Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

How to avoid signing your life over to a mortgage
User avatar
canoe
Posts: 24
Joined: Sat Nov 14, 2020 6:08 pm
Location: Canada

Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by canoe »

I'm moving to a new city soon and feel like now is the time to try something on the more extreme side. Both for the money savings (potentially C$500/month just for a room in a 5-bedroom apartment) and for the experience.

I'm toying with the idea of trying to find someone who will let me pay them to live in a small 4-season camping tent in their suburban backyard. Unfortunately, I don't know anybody in the area so I'd be starting such a relationship cold.

Everyone I've mentioned this to thinks there's no way I could find such a person because it would just be seen as too weird and awkward.

Before I start posting Craigslist ads, does anybody have any experience/advice/thoughts on this? They'd be much appreciated.

white belt
Posts: 946
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by white belt »

Depending on the jurisdiction and privacy of the lots, your bigger concern might be neighbors complaining even if you can find an owner willing to let you do it.

mountainFrugal
Posts: 233
Joined: Fri May 07, 2021 2:26 pm

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by mountainFrugal »

https://www.warmshowers.org/ This is usually reserved for bicycle touring and shorter term stays, but might put you in the right ball park of folks. being only partially familiar with this community I think it would be a hard ask without previous stays/reviews under your belt.

User avatar
unemployable
Posts: 742
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:36 am
Location: Homeless

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by unemployable »

What do you hope your toilet arrangement will be? Assume they'll let you use their clean, modern, glistening indoor crapper whenever you want? Pee in their yard at 2 am or some other time you hope they don't notice? Rotate between the local gas station, Starbucks and Burger King and hope you don't have to go when they're closed? Do it in a bucket it and dump it... where?

There are apps for this, such as Vanly. I mean not the toilet thing, the people offering their driveways thing.

From the landlord side, after a certain amount of time, usually a month, a tenancy is created, which grants all the rights a tenant has. Specifically, an eviction now requires a formal, rigid process that can take months. (A tenancy does not require rent to be paid.) In looking at real estate I have contemplated allowing the occasional vandweller in my driveway, but I'd make sure to be very tight about the conditions.

2Birds1Stone
Posts: 1400
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:20 am
Location: Earth

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

I would look to see if you can find a single elderly person who would trade housing for help with things like grocery shopping, pharmacy runs, and chauffeuring to the occasional dr. appointment. Maybe someone you know has an aging relative that would make this arrangement easier to find? Tent sounds miserable in Canadian winter. Not to mention all of the other logistical nightmares around storing food, possessions, getting mail, socializing, etc.

basuragomi
Posts: 282
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by basuragomi »

If you camp on crown land you would at least be more free to have a fire/stove burning, fewer people hassling you and you can shit wherever you want. Have to move every 30 days though.

User avatar
canoe
Posts: 24
Joined: Sat Nov 14, 2020 6:08 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by canoe »

Thanks all. Warmshowers and Vanly may be useful in the future. I've thought about buying a vehicle to live in, but I don't need to drive much, I don't know anything about cars, and I'm a 24 year old male so I'm not convinced I'll be able to save all that much via that route.

@unemployable I'm on a good enough schedule that I figure I would be able to use work, public library etc. during the day for toilet needs. I'd only return to the tent for sleeping, and a spare bottle would be good enough. I could keep a bucket outside for dire emergencies.
You make a good point about tenancy. Ideally I'd sign something saying "You can evict me anytime as long as you reimburse me for rent I've already paid" but I don't believe that's legally enforceable where I live.

@2Birds1Stone That's a good idea. I'll look into this.

I calculate I could keep a tent warm enough to sleep in comfortably for 12 hours per day for about $70/month in electricity, so if I could convince the owners to let me run an extension cord and pay them for the use I could deal with the worst of the winter.
I have family a few hours away for the mail situation and don't own anything that doesn't fit in a backpack more valuable than the stuff people already leave in their backyards.
I don't need to store much food on account of my job providing free lunch and snacks. I feel like having my own place comes with so much redundancy.

