How To Choose The Best Cars For Living Out Of?

The increasing popularity of vanlife has made tiny living more accessible for many, leading some to take the concept of a home on wheels to an even tinier level… living in a car.

Rather than doing so out of necessity due to homelessness, these people are choosing to live in a car for the freedom to travel and see the country with very few living expenses.

However, there is a huge variety of types and sizes of cars to choose from. So, if you’re going to live out of a car, what is the best one?

I have done the research to find the top cars to choose if you’re living on the road full time, and in this article, I will discuss each type and outline their pros and cons to help you choose the right vehicles to live out of!

10 Best Cars You’ll Love Living In

When you’re living in your car instead of just using it to get you from place to place, there’s a lot to think about.

As I researched and compared the best cars to choose for full-time living, it came down to a few key considerations:

  • Space/size
  • Gas mileage
  • Mobility/off-grid capability
  • All-season comfort
  • Stealthiness
  • Reliability/maintenance
  • Cost

Let’s get into comparing the best types of cars to live in!

1. Best Small Car to Live In: Toyota Prius

Toyota-Prius
@nikkidelventhal

The smallest car by far that people live in is the Toyota Prius. Surprisingly, using a Prius as your home can actually be quite comfortable, even if you’re traveling as a couple.

According to my research, some couples or single people with dogs have transformed their Prius into a comfortable home on the road.

Typically, they will either fold down the rear bench seat or remove it entirely to maximize space for a bed.

Some single travelers also remove the front passenger seat for even more space.

While a Prius has more limited space than other vehicles you can live in, it has some advantages.

For one, its hybrid engine makes it possible to run the engine all night long to provide heating or air conditioning depending on the climate you’re camped in.

This also means that it’s the best car on this list with regard to gas mileage. In addition, the low profile of the Toyota Prius makes it an amazing stealth camping vehicle.

Pros/Cons of Living in a Toyota Prius

  • Space/size: As the smallest car on this list, the size and space in a Prius are a drawback. However, lots of people have found inventive ways to maximize space and make their Priuses comfortable homes on wheels. Rating: 1/5
  • Gas mileage: With its hybrid engine, a Prius is the best vehicle with regard to gas mileage, so that’s definitely a perk with this type of car whether you’re living in it or using the Prius as a commuting car. Rating: 5/5
  • Mobility/off-grid capability: While a Prius is a great car for getting around on paved roads, it is not designed for off-grid driving. Rating: 1/5
  • All-season comfort: Priuses are not built with extra insulation, but the hybrid engine can allow you to run the heat through the night. Rating: 3/5
  • Stealthiness: Toyota Priuses are one of the stealthiest vehicles on this list, however, their small size makes it tricky if you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Rating: 4/5
  • Reliability/maintenance: Generally, a Prius is a very reliable vehicle. However, if it breaks down – especially if it breaks down in a non-urban environment – it may be difficult to find a shop equipped to work on the hybrid system, and even if you do, it may take time to get any necessary replacement parts. Rating: 2/5
  • Cost: The price for a new Prius starts at $24,525, which puts it around the middle for cost. Rating: 3/5

Overall Score of Living in a Toyota Prius: 19/35

2. Best Mid-Sized Car to Live In: Hatchback

Hatchback-1
@vanclans

When you’re considering living in a car that’s about the size of an average sedan, there are lots of options to choose from.

However, the style that’s best suited for living is a hatchback, since you can utilize the trunk area for your living space.

Some of the most common types of hatchback cars are Chevrolet Spark, Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Subaru Outback, Chevrolet Cruze Hatch, Mazda 3, and Honda Fit.

Hatchbacks have slightly more space than a Prius, but they’re still quite tiny as compared with most of the other cars on this list.

Their compact car size has some advantages, though, especially when it comes to gas mileage, reliability, and stealth factor when you’re parked overnight in urban areas.

