Soon To Be Homeless - Facing Your Fears

Most people get some warning before they become homeless. The writing is on the wall and, at some time, losing your home becomes inevitable. You can't pay the rent or you can't pay your mortgage. Your business is slowing and redundancy seems inevitable. You're about to be divorced and you'll end up with nothing.

Whatever the problem is, you know you may well end up out on the street.

Sadly, children are also caught up in the homeless cycle. For the sake of your kids, don't wait until the last moment to figure out what you'll do when you are homeless.

Consider my ten tips for a better life when you are homeless. I sincerely hope you won't need them, but if you are in financial trouble and risk losing your home, your best action is to make a plan.

Where To Live When You Become Homeless

Talk to most people about where to live when you are homeless, and you'll hear the same five options repeated. These are the five alternatives most people consider when faced with losing their home.

  1. Living in a car
  2. Living in a van
  3. Living in a motel
  4. Staying with friends or family
  5. Relying on charity shelters.

Each of these options have huge disadvantages for homeless families.

My research indicates that there are significant needs that simply cannot be met by any of the five most obvious options when you become homeless.

Instead of living in a car, a van, a motel, a friend's home or a charity shelter, I urge anyone faced with homelessness to take a less obvious but more sustainable path.

A car is not an appropriate home for a child. Too much can go wrong. If you are about to become homeless, explore the other options I outline in this article. Make a plan and stick to it.
A car is not an appropriate home for a child. Too much can go wrong. If you are about to become homeless, explore the other options I outline in this article. Make a plan and stick to it. | Source

Why to Avoid Living in a Car

I am saddened by how many people are currently living in their cars. It would be bad enough to be a single adult with your bedding and all your possessions cramped into a vehicle, but many children are also living in cars.

Apparently WalMart carparks are popular overnight accommodation venues in America. In the UK and Australia, cars are often parked in discreet suburban streets or alongside 24 hour service stations at bedtime.

When it comes to comfort, living in a car rates quite similarly to sleeping in a park or a doorway. Living in a car gives you the ability to lock the door, but if you are sleeping in a park at least you have room to stretch your legs.

When Living in a Van is a Bad Idea

If you own a small vehicle, upgrading to a van with a bit more headroom can seem like a great improvement. Because you can raise your bed and create storage at floor level, living in a van seems like an attractive option.

Let's face it, a campervan - particularly one with a pop-top and a bed inside it - can be a workable option for holidays. With a little gas cooker and a built in sink, perhaps even a tiny fridge, the old Kombi campervan can be a trusty and reliable friend.

But try adapting a standard van to residential living. It costs a fortune to add the 'camper' elements. The windows aren't made for controlled and secure opening, and are not fit with fly and mosquito screens. You could make room for a mattress, but living in a van brings many of the same restrictions and frustrations associated with living in a car.

The Cost of Living in a Motel

I watched a television documentary featuring a man who works at DisneyWorld in Orlando, Florida and lives with his wife and children year-round in a local motel. Apparently many of the local motels now house families full-time.

They live in cramped conditions and heat food in a microwave. By the time he pays his motel bill and buys packaged meals or take-away from nearby outlets, he has no money left for saving. There is nowhere for his children to play and no hope of a better life in the future.

Living in a motel is a dead-end option. How can you possibly make financial progress if your entire income is dedicated to your weekly living expenses? The cost of living in a motel includes not just the money you spend today, but the money you don't have to spend tomorrow.

The Negative Side of Staying With Friends or Family When You Are Homeless

Do you have someone in your life who you know will welcome you with open arms, feed you and give you a bed? If so, run to them. You'll need a kind ear and a shoulder to cry on as you make the transition from your previous life to the challenges that lie ahead.

Unfortunately, however, staying with friends and family is generally not a good long-term option. Particularly if you have children, the friendship is likely to be strained for any of many reasons.

  • If they are renting, their tenancy agreement may be for a limited number of residents. You risk having them evicted.
  • If their home is small, your presence will definitely cause stress and tension.
  • Your children will have to adopt their house rules. This may be difficult.
  • You will walk the fine line between being appropriately helpful and appearing to be 'taking over'. You risk being seen as lazy and at the same time you risk being seen as bossy.
  • Staying with friends or family in a confined space will definitely change the dynamics of your relationship.

Has Homelessness Touched Your Life?

Do you or a friend or family member feel at risk of losing your home?

  • Yes
  • No
See results without voting

Problems with Charity Shelters for the Homeless

Not every community provides shelter for the homeless. Those that do should be commended, but as soon as you walk through the door you have to accept that the space is not your own and you will rub shoulders with many other homeless individuals, not all who are as pleasant and honest as you.

Your children will be exposed to other children and adults who could potentially pose a threat. You will need to supervise your children very carefully to ensure their safety and avoid problems.

Many charity shelters for the homeless require you to enter and leave at specific times. This can make finding a job and getting back on your feet very difficult.

Planning a Better Life When You Are Homeless

With the right attitude, losing your home can become an opportunity to make positive change. If you have been unhappy or unsatisfied with the circumstances of your life, now marks the moment when you are going to do things differently.

  • Circumstances are forcing you out of your home.
    The first step is to accept that you have to make dramatic changes.

  • You know losing your home is inevitable.
    Don't wait until the last moment, and all your money is gone.

  • You want a better life than most homeless people.
    Make a plan to create a new home. And stick to it.

  • You don't want to get caught in a cycle that spirals from bad to worse.
    Let go of the past and be positive about a bright future.

Becoming homeless gives you every reason to let go of the old and embrace the new. All that old baggage you've carted around with you in the past is about to be left behind.

Here are my top ten tips for planning a better life when you are homeless.

Homeless Tip # 1: Move Quickly

When becoming homeless is inevitable, you have to move quickly - in every sense of the word.

  • Make a plan quickly.
  • Make decisions quickly.
  • Implement your plan quickly.
  • Give notice that you will be moving out as soon as you can arrange it. Don't wait until your money runs out.

There are many advantages to becoming homeless months earlier than it is forced upon you if it means that you'll still have money in the bank. Don't waste the last of your savings and incur more debt by trying to delay the inevitable.

