Living In Your Car: A Buyers Guide

Ford Transit

I’ll preface this post by stating that I in no way think people having no choice but to start living out of their vehicles is in any way funny…it isn’t.  But if you had to do it, this hopefully this post will provide some helpful info or at least give you some important points to consider.

An article came out on CNBC today detailing the plight of some Californians who have been forced to move into their cars as they couldn’t withstand the state’s ever-increasing cost of housing. Housing costs are fast outpacing income levels and many people have had to make the hard choice to call their cars home.

So, say you were in this situation and had to make this choice.  What would make the most sense? Everyone’s situation is of course different, but it got me to thinking:  what would make the best out of an such an unfortunate predicament? 

There are several options: 

  • Regular ole “cars”
  • Minivans/Vans
  • “Commercial” vehicles


This in my opinion is the least desirable and should be avoided if at all possible.  By “car” I mean just that: a coupe, sedan or crossover that you already own.  There’s just not enough space, regardless of the model.  Have you ever “slept” in the back of a car?  You’re not actually sleeping and the bags under your eyes will attest to that.  Add to that the lack of storage, inability to move around without resorting to contortion and just general space to use a laptop, pay bills or any of the other daily things you may need to do to keep life moving forward.

Moving out of your house and into a vehicle is pretty dire but it doesn’t have to ruin your life.  


A pronounced step up from traditional cars, minivans and vans put utility first and at this point you could probably couldn’t care less about the looks of what you’re driving.  Living space is absolutely crucial when calling a vehicle home and these guys give you more of those precious square feet. Add in some of the more opulent options afforded some modern minivans (multiple infotainment screens, built-in vacuums, multi-zone HVAC etc) and your time spent without a house might be less than unbearable.  Heck, these might even start to feel like something you could call home without wincing after a while…Big upgrade.

“Commercial” Vans:

The penthouse…

While labelled “commercial”, these types of vehicles are finding their way into residential SoCal driveways in large numbers due to their practicality.  I’m talking about Ford Transits, Nissan NV3500’s and the like.  While lauded for their ability to swallow entire families with all their active lifestyle gear, these vehicles would also make an ideal temporary residence.  

Because they’re used for a miriad of purposes, these workhorses come in variants that are nothing but bare metal walls inside. No carpet, no plastic cladding..just a bare open space…why would you want that?  Customization my friend!   YouTube is chock full of videos of people turning these things into mobile apartments and the options are virtually limitless.  And with no existing interior, you don’t have to waste time gutting it.  Hardwood floors, a comfy bed, flatscreen TV’s…you can even hang a little chandelier if you’d like. 

Who knows, you might not even want to go back to “stationary” living once you experience one of these done well.

Income inequality in this country is increasing and for a growing number of people, cars are becoming far more than an appliance to take you from Point A to Point B.  If you should happen to find yourself in this predicament, or if you just want to do the car camping thing as an adventure, remember: a home doesn’t need to be nailed to the ground…and spring for a good stereo because good music makes everyone smile.

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