Pros/Cons of Living in a Hatchback

  • Space/size: Although it’s larger than a Prius, hatchback cars are still very limited for space. You can fit a couple in the back for sleeping, but it will be a bit cramped. Rating: 1/5
  • Gas mileage: Hatchbacks are very fuel-efficient and will allow better gas mileage than many other cars. On average, you can expect to get about 31 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on the highway. Rating: 5/5
  • Mobility/off-grid capability: Some hatchbacks have 4×4 capability, which makes them more off-grid than a Toyota Prius or a minivan. However, the hatchback rear design makes it tricky to add things like fixed solar panels. There’s an easy work-around, though: just use the portable panels and power station, and you’re all set! Rating: 3/5
  • All-season comfort: Hatchbacks are normal cars, so you can’t leave the heat or air conditioning on all night long or your car battery will be dead as a doornail in the morning. They don’t have added insulation, either, so you’ll need to find portable methods of managing hot or cold temperatures, or travel with the seasons. Rating: 0/5
  • Stealthiness: Due to its size, a hatchback is great for stealth camping because people probably won’t suspect that someone is sleeping in such a small vehicle. Be sure to invest in good window coverings! Like with the Prius, the only downside of stealth camping in a hatchback is the inability to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Rating: 4/5
  • Reliability/maintenance: Most of the popular types of hatchback are made by Honda, Chevrolet, Ford and Subaru, which are all known for producing some of the more reliable cars. That said, they’re also notorious for requiring a head gasket replacement and other common issues, so a hatchback may need more maintenance than other cars. Rating: 3/5
  • Cost: Hatchbacks are often a little bit more expensive than other cars of similar size, and the average price for one is around $35,300. Rating: 2/5

Overall Score of Living in a Hatchback: 18/35

3. Best Off-Road Car to Live In: Jeep

Jeep
@that_belgian_jeepgirl

The best car to live in if you want a life of adventure while on the road is a Jeep.

People often use their Jeep as an adventure home on wheels by installing a rooftop tent or replacing the roof with a pop-up like this one.

Jeeps are larger than other cars, but they aren’t as versatile inside as some of the other vehicles we’ll discuss on this list.

But if you need a little bit more space than a hatchback, a Jeep is an excellent option for full time living.

The biggest perk with living in a Jeep is your ability to get off-road and find remote campsites way out in nature.

If you’re not stealth camping and you add a pop-up top or rooftop tent to your Jeep, you can really live in comfort and experience some amazing adventures.

Pros/Cons of Living in a Jeep

  • Space/size: Jeeps are quite boxy, which makes them perfect for converting into a home on wheels because they have fewer curves that you find with other cars. The interior height is better as well, but you can really maximize your interior space if you strip the interior, remove the back seat, and consider moving the stock roll bar like this Jeep-living enthusiast. Rating: 3/5
  • Gas mileage: As a larger car with 4×4 capability, a Jeep’s gas mileage is not as efficient as a smaller car. You will get about 17 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway. Rating: 3/5
  • Mobility/off-grid capability: With a hard, flat roof and four-wheel-drive, a Jeep is a perfect off-road vehicle for living on the go. Even if you install a pop-up top, you can still attach solar panels to soak up energy from the sun and live off-grid for longer. Rating: 5/5
  • All-season comfort: Jeeps are insulated just like any other car, so they don’t have an edge when it comes to keeping you warm in the winter or cool in the summer. Rating: 0/5
  • Stealthiness: If you decide to install a pop-up top or rooftop tent to expand your usable space, your Jeep won’t be very stealthy. However, there is lots of space inside if you don’t have these add-ons, and your vehicle will be much more stealthy. We’ve concluded our rating on the stealthiness of the Jeep on its own, without rooftop upgrades. Rating: 3/5
  • Reliability/maintenance: Compared with other compact SUVs, Jeeps don’t have a great reliability rating. On average, you’ll probably spend about $700 per year on repairs, but that’s pretty standard. Luckily, major repairs are uncommon with Jeeps so they are pretty reliable and easy to maintain. Rating: 3/5
  • Cost: Between the Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Renegade, Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Gladiator, the average cost is around $28,100. A Jeep Rubicon runs a little more expensive, between $38,975 and $42,475. Rating: 3/5

Overall Score of Living in a Jeep: 20/35

4. Best Family Car to Live In: Minivan

Minivan
@annisophie_

With multiple rows of seats, and sliding side doors, minivans are spacious and highly functional vehicles to live in.

