Plenty of people live in RVs and vans, so why would living in your car be different? It beats paying the rent, and some people don’t have a choice. So why not? Though it might seem like a good idea, you need to consider several things before making a potentially dangerous decision. Your safety should come first.
Why would anyone choose to live in a car?
It’s a good question. But some people don’t have a choice. According to The Frugal Gene, the average monthly rent in the U.S. was $1,405 last June. Considering that was during a pandemic, when people were losing their jobs, moving into a car made sense for some. Many had no better options, and a lack of choices made the decision simple.
Other people might fancy the van life movement. It sounds attractive on paper. Moving from place to place, sleeping under the stars, and taking epic photos to post on social media are charming reasons to live in your vehicle. It’s even more enticing if you work remotely and don’t need to trudge into an office every day.
But living in your car has a dark side. It’s not all pretty pictures and finding yourself.
Is living in your car safe?
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The sad truth is, living in your vehicle is not safe. Yes, most cars come with working locks. But they also come with windows that can easily break. And most windows offer little privacy, so when you’re sleeping, you have no idea who can see you.
This is especially bad for women, who are at a higher risk than men. It might not seem fair, but it’s a tragic reality.
Another consideration is that car seats aren’t designed for sleeping. They can take a toll on your back, which can lead to lasting health issues.
There are other reasons why living in your car isn’t safe. It’s unhygienic, for one. Unlike some vans and RVs, cars don’t have showers. That means you’ll have to find somewhere else to bathe.
It’s also hard to get ready in the morning if you have a job. Doing your hair and makeup and changing your clothes is uncomfortable if you worry about other people seeing you. Brushing your teeth is also difficult. Living in your car can take a toll on your mental well-being if you do so for weeks or months at a time.
What you can do to remain safe
If you’ve weighed the risks and decide to live in your car anyway, you can take a few steps to remain safer.
Considering the growing trend of people living in their cars, some parking lots in Los Angeles have hired onsite security guards, CNN reports. Many sites offer toilets and showers, too. Though this isn’t a perfect solution, it’s something you should check out if you’re living in your car.
Compare.com recommends taking precautions such as tinting your car’s windows for privacy. You should also avoid stringing lights, blasting your music, and doing anything else that alerts others to your presence. Also, park in well-lit spots with plenty of other vehicles around you. It might not be comfortable, but if someone breaks into your vehicle, a neighbor might notice and call 911.
Finally, don’t sleep with your car running. It might seem like a good idea if you need to make a quick getaway or run the A/C, but carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly.
If you can’t afford rent, you have other options besides living in your car. Though staying in a homeless shelter isn’t the most attractive option, it’s safer than sleeping in your car. You’ll also have access to amenities such as restrooms and services to help you get back on your feet. However, if you choose to call your car home, please stay safe.