I admit that socializing could definitely take a hit. On the other hand, it might act as a good filter to find the kind of people I really want to be friends with.

@basuragomi I'm definitely hoping to try that at some point. Unfortunately, there isn't any crown land within biking distance of Waterloo region :(

take2
Posts: 218
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:32 am

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by take2 »

I’m not sure what you do for a living, but if it’s possible at all I would try and source a job that covers your housing expenses. I understand this is likely easier said that done, but worth some research if you have no commitments and are willing to live a bit unconventionally.

I spent about 3 years moving around construction sites, with my company paying for housing and expenses. It’s a hard hit on social life, but much easier to deal with as a 24 year old single male. I worked in construction management, but there are different roles out there that can provide similar benefits.

If that’s not a viable option and you have sufficient capital I would buy a large enough place and rent out rooms to cover living expenses. In the right locations you can even do this by renting and sub-leasing to roommates, but you take the risk of paying full rent (always check local tenancy laws, etc). If neither of those are an option I would go with @2B1S’s suggestion.

In general I think it’s better to get others to pay for it (housing included with job), be in control of the situation (landlord/primary lease), or in as close of a 50-50 situation as possible (@2B1S’s suggestion) before considering a pseudo-dependent position (goodwill of neighbor to allow you to set up a tent).

Not to say it can’t work, but in introduces a dynamic that’s not really in your favor, which can be challenging if it comes up in a bad situation. Good luck!

Humanofearth
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Mar 28, 2021 3:32 am

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by Humanofearth »

I want to applaud your commitment and absurdly low time preference with respect to accumulating potential monetary energy. I stayed in pos places for <$100/month with roaches but never in a tent. Considered it but didn’t work out for me.

Bz5
Posts: 78
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2021 8:10 pm

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by Bz5 »

Canoe,

I am like you, a hardass. I am totally willing to do the same thing. I have some ideas:

There are cities that border BLM land. If one of those had a bus station within 5 miles of the BLM campsite, that could pull you into town. Also bus stations have a nearby cell tower.

The more you work in town, the more chances of finding couches to crash on. The night life for young people, they are interested in meeting interesting people.

I am aiming for high paying remote work myself. Really powerful computers are available with 4g data transmission. It's the onboarding that is hard.

Being really really light and using the systems that are in place is a good start.

Bz5
Posts: 78
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2021 8:10 pm

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by Bz5 »

You are welcome to join me if you want to.


Based on my research, there are a few examples of people living on bicycles with gas engines.

They generally are trailering a bicycle camper.

I need an electric motor for the bike.

Next step is a 1 wheel trailer. That is where the generator goes.

A really nice tent. One that can handle winds and such.

I am looking for a city that borders public land that can be stayed on for at least 2 weeks, and is warm, with a high population of people and jobs. A bicycle friendly city.

With the right ebike, driving into public land where there is no people to steal stuff will be childs play. There are water sources out there too.

I was looking at inline water filters. With a hand siphon.

The setup can be really stealthy as well, the site can be chosen as a hard to access site.

An off grid solar system, a tiny one for phone chargers, electric toothbrushes, bicycle batteries.

Choosing 3 other sites nearby wouldn't be hard. Ideally the area would be rocky w/a stream and sunlight.

Obi-Wan-Obi. That's what I call this plan.

My purpose out of this:

I consider this to be the basement of living. Without a car this is one of the lowest energy state of the hygeine system that also takes care of a person's health.

Electric power and water on tap. Convenient transportation to the city.

I would go to the city and study. Practice stealth camping as well. I would find a place to hide a jon boat for sleeping in too.

Many supervisors want people back in the office. Getting a high paying office job in programming embedded systems is my goal. I can live in the office with the spartan gear. Nobody would notice at all.

Then, i will save the extra cash.

If I found a stable place to live, i would pack up the estimated 110-140 pounds of gear to that room for rent. And if things ever got really bad again, I could always live the same way again. A highly redundant system.