By removing the rear passenger seats, you can create a lot of interior space for a sleeping area and cooking area.

The sliding doors and rear hatch provide versatile access points for the different areas within your home on wheels.

Their low profile limits off-road abilities, but that also makes minivans excellent cars for stealth camping inside.

The long, flat roof is spacious enough to accommodate solar panels as well as either a rooftop cargo carrier or adventure gear like paddleboards, surf boards, kayaks, or skis/snowboards.

Pros/Cons of Living in a Minivan

  • Space/size: The increased headroom and elongated design of minivans make these cars great to live in for reasons of space. Minivans typically have two rows of seats behind the cab, which you can remove to open up the rear area to create a sleeping area and a small cooking area. Rating: 4/5
  • Gas mileage: Minivans are quite bulky and ride lower to the road than other cars, and this impacts the gas mileage. Typically, you can expect to get 17 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway when driving a minivan. Rating: 3/5
  • Mobility/off-grid capability: A minivan is a great option of a car to live in if you’ll be traveling on paved roads. The low clearance between the bottom of the car and the ground means that you can’t take your minivan off-road, but it’s spacious rooftop can fit plenty of solar panels if you want to live in the car off-grid! Rating: 2/5
  • All-season comfort: Just like hatchbacks and other cars, minivans do not have added insulation. If you’re camping in cold or hot climates, you will need to bring along a portable heater like the Mr. Heater Buddy or USB fans. Rating: 1/5
  • Stealthiness: Who would be sleeping in a minivan? These are great cars for stealth camping in urban areas, since they look like any other car and you can park them just about anywhere. There’s even enough space inside for a portable toilet, if you arrange things strategically. Rating: 5/5
  • Reliability/maintenance: Minivans are generally pretty reliable, and rank well in these terms. They are also manufactured by some of the most well-known names in US auto manufacturing, so replacement parts are easy to come by. However, average annual maintenance and repair costs run a bit higher than the same for other vehicles. Rating: 4/5
  • Cost: The price for a minivan can vary greatly, especially if you’re purchasing a used or older van. New minivans typically have an MSRP ranging between $30,400 and $47,820. Rating: 3/5

Overall Score of Living in a Minivan: 22/35

5. Best Versatile Car to Live In: 4WD SUV

4WD-SUV
@suboverland

It’s in the type of vehicle, but perhaps the most attractive feature of living in a 4×4 SUV is the off-roading capability.

You can travel to more remote destinations and really live off-grid in these vehicles.

Some, like a Chevrolet Suburban, are also larger, offering more space on the inside as well as the roof so you can spread out inside and install solar panels and adventure gear on top. There’s plenty of space even if you’re traveling as a couple.

4WD SUVs come in a variety of sizes and brands. While the Suburban is on the larger end of the scale, popular mid-sized SUVs include the Toyota 4runner, Land Rover Discovery, Ford Expedition & Explorer, and Chevrolet Tahoe.

These all offer more interior space than most of the cars we’ve covered so far, and with the added benefit of having four wheel drive, these SUVs make a great home on wheels.

