What It’s Like to Live in Your Car on the Streets of NYC

Analyzing the top news stories across the web
April 11 2014 9:12 AM

What It’s Like to Live in Your Car in New York City

Manhattan
The rent is too damn high.

Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

In certain places around the U.S., it’s illegal to live in your car. Those who do face fines as well as jail time.

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But Reddit user BlueMcCrew has had no issues since he started living in his tiny Honda Fit on the streets of New York City—where the practice is legal—in November 2013.

In a recent post on /r/Frugal, the 25-year-old designer described how he’s been living in his car to avoid outrageous rent costs and save enough money to pay back his student loans.

Now, he saves $600 every month out of his $3,500 paycheck (after taxes), and is honest with his co-workers and parents about his living situation. So far, BlueMcCrew says living in his small Honda Fit—outfitted with a memory foam mattress—has been working extremely well.

He answered fellow Reddit users’ questions about his lifestyle. We’ve compiled some here, edited for clarity and grammar.

How do you stay clean?

“I shower at the gym, it use be Planet Fitness when I was super frugal, but I have just upgraded and it has been a world of difference. So I now have towel service and a locker where I can store some clothes—the rest are in plastic bins in my car, although I’m going to upgrade to a custom dresser that I plan to build soon.”

What is your typical day-to-day routine like?

“Wake up, go to work, sign in, go to the bathroom and brush my teeth, or wake up, go to the gym, then go get breakfast, and then work.”

What’s your car’s set up?

“I had my windows tinted to the max that I could, which was something like 35 percent. And then after that I put Walmart cling on tints on in the back, where I sleep.

“If I arrange the seats the right way I fit perfectly. I do find myself a little cramped, but it sure beats rent.”

What are the top five things you rely on?

“Top 5 are memory foam bed, adequate blankets, extra cellphone batteries, 6-foot cable to charge phone in the back seat, window visor.”

Do you ever feel unsafe?

“I never feel 100 percent safe, so I’m always kind of on edge, but I sleep pretty soundly and I’m pretty sure I could handle any situation that could arise.

“I don’t really miss not having a room, but I let my buddy borrow my car for a week so I crashed at his place, and it was nice to have a home. It just gives you a sense of security.”

What do you do for Internet?

“I have data on my phone and spare batteries that can last me through the night.”

What have you found you can live without?

“Mostly just ‘stuff.’ Every item I own now has a lot of value to it. It has helped me in my path of becoming a minimalist and made me really appreciate ‘space.’”

What’s your wardrobe like?

“I have six T-shirts, two long-sleeve shirts, five pants, seven pairs of socks and underwear. One jacket.”

Have you had any trouble with cops or parking?

“The car is super discreet. I have only ran into slight problems three times so far. Luckily none dealing with moving my car in the middle of the night, but when the day comes, I’m going to [be respectful]. Being polite, and clean makes all the difference.

“I definitely have freaked out a couple of cops when they were writing me a ticket in the mornings I have overslept.”

How do you “get lucky”?

“If I get lucky I can normally get a hotel room, which is still cheaper than what rent would be for a week and makes you look pretty ballin’.”

How long do you plan to live in your car?

“I think so far the winter is going to be easier, as you can always get an extra blanket for warmth, but there isn’t much I can do to cool down. And there are no bugs in the winter. I don’t know how long, as long as I can or if I find the perfect spot. My current plan is to stay in NYC for 3 years so maybe that long.

“I’m kind of addicted to having two paychecks a month, and seeing my loans go down. So maybe until I move out of the city, or find the perfect situation, aka awesome roommates, cheap rent, close to work, and an amazing roof to chill on.”

Megan Willett is a lifestyle reporter at Business Insider. Follow her on Twitter.

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