You want the ability to set yourself up before your funds dry up. By moving quickly you can stop paying rent and avoid another power bill just a little bit sooner.

If you have a mortgage and can rent your home out for enough money to cover your bank payments, temporary homeless may ultimately save your home.

Don't Wait Until It Is Too Late!

Homeless Tip # 2: Before Your Money Runs Out, Buy a Tent Trailer

I believe a tent trailer is the single most valuable item to acquire if you are facing homelessness. Before you freak out about the likely cost and decide that you couldn't possibly afford one, give this option some thought.

Unless you frequently visit camping stores, you probably have no idea of how surprisingly affordable a lot of camping gear actually is ... including tent trailers.

You could buy a tent trailer and live in it without even having a car. All you'd need is a place to park it - perhaps in the backyard of a family member until you were able to relocate.

If you have a car with a tow bar, you can pack your tent up and tow it. If you have a place to set it up, you can leave the tent and the trailer in place while you get about business and life in your car.

The biggest strain on friends and family when a homeless family member comes to stay is having that extra person (or extra family) in their space 24/7. If you arrive complete with your own sleeping quarters and can accommodate yourself apart from using the bathroom and kitchen, you're likely to be far more welcome.

What a relief for you and whoever you are staying with. There is nothing 'permanent' about your visit. When the time is right, you can simply move on. Your tent can be packed up in your trailer along with all your personal possessions and your family can be put in your car.

Tent Trailer

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The first time I saw a tent trailer erected, I was amazed by its size and space. See the tiny trailer buried within this large tent? When I saw one for sale in a camping store, I took a closer look - and it was a lot cheaper than I'd expected.This tent trailer has a raised bed area that can safely zip closed so even young children can't accidentally fall out. There's also room for more beds within the main tent area.Optional kitchen sink and bench space that extends out from the rear of the trailer beneath part of the tent ... and folds into the trailer when you pack up to move.
The first time I saw a tent trailer erected, I was amazed by its size and space. See the tiny trailer buried within this large tent? When I saw one for sale in a camping store, I took a closer look - and it was a lot cheaper than I'd expected.
The first time I saw a tent trailer erected, I was amazed by its size and space. See the tiny trailer buried within this large tent? When I saw one for sale in a camping store, I took a closer look - and it was a lot cheaper than I'd expected. | Source
This tent trailer has a raised bed area that can safely zip closed so even young children can't accidentally fall out. There's also room for more beds within the main tent area.
This tent trailer has a raised bed area that can safely zip closed so even young children can't accidentally fall out. There's also room for more beds within the main tent area. | Source
Optional kitchen sink and bench space that extends out from the rear of the trailer beneath part of the tent ... and folds into the trailer when you pack up to move.
Optional kitchen sink and bench space that extends out from the rear of the trailer beneath part of the tent ... and folds into the trailer when you pack up to move. | Source

This Would Be My Target

Lifetime Deluxe Tent Trailer Kit (Grey/Red)
Lifetime Deluxe Tent Trailer Kit (Grey/Red)

Faced with homelessness, I'd want this for my family. I could transport additional items in the trailer when the tent was packed up, use another cheap tent for storage and additional living space when the tent trailer was erected, and sleep soundly with my children in these above-ground 'bedrooms'. It ships as a kit with assembly required, but then converts from trailer to tent 'in just minutes'. Weather resistant, heavy duty polyester tent with 84 sq ft interior and a 7 ft ceiling in the central area. Says it sleeps up to 6 people if you include the floor space but if you have less than 6 in your family, the floor space could conceivably used for storage - as could your car when you are sleeping. When it is time to move on, it converts back into a convenient utility trailer.


A useful option for a small family

The Lifetime Deluxe Tent Trailer Kit from Amazon is a trailer designed to house a roomy tent up above the ground. When driving on the road, you are towing a 120 cubic foot trailer bed with supportive sides 40 inches high. This means you can transport the folded tent in the trailer plus your bags, bicycles and other belongings.

When you get to your destination, you unpack your belongings and erect the tent. Store your bags within the tent or in your car while you are sleeping.

An investment like this one can be used until you are back on your feet financially and able to move into your next home. Sell it when you have finished with it, or put it to work if you are a handyman or decide to hire your services out transporting other people's furniture or garden waste.

What I particularly like about the Lifetime Deluxe Tent Trailer Kit is that Amazon will deliver it in kit form. If you don't have a car at the moment but do have a friend or family member with a backyard where you can camp, the kit can be delivered directly to your destination. You'll need help from someone as you construct it for the first time.

This tent trailer does not offer the same amount of interior room as the ones I've seen at campsites and examined closely in a camping store, but it doesn't take up as much space on the ground when erected either - and in some circumstances that can be a good thing.

In theory you could have another ground tent used for cooking, storage - and playing during daylight hours, with the trailer tent's role as bedrooms if you have a large family. I believe it is important to sleep in the same place as your children, not in separate tents. You need to be close at hand if there is a problem.

When booking into a caravan park, remember to check that you are paying by site (ie allocated space) and not by number of tents or structures. It seems unfair if someone with a huge tent pays less money than you with your trailer tent plus another tent that takes up similar space when combined.

The beauty of the Lifetime Deluxe Tent Trailer's design is you can accumulate other useful items - and still be able to pack and transport them in your trailer to your new home at the end of your homeless period.

Homeless Tip # 3: Sell Everything You Don't Need

Once you become homeless, you are going to lose everything anyway. Instead of waiting until your possessions are taken or sent to the dump, sell them.

Have a garage sale or a yard sale. Sell things on ebay. Stick a 'For Sale' sign up in your local supermarket and other public venues with photos and prices of large furniture items.

Take smaller items to a local market and display them on a picnic rug. To sell everything you might have to drop your prices, but every item sold is one less problem on moving day.

Put the money aside to go towards buying yourself a Tent Trailer.

The cost of a tent trailer - or even just an ordinary tent - seems unreachable when you have nothing. But you don't have 'nothing' until you walk out your door for the last time, leaving everything you own behind you.

