Hey all you cyber vagabonds!
I get a lot of emails from all types of people. Some have great ideas for improving my situation, some are new to the life and are looking for practical advice, and some just drop me a line to share their progress. Our guest today (I'll call her ms. X for privates sake... And because it would be an awesome super hero name.) is a fellow female college student who, like me, is juggling studies with a very alternative lifestyle and ironing out the details along the way. Because I know how much we love new community members and inspiration I asked her to do a guest post here on the Tuckerbag. So here she is to talk about her experience: Ms. X:
Last year after Christmas break I walked into my apartment and got so fed up with all the stuff I had that I just kind of went nuts and got rid of almost everything. I hate cleaning. I take it back, I don’t mind cleaning, a little, to keep a place neat, but that in depth clean everything, dust everything, maintain everything, every week drives me crazy. So my quarters took on a very Spartan atmosphere and I really liked it.At the end of last semester my landlord raised the rent. I looked around for alternatives, but I’m a bargain shopper and my apartment was already the best bargain on the rental housing market. Spending time at home just started turning sour for me. I realized how much it cost, how much I didn’t want any of it, so I spent all my time away from the house. I basically started living out of my car. I cooked at friends’ houses, showered at the gym, napped at the library. I only went home to sleep, change clothes, and wash dishes. The only thing I did miss at home was my cat so I started bringing him along too. I got him a leash and harness and put a litter box and food and water in the floor boards. He loves it. He is an excellent traveler. When the weather was mild enough I left him in the car with the windows cracked while I went to class or work. (I would never do this if the temperature was even a little bit high.) He settled in nicely.We both just started living out of my car 24/7. We even drove out to the local national forest campsites and just slept there a few nights. Then my duh moment arrived. Why not just get rid of the apartment entirely? So that’s what I did. I broke my lease, no deposit return, but he wasn’t going to give it back to me anyway, rented a small storage room for a while, and moved into my car. At first I parked in friends’ driveways and in various places all over campus. We have this lovely spot down by the river with a bunch of trees. I can pull my car in there and it is really beautiful and secluded. I string up my hammock (I slept in a hammock at my apartment too) on nice nights and just enjoy. My cat climbs in there with me on colder nights.Now I park in several different areas. There are some really nice suburban neighborhoods on the edge of town with some mini-wilderness type areas that are perfect for sleeping in. I can park at the campus library parking lot. My church also gave me a key so I camp there sometimes which is really nice because of the bathrooms, laundry room, showers, and fully stocked kitchen. It is a little creepy out there at night so I don’t stay there really often. I also just pull in at hotel parking lots sometimes. They have security guards who make sure everything is safe, but they aren’t diligent enough to notice that the car doesn’t belong to a guest.I do my laundry at the Laundromat or at a friend’s house in exchange for chores or dinner. I can cook in a variety of places. My backpacking stove works anywhere. I also have a rice cooker and an electric wok that I can hook up in the student lounge, the campus cafeteria, or at work. I shower mostly at the on campus gym, but I have used the showers in the vet tech labs before…shhh, don’t tell. I like setting up an outdoor shower when I go to the local campgrounds. They are really basic and secluded and no one bothers me.I make a note to befriend mechanics wherever I go, so maintaining my vehicle is no problem. Thanks to my dad I have some basic vehicle maintenance knowledge, but I am learning to do more and more to fix my own vehicle. Once a week I take some quarters and unload everything at the car wash. I vacuum everything and shampoo regularly. I can’t stand strong odors. I scoop the litter box three or four times a day. Part of the bargain I have with my Mom and Dad is that I will take every security measure possible. So I sleep within an arm’s reach of a crowbar, a hunting knife, pepper spray, a taser, and a handgun (licensed of course). Seems a little extreme but Daddy is very protective. He also has me signed up for self defense classes next summer. Who knows, maybe it’ll be fun.So far the police haven’t disturbed me. Then again, this is a very eccentric city full of eccentric people. It is not an unusual sight to see people walking around in strange costumes or a musical group setting up on the side walk at the most random times of the year. We have tons of people who set up tents or just carry their sleeping bags around on bicycles and then sleep outside at night year around. The climate is tropical; I can still wear flip flops, shorts, and tank tops in December sometimes. The police are really easy going with a great sense of humor. The transition has been smooth, but I have lived here a few years. Oh, one thing I have found really useful. I went ahead and shelled out the money for a $50 donation to the local police department. In exchange I got a bumper sticker that identified me as a supportive, law-abiding citizen and a friend of the police. This has saved me many times. It does not necessarily keep me out of trouble, but it gives me the benefit of the doubt.So far keeping my secret has not been a big deal. I let a few close friends know for safety purposes, though the rest are in the dark. As far as dating goes, I ride my bike so that no one volunteers to drive me home. At first I found it difficult to avoid the inevitable questions about where I live, but I have learned to avoid the topic altogether so the dating scene has improved a little bit.
Good luck Ms. X and please keep us updated. I love that police bumper sticker idea!
There have always been awesome people vehicle dwelling around the country but the sketchy economy has really brought it into the main stream. There's a whole segment of the population who are faced with telling their families, getting to work, bathing, cooking, etc. The more we can learn from each other the better, so thanks for keeping in touch.
Questions? You can email me and I'll do my best but for really knowledgeable people check out the Cheap Living forum at http://www.cheaprvlivingforum.com. Good luck to all!