Pros/Cons of Living in a 4WD SUV

  • Space/size: Although there’s not enough space inside for a shower, 4WD SUVs have more space than other vehicles we’ve discussed and you can probably bring a long a gravity-fed shower to stay clean. If you remove the rear seats, you can potentially find space for a portable toilet, although that may be awkward if you’re not living alone in the vehicle. There’s space in the rear for a full-sized bed. Rating: 4/5
  • Gas mileage: Newer 4WD SUVs get better gas mileage, usually around 27 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway. However, older SUVs are more affordable but their gas mileage is closer to 17 MPG on average. Rating: 2/5
  • Mobility/off-grid capability: With the four wheel drive capability and spacious rooftop, a 4×4 SUV is highly mobile and capable of providing comfortable off-grid living. You can create an outdoor kitchen by installing drawers that open from the back beneath the bed. Rating: 4/5
  • All-season comfort: 4WD SUVs are insulated just like any other car, so you will need to make adjustments or bring along portable systems to keep cool in hot weather and stay warm in the cold. For example, you can install a roof vent fan or use a portable heater. Rating: 2/5
  • Stealthiness: Just make sure the windows are covered, and your 4WD SUV is the perfect stealth vehicle. Being more spacious than some of the other cars we’ve covered, you might also be able to fit a portable toilet inside and be super stealthy. Rating: 5/5
  • Reliability/maintenance: Depending on the brand and age, 4×4 SUVs are typically very reliable and inexpensive to fix because they’re so common and parts are easy to come by. Rating: 5/5
  • Cost: The price for a new 4WD SUV ranges by brand, but on average, MSRP is around $38,787. Older, used SUVs are much less expensive, and you can often find one of good quality for a couple thousand dollars. Rating: 4/5

Overall Score of Living in a 4WD SUV: 26/35

6. Best Camping Car to Live In: Pop-up Camper Van

Pop-up-Camper-Van
@heynadine

Pop-up camper vans are probably the easiest cars to live in if you don’t have the time or budget to build out your vehicle for full-time living.

This is because these vans come built out with a kitchenette and convertible dinette and bed.

With other cars on this list, you’ll need to make some modifications to create a sleeping space and add systems for cooking.

Some of the more common types of pop-up camper vans are VW Eurovan Camper, VW Westfalia, VW California, Ford Nugget Plus, Winnebago Solis, Mercedes Metris Weekender, and the Pleasure-Way Tofino.

You can also often fit more than two people in a pop-up camper van, due to the pop-up roof that typically contains a bunk inside for sleeping (in addition to the convertible dinette below).

The only downside of this is that if you need to stealth camp in an urban setting, you won’t be able to use the pop-up top if you want to go unnoticed.

Pros/Cons of Living in a Pop-Up Camper Van

  • Space/size: With the pop-up top providing additional sleeping space and headroom inside the vehicle, a pop-up camper van is quite spacious. However, when the roof isn’t extended, it can feel a little bit cramped inside. Rating: 4/5
  • Gas mileage: Depending on the age of your pop-up camper van, you could get anywhere from 12 to 24 MPG. Rating: 3/5
  • Mobility/off-grid capability: Pop-up camper vans are not off-road vehicles by any means, but they typically have higher clearance than other vehicles and you can often take them off-road as long as it’s not very extreme. That said, you can install solar panels on the hard roof of the pop-up to expand your off-grid capabilities. Rating: 4/5
  • All-season comfort: Since it’s designed to be a camping vehicle, a pop-up camper van is a little bit more equipped for living inside, however, there is no added insulation to keep it cool in hot climates and warm in cold ones. Rating: 2/5
  • Stealthiness: Pop-up camper vans are a little less stealthy than a typical minivan if you keep the pop-up top down, but this vehicle loses all stealthiness once that roof goes up. If you’re camping in urban areas and need to fly below the radar, you should plan not to use the pop-up roof. Rating: 1/5
  • Reliability/maintenance: With an estimated lifespan of 10 to 15 years, pop-up camper vans are not as reliable as regular cars if you’re living in the van full-time for an extended period of time. Additionally, it may be harder to find parts, so repairs could take longer and be more expensive. Rating: 1/5
  • Cost: Compared with other vans and RVs, pop-up campers are pretty wallet-friendly in terms of cost because you can get a pop-up camper van for around $10,000. However, be wary of super cheap vans because they may be more costly in the long run due to all the necessary repairs. Rating: 4/5

Overall Score of Living in a Pop-Up Camper Van: 19/35

7. Best vehicle to Live In for Mobility: Pickup Truck with Camper

Pickup-Truck-with-Camper
@bruno.benni.inga

While you can certainly live in the back of a pickup truck with a cap over the bed (and there are some cool ways to build out the bed area), it’s far more comfortable to have a camper installed instead.

Truck campers are technically a type of RV, and have unique layouts.

Typically, the bed area is located in a section of the camper that juts out over the cab of your pickup truck, with a kitchenette and dinette toward the rear of the camper and truck.

