogs with no teeth. Tell your boss to fuck himself especially if you know they need you more than you need them. Have in demand skills that are in short supply and you can do this. Jeez people dust yourself off and get reemployed. It’s bad out there but not enough to give up. If your living in the van now what will happen if someone crashes into it or it breaks down then the real shtf happens. Staying in your van is not a long term living situation.

        • My Dad lived in his van (or pickup with a topper) for about 30 years. After he and mom divorced and all of us kids were grown and on our own — he stopped slaving all week to pay somebody else for the privilege of shelter…he made his own shelter that HE controlled.

          It ain’t always about drugs or alcohol … sometimes it’s just about freedom. If he wanted to wake up and go fishing tomorrow, he parked by a lake or river the night before. All he had to do, was grab his pole from behind the bench and stick some bait on the hook.

          When he worked a temp job, he parked close and walked in. He supplemented his Social security sometimes, but it was enough for him to live on…because he lived like he lived. He stayed out of trouble and minded his own business.

          That’s about as “free” as anyone can get these days.

      19. The problem I’ve found is that everybody renting is gouging big time. The gouge escalates to drive other rents higher. It is a vicious circle of moneygrubbing and people can’t afford ever increasing housing costs.

        • Yep, higher property taxes have nothing to do with higher rent, just the property owners being greedy. Everyone who has rental units is just making SO much money. The renters? They always pay on time, never get behind on their payments, and never leave the place even slightly messy. Yeah, the easy money just rolls in….

        • You don’t understand economics.

          The gouge per se would serve to initiate competition among suppliers, bringing prices down.

          What drives prices up is the demand.

      20. Went to Florida in October and let me tell you I saw tons of homeless people they were always walking in and out of wooded areas behind abandoned buildings. I hate Florida just like warm weather. most homeless around here stay in shelters and churches not in the woods like vagrants thank god it’s too cold for them to live in the woods. There are a few that live outside during the cold months I think they are drunks because it get fucking cold some nights. Most homeless around here have substance abuse issues this is why they are homeless. Cigs beer weed pills are more important to them than a roof over their head. Where ever they pass out is home I guess. I should feel bad for the bums ha. Nope they get tax free handouts while I pay taxes. Free shit galore for them I gotta get my own shit. I’m a huge believer in you don’t work you don’t eat.

      21. Had a humter/ friend in the early 90’s who wound up living in his truck. Told him to get a 56′ used semi trailer and live at deer camp, had electricty only.

        Within 3 months we had built 4 bunks, kitchen with wood stove, table and chairs for eating and cards, solid wall and door behind back swinging doors. Had a nice sofa, tv, small shower/ shitter, hell of a camper for deer camp.

        300$ a year for lease, he was back on his feet in 3 years….

        Be well all…

        • Eventually he put in radaint barrier insulation, generator, rain catchment on roof, and used old milled wood off some the buildins to make the place like home away from home.
          Best camper I ever helped to make.

          Which is what deer camp is like…

          • eppe, that sounds cool lol. I do have a pickup camper that is self contained I paid 600 bux for and everything works including the propane fridge. Easy to convert to solar and it came with a 12 volt electric camper stand. I could live in it for who knows how long as long as I could buy propane and had water. I think of it as plan C for bugout lol.

            • Genius, I guess what I told him to do saved his life in a way.
              He is now doing well, has the same semi trailer and it is a deer hunter’s dream.
              25 years of improving, what could be done???

              All be well…

          • Seems to be a slow night.
            A day in the life of eppe…

            We were in a late bow season, under high heat and humidity at deer camp. A old timer named BP (Bald Pinkhead) was visiting, got drunk, and decided to sleep in his truck. (BP was a little crazy, since they took his right leg in 78 in a motorcyle wreck). But that is another story.
            So he climbed in, locked the doors, set the A\C on, crawlwd in the back seat for a snooze.

            30 minutes passed, and my buddy Johnny went and found the back window unlocked. He then took a stick and changed the A\C to heat, and had all of us to watch.

            Was not 5 minutes, till beads of sweat formed, and when he woke up, pissed, crawled in the front seat , pulled a .45, and started to pop caps everywhere.

