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How to Live in a Tent Full Time

Living in a tent full time is a classic high risk, high reward decision

Have you ever wondered how people sell their houses and live in a tent?

Look no further: in this article, we explore what it takes to be well-prepared if you ever decide to do so.

Why Would You Try To Live in a Tent?

More and more people have recently considered long-term tent living instead of renting or buying an apartment, especially in areas where rent and home prices have skyrocketed. But besides the fact that you can save money by doing so, are there any other benefits to tent living? Short answer, yes.

Reduces Your Carbon Footprint

Our actions have an impact on the Planet
Our actions have an impact on the Planet

When you ditch your house for the adventure of living in a tent year-round, your power and gas usage decreases significantly.

You are consuming less energy and thus protecting Planet Earth (scientifically speaking, because energy is mainly generated by burning fossil fuels – which increases your carbon footprint).

An exception to this argument is if you were relying significantly on renewable energy in your house already (for example, using solar panels).

In that case, this benefit doesn’t apply to you.

But unfortunately that’s only applicable to a small minority of the population.

It Brings You Extra Mobility and Freedom

It's hard to be as free as living in a tent
It’s hard to be as free as living in a tent

You are as free and mobile as possible because you don’t own property and are not stuck in a lease agreement for years.

You can stay in the same place year-round or pack your things and explore a different region every month.

No one can be against that: you are the forger of your path, which is hugely empowering.

It Forces You to Grow

Suppose you are now totally free by living in a tent permanently with no obligations towards anyone.

In that case, you naturally are forced to grow since you need to develop a different set of skills and knowledge that you would otherwise not do if living in a house.

For example, you cannot just ignore wild animals or bad weather as if you were living under a roof.

These will now have to be taken into account when choosing where to set up your tent or even which tent to choose.

Living in a tent is not as easy as it seems: you either adapt or you won’t survive.

Downsides

While there are significant benefits to living in a tent, not everything is perfect
While there are significant benefits to living in a tent, not everything is perfect

Safety

Safety is something that, while crucially important, is sometimes overlooked by inexperienced campers when thinking about living in a tent full-time.

Since you are now living in a tent in a remote location, your access to medical help is lower than if you were living in a house in the city center, and you can’t ignore it.

If you break a leg and can’t move, an ambulance will take longer to find and pick you up if you’re in the middle of large national parks.

Also, remember the security alarm you had at your previous place?

Exactly.

But worry not, as this does not mean your adventure plans just got killed.

Living all year in a canvas tent is still possible, as long as you don’t neglect this and prepare accordingly.

Sanitation & Utilities

Small things like washing your hands now are not a given
Small things like washing your hands now are not a given

It’s easy to understand how sanitation can be challenging since you can no longer count on modern equipment & facilities that you would be able to use in a house.

You’ve just cooked food; how will you wash your cookware?

Or you’ve just used the restroom; how will you wash your hands?

Food & Water

Forget about playing things by ear and using Uber Eats if you forget to cook or buy food.

“I have no water bottles, so I’ll turn the faucet on and drink directly”.

Yea? I don’t think so.

You need a new approach because you live in a completely different scenario.

Loneliness

This is the other side of the more freedom & mobility coin.

On the one hand, you are now free to live wherever you want for however long you want.

However, that implies not being “stable” in the exact location for an extended period, which means that you will spend a lot of time alone and constantly meeting new people and making new friends (which forces you to grow a lot).

Are You Ready?

You need to ask yourself this before deciding to live permanently in a tent
You need to ask yourself this before deciding to live permanently in a tent

Living permanently within tent walls requires proper preparation, so please think thoroughly about the below before you pull the trigger and adopt the tent life.

Are you ready to:

  • Leave your house and live in a tent permanently without all the daily luxuries you are used to (like taking a relaxing bath every night)?

  • Interrupt your morning routine of grabbing your bagel at a coffee shop?

  • Be constantly thinking about your next meal, checking the tent’s conditions, and where to get your fresh water?

  • Drop Uber Eats and any improvisation you used to do?

  • Have no locks in your tent?

What You Need to Succeed

With proper preparation, everything is possible
With proper preparation, everything is possible

Because we’re not advising against any permanent tent life, we now delve into what you must do to master moving from house to tent camping.

