Could You Live in Your Car?

Homelessness is a deep fear in the American ideal. Most Americans support measures which ban panhandling and sleeping in public, two trademark behaviors of homeless people.

Four features define the majority of the homeless. Over half are considered mentally ill. A large portion are homeless because of illness. Others have just been released from jail or prison and have nowhere to go.

Finally, a large chunk of people can’t afford to live where they work. They are homeless and have a job, but don’t make enough money to bank a stable residence even with the help of a roommate. So, they secretly live in their cars. These are their stories.

Case studies

The secret, said one, who lived in the San Francisco area in her truck for 14 months, is not to appear to be homeless. A 24-hour gym pass gives a person access to a shower. She said she kept his belongings in a Public Storage locker and rotated clothes, towels, etc. She worked 40 hours a week and made $20 too much a month to receive public assistance.

She said she slept in the seat of her truck with the seat reclined as far as it would go, and now that she has a place to live is grateful every day for things like a way to heat food and being able to go to the freezer for a bowl of ice cream.

Another lived in a Honda CR-V. He got odd jobs on Craigslist by using wifi in restaurants with an old 3G cell phone that didn’t have a SIM card. He saved enough money to tint the windows of the Honda very dark, which he parked in different locations to sleep. He worked three different jobs, and one was a restaurant job, so he was able to eat well.

Another said he moved from Cleveland to California in his Pontiac, and couldn’t afford an apartment. He said being able to eat good food was a problem for him, and the first six months he gained 20 pounds eating fast food. He said even though the situation wasn’t ideal, he learned how kind people could be, and that he would prefer living in his car to going back to Ohio.

One mentioned he made $33,000 and had it stashed in his car.


The majority of these people were not without fiscal resources; they just didn’t have enough to afford a ‘normal’ lifestyle. While they said they battled fear and depression at times, it also taught them to need very little, and what would be worse than being homeless would be giving up. All of them were very secretive about their situation at the time, and many still prefer to remain anonymous when they tell their stories.

Common necessities

All of the subjects had elements in common: work, a PO box for mail, monthly storage for belongings, and tinted windows on the vehicle. They all agreed hygiene was the highest priority, and it was important to keep the vehicle clean and in good working order to not draw any attention. Nutrition was also always mentioned as an issue. One listed their expenses as: $40 for storage + $30 for gym+ $100 for food + $3 for phone bill + $15 for laundry + $40 for gas = $228 per month.

The answer is

The answer to the original question, “Could you live in your car?” is yes. You would need to have a certain amount of grit, for which Americans are famous. You would need to be well-organized and have all of the elements mentioned as common necessities. Even though there is a social stigma against homelessness, people will do what they have to to survive, and in some cases, thrive under some less-than-ideal circumstances.

If you decide you want to sell your car, give us a call.

If you are in the Phoenix Metro area and want a no-hassle cash offer on an old, wrecked, unwanted, salvage or burned car, SUV, van or truck, give us a call at I Buy Junk Cars 480-771-8290.

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