I am moving on this right now.

theanimal
Posts: 1832
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:05 pm
Location: AK
Contact:

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by theanimal »

BZ5, you said yourself people need to learn to live without ICE. You don't need a generator! Look into battery banks and foldable solar panels. Those paired with charging at the library or store are all you need.

User avatar
unemployable
Posts: 742
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:36 am
Location: Homeless

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by unemployable »

Bz5 wrote:
Wed Nov 17, 2021 5:31 pm
I am looking for a city that borders public land that can be stayed on for at least 2 weeks, and is warm, with a high population of people and jobs. A bicycle friendly city.
How big? If you mean 10 to 20 thousand, big enough to support multiple grocery stores and possibly a Walmart, I know of many such places off the top of my head. If you mean 100k or more, your options are more limited but I can still think of a few.

Bz5
Posts: 78
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2021 8:10 pm

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by Bz5 »

@ the animal:

I am absolutely in violation of my own personal code. However, one should use the equipment they have to survive. I have limited personal connections at this time. I acquired high quality survival equipment for that purpose.

I don't have a list of houses I can crash at yet.

You should absolutely hold me accountable for violating my own personal code. The transition will have to be made soon to living without power generation.

What is your living setup? How are you doing things? I am a willing person to learn finer methods and skills.

Generators make no sense long term for me.

I saw a video of a guy with a huge bike trailer and solar panels. That isn't stealthy enough for what I am doing.

I don't want to be bothered at all.


That's why I am looking into extreme low power drain options.

I need to match functionality to panel size, and it has to be just right. The generator is a dirty filthy expensive solution, albeit a reliable one.

Solar panels of high quality I desire.

I still use gasoline for cooking. That's why I got a primus ti stove. It came in the mail today.

Getting totally away from gasoline at my stage requires living in an apartment or something. In the field, gasoline can't be beat for power density in a few instances.

But hey, come live out here with me, and your solar ideas will come in useful. I am willing to admit when I am out of my league. It sounds like you know more about this equation.

@unemployable

I would love a list of cities, as many as you can name, where they have a Walmart. That is a key way to get packages off the grid.

One of the driving reasons I am choosing this option is because I have heard it spoken of before on this forum, living on a bicycle in public lands. I have not seen someone do it yet, but it needs to be part of ERE, an example of this would go very far to show it is possible.

I play no games of chicken.

=======

In general, I am the extreme opposite of dogmatic. I am a staunch atheist, and the human tendency to deify ideas up or people is inherent in me. I meditate when I have thoughts of this kind, to understand that they helped the human species survive in the past.

A living example of Jeet Kune Do is what I strive for.


So that is why I am willing to consider gasoline as still part of my options. Even though the planet is warming up, giving up gasoline at this time would be disastrous without a relocation to a sunny area and selection of highly reliable panels.

Ultimately, this is a barbarous crucible that only a Conan will survive.

@ canoe-

I hope my ideas help you on your quest to find that tent camping spot. It is a good plan. I see few problems with it.

I want to see it work and I am willing to put in the work with you to make it happen. No empty words here. I need to be as financially free as you need to be.

Bz5
Posts: 78
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2021 8:10 pm

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by Bz5 »

C6rrection:

Cities with a wal mart that have public land nearby.

Most of my posts are first draft material. I am a ready fire aim type.

theanimal
Posts: 1832
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:05 pm
Location: AK
Contact:

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by theanimal »

No I am not talking about large fixed solar panels. I'm talking about foldable ones that are light and you can fit in a backpack like this: https://www.amazon.com/TP-solar-Foldabl ... 950&sr=8-6

And pairing it with something like this for nighttime/cloudy day use: https://www.amazon.com/Portable-Charger ... 670&sr=8-2

Charge the power bank on sunny days and you'll be able to use as need be no matter the conditions.