If you read and follow the ideas below, you have a great chance of making it and enjoying your tent life experience.

Choosing a Proper Campsite

Choosing where you will physically set up your tent is the first step in your adventure

While there are many choices (campsites, national parks, your friend’s garden, etc.), and each has pros and cons, we recommend choosing a campsite or a national park.

Your friend’s private land (or, for that matter, any place you see that you like but is not an organized campsite or national park, and this includes your land) is excellent and legal (assuming you abide by the “leave no trace” rule).

Still, you will find these incomplete and lacking some services.

For that reason, we don’t recommend them (especially for inexperienced campers).

Campsites and national parks are much more organized than free camping and provide basic facilities such as showers, bathrooms, and electricity points, making your life 10x easier.

You will also more likely be able to meet new people in these than if you decide to free camp.

Although there aren’t many free campsites and parks, and you may have to pay a fee to set up your tent in these spots, they are usually inexpensive.

Many offer the chance to volunteer in exchange for a free stay. You can also get your children to volunteer and seize this opportunity to educate them on the importance of giving back to the community – one of the many benefits of camping.

Picking the Right Tent

Once you have chosen your campsite, it's time to choose your tent
Once you have chosen your campsite, it’s time to choose your tent

Since you will be living in a tent soon, you need to spend time choosing one, and you cannot try to be cheap and just pick the most affordable one.

Trust us, don’t try to save money here: that won’t work out well.

The master rule is: to pick within canvas tents.

Alternative tents made of polycotton or lighter-weight cotton are not as resistant as canvas tents and are not suited for your adventure.

To live in your tent year-round, you must invest in a strong one.

Your canvas tent will also have to resist cold weather and make your life easier in hot weather, so a 4-season canvas tent is probably the way to go.

Finally, the size of the tent will depend on who you’re going with and how frequently you will want to change spots.

If you’re going with your family of 4 and are planning to stay in the same campsite for the whole year, you can afford a more extensive and heavier tent. Either way, a smaller tent is not the way to go since you need comfort and space as you won’t spend just a weekend living in it.

Remember that comfort is king and that the closest to a perfect tent is a tent that is spacious, tall (that is why we also recommend you look at wall tents), and comfortable.

To sum up: you will be best prepared if you choose within 4-season & waterproof canvas tents and adapt the size according to your goals.

Comfortable Flooring and Exterior Extra Protection

Always protect your tent
Always protect your tent

Besides having a waterproof tent, you also need protection tools to enhance the rainwater tent’s resistance and durability.

You don’t want to buy a new tent every six months, right?

These tools will enhance the tent’s lifetime by stopping fading and UV degradation and protecting it from bird poo, tree sap, and other droppings that can rip the fabric.

A good tent for this experience will also have comfortable flooring since you will spend so much time walking on it that if you keep the standard tent floor, your feet will hurt within a month.

You also don’t want to wear socks due to the cold ground, so just get proper flooring.

Ditch your Sleeping Bag; It’s Time for an Air Mattress

Getting a good night of sleep is crucial
Getting a good night of sleep is crucial

To maximize your full-time tent camping experience, get a comfortable air mattress and some blankets to stay warm – these are a vast difference compared to a sleeping bag.

Tent Air Conditioning

We keep discussing bad weather and cold, but what if you’re in the summer and it’s extremely hot outside?

Although you can visit local beaches during the day and feel great outdoors, you must return to your tent.

Reading About Local Wildlife

You don't want to meet one of these in your trip
You don’t want to meet one of these in your trip

If you plan on living in a tent in a remote national forest, you better make sure you know which animals will surround you day and night.

Although you obviously won’t be choosing a spot with dangerous wildlife to place your tent (we hope!), it’s still helpful to know what you can expect, even to see if you can hunt them for food (and for the experience!).

This will highly depend on your chosen campsite but generally avoid areas with bears, wolves, snakes, and dogs.

If you do that, rest assured that you will be safe. In general, camping is safe if you know what you’re doing and are cautious.

Making Money by Volunteering

Volunteering is great to make pocket change and to meet people
Volunteering is great to make pocket change and to meet people

We’ve briefly mentioned volunteering to pay for your stay in a campsite or a national park.

