It’s hard to believe, but exactly one year ago today I embarked on a journey that would forever change my perspective of life and the world around me. I have learned so many valuable life lessons not just about myself, but about people, about God, about different cities and cultures, about traffic, about the thirst for adventure and the importance of great friends and healthy relationships. Although a very enlightening experience, there is such a thing of spending too much time alone and after a full year of the “rolling-stone, carry no moss” lifestyle, I’m at the place where I’m ready to take what I’ve learned and apply it to a more consistent, well-balanced life around great friends and people I can invest in. I’m thankful for all the places I got to see and the people I met along the way. If #hotelprius has taught me anything it is that I don’t ever want to have experiences like these again, by myself. Life was meant to be shared and experienced in community. As for what’s next, I’m headed back to Austin to be with friends and regroup for the holidays. I have a few tentative plans for what is next, but need to rest and really assess what is best for me in the the next season of life. I do have plans to turn this last year of my life into a little coffee table book, to remember for years to come. I hope to have it printed with many of the pictures and morning musings not published on the blog soon. I can only hope you will all buy it, as it would be nice to share what I have learned and pass it on to others who could maybe benefit from the experience. Who knows? Thank you to everyone who has supported me and followed me during this crazy journey of mine this last year. I’m thankful for all your kind words and support, more than you know. Let Life’s Big Adventure continue…. -Chris
There is a lot that goes into living out of a car. For this post, Ive added some text to a few pictures to show you exactly how I have organized my Prius into a fully functional efficiency apartment. Complete with Bed, table, stove, desk, coffee table, pantry, closet, laundry room, mailbox, bathroom, curtains, bike, fan, basement and attic!
Gotta see it to believe it.
With Coffee. Delicious. Strong. Easy to make, Coffee. I’ve tried all kinds of methods for making a quick, messless cup of Joe in the morning, but this way is by far my favorite. The Jetboil Flash Stove is perhaps the biggest contributor for a quick delicious cup of the good stuff. This thing can boil 80z of water in under 2 and a half minutes. Woah! But the GSI H2Jo coffee filter is my go-to for a great tasting cup of coffee. Originally designed for a filter for a Nalgene bottle, the H2Jo doubles as a coffeecup filter, with the right coffeecup of course. Highly recommend these great products for fresh coffee on the road.
When people first learn about how I live out of my car, questions always follow. And that’s cool. I get it, you’re curious. Here are the top 10 questions I get about Hotel Prius. Hopefully, this will help shed some light on how and why I choose to live out of my car. If you have a question thats not listed below, add a comment, I’ll be happy to reply.
#1 Where do you shower?
For some reason this is the #1 most asked question about hotel prius. Its simple, the YMCA. For $25 a month (student membership) I have access to all the local YMCAs in Austin. Fortunately for me, there is always one close to the areas of town I like to hang out so showering or washing up is never really an issue. The downside is its not anytime I want. It takes a little planning because of their business hours. But other than that, it is as simple as bringing a backpack with my toiletries, a towel, and an extra change of clothes. It couldn’t be any easier honestly. And for only $25. Some people pay more that that on their water bill.
#2 Where do you park?
Anywhere I want really. I have my favorite spots around town depending on what neighborhood I am in and where I want to be close to the next morning. Really, I can park anywhere that isn’t private property and doesn’t have some kind of curfew. I have a few favorite views of the city that I go to more than others, but after two months of really knowing the city I am in, this is really the least of my concerns. Want to know how I find parking? See my other post here: 4 Tips to Finding Places to Park and Sleep While on the Road.
#3 What fits in your car?
Surprisingly alot. More than most people would expect. Maybe that attests to my ability to maximize space or my fixation with efficiency, but with just over two months of trial and error, I now feel my car has everything it needs to live (reasonably) comfortably. I have a soft bed, a closet, curtains, a desk, a kitchen table and chair, a pantry, a bike rack, a laundry basket, a charging outlet, and a balcony (my roof). I even mounted a solar panel for harnessing free electricity during the day for changing at night. I also have a bathroom if you count the nearby tree. Its a small efficiency apartment and its all I really need. The only thing it really needs is an ironing board, but i’m still working on a fold out design concept for that. Coming Spring 2014. 🙂
#4 Does it get Old?