Sell your possessions, apart from those you'll obviously need like your sleeping bags, blankets or warm bed covers. Just keep what you'll need for one very cold night - and one rather warm night - and sell the rest. Keep one pillow each.

The vast majority of your kitchen items can be sold along with everything in your lounge room, dining room, laundry etc. All your towels and linen and books and CDs and DVDs and toys and everything else that would be lost when you walk out the door should be sold to help fund the next stage of your life.

Homeless Tip # 4: Don't Just Vanish

Losing your home can be embarrassing. Nobody likes to feel like a failure.

But with more than 1.5 million Americans homeless as a result of the financial crisis and alarming statistics of homelessness in other countries as well, there is no need to hang your head in shame and want to vanish.

You really do need to keep in touch with your network of friends and family and be contactable in the event of an emergency.

  • Facebook can be problematic if you don't have internet connection, so consider a cheap pre-paid mobile / cell phone that can receive phone calls and text messages. Explain that you don't intend to use your phone but you'll try to keep it charged and will check for messages every couple of days. (Of course you can check it every day - even if you don't want your in-laws to know you do.)

  • Get a Post Office box or similar service in place before you leave your home and no longer have evidence of a home address.

    You'll need to receive mail from government bodies including when it is time for your driver's license renewal. You can have your mail redirected at a later time when you know where you'll be based. It might be appropriate to have your mail sent to a trusted and reliable friend or family member who can forward it or open and read your letters to you over the phone.

  • Tell at least one trusted person where you are going. Keep them updated with where you are and how you are coping.

    Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends who worry about you will feel better if they have some point of contact who can reassure them you are alive and doing okay. Choose a person who is very diplomatic and able to say, "You know this is a difficult time for Alex. My role right now is to listen and pass on the news. You have to try and be understanding and just wait until Alex is settled and feels comfortable calling you directly."

You'll complicate life for those who care about you if you leave everything to their imagination, so don't just vanish without explanation. Make an effort to stay in touch.

Homeless Tip # 5: Photograph everything you want to remember

Take pictures of your children's toys and their school work and their bedroom. Reassure a distressed child that one day you'll get another bed just like their old one if they want it, and more toys and another toy box.

Some children like the idea of getting everything new, so parting with the old is not really a problem. But if your child needs routine and feels uncomfortable with change, being able to show them digital photos as evidence that you plan to replace what they miss most will help.

Be happy we live in the day and age of inexpensive digital cameras and gigabytes of storage! When I moved from one side of the country to the other in 1990 with two kids, two dogs and two suitcases after a messy relationship breakup, taking photographs required film and processing.

One heavy suitcase was filled with documents and school awards that would have been a lot lighter if I could have brought them with me on a USB or a single CD.

The time will come when you are ready to fly again

When you lose your home, your lifestyle and your routine, it is natural for your confidence to be shaken. Take time to reflect, but don't be afraid to try and fly again. You don't have to be homeless forever.
When you lose your home, your lifestyle and your routine, it is natural for your confidence to be shaken. Take time to reflect, but don't be afraid to try and fly again. You don't have to be homeless forever. | Source

Homeless Tip # 6: Take what you'll need to look for a job

Homelessness is a short term proposition. You don't want to be without a home for longer than necessary. Before you can get yourself and your family a new home, you are going to need an income.

Despite how hopeless life may seem at the moment, the sun will rise one morning and you will be ready to go out and get a job. Make sure you have everything you need when that day comes!

Very few employers will be impressed by someone who walks through their door in tracksuit pants and a t-shirt. When you apply for a job, you have to dress for the occasion - and when you begin work, you need to be dressed appropriately.

Fold your work clothes flat and tie them up in a plastic bag. Put a copy of your references in the bag as well. You need these important items to stay clean and dry until they are needed.

If you're an office worker, pack at least one appropriate outfit for work plus your references and a Cv profiling your past work history.

Leave a space at the top for your address, but include your mobile / cell phone number. You can always explain you are new to the area and do not yet have a permanent address.

If you think your best chance of employment is on a building site, make sure you have your workboots, a clean pair of trousers and a fresh safety shirt on hand. If you have your own hard-hat, bring it.

If you're unskilled and have no idea what kind of work you might find, pack a black shirt, a white shirt and a pair of black trousers ... along with a pair of comfortable, clean shoes you could wear if working in a cafe, a bakery, a variety store or any other store that might require staff.

Bring your musical instrument!

If you play a musical instrument small enough to carry with you, hold onto it. Your music might help you make money.

  • Provide lessons to beginner students. Put a sign up on noticeboards - including in supermarkets, saying you'll come to the student's home.
  • Try busking. If you are any good and you pick the right place, you might make some decent money. At the very least, you can enjoy making music for a while. :)
  • If you don't have children to look after every night (or your partner can look after the kids), you could put a sign up in local music stores looking for a band to join. Then help the band get better paying jobs.

A mobile / cell phone makes it easy for people to contact you.

The same principle applies if you have other skills that people want to learn. Offer to teach clients in their own homes.

Tip # 7: Use Solar Lights and Rechargeable Batteries

I remember when I used to spend a small fortune buying new batteries for torches and toys. Not any more. Now I have a range of wonderful lights and torches that operate on solar power or can be charged by hand if there's no sunshine available ... and I buy rechargeable batteries that can be plugged into power for a short while before being returned to power other torches and toys.

Here's a few of my top recommendations.

Safe-T-Proof Solar, Hand-Crank Emergency Radio, Flashlight, Beacon, Cell Phone Charger
Safe-T-Proof Solar, Hand-Crank Emergency Radio, Flashlight, Beacon, Cell Phone Charger

I have one like this and keep it in my car. The solar panel charges through the car window. In an emergency it provides a flashlight as well as a warning beacon. Can also be used to listen to the radio and charge a mobile / cell phone.