            We were laughing so hard, it caught us of guard, luckly no one was hurt, but it is a story I can never forget…

            There are tons more…

            • Thanks for the laugh, I was right there with you.

            • I like yer stories, Eppe.

      22. As far as self-defense goes, Pepper Spray is your best option. You don’t want to get involved in close combat!
        Sporting Goods stores will carry those.

        • Chief, bad idea! In close quarters your spray will most likely get in your face also and you both will be breathing it and exposed to it. The best idea is to use pepper gel. It will splatter the bad guy and stick to him. It will NOT become airborn and cause you the same suffering. Why anyone still uses spray is beyond me, gel is way better.

      23. The YouTube poster named Biblesnbarbells has some van living videos up in his recent uploads. Interesting setup, however the weather outside the van looks pretty ideal.

      24. A good defensive move is a strong searchlight, which you can get a cheapie at Walmart for about $10. When someone tries your vehicle door at night, hit him (or her) with the light in the face, and I guarantee that person will run like hell. It worked for me more than once.

      25. I told my hubby about 2 years ago, i thought it would come down to many people being forced to live in vehicles and RVs. he said no way….well, that was 2 years ago and obammycare wasn’t in full swing yet. We haven’t seen the half of this..i think that term “soft collapse” is perfect. TPTB cannot let the general public know whats going on- it would cause almost instant chaos! But yes, i have seen this coming, have been close to it myself on a couple of occasions. if the property taxes keep going up, i don’t see how many Americans will be able to afford to stay in their homes. ours just went up $200 over last year, and we have done no outer improvements at all! This cannot keep going on!

      26. Yes, I think a lot of people are finding out that hope & change doesn’t mean them. I have seen women with children trying to live in cars. If you have pets, it’s an additional worry.
        I think that as soon as you see that things are not going your way, bite the bullet and make the lifestyle leap! I’d sign up for a post office box and change the mail immediately-so there are few if any questions. You can always say that you want a PO box because it feels safer for your mail. Then change as many billers to e-billing as possible. If you have kids or pets, I would think that a small camper /trailer would be a best option. While you have the money, you can add solar, a composting toilet, etc and decide what goes in storage. There are many websites for RV’ers that have tremendous ideas on
        “boondocking” -which is living off the grid and not tied to a pedestal. The more you can make this look like a “lifestyle choice” and less “desperately homeless”, the better off you will be. If the kids complain, tell them the family is exploring a different lifestyle. Make it an adventure!
        I too have pets, and decided to give up my $2400 a month house for a mobile home. Best choice ever! I downsized, organized, and save $1600 a month in expenses. I work when & where I want, which is much different than being under pressure to bring in the $$$.

        • Smart woman.

        • ❤❤❤

      27. go to any truck stop. you can shower for 10 bucks, and they dont care if you crash out in your ride for the night..

      28. Pretty soon this will be the norm for many of us. Right now I purchased a 12x 26 portable building for me and my children and I will be installing it in my moms backyard. This is for many reasons one to help out with the care of my ailing father, help my mom with the bills in the house and to save a ton of money while working from home. To many it seems weird but to me it seems like the right thing to do especially with the direction this country is going its best for families to come together to survive this.

        • Absolutely!

      29. Check out, he’s lived in vans for years , has some good information there

      30. I can relate to that. I did it for a 1 1/2 yrs and it was a living hell in nature summer. My level of income has increased and so has my class.. but I don’t get arrogant, act like this normal, it’s going to one down and calapse.



      31. will never have to worry about rising property taxes here.
        $45. a year for 5 acres of land with house.
        We can stay as long as (or until)the SHTF…then, all of us are on our own.
        I hope this site is able to remain up until that happens. Sometimes I wonder if TPTB will take it down along with similar ones. So, if some day you log on and see “page not found” you’ll know somethin’s up.
        There was something written into obama care that affected web sites that aggregated info from other sources. The Daily Crux by Stansberry was affected and it’s been crap ever since. WTF, a healthcare law regarding web sites?
        Anyone have any more insight into that? Mac?