Some truck campers even have a wet bath, so that you can more comfortably live in the vehicle without needing facilities.

For the extra space and amenities a truck camper offers, however, you’ll have to make some sacrifices.

Because truck campers are a kind of RV, they are not at all stealthy. The extra weight of the camper can do a number on your pickup truck’s suspension and put a drag on your gas mileage.

For some, though, the extra space and comforts make this type of vehicle preferable for full-time living.

Pros/Cons of Living in a Pickup Truck + Camper

  • Space/size: With the kitchenette, dedicated sleeping cab, dinette and wet bath, a pickup truck with a camper has a lot to offer in terms of space inside. Unlike many of the cars on this list, you can stand up inside as you relax and cook. Rating: 5/5
  • Gas mileage: The added weight of the camper will drag down your gas mileage, but one perk with a truck camper is that you can remove it and leave it parked in your campsite if you need a flexible-use car in addition to your home. Expect to get an average of 11 to 12 MPG. Rating: 2/5
  • Mobility/off-grid capability: Many pickup trucks have all wheel drive and are extremely rugged, and while you should avoid extreme off-roading with your camper installed, they are a lot more mobile than other cars on this list. Most truck campers come with systems for a 240V campground hookup, so you will need to rewire the system to accommodate off-grid solar systems if that is your choice. Rating: 3/5
  • All-season comfort: Since it’s technically an RV, a truck camper will have added insulation to make 3-season living quite comfortable. There’s not a lot of extra insulation, though, so you’ll need extra sources of heat and air if you’re living in extreme climates. Rating: 3/5
  • Stealthiness: On its own, a pickup truck with a bed cap is quite stealthy, but if you’ve upgraded to a truck camper, passers by will know that someone is probably sleeping in the camper. Rating: 1/5
  • Reliability/maintenance: If your pickup truck has a camper on the back for long periods of time or permanently, there’s going to be significant wear and tear on your truck due to the extra weight. The camper itself is not designed for full-time living, and you may find that components of the camper break or malfunction if you’ve been doing so for a while. Rating: 2/5
  • Cost: Price is one of the most attractive reasons to choose a pickup truck camper for your home on wheels, since you can use a vehicle you already own, and you can find a used truck camper for as little as $2,000. If you want a new camper, the cost is still more affordable than most of the cars on this list at around $20,000. Rating: 5/5

Overall Score of Living in a Pickup Truck Camper: 21/35

8. Best Comfort Car to Live In: Cargo Van

Cargo-Van
@thepalmvan

We’ve crossed the line from car living to van living, but vans are still technically cars.

Cargo vans aren’t as popular to live in as taller vans like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Ford Transit, but they are still quite spacious and comfortable to live in, especially if you build out the back to accommodate a cooking and sleeping area.

Cargo vans are larger than minivans and since they are built to transport cargo, they have a lot more space inside than standard cars.

If you buy a used cargo van, it’ll probably either have seats in the back from use as a passenger van, or the rear of the vehicle will be completely empty and down to the studs.

Either option gives you lots to work with when converting the van for full time living, and may be easier or more difficult to convert, depending on the van you choose.