Avoid unnecessary expenses

The same torches I use at home now that I live off the grid are ideal for a homeless lifestyle. None of these torches require spending money on batteries.
The same torches I use at home now that I live off the grid are ideal for a homeless lifestyle. None of these torches require spending money on batteries. | Source
Emergency Multi-Functional Flashlight with Reading lamp, FM Digital Radio, IPhone 5, Android, Solar, USB and Dynamo Crank Charger, Siren, for Home, Camping
Emergency Multi-Functional Flashlight with Reading lamp, FM Digital Radio, IPhone 5, Android, Solar, USB and Dynamo Crank Charger, Siren, for Home, Camping

This seems like a good option if you are homeless. It looks easier for reading than my flashlight. It also charges iphone 4 and iphone 5 in addition to android phones. A bright overhead light is not much use for reading when other family members are trying to sleep.

It can be charged by hand as well as via usb, It has an FM digital radio plus a siren if you need to attract attention.


We use this nearly every day of the year!

Nature Power 40050 Solar Powered PowerPak with 2 Super Bright LED Lights
Nature Power 40050 Solar Powered PowerPak with 2 Super Bright LED Lights

This is the Nature Power system I use and love. Some of the reviews on the page are not so positive. I'm not sure whether or not it has anything to do with how you prepare and use the unit. All I know is it works great for my family. :)


I've been using this for years

I wrote at length about why I love this solar panel, battery and light in a hub about my lifestyle living off the grid.
I wrote at length about why I love this solar panel, battery and light in a hub about my lifestyle living off the grid. | Source

We use this product when camping, and as lighting in our off-grid home.

You just have to look at other hubs I've written to see photos of Nature Power 40050 Solar Powered PowerPak with LED lights in action around my home.

Most of the year, however, we use it as part of our daily off-grid lifestyle. It illuminates my desk area at night now that we have my daughter's bedroom lights connected directly to our main solar system. :)

This is not a torch. You wouldn't want to carry it as you find your way from your campsite to the nearest toilet - but it is absolutely wonderful for lighting the inside of the large tent we take camping ... and a room in my house ... and my firebunker ... and every other application I have turned it to. :)

Preparing Food without your own Kitchen

You won't know how affordable camp cooking can be until you go looking for stoves. You'll need a gas cylinder for a flame but it is possible to prepare healthy 'home-cooked' meals even when you are homeless.
You won't know how affordable camp cooking can be until you go looking for stoves. You'll need a gas cylinder for a flame but it is possible to prepare healthy 'home-cooked' meals even when you are homeless. | Source
If you camp on an unpowered site in a caravan park, you'll have access to their cooking facilities. Some offer indoor and outdoor cooking options and even let you use a fridge. Choose a nice clean resort and negotiate a weekly or monthly rate.
If you camp on an unpowered site in a caravan park, you'll have access to their cooking facilities. Some offer indoor and outdoor cooking options and even let you use a fridge. Choose a nice clean resort and negotiate a weekly or monthly rate. | Source

Homeless Tip # 8: Cook Real Food and Carry Fresh Water

If you feed yourself and your family a diet of fast foods from takeaway food outlets, you can expect to gain weight and become less healthy. To be healthy, you must eat healthy foods. This may seem an impossible challenge when you are homeless but there are ways to cook real food without a kitchen, and with a little planning you'll find you can always carry fresh water.

Making healthy food choices should be high on your list of priorities. It is more important than ever to stay fit and well when you are homeless. A case of diarrhea is inconvenient when your bathroom is a few steps from your bedroom but it becomes a major problem if you are relying on public toilets.

Similarly, you'll be wanting to avoid constipation. Instead of being forced to sit for ages on a public toilet while struggling to rid yourself of waste, in an ideal world you will simply make a quick trip to a public loo when necessary and get in and out without fuss or drama.

Eating real food instead of junk food will help keep your body in good condition and avoid toileting problems.

Keep fresh water on hand for drinking and cooking. Find an outlet that sells healthy clean drinking water. Don't risk drinking contaminated water. Water for washing and bathing should ideally be kept separate to your valuable drinking water.
Keep fresh water on hand for drinking and cooking. Find an outlet that sells healthy clean drinking water. Don't risk drinking contaminated water. Water for washing and bathing should ideally be kept separate to your valuable drinking water. | Source

Drinking fresh water instead of soda or sugary fruit drinks will contribute to maintaining good health. Plus you'll save money.

Look for an outlet that sells purified water and purchase one of their water tanks with a cap on the top for filling and a tap in the bottom for pouring water into a cup.

Carry a cup for each family member (or a small drink bottle) and encourage them to drink fresh water from the tank when they are thirsty.

Do not store your drinking water in the sunshine or a hot vehicle for long periods.

Make sure you keep it as cool and shaded as possible.

Water Purification Tablets

Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets
Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets

These should not be used long term, but they are helpful to have if you are uncertain about the quality of your drinking water. Water is ready within 30 minutes.


Homeless Tip # 9: Move to a Safer Place with a Better Climate - Preferably Not in a City

If you live where snow falls, that's not a place to be homeless.

If you experience tornadoes, you won't want to be caught without a basement.

Flooding rains, severe cyclones, raging bushfires ... there are many dangers that can be avoided if you are prepared to pack up and move to a better, less threatening climate.

Do you really want to re-establish a home in the path of regular tornadoes? Even if you have friends and family in the area where you now live, don't you think they'd be happy to come visit you if you establish a new home in a safer place?

While you are assessing where you will go, give serious thought to the type of environment you want to be in.

If you have always lived in the heart of a busy city, imagine your lifestyle if you no longer have a house with a living room, a kitchen, a dining room, a shower, a door to lock and a place to park your car.

Pitching a tent (or parking your trailer and erecting your tent on it, as suggested in Tip # 1) is not going to be easy in a city.

My suggestion is to head for a country town that is large enough to have businesses likely to be needing staff, but small enough for young people to leave when they want to get a university education or pursue their careers and dreams.

This type of community often welcomes newcomers and the locals are more likely to be aware of who needs workers (in shops or on farms or in orchards at harvest time). Local caravan and camping sites are likely to have lower rates than bigger towns and large cities and may have free camping areas alongside rivers or parks. Talk to a friendly local and ask for advice.