      32. I lived out of a cargo van for some time. I insulated it, put in a cook stove, water faucet, sink, cooler, a camper gas heater, and bed in the back.

        I stayed at a KOA campground off season for cheap rates (for access to water, hot shower, electric, and heated game room and worked in town while my girl went to school.) I could have rented for $300 a month but no pets and I had a dog, but camping was only $100 and I saved money this way to save enough for a down payment on a lake home C/Deed in a few months.

        These van people are trying to save money if they have jobs, the rest are just getting by until something good happens. With the need of a large down payment to buy a home nowdays, I don’t blame them for living cheap.

      33. Big NO, to parking in a walmart parking lot to sleep ANYWHERE in the Bay Area of San Fran. My sister was traveling down through San Leandro one night and decided to pull her van into a walmart to sleep. While she was sleeping, someone busted the passenger window and got inside and tried to rape her. She had a gun, and was able to scare them off.

        Also, I lived in the SF bay area for six years and I’ve had the misfortune of going to some of these walmarts, and there’s no way, NO way they are safe to park and sleep in.

        I also heard that walmarts down in this area are starting to have security run sleepers off. Sorry but I just think walmart is a bad idea, unless you are up in the north country of Montana, where our walmarts are mostly safe and no one will bother you. The ones in the Flathead Valley, will let you park and sleep, and I think those are relatively safe, Missoula is sketchy. Just be careful out there.

      34. Hey any railroad workers out there ? They live on the road in their train.Toilet is a Baggie to
        Go number two in plus toilet paper…….

      35. I agree with babycatcher. My husband and I are currently renting a house on 3 acres in a rural area. We’re looking into rving when our daughter is older. This is a lifestyle I actually want, and I see a lot more people doing it. I’m tired of paying rent, and I feel safer if I’m mobile during a SHTF situation. I can bug out anywhere and hide in my RV. I know a lot of roads up here in MT and caves and how to hide with foliage.

      36. We camp a lot. And you can heat a big tent in below zero temp with a coleman lantern. Turn it down low and it will burn for 14 hours. When the electric is down we put a coleman lantern in the pump house to keep it from freezing. It would be great for a van. Just be shure you have ventilation.

        • I’ve watched a couple of youtube films of a guy who makes a fire within his tent as a heat source.
          Claims it’s safe!
          Don’t think I’d be able to get any shut-eye whilst a fire was burning inside my tent.
          Two people naked in quality bedding is a good way of keeping warm.
          And if you can’t manage to fall asleep you can always practice some press-ups to pass the time! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

          • the native americans had a fire in their tents. it was a smoky fire from dried buffalo chips. made you blind but the smoke helped with the fleas and lice.

      37. If you live this way you need a gym membership. You can go there to shower everyday before you go to work.

        Get an address at a UPS Store. You need an address to get a cell phone and to put on a job application.

        Some cities will have the police bother people who sleep in their vehicles. You need to have enough places to sleep so that you’re not on the same street on the same day.

        I read a blog by someone who lived homeless. He had a part time job. Never let anyone know that he was homeless.

      38. I don’t think living in a van is a good idea for those with children. When you have kids, that is not the time to be “exploring lifestyles.” They need stability and need to be interacting with other children during the day, and in school or home-schooled with other kids. How do you school them if you are living in a van.

        If it’s a short-term, temporary situation and you are parked in a safe area, then so be it. But I don’t think it’s safe for a child, especially a woman alone with a child or children. Women and children alone are easy prey, it’s just not safe and responsible.

      39. Boy O boy, after reading this story I thank God that both my wife, and I, worked really hard to pay off our home. Hard times can happen to any of us, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to get out of debt!!!!

      40. I brought my car to the shop for some work and a salesman ask me, “Are you thinking of buying a new car?”

        I responded, “Buy a new car, I can barely afford the one I’m living in now.”

      41. I suppose a person can live however they wish, But if you work for google and choose to live in a box van,then you also choose the scrutiny that goes with it, prepare for police to visit you, prepare for your security to be in question, prepare for the possibility of a police encounter to go violent.. Choices always come with consequences.

        Can’t blame the state of the Country or economy when you are gainfully employed,and have a laundry list of options at your disposal

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