You can also use it to make pocket changes to pay for food.

Volunteering typically involves gardening work, painting fences, general DIY and maintenance of the facilities, etc.

These are easy tasks that you can do not only for the money but also to meet more people – remember the loneliness point we made above?

Here’s an effective way to counter it.

Seize this opportunity!

Get a Safe

Locked storage is essential.

Even though you won’t take a lot of valuables with you, you may still take items with significant sentimental value (e.g., your wedding ring or a necklace your kid bought you), so it would be foolish to leave these items carelessly in a tent that cannot be properly locked.

Some options are to keep them locked in your car or get a safe box or fire safe that cannot easily be opened.

The Right Approach to Meal-Prepping

When you're living in a tent, Uber Eats isn't a thing anymore
When you’re living in a tent, Uber Eats isn’t a thing anymore

Uber Eats will not save your life because you were distracted watching TV.

If you forget to cook, you won’t eat, so you cannot forget to prepare food.

You can prepare your food quickly, either outside using a camping gas stove or inside using your wood-burning stove (handy if it’s cold or raining outside).

Don’t forget food storage: keep it sealed extremely tight.

Otherwise, you will find how easily wildlife can reach your canned food.

Sanitation

This is one of the main arenas where living in a tent is challenging.

The most traditional way of doing things is to go outside, dig a hole and get it done. However, as you can imagine, doing this under heavy rain and cold weather is unpleasant.

Don’t think about using a bucket and keeping it inside your tent until the rain stops – that’s gross.

So what we recommend is a camper toilet.

Where to Shower

No more relaxing baths in a fancy bathroom
No more relaxing baths in a fancy bathroom

When living in a tent, you don’t have the luxury of going to your fancy bathroom and relaxing.

However, you will likely have access to free showers and water on your campsite, so you should leverage those.

If your site doesn’t have shower facilities, you can also look for a river nearby, bathe there, and keep a bucket of water near your tent to wash your face and brush your teeth.

Another option is to use a portable shower, which provides more privacy, or even get a cheap gym membership nearby.

Both solutions will fix your problem.

Use a Wood Stove

You don’t want to miss having a wood stove in your tent.

While these require an opening for the hot pipe (that effectively serves a chimney), they are relatively easy to install.

They are also great for keeping your tent warm when facing cold weather.

Within wood stoves, we recommend a wood-burning stove for larger tents (since these are more spacious, and so you won’t have to place the stove near a wall).

Trust us, a tent stove will make your tent comfortable.

Dealing with Safety: Bringing a First Aid Kit and More

A first aid kit is not negotiable
A first aid kit is not negotiable

You need to prepare a detailed game plan for you and your family in an emergency, and you shouldn’t pick campsites that are too remote (places with no signal).

You shoul also inform other family members where you plan to go and keep the emergency number on speed dial.

Besides this, be careful during your adventure and don’t take unnecessary risks.

Use the Rain for Your Water Supply

As we said, your campsite likely has fresh water that you can use, but if it doesn’t, and you can’t find a river nearby, do you cancel your plans? No.

You just get more creative: use the rain as your water supply via a rainwater catchment system.

This will allow you to capture and keep the rainwater and use it for baths, cooking, or drinking.

Why Bikes Are Your Best Friend

If you’re living in a tent for the long run and are trying to save some money, riding bikes will be your favorite method of transportation.

You can use them to get from one place to another and have a fun time with your family.

Final Thoughts

You won't be the same person before and after your adventure
You won’t be the same person before and after your adventure

Hopefully, this long article gave you a good idea of what it means to live in a tent for the long haul.

It is undoubtedly a terrifying idea when you first think of it.

But, if you prepare accordingly, you will see that it can be one of the most transformative experiences in your life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Living in a tent is allowed, as long as you respect the mentioned “leave no trace” principle.

Where can I find free campsites? Do these even exist?

Yes, they actually exist and are easy to find – there are multiple interactive maps online that you can check

What about a canvas tent house?

This also works and is also a great choice. As long as you stick to canvas, you will be fine.

What are your thoughts on camping bunk beds?

They are a great option if you have children! Highly recommend those.