I imagine it could get old for some people but not me. I like it. I’m weird like that. And honestly, after you’ve been doing something for long enough, you get used to it. Things just become easier over time. It’s really all about developing systems and sticking to those systems. See my post on that here: The Importance of Developing Systems
#5 How long are you going to live out of your car?
As long as it takes. For me it comes down to saving money in order to do the things I want to do in the future, while at the same time being able to say yes to the things I want to do now. With the mobility of a moving home, and with minimized bills I have that freedom. If I want to take a week off I can. If I want to drive to a national park for the heck of it and stay in the mountains for a few days (my favorite thing ever) I can. If I get a job and need to move, I’m ready. I’m willing and able to do this as long as needed. If I’m honest with myself though, I wouldn’t want to do this for more than a year.
#6 Where do you do for work/money?
I work in Austin at a 4 star hotel right in the center of town. I work for tips. I work banquets and various lunch-ins and wedding parties during the day and serve tables at night. I really enjoy it. At least for the time being. I meet really great people from all over the world and have really great conversations about life and business and am making great money just being myself and doing what I’m good at. It’s a temporary gig until I’m able to find the next thing. But for now, its my money maker and a great place to be for this season in life. My real passion is working with kids, but finding a salary that I can live on is hard to find.
#7 What is the best part of living out of your car?
The freedom. That, and the satisfaction of knowing that I can make this work. It feels so rewarding to live the life I choose. Because I choose it, and its not forced upon me. I love the the freedom of going and doing what I want and not having the constant pressure of fitting into a mold and a lifestyle that I don’t want or feel I need in this season of life. I am open and free to do what I want when I want, and the limited space that #hotelprius brings me prevents me from buying things that I know I don’t need. I don’t buy the extra stuff i don’t really need simply because I just don’t have the room for it. It’s the perfect kind of accountability and forces me to save my money for more important things, like living life and blessing those around me with things they need. It’s fun.
#8 What is the hardest part of living out of your car?
If I’m honest, being alone. Don’t get me wrong, having my alone time is great and is certainly needed for as much as I am around people everyday. But too much time alone is unhealthy. The truth is, when I spend too much time alone, I have a tendency to start overthinking things and stay inside my head. There is a whole world inside my head and I can go there and get lost if I let myself. Usually when I get to that place I get fixated on my problems and stoop into a weird kind of depression. I don’t like getting to that place and have to stay intentional about finding good friends and good people to stay around. But that is not always available, and in those moments, I find it to be most difficult thing in living in hotel prius. Either that or needing to poop late at night. #kiddingbutnotreally
#9 What’s next for you?
Who knows. Right now I’m just enjoying living life and making the most of what I have. I’m staying open to opportunities and saying yes to them when those opportunities present themselves. I’m learning to let go and let God take care of the rest. Its one of the most liberating experiences I’ve ever had and I really see myself as a blessed person for being able to take such an adventure.
#10 What would you say to someone who wants to live out of their car?
It’s not for everyone. I probably make it look more glamorous than it really is. I mean its cool, don’t get me wrong, but i’d just say be questioning your motives for why you want to do it. If you want to do it because you want to run away from your problems or because you are desperate for change, all you will be really doing is exchanging your problems for different ones, and the change you think are looking for, this might not be it. If you are doing it because you need to minimize your bills and live more efficiently, then this may be a good option for you. I will say this, having the right kind of car is very important. You probably couldn’t do this in a civic or anything of that size. Quite frankly a van is the best way to go if your looking for space, but nothing beats the MPG of a prius. That being said, there are right ways to do this and there are many more wrong ways to go about it. If you are considering this, just make sure you prepare yourself adequately and learn as much as you can from other people first. Learn from their mistakes to minimize yours. And follow this blog. 🙂
You have any more pressing questions, shoot a comment. I’ll answer. Promise.