Discuss your personal hygiene needs including access to showers and toilets in the short term while you are settling in and finding work. There may be a free camping area with public toilets, and a truck stop with a coin operated shower nearby.

You'll have many options if you choose the right town. Ask if there's any local farmers, for instance, who might be prepared to let you camp on their land in return for doing some light work. Farmers often grow their own fruit and vegetables and have an abundance of fresh food to share.

Moving away from the city does not mean moving to the middle of nowhere.

Think carefully before setting up camp in a remote area or in a place where local wildlife could be dangerous. I have never encountered a bear, but I have heard enough stories to know that I wouldn't want to spend a night in a tent in an area where I might meet one.

Keeping Bottoms Off the Ground

Coleman Pack-Away Picnic Table Set for 4
Coleman Pack-Away Picnic Table Set for 4

When camping for any length of time, I get mighty sick of always having to sit on the ground. Because individual camp chairs take up quite a bit of space even when folded, I like this kind of option.

The benches store inside the table when it is all folded flat and the picnic table dimension is 35" x 24". Large enough to be useful and small enough for us to transport easily with our camping gear.

If you are wondering if it suitable for your family, the table supports 300 lbs of weight and the benches support up to 400 lbs each.


What You Need vs What You Want

As difficult as it seems, it really is important to spend time imagining what you will need when homeless, where you can get it, how you will use it, and how you will transport it between the places you will stay.

Make a list of what you think your most basic needs will be. Then make a 'wish list' as opposed to a 'need list'.

So, let's talk about tables.

Do you need a table? If so, why? It will obviously need to be small and light if you don't have a permanent home. Where can you get one? How will you use one, and how will you transport it?

The next obvious question when considering a table is the issue of chairs. Do you need them? Should you put a camp table with benches on one of your lists? Which list?

Make your lists and then see how far your money will spread. Don't buy things you really don't need.

With school age children, I would consider a table with benches a 'need'. If I was only considering myself, or if I had pre-schoolers to care for, I would probably put just the table on my 'needs' list (because I'd be happy to stand when preparing food etc and would need to keep some things out of the reach of little ones) and put the seats on my 'wish' or 'wants' list.

Think through each item on your lists ... but don't take too long doing it. You need to make decisions quickly.

Tables Make Life Easier

Coleman Pack-Away 4-In-1 Table
Coleman Pack-Away 4-In-1 Table

These two height-adjustable tables can be used separately, placed end-to-end, or side-by-side for a classic square dining table. They are not recommended for holding stoves or extremely hot items but are good for food preparation, dining, kids' writing and drawing, etc. Helpful to be able to split into two tables if you want your children to be able to concentrate in their own space.


Homeless Tip # 10: Keep One Eye On The Future

Sometimes even the greatest optimist can have trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Homelessness can be one of those times.

Coping with the challenges of being homeless takes a lot of effort but if you can always keep one eye on the future the process will be easier.

  • Be confident that you will find work, save money and establish yourself in a new home.

  • Dream of buying a cheap block of land, moving your trailer tent (or other tent if you really can't afford a trailer tent) onto it and ultimately building a house.

  • Remember that your children need a good education, and don't neglect them in your period of instability. Make a real effort to teach them throughout your period of upheaval, and get them back into school as soon as possible.

  • Be nice and pleasant to everyone you meet. It's a small world and today's stranger might be tomorrow's employer or a relative of your future landlord.

  • Ask for help if you need it. Don't wait until a bad situation becomes worse.

  • Make new friends. If you have children, take them to the park and chat with other parents who are watching their own kids. Be an interesting person. Don't just be a victim of the global financial crisis. :)

  • Accept help if you are offered it. Learn to say, "That would be great. Thank you." You will get the chance to repay or pass forward any kindness you receive, so there is no need to feel uncomfortable when somebody lends you a hand.

  • Actively seek out opportunities to learn, grow, work, save, and build your new life. Today's experiences will help create the person you become tomorrow. Make it your goal to become wise, not bitter.

Single and homeless - an option worth exploring

Even if you are single with no dependents, no commitments and nobody to answer to, being homeless is tough.

It makes sense to invest some money in your homeless lifestyle to protect you from the weather ... and the snakes and spiders and wandering dogs that can interrupt a good night's sleep on the ground.

One thousand dollars seems like a lot when you don't have a dime, but if you sell all your assets before taking to the streets you may well be able to find enough cash to buy yourself a bicycle camper trailer.

Your existing pushbike or a cheap one from a second-hand store or yard sale could tow your little bicycle camper trailer from one place to another.

Of course you are always vulnerable to theft when living in the outdoors, but if you can find a safe spot there are advantages to having your own bed on wheels.

  • Water resistant and light weight.
  • Storage space beneath the bed - small but better than none.
  • Keeps you above cold, wet ground.
  • Protection from insects.
  • Can be moved without being carried. :)

With a small, mobile bed on wheels, perhaps you can find a job as a caretaker or security for a local business. Offer to sleep inside their building at night in exchange for a small fee and use of their bathroom facilities. You can move your bed to a discreet place in their storeroom or yard during the day when their business is operating and bring it in again at night.

We should all help the homeless

Homeless but not without hope

Good luck to everyone faced with the challenge of surviving without a home.

Many of us in the world have seen hard times and yet managed to rebuild our lives and find happiness and security again.

Yes, you may be homeless for a while ... but I hate to think you'd see a day without hope. Make a positive plan and do your best to stick to it.

I wish you all the best.

© 2013 LongTimeMother

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Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Beth Eaglescliffe 2 years ago from UK

You give some good tips about how to cope with becoming homeless. However, the reality is that alcohol and substance abuse are often linked to homelessness and so making rational choices is not always possible.

The US National Coalition for the Homeless cite research carried by Didenko and Pankratzout in 2007; two-thirds of homeless people questioned said that drugs and/ or alcohol were the root cause of their becoming homeless.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

Incredibly practical information which I hope people won't need but if they do, you've laid out considerations perfectly. Well done.

spiritwood profile image

spiritwood 2 years ago from Wales, UK

This is a great hub- i have several friends who live in vehicles all year round and it can be done cheaply and safely. There are some great tips in here and unfortunately more and more people are likely to need them with the way things are going. Stay safe and thank you.

Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

This is a a fantastic hub LongTimeMother, you didn't miss anything. Everyone should print this out and keep it as a guide for if they ever do become homeless at some stage. Great job, voted up.

Silva Hayes profile image

Silva Hayes 2 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

A wonderful, thoughtful, practical hub. Thank you on behalf of all the people who are living on the edge. Facing the future and selling all one's belongings in preparation for the next step is invaluable advice.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

This hub was inspired by a question asked by another hubber a couple of months ago. Peebles posted a question asking for advice about what to do when faced with homelessness. I regret being too busy with other issues to have answered her question promptly. I notice her absence from HP and hope she's coping okay with her children.

It can be really difficult to think clearly when you're in the middle of a crisis. I just hope this list helps someone in the future.

aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

All very sensible advice for someone that wants to think with their emotions instead of their heads, which is a natural thing to do.

Gary M Moore 2 years ago

this is very good advice

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello, aviannovice. It can certainly be difficult to apply logic and rational thought to a highly emotional problem. Sometimes it just becomes too difficult to 'think'.

Thanks for your feedback too, Gary M Moore.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

An interesting read filled with practical concepts that could be helpful to people who expect to be or have already become homeless. Comments thus far have initiated good discussion--a sign of a good hub. I'll be surprised if it's not Hub of the Day soon. Thanks for all the obvious work you put into this post.

This hub's integral theme of taking responsibility to plan and do what can be done to help oneself/one's family from a hopeful perspective makes a huge difference in outcomes. You have not simply emoted about the issues but have provided a positive look at useful possibilities. Some people have actually chosen homelessness as their preference because they could implement these ideas.

Looking forward to checking back on incoming comments.

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

Interesting points.

We narrowly escaped losing our home about a year and a half ago, thanks to being able to get a mortgage modification. With my husband's health issues, homelessness would have been a death sentence for him.

I'm not sure a P.O. box is an option, however; I had one for a while, for my former business, and I was required to also provide my actual street address for the record. Ditto bank accounts. You might be able to arrange mail sent to 'general delivery,' but I've never tried that, having no need. I don't know if banks will accept that.

I have all my camping gear, even though we feel our camping days are probably over; it is our emergency kit, and would all fit into our truck nicely. I won't give up the truck.

Voted up, interesting and useful.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello, RTalloni. If this means you've nominated this hub for HOTD, I thank you very much. :)

When the global financial crisis made life difficult even in Australia, we chose to rent our big house out including all our furniture and became 'homeless' for a while until we could sell it. We sold the house (fully furnished) at a ridiculously low price, but had enough cash left over to buy our few acres without any help from a bank. Since then we've created a lovely home and lifestyle off the grid and we are self-sufficient enough to survive any future financial disasters.

Of course a natural disaster could still take us out, but I much prefer to be at the mercy of nature than men in suits. Thanks for your feedback. :)

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello DzyMsLizzy. So pleased you managed to avoid losing your home. You are very wise to keep your camping gear and truck. We never know what the future may hold.

Regarding the PO box issue ... I had a Wells Fargo account in the US that sent all my mail to a PO box in Australia. (I only ever visited bank branches when I was visiting the US.) My one regret is keeping the US dollars I was paid during those years in US currency. With the benefit of hindsight I should have changed them to Australian dollars because the exchange rate plummeted by the time I closed the account and withdrew all my money. I had thought at the time it made sense to avoid fees exchanging currencies when I knew I'd be back in the US again. (US to Aussie with a fee - followed by Aussie to US with another fee before spending it.)

When the US dollar first crashed, Aussie dollars were looking extremely healthy. Yes, I kicked myself!!

To obtain a PO Box you certainly have to prove your current address which is why I suggest people do it before they become homeless, not after. Once the box is in place, you simply have to remember to go and pay the annual fee. For an additional fee, the PO (in Australia at least) will redirect your mail anywhere you want. There's no need to physically remain within the locality of the PO.

Wishing you all the best for 2014. Hope it is a good year for you and yours. :)

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Thank God I am not needing the information, but I know this is valuable advice and will help many who do need the hope you offer through your article. I love the trailer tend idea, it may be something for all of us to consider for such times as these. Voted way up and sharing!

Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 2 years ago from Sydney

I do hope I never need this information but it's great.

In particular, the idea of taking action early. I've never been able to understand people who let their mortgage fall into arrears, ever. If you know you can't pay your mortgage SELL THE HOUSE! If you delay until the bank repossesses it, you'll get nothing. If you sell it, at least you'll get something - and you may be able to afford to rent somewhere.

GetitScene profile image

GetitScene 2 years ago from The High Seas

WOW! What a GREAT hub. voted up, interesting and useful. I have been homeless and I can tell you personal experience that this is VERY useful information. Bravo!

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks, GetitScene. Your perspective is very important to me. I am pleased you rate it so highly. Personal experience makes the world of difference when writing (or reading) about this kind of topic.

Thanks for the vote and the encouragement, teaches12345.

Marisa, you are right about selling a house if you can't afford it. We sold ours when the gfc hit, and had enough to set ourselves up elsewhere. Fortunately my family welcomes change and believes that home is where the heart is.

Sadly, however, many other families don't make the decision to sell (or move) quickly enough. I do hope this hub helps those in need. :)

cirno 2 years ago

Hi LTM I enjoyed the post however do not agree with all of it but it's mostly good. I however come with the disadvantage of coming from a dirt poor family and being homeless young and still am homeless p sweet that this shelter has Wifi .. the tent suggestion was good however is only good if u can walk around with it or store it. I would like one for the rainy streets of Seattle if I could not make it to a shelter but other costs make it impossible for me :( still things that have helped me was the library for charging battery computer for job search and volunteering. I do the last one for food Amd things I wouldn't have access to otherwise and distracts me from things. Why do u suggest to stay out of the cities I find much more help in Seattle than in. small town America tho the job comp. is more fierce double edge. sword maybe? I am young and stupid tho but still I think the city us kind to single kidless people that r not on drugs. If u have any other advice for people like me I'd appreciate it, from a non family point of view that is :)

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hello cirno. I'm glad you stopped by. I hope you get a chance to chat with me sometimes when you get near wifi. That's a clever idea, to do volunteering. How old are you now? I'm sure you are young, but I doubt you are stupid. lol.

