I'm Living In My Car & Need Help - Part 2
Staying Safe & Staying LegalThe blunt truth is that anybody living in their car is an easy target for outside intimidation. Criminals are by far your biggest concern, but the police may also find you suspicious. Where you park, when you park, and how you act all contribute to keeping you safe and free from harassment.
Choose safe places to park, keep a low profile, and don't create any routines that will either have locals calling the police to check out who you are or let criminals target you for a hit. Unfortunately, this unpleasant reality means you're going to have to sacrifice some comfort and privacy.
Here are a few tips about choosing locations:
Choose a safe spot that's generally out of the way, but not utterly hidden from public sight. Crooks usually go after targets completely out of public view.
Choose a location that at least has moderate lighting, if not quite well lit. Bad guys prefer the darkness.
Be discreet and don't make it completely obvious that you're spending the night in that spot. Arrive late, pulling up slowly to your chosen spot with the radio off. Shut off the engine as soon as you stop and kill all lights, including the interior light.
Make sure all doors are locked. Need we say more on this?
Don't leave your windows wide open.
Your keys are everything, so keep them safe and handy. You may need to pull off in a hurry. Remember, if someone steals your car, you have no place to live.
If you've got a cell phone, keep it charged and handy at all times in case of emergencies.
Don't trespass! It's illegal and can lead to all kinds of trouble with the law.
Avoid looking or acting in ways that might seem suspicious.
Don't urinate outside. If you're spotted, you're asking for unwanted police attention. Urinating outside is even classed as a sex crime in some states. Instead, attend to your needs at a store or restaurant before settling in.
Protect Your BatteryYou need power. You need to keep your mobile charged, which isn't a big draw on your battery. Neither is a laptop or a small fan. However, larger items like heaters and mini-fridges could kill your battery if you keep them plugged in overnight. Let's be very clear about this: Whatever you do, don't drain your battery overnight. Never mind the hassle of hoping somebody will give you a jump-start; completely draining your car battery can result in permanent damage.
Other Items to ConsiderThe gadgets and tools you have on hand can make all the difference. Here's a list of things worth adding to your survival toolkit:
If possible, keep a spare key in a separate place. You'll want some backup should you get locked out of your home.
Get a flashlight with multiple settings. A dim setting is ideal for night use when you want to avoid unwanted attention.
A jump-starter battery-box costs about as much as a set of jumper cables, and it could get you out of a major tight spot should your battery die.
A 3-in-one power jack for your cigarette lighter is a bright idea because one plug socket is never enough!
An inverter which converts 12V DC to AC will help you power your household devices.
Many cars have a feature that cuts off power to the cigarette lighter when the key is out of the ignition. So, what do you do? The best option is to charge devices during the day, avoiding having to charge anything during the night. You could hire a mechanic to eliminate the cut-off feature on your car, but unless you've got the cash to spare, your final option is to leave the key in the accessory position all night.
Look AheadThe immediate challenges of living in a vehicle will always take top priority, but you need to pay attention to longer-term plans as well. If you're out of work, keep looking. Check in regularly with social service offices that may have programs available that will help you find employment, job training, or a more permanent place to stay. These challenges can be frustrating, but as with most things in life, the key to success is to take the initiative and never give up. Your day will come.
Final WordJust because you're struggling with the major inconvenience of living in your car, it doesn't mean you have to be miserable. You could try and turn this time in your life into a grand adventure! Whether you're living it up or down in the dumps, just remember that this emergency housing isn't permanent. Look on the bright side. If you're sleeping in your car, at least you have a car, which is a lot more than many homeless people have! Your car isn't only a source of shelter; it's also a potential source of income. Many ridesharing and delivery jobs allow you to use your car to earn money. Check out Uber, Lyft, and Amazon Flex for more details. Just be sure to keep your vehicle clean, stash your living needs in the trunk before you start working, and keep yourself clean and presentable.
For a time in his 20s, Chris Pratt (yes, the same Chris Pratt who starred in Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy) was homeless and living in his van. Now, in his 30s, he's worth around $30 million. He never let the temporary hurdle of living in his car keep him from pursuing his dreams, and neither should you.