Pros/Cons of Living in a Cargo Van

  • Space/size: Cargo vans vary in length, so you can find shorter or longer vans to suit your needs. There’s plenty of space for a cooking area or kitchenette, a convertible seating/sleeping area, and even a little toilet area if you include a portable toilet. The only downside with the space inside a cargo van is the headroom; you won’t be able to stand up inside, although you’ll be quite comfortable when seated. Rating: 4/5
  • Gas mileage: Your cargo van’s gas mileage will depend on the age and condition of the van, with newer vans getting around 20 to 24 MPG and older vans getting around 12 to 16 MPG. Rating: 4/5
  • Mobility/off-grid capability: Most cargo vans are not 4WD, although Mercedes Benz makes 4×4 cargo vans. However, cargo vans typically have a higher wheelbase and clearance than other passenger vehicles. So, while you can’t go crazy off-roading, you can certainly access more rugged campsites in a cargo van. With the flat roof, there’s also plenty of space for solar panels. Rating: 5/5
  • All-season comfort: You can add insulation to make your cargo van more comfortable in colder and warmer climates, but there’s not a lot of space for the thick stuff. Like the other cars on this list, you’ll need alternate sources of heat and cool air to keep you comfortable in all four seasons. Rating: 2/5
  • Stealthiness: One of the reasons cargo vans are the second-most popular type of van for van life is their stealth factor. As long as you have window covers, people probably won’t even think that someone is sleeping in the back. Rating: 5/5
  • Reliability/maintenance: Whether your cargo van is a Ford, Chevy, or Mercedes Benz, it’s most likely going to be easy to maintain and repair. How often you need to do so will depend on how many miles you put on the van and how frequently you get the engine serviced. Additionally, parts are easy to source as well, keeping costs low if you need to visit a mechanic. Rating: 3/5
  • Cost: If you’re looking for a large van, cargo vans are more affordable than a pre-built pop-up camper van or a taller Sprinter van, and you can get a new one for between $26,570 to $33,790. Older models are also available, and you may be able to find a used cargo van with very little miles, thus extending its lifetime. Rating: 4/5

Overall Score of Living in a Cargo Van: 27/35

9. Best Spacious Car to Live In: Sprinter Van

Sprinter-Van
@vanlife_enjoy

With the increased headroom and spacious rear area, it’s no surprise that Sprinter vans (and equivalent models like the Ford Transit and RAM ProMaster) are the most popular and comfortable cars to live in.

Another term for these types of vehicles is Class B RVs, and manufacturers and DIY van builders pack a lot into such a small space.

Sprinter vans come in a variety of sizes, with varying amenities as well. You can splurge for a 4WD van, or choose from different lengths.

For example, the Sprinter 144 is 19.5 feet long bumper to bumper, with 10.5 feet of interior length from behind the driver’s seat to the back doors, while the High Roof V6 Sprinter 3500 Extended (170 in. WB) is 22 feet, 10 inches in length, bumper to bumper, and is 14 feet long from behind the cab to the rear.

Even if you have a shorter sprinter van, there is a lot you can do to fit everything you need from sleeping and dining space, to cooking space and even a wet bath.

Pros/Cons of Living in a Sprinter Van

  • Space/size: The space inside a Sprinter van varies with the length of vehicle you choose, ranging between 111.2 to 532.6 cubic feet (with the driver’s cab area). The key distinguishing factor with a Sprinter van is the increased headroom, since you can stand up inside the vehicle. Rating: 5/5
  • Gas mileage: On average, a Sprinter van will average around 20 MPG. This also varies depending on your van conversion and the weight of your build-out and cargo. Rating: 4/5
  • Mobility/off-grid capability: Some Sprinter vans are 4×4, but these come at a cost. Regardless, Sprinter vans typically have a higher clearance and can handle some light off-roading without requiring four-wheel-drive capability. Additionally, there is ample room on the roof for solar panels so that you can live off-grid for longer. Rating: 5/5 
  • All-season comfort: Your year-round comfort in a Sprinter van depends on how you insulate the vehicle, but it’s still a vehicle with minimal interior space. Additionally, since it’s a larger space than the other cars mentioned on this list, portable heaters may not be powerful enough to heat the space or retain the heat. Rating: 3/5
  • Stealthiness: Despite their size and capacity for amenities, Sprinter vans are very stealthy as long as you follow good stealth camping practices. People probably won’t think twice about a Sprinter van parked on the street, and it won’t occur to them that someone is sleeping inside. Plus, if you’ve included a bathroom or even a portable toilet, you’re even more set up for stealth camping in a Sprinter van. Rating: 5/5
  • Reliability/maintenance: Sprinter vans are known to have maintenance issues from time to time, and more often the more miles you have on the vehicle. That said, Ford Transit and RAM ProMaster sprinter vans can probably be serviced by most mechanics, and parts are fairly easy and affordable to come by. You might experience more time, trouble and cost repairing a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. Rating: 3/5
  • Cost: While the RAM ProMaster and Ford Transit models are more affordable, in general, Sprinter vans are the most expensive types of cars to live in – and that’s before you do a conversion to live inside. You can find used vans to convert yourself (or hire a company to do it for you), but the overall cost will still be pretty high. Rating: 1/5

Overall Score of Living in a Sprinter Van: 26/35

[Read More: How Much Does a Sprinter Van Conversion Cost?]

