Living In A Tent Full Time
The idea of living in a tent for the long-term doesn’t always automatically inspire feelings of comfort and convenience. It’s something that you would probably want to do every now and then for the sake of adventure or reconnecting with nature, but it isn’t really an option you would automatically consider if you’re thinking of say, a living arrangement during summer or winter.
Contrary to what most of us are quick to assume, however, living in a tent full time is not only possible, it has its pros too. Sure there will be some adjustments you’ll have to make as well as things you’ll have to get used to, but the living arrangement does have its choice perks. And since we’re all about inspiring that sense of outdoor adventure on you, we’re listing here all the good and bad points of living in a tent permanently–starting with the cons, just because we want you to appreciate the pros that will follow.
Can I live in a tent?: The Cons
One of the biggest, most obvious downsides of living in a tent full time is that you have to get used to a more toned down, edited way of living. This means that at some extent, you’ll have to cut down on some of the common conveniences that you’re used to at home like warm baths, maybe even electricity. Finding a power socket, for example, may not be as easy–sure, you can stay on a powered campsite, but you’ll have to deal with limited usage of electricity. You’ll have to consider batteries and chargers as your best friend which can be quite challenging, especially if you are someone who is used to having a power source within reach.
Safety is another issue. It’s obvious that following the camping way of life can make privacy boundaries very thin, and you’ll also have to be in a semi-constant state of alert when you decide to live in a permanent tent. Sure, you can try to prop up your tent on private property, like your own backyard, for example, but you have to consider the consequences of living in a space that does not allow locks or walls that provide us a basic sense of safety.
Yikes, so why should I even bother?: The Pros of living in a tent
Reading all of these, you might be thinking now, “What kind of crazy person would want to live in a tent full time?” It’s dangerous, involves a lot of adjustments, not to mention can be uncomfortable. But while all of these are true, there are also certain perks that come with this living arrangement. One of the most obvious and common reasons is the cost. Living in a tent may be pretty extreme, yes, but some are willing to do it because of just how cheap it can be. Not only will you be spared from the worry of paying boatloads in property taxes, but you’ll also be cutting down on your cost for amenities and other things that come with living in a concrete unit. Your power bill won’t be just as expensive, for example.
In fact, some campers who have actually tried living in permanent tents swear that maintaining one during winter (supplies and other provisions included) is a lot cheaper than running a normal household during the season. Yes, you’ll have to adjust here and there–you’ll also need to invest on equipment like heaters (we have a good list of them here), but the cost of buying them and maintaining them is world’s away from warming a big house.
Portability is another huge perk. If you’re the type of person who hates the idea of settling down on a place full time, then living in a tent is something you will definitely enjoy. Don’t like the current spot you’re camping at? Just pack up and look for a new place. You may not have real walls at your home, but that only makes you free to move anytime if you feel like it. You don’t have to worry about lugging around heavy furniture or even waste your time organizing moving companies as well. Living in a tent permanently means you can pack and go with minimal stress and cost.
Minimizing your harmful environmental footprint is another advantage of this lifestyle. Since you will have to live in a more simple manner, you will be urged–if not forced–to deal with fewer things, which in the long run, will lead to less trash. Recycling will be part of your lifestyle and you will find yourself automatically gravitating towards choices that are uncomplicated, simple, and without the frills that come with a more permanent way of living. Do note though that living in a tent can be a double-edged sword for the environment if you’re not conscious about how you go about it. Unfortunately, some of those who decide to live in a tent full-time can also be reckless, leaving trash in their wake or throwing their wastes irresponsibly. If your main drive for following this lifestyle is because you want to help Mother Earth, then you’ll have to make a conscious effort with all your living choices.
Things to consider before living in a tent full time
Living in a tent is not something that you can decide the night before and just do the next morning. If you really want to be comfortable–and do it right–you need to prepare yourself properly and make sure that you have everything covered. You’ll have to consider all the adjustments you need to do, buy everything you need to make sure you move into the lifestyle smoothly, and think in advance of all the possible situations you might face with your new living condition. Here are the top three things you should mull over, whether you’re thinking of trying this new living arrangement full time or wanting to just give it a go for a few months.
1. Location and camping conditions
This is one of the top considerations you should ask yourself first. Are you planning to move into an area that’s a bit far from residential lots? Will you camp in a powered site? While living in a tent full time gives you the advantage of moving to a new spot anytime you want, you need a starting point as a reference. All of your decisions, basically, will depend on this. For example, if you’re thinking of camping out in your vehicle--we have a great list of tents for trucks here you’ll have to work with fewer necessities since you will be working with a limited space.
This is also where permits will come into play. We’re all about adventure and getting close with Mother Nature, but we need to do it LEGALLY. Every location has its corresponding laws about this so you need to check if you’re permitted to actually camp out in your chosen spot. Camping grounds are a bit easier to deal with but preservation areas may be a little tricky. Make sure you all have the necessary papers and won’t be breaking any laws. Nobody wants to be tagged as an illegal settler!