I live in a house now off grid. Powered by a battery bank system with energy from solar for 8.5 months of the year and unfortunately by generator from now until Late January. Trust me, you don't want a generator. You know this I'm sure owning one. I'd do away with mine if I could, but I have yet to find anything close to a suitable substitute for my circumstances. You don't need one in California or in many places throughout the west with all that sun. If you were going to power your house I'd harass you less. But c'mon man. A generator for a phone and toothbrush?

Bz5
Posts: 78
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2021 8:10 pm

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by Bz5 »

Shots fired! haha.


I want more than that. I want to run a computer system for building my Buttmushroom game. I also want to run an electronics toolset for learning about embedded C.

To be honest, though, I think I could do all of that with some really small smd stuff. I wouldn't need all that gear. So the generator has a billon strkes against it.

I am interested in developing stuff. Maybe I need to find a makerspace nearby.

Bz5
Posts: 78
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2021 8:10 pm

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by Bz5 »

Oh yeah, hand crank phone charger/light. Forgot about that option.

theanimal
Posts: 1832
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:05 pm
Location: AK
Contact:

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by theanimal »

I see. I didn’t know you were looking to do that stuff. Generator makes more sense then All advice and encouragement has been meant good naturedly of course ;) .

User avatar
unemployable
Posts: 742
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:36 am
Location: Homeless

Re: Living in a Tent in Someone's Backyard

Post by unemployable »

Well the big cities this describes are Albuquerque and SLC. Denver not so much, it's mostly private land just to the west. Colorado Springs is a bit better in this regard.

Some of my candidate smaller cities that I've been to follow. All have a Walmart and separately a chain grocery store unless otherwise specified. I'm focusing on everyday livability here, rather than cultural attractions. Quite admittedly, several cities on this list are shall we say acquired tastes. But before anyone's response is "Why the hell would anyone live THERE!?!?," well I've been there and I would. How many times do you go to the symphony or ballet, anyway?

Littleton, NH
Burlington, VT... you'd fit right in
Tazewell, Virginia
Marion, Virginia... not sure how close national forest land is from the SW Virginia cities on second thought. There are others, such as Wytheville. Might as well throw in Blacksburg, a college town. Not too familiar with places north of there.
Anywhere in the NC mountains: Jefferson, Boone/Blowing Rock, Spruce Pine, Waynesville, Brevard, Murphy. Asheville's like a bigger Burlington, but not a ton of NF land immediately nearby.
Mountain City, TN
Erwin, TN
Hot Springs, AR?
Summit County, CO (Walmart is in Frisco, older one without groceries. Silverthorne has a Target with groceries. Excellent bike infrastructure all around.)
Avon, CO
Glenwood Springs, CO
Gunnison, CO, non-grocery Walmart but two chain grocery stores, Due to temperature inversion gets quite cold in winter, as does Alamosa below.
Pagosa Springs, CO
Durango, CO
Cortez, CO
Alamosa, CO you can probably buy a nearby plot of land for $1000/acre or less, bike there and be left alone. Google "San Luis Valley homesteading"
Ruidoso, NM
Silver City, NM
Raton, NM... come to think of it nearest Walmart might be in Trinidad CO
Sierra Vista, AZ
Show Low and Pinetop/Lakeside, AZ
Richfield, UT
Kellogg, ID
Hamilton, MT (no Walmart, nearest is in Missoula)
Leavenworth, WA (no Walmart, nearest is in Wenatchee)
Cle Elum, WA (not sure where nearest Walmart is)
Aberdeen WA, come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be
Bend, OR
Enterprise, OR (no Walmart)
Carson City, NV?
Pacific Coast cities such as Eureka and Crescent City in CA and Coos Bay OR. Not sure about proximity of public land, but I'll bet you can sleep on the beach.

Central PA is dirt cheap and quite bucolic, and far better taxwise than NY. Haven't been there in many years though. Deep Appalachia can be rough. There's a reason I'm leaving out anything in KY or WV.

You'll notice I've left out a lot of ski towns. That is intentional. I'm focusing on reasonable cost of living and minimal hassle factor. Also sleeping outside in winter sucks.
Last edited by unemployable on Wed Nov 17, 2021 11:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Post Reply