Which Is The Best Vehicle To Live In?

As you’ve probably seen, the best car to live in really depends on your needs and desires. Let’s summarize which is best for each need:

  • Toyota Prius is the best small car to live in, and has an overall score of 19/35
  • Hatchbacks are the best mid-sized car to live in, with an overall living score of 18/35
  • Jeeps are the best off-roading car to live in, and have an overall score of 20/35
  • Minivans are the best family-style car to live in, with an overall living score of 22/35
  • 4WD SUVs are the most versatile cars to live in due to space and mobility, and score 26/35 on our scale
  • Pop-Up Camper vans are the best car for camping-style living, and have an overall score of 19/35
  • Pickup trucks with campers are the best car to live in if you want to take your car and leave your ‘home’, and have an overall living score of 21/35
  • Cargo vans are the best cars to live in for comfort, scoring 27/35 on our scale
  • Sprinter vans are the most spacious cars to live in, and score 26/35

Gear You Need to Live in Your Car

Regardless of which car you choose (or own) to live in, there is some gear you should consider purchasing to make life on wheels more comfortable.

This lifestyle is a big adjustment from standard residences such as a house, condo, or apartment.

Not only will you have to get used to a much smaller living space, you will also need to be prepared to spend a lot more time outside the vehicle.

Throughout this article, I’ve highlighted a few products you should consider, especially when living in your car in hot or cold climates.

But let’s take a closer look into the gear you should consider to make car living as comfortable as possible.

Gear-You-Need-to-Live-in-Your-Car
@micra.adventures

Bedding

While you can certainly sleep on a camping mattress or pad, doing so over a long period of time from the back of your car is likely going to do a number on your spine, not to mention the quality and comfort of your sleep.

You should consider investing in a good mattress like a folding memory foam one.

Some people who live in their cars prefer to use a sleeping bag, while others prefer residential-style bedding like sheets and comforters.

The choice is up to you, but a combination of the two may help if the climate is especially cold.

You can cover your bedding with a 3- or 4-season sleeping bag to keep yourself cozy and warm even if it’s below freezing outside your car – just beware that the condensation from your breath may cause ice to form inside your windshield and windows!

Temperature Control

Even if you splurge for a Sprinter van, you’re probably going to need an alternate source of heat to keep you comfortable in cold temperatures, as you would with any other car on this list.

I highlighted some portable heaters and fans earlier in this article, but there are lots of options out there.

Cooking

One of the primary appeals of living in a car is the radically reduced cost of living compared with standard living arrangements, and you probably won’t want to blow your budget by eating out all of the time.

To facilitate easy cooking on the road, you should have a reliable propane-powered camping stove such as this 2-burner stove from Camp Chef or a single-burner stove like this one from Chef Master.

Backpacking stoves like the ones from JetBoil are also popular among car-living enthusiasts.

In addition, you’ll want to have ways to store your food. Keep your dry goods in airtight containers to prevent animals from smelling your food and maximize space within your car.

For refrigeration, you can use a cooler but you will need to have consistent access to fresh ice to keep food from going bad, so you may want to consider investing in a portable fridge that connects to your 12-volt outlet.

Charging Devices

Regardless of whether you’re using standard devices like a smartphone or you’re working from your home on wheels and need to power a laptop, you will need a reliable way to charge your devices while you live on the road.

If you have installed solar panels and an inverter system, you’re set, but you may be interested in less permanent options.

If that’s the case, you could get by with something as simple as a car power inverter, but the Jackery system is ideal if you’re looking to upgrade.

Keep in mind that if you’re using an inverter connected to your car’s cigarette lighter, it’s best to use it when you’re driving or when your car is running so that you don’t run down the battery.

Last Updated on by Aaron Richardson

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