2. Food and water source
Another challenging part of living in a tent permanently is access to food and water. Food may be a lot easier to deal with since you can just pop in the grocery every now and then but water is a whole different ball game since you’ll also need it for other things like bathing or washing your equipment. Will you just stock up every few days? Or would you prefer to be close to a stream? You also need to consider how you will keep and manage your food. Since you won’t have a working kitchen, you can’t really store large batches of food even if you have, say, a cooler with you. Unless you’re really planning to go all out and rely on natural ways of gathering food like fishing, your choice of location should also depend on where you will get most of your food supply.
Here’s another tricky area you’ll have to find a solution to. Living in a permanent tent means you won’t have easy, comfortable access to bathrooms so you need to think of your options when it comes to sanitation. Campsites with restrooms are ideal if you want things to be more convenient, but if this is not your top option, then you need a place where you can at least wash up and clean your equipment. Check shower rooms you can rent near your location or spots where you can at least get a steady water supply. Bathing in rivers can be fun at first, but we all need a clean shower every now and then. Besides, you don’t really want to pollute any body of water near you.
Types of tents for permanent living
The type of tent you will be bringing with you will play a central, if not most important role, in your decision of living in the outdoors full time. If you’re really serious about going down this path, you obviously will not survive camping out in a $10 dollar sack you just bought at the corner store. Remember, this will be your home now so you need to make sure that it will be able to provide you your most basic needs in terms of temperature, protection, and comfort. A good tent for permanent living should be able to stand its own against the elements and the changing of seasons and be designed in such a way that you can easily make some tweaks depending on your needs. Is it designed well for a tent stove? How about an air conditioner? This can get overwhelming at best, so we listed here all the types you can consider as options.
Canvas tents are made of breathable materials that makes them perfect for any kind of weather. They aren’t suffocating and they often come with slots where you can install a tent stove for when the weather is chilly. They are very durable too and are therefore very ideal against the elements. They may be a little heavy, however, and can be a little challenging to clean and wash since they are made with cloth.
Waterprood tents are a must if you’re planning to pursue this kind of lifestyle for the long-term. Technically, all kinds of tents can be and should be waterproof, but most of them that you see in the market are those made with polyester or other materials that do not have the same texture as cloth. Waterproof tents are specifically designed to protect you from the rain and come with sealed seams and bathtub shaped floors to keep water from leaking in. You can find a good list of waterproof tents on our list here.
From their name, truck tents are those that are specifically designed to be assembled at the back of your truck. They are very portable and relieves you the trouble of finding a perfect spot where you can set camp. Since you will also be technically living on your truck, you have the extra space to put your things by placing them on your front seats. Moreover, you also have closer access to a power source, aka your batteries. However, you do have to work with a limited area and moving space since you only have the floor area of your truck to put it on, so this is something you have to consider in terms of your comfort and movability expectations. Check out our list of truck tents here.
How to survive in a tent
It’s one thing trying to camp during the hot and cold seasons, but it is a whole different conversation altogether if you’re planning to do this in a permanent setting. Not only do you have to prepare yourself against common challenges like rain, but you also have to be well-equipped to survive during scorching and freezing weather. It may sound challenging (maybe almost impossible), but you can actually work through this if you have the proper equipment with you. Here are the essentials you need to have if you’re planning on living in a tent full time.
Tent Air Conditioners
We know, we know. This might sound like a luxury, but air conditioners are actually a necessary addition to your gear during the hottest days of the summer. In times when portable fans do not suffice (we also have a list of them here). you need something that can make you feel comfortable especially at night when you should get proper rest. Tent air conditioners are portable and come in standing or window-type designs. Do note though that majority of these things need power to work so they are better off used in powered campsites.
Another essential you need to have are tent lights. Unless you’re really planning to go Fred Flintstone your whole life and survive on bonfires, you need portable tent lights to provide you with illumination at night. Portable tent lamps (we have good list of them here) are mostly battery-powered and can either come in standing or hanging models. If you really want to save on space, go for multi-tasking ones. Some tent fans, for example, already come with an LED feature that can act as your light source.
Camping bunk beds
If you’re planning to live in a tent permanently, you need to make sure that you’re comfortable enough to rest on it. Camping bunk beds are great because you no longer need to worry about whether the ground you’ll be sleeping on is even or not. They are also great for space saving, especially if you buy a double one for you and your camping buddy. Moreover, they also offer additional storage spaces where you can stow away some of your smaller gear. You can browse our top camping bunk beds here.
Ready to live on a tent full time? Don’t worry, even if you’re not fully committed to the lifestyle yet, you can still use this guide to help you out when you’re camping. Make sure to browse all our links here to prep you on your big trip–whether it be long-term or not.