The vibration of my phone under my shoulder breaks my sleep. Immediately I can hear the sounds of city sirens roaring past the streets below me. My car is neatly tucked away in a small corner of the fifth floor parking garage on Congress and 1st. As I lay still, my eyes fading in and out of consciousness, I take notice of the sirens beginning to slowly fade, until I can’t hear them anymore. I doze off again and a awake a few minutes later. I’ve forgotten where I am. I open my eyes. Through my back window I can see the city that I have come to know and admire in our last few weeks together. The air is brisk. Even through my fog covered windows I can feel the outside air. It’s colder today then it has been lately, but I like it. It reminds me of Boston- my old home.
It’s early. I slip on my sandals and grab my pack from the front seat that is already preloaded with the days essentials and slowly make my way up the small steps to the double glass doors of the YMCA. The only thing in my mind is the warm water that will run down my face and back from the locker room showers. This is where I bath. Not everyday, but on days where I need it. For $25 a month I have access to every Austin YMCA in the area. A water bill alone in this city is more expensive than that. I’m lucky. I guess privacy is a perk to your own bathroom, but I don’t mind. After you’ve seen so many old-people butts, you kind of just get used to it. I like getting here early to get dibs on the warmest water and best showers. I like the shower in the corner. It’s got the best water pressure and most room. I take my time. It’s a holiday today and my week doesn’t really start until tomorrow. The day is mine to do what I want with. All 86,400 seconds of it. What will I do next? My options are plentiful.
I open my eyes and for a moment I forget where I am. My back is against the window and I can feel the small draft through the window. Sleepily, I raise my head and take in a deep breathe through my nose. Exhale. I arch my back and turn around to look out my window. Perfect! What a beautiful way to wake up. Immediately I take notice to the water. Like glass, reflecting the trees and small buildings across the river. I nexttake notice to the family of ducks playing and flapping in the water, breaking the illusion of glass, reminding me that I share this moment with the animals that have lived here from the beginning. As I lay cocooned in my sleeping bag, still, I watch. I watch as the sun makes it’s way through the small openings of my curtains and I feel it’s warmth on my face and neck. I lay in its warmth for several moments as my eyes adjust and transition to the bridge. Commuters. People sharing this beautiful city with me. These people, all going the same way briefly, but will eventually arrive at different destinations by the mornings end.
Today marks 1 month if living in Hotel Prius. It has been interesting to say the least. I gotta say, it’s do-able. Obviously, its a temporary gig and I don’t plan to do this for the rest of my life, but one thing is for sure, I’ve saved a ton of money just after 1 month. People ask me if I’m tired of it yet? Honestly, not really. It’s worth it. The benefits outweigh the cost any day. I have my systems and my routines and have even developed some consistency. In case your unsure of why I’m doing this. I’m doing this because one, I don’t want to pay for an apartment I don’t need and two, I’m still looking for the right job to land. It’s tough work finding jobs. In my free time I search and apply for jobs and this is a process that takes some time. Signing a least only limits my options. I’m mobile. I work. And I have the freedom to go or do what I want. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me. I’m happy.
Warm thoughts. Think warm thoughts. It’s 34 degrees this morning and I’ll do anything to stay cocooned in my sleeping bag. My pillow is cold. So cold it feels wet, but I like it. I rub my face in it multiple times until the warmth of my skin reheats the pillow. This mornings’ wake up call is different. I can hear the opening of closing of car doors. The last few days of rain has caused the creek to rise a few inches, making this place somewhat of a not-so best kept secret. I open my eyes and see an older woman cupping her hands around my front window, peeping in. I’m startled, but I make eye contact to make it more uncomfortable for her than me. It works. She hurries back to her car and I can hear her say, “There is someone sleeping in there.” Feeling a little invaded I question, Who does that? Who looks through someone’s car like that? I get out to make it more awkward. She’s by her car now. “Sorry, sorry. We were just curious,” she says. “It’s okay” I say,trying to be friendly, but at the same time letting her know it’s not so polite to look through someone’s car especially when there are curtains. I smile and wave to let her know we are cool. She must feel so uncomfortable. I wait for her to leave and begin my morning routine. This stuff is bound to happen every once in awhile I guess. Just take it and run with it.