Yes, you are right. Cities can be good for single childless people who are not on drugs. (If you're not on drugs, you are definitely not stupid!!)

I'm happy to share a few thoughts with you that might help. Just give me a few clues about yourself so I know where to begin. Were you homeless as a child as well? Do you still see your parents? Did you go to school, and how old were you when you left school? Do you have any interest in studying, if it was possible?

I don't even know if you're a male or a female. That would be another good clue. :)

I don't sit on the computer all day every day, but I will watch for an answer from you - and I will write back as soon as I can. Tell me about yourself.

Cirno 2 years ago

Hi LTM I am a 22 year old (youngish) male in seattle. I currently go to school full time, yes while homeless, but it gives me a sense of normality a calm feeling. Makes me feel not so bad. The school is paid by finaid and they actually give me a little bit left over not a lot but it helps me for about a month with anything I need. I study computer science. I am very good with computers and sometimes hop on craigslist and offer my skills for sale but not so many biters idk if its just that im bad at craigslisting or what. Anyway its hard to get a real job because of a 4 year old non violent felony and I can't go to temp agencies because they all require me to go early in the morning... when I have class so I have to choose between the two and school always wins and I don't know if that's backwards but I feel good about the choice. I talk to my dad maybe once or a week or two but I barely know him e just entered my life. My mom is only a state away in portland oregon but I cannot stay with her. I was never homeless as a child however both my parents were homeless in their lifetime as well as my uncle and various other family members. I was however sent away when I was 12 to a home for mental/anger issues and I ended up escaping that 5 months later and was on the street alone for about 3 days idk why it took so long for the cops to find a 13 year old alone in seattle but whatever. I don't really know what else to say. I keep my clothes in my locker at school and change in the bathrooms there, shower and wash clothes at a place called the urban rest stop, I figured out where the food is and what days the food will be there even volunteer as to get more for later and have also gotten clothes this way as well. I go to the library to study/charge my electronics(phone/computer) and provides a resting place, not sleeping but rest from all the walking I do. I seem like I have things figured out but if that's the case why do I still feel so lost? I feel like I have nothing under control except when I am at school. That's why I would love to hear whatever it is you have to say LTM like I said im youngish and confused :p.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Cirno. Thanks for that. I'll write back to you when I get a chance. Have to race out the door right now. Will be at the computer again in around 8 or 9 hours from now. :)

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

There's a distinct possibility I have made a mistake in the link, Cirno. It is late and I didn't look properly so if it doesn't work in my eagerness to be helpful, don't worry. I will advise you of any change. :)

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Yes, it was wrong. It is now after 2am local time. I rarely bother keeping track of any activity by others on this site, but I'll make an exception for anyone who is homeless and wanting to seriously write. (I'm a professional writer, not a computer guru so I have no real appreciation of how links are structured. lol.)

Here's the link I should have provided. By using this one, I'll be able to see how the traffic flow is going and offer you feedback, encouragement and advice. I won't be able to see your earnings or anything too specific, but it will give me enough of an insight to be able to see if your hubs are attracting readers.

Give it some thought and only use it if you think it is a good idea. :)

Cirno 2 years ago

I will def think about it, esp if it can get some of that [[worry]] out of my life. I did setup a personal blog but that's just that, personal, for friends and family not so close to me (geographically) to read for them to have an insight in what I go through in my day to day. Maybe it will put some kind of perspective on things if I have to think about something differently in order to reach a broad audience. I don't know really. In any case I will look forward to your new hub & I could try writing something on paper just to see if I have anything really relevant that people could actually -use- (if they find themselves in similar situations) otherwise its nothing more than a public journal :p. You are right though I will have nothing else to do in the break unless I decide to ditch Seattle and vagabond it for the entirety of summer but that's a bit scary ?

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Can you pick up work at a fast food outlet or some other place that gets busy during the summer holidays?

cirno 2 years ago

Idk ill apply regardless but I got a burglary 2 charge for that felony I mentioned but it was for a stupid reason I didn't even steal anything it a really stuuuuupidthing at 18 so employers don't really trust me?

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

I can see that would be a problem. Try a bakery or a small cafe. Ask to see the owner or manager. Introduce yourself and tell them you are looking for work. Perhaps they'd like you to come in and lift the chairs, mop the floors, clean the coffee machine etc at the end of their busy days.

Tell them you are a student going through hard times, and that you would really appreciate their help in giving you a job.

Offer to stay away from the cash registers and to wear clothing without pockets. Be a hard worker and impress them. You could offer to let them try you out for a few days without paying you if you think it will get you the job.

Bakeries throw out a lot of fresh food when they close their doors. I'm sure they'd let you take some for your own use. You'd want to be careful you don't get in trouble for taking too much or spreading the word though.

If you are confident you can be trusted in a workplace, you just have to convince someone to give you a try. :)

Patrick 2 years ago

2 yrs ago my wife passed away so I at age 50, retired Army and no kids left Indiana on Thanksgiving and arrived in Ft Myers Florida for warmer weather and been here ever since. Or at least until the heat gets unbearable then back up north for traveling.

I live in my truck camper shell and Do Not consider myself homeless just house less. I have a retired income of $1,700 a month so the rules for me aren't the same as for everyone else. I enjoy the extra $800 I have versus rent. I stay at different motel / hotel parking lots for 3 days free. June 1st I'm gonna take scuba lessons. I don't live in my truck but rather just sleep in it. Most would disagree with that concept but I can think of a million things to do besides peeping out my windows and sitting in my truck doing nothing. Im the exception to the rule I guess. The homeless I see at Walmart just want to drink, pan handle and NOT work. That's a waste of life. Occasionaly I will run an ad to do electrical work for extra income. The only difference between me and a retired 65 yr old couple is that they paid a half million for their rig and I paid $7, 000 for mine. It's a life choice for me besides after spending 20 yrs in the Army and living in tents while eating out of ravioli cans the truck life is a cake walk.

