Choosing to live in a van on purpose is one thing, but doing it when you’re forced to is completely different.

If you can afford a storage unit, the setup aspect of how you arrange your things and your sleeping routines are going to be nearly the same.

Your potentially new challenges are:

  • No storage unit. In that case, what do you do with your belongings?
    You weren’t expecting to have to live this way.
  • You went into this completely unprepared. You’re not used the new noises, the new smells, and or the behavior of the people around you.

Psychological and Emotional Concerns

Questions fill your mind such as:

  • “Will I be safe tonight?”
  • “Where will I shower tomorrow?”
  • “Will I be warm enough?”
  • “How much sleep will I actually get?”

Job Worries

If you don’t have a job, how will you make yourself presentable for an interview? How will you even begin looking for a job? Do you have reliable access to the Internet?


If you are forced into living in your van or car, then you may have lost a job. You may have lost your home. Maybe you had a relationship break or any combination thereof. These are extremely stressful challenges to have to deal with on top of the new challenges you now face.

Some initial help:

  1. This is mostly mental. Survival first and foremost starts in the mind. Do anything you can to take care of your mental mindset. Write, walk, make a to-do list.
  2. Do something every day to overcome your new challenges. Visit a library to freshen up your resume. Get a gym membership. At the very least, locate the local community centers in your area and find out how much each of them charges for a shower.
  3. Follow your gut instinct. Don’t give money to people. Don’t get into anyone else’s vehicle. Don’t let them get into yours unless you absolutely trust them. Until you are used to how everything works, exercise stranger danger.
  4. Find more than one place to park in case you're asked to leave the spot you're in. Rotate among these spots. Depending on how long you may be in this situation, find another complete set of backup spots to park in addition to the ones you may already have picked out. Local businesses are never required to allow you sleep in their parking lot and can change their minds at any time.
  5. Seek out local resources every day to ease your situation.
  6. Practice rearranging the belongings in your vehicle every day to stay organized and clean. You’ll feel better.

Living this way only needs to be temporary. Following these tips will help you navigate it with less stress and increased positivity.