Silva Hayes profile image

Silva Hayes 2 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

Once on vacation, we met the coolest guy; he came over to our KOA camp site and asked if he could have a cup of coffee. He lived in his pickup and camper. His wife died so he sold the house and started driving. He kept busy with his metal detector. He had dozens of interesting stories about finding coins and jewelry on the beach, under the bleachers, and in the parks.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Patrick, I imagine there are many who would envy your lifestyle ... particularly those who live alone in isolation without family. Yes, I can see a definite advantage in your choice at this stage of your life. :) I love that concept of being house-less, not homeless! I hope you'll drop in from time to time and give us an update.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Silva. It would be just too much of a small world if your visitor had been Patrick. lol. It sounds like your visitor was in a similar position to Patrick. Instead of staying home alone, he's out in the world meeting nice people like you.

I am so pleased you described him as 'the coolest guy'. It is great when we meet and appreciate total strangers. :)

peeples profile image

peeples 2 years ago from South Carolina

I find myself reading this Hub often now that we are back in a home. Getting out of our current situation of being in a home that is attached to the landlords home, not having a place for my children to ride bikes, not having a place for a garden, and not knowing how we are going to save up for a car to replace the one that will likely be repoed soon because we are paying for housing and food and misc makes me feel almost as stuck as we did before when we were homeless. I constantly remind myself that I should be thankful for the roof, but when I think back to just a year ago, when we were in OUR home, I miss it, and start hating our current life. I'm hoping that by constantly reading Hubs like this one I can keep my brain where it needs to be to be thankful and get us to the next step in our lives. Thank you for creating this Hub, if I had not said it before.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia Author

Hi peeples. So pleased to see you. I understand that you feel stuck, but I am confident you'll come out the other side of this tough time.

Perhaps you and Cirno and other friends who visit me here might be able to replicate the success of a woman I heard about on television this morning. Apparently she 'sells mascara on facebook' and it took while to take off but she now makes 30K a month from it.

Yep, that's right. Thirty thousand dollars each month from selling mascara on facebook. I have no idea how one sells items on or via facebook but the name of the seller sounded like 'Yon-eek'. If you have a chance to find that successful little business and see how it is done, perhaps you could think of some other product you could promote and sell in a similar way.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 22 months ago from North Texas

Lots of interesting suggestions and advice here. I'm not sure many of them would work well in the city, and there are no jobs to speak of in more rural areas. I thought you lived here in the states, but it sounds more like you're in GB.

In fact attempting to get a job here in the states as you describe would require a miracle. Most employers want an application online and then you wait for them to call. Some want resumés emailed to them. In all my years of job hunting since the 2008 crash, no employer has been willing to accept applications on paper. Not even for the low pay jobs.

I like the ideas of tents, I just don't see how they can be feasible where most homeless people are -- in the city. If you have family or friends who will let you set them up in their backyards that's good, but what about those people who don't? If I were to attempt that, my daughter would probably allow it in her yard, but I would still have to rely on public bathrooms, etc., because she has 4 cats and a dog in her house and I'm deathly allergic to them and wouldn't be able to go inside her house even long enough to wash my hands, much less anything more. I should think the tents could get a little chilly, or hot, depending on the season, too.

One thing that could be considered for use of a bathroom, exercise, television, Wi-Fi, and some other amenities are the 24/7 gyms. I have a friend who utilizes those services at a gym.

I know nothing is ideal and you're trying to give ideas that will make things better, not likely perfect even if such existed.

I don't understand why someone with money to invest doesn't think of building very small accommodations that include a shower, outlets for charging, Wi-Fi for computers, toilet, and a bench to sleep on to be rented by the day or longer. I know some homeless people wouldn't be able to afford them, but some could and at least they would be far better than nothing, or even homeless shelters.

Agree people should plan for the possibility of becoming homeless as so many people live from paycheck to paycheck it could easily happen. Determine one's true necessities and figure out how to manage them.

An excellent article and lots of things to consider and think about. Going to share this in hopes that people who need this information will find it more easily.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 22 months ago from Australia Author

Thank you, Au fait. I live in Australia, although I have lived in the UK ... and spent quite a bit of time in the US between the 1970s and 2008.

Like you, I thought all job applications would be received online in this day and age. However I am occasionally asked to help young people create CVs they can print, ready to hand in to possible employers.

One young lady phoned yesterday to thank me, with the news she now has a job in an outdoor/camping store - and gets a staff discount on all their goods. She had phoned last week, told me the key points of her past work history (not really relevant to retail but I highlighted her skills rather than her previous employers) and I emailed her the draft. She printed it in a library ... and scored a job.

I believe her initiative was rewarded. She walked through their door with the right attitude. Not sure how many places she applied, but she only needed one to say 'yes'.

Her job is in a city. Most cities in Australia have camping and caravan sites. With a tent and sleeping bag, she'll be all set to start saving money for the next stage in her journey. :)

Joe trainer 13 months ago

Thinks for all advice from this post at 11 in morning my wife and i are homeless. We are early 30s moving across counyry our car burned up we have no family no ids we been gathering some stuff while foolishly trying not to be homeless. In middle of kansas where we know noone. We will post how we come through this any advise is welcome my email is thanks

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 13 months ago from Australia Author

Joe, in years to come you'll look back at this stage in your life with hindsight, and I'm hoping you'll be have a positive view of some of the life lessons you learn. Thank goodness you and your wife have each other. Look out for each other, and take care.

Unfortunately I don't know anyone in Kansas either, or I'd send you to knock on the door of a friend. Perhaps you could go to a hotel with accommodation or a motel, and offer to work in return for accommodation and meals. Bar work, cleaning rooms, painting areas that need a fresh look. Anything that can get you off the streets.

While one works there (for whatever number of hours you negotiate), the other could be looking for a paying job.

I truly hope things pick up for you very quickly, Joe. Stay strong, and don't take each other for granted. Best wishes.

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