Friday: 13.April.2007

Homeless in SoCal: Rad Guide to Living out of your Porsche (as a Hi-Tech Hobo)

Homeless Man: Havana, Cuba .. courtesy Dan HellerRegulars may recall last year, when I discussed moving to "...pristine ocean-front property .. mere steps from the beach. Will be falling asleep to the sound of waves every night, sitting in front of a cozy fire."

Well, confession time (Friday the 13th) .. that *was* the beach. =)

Ever lived out of your car? Been homeless? It's a lot like camping.

There was a last-minute problem with the new place. And I'd already given notice on the old place, I currently occupied, unable to stay. So I was caught in a jam.

I decided to throw everything in storage and make the best of a bad situation.

today's entry continues below

Several friends offered use of their guest rooms 'til I could straighten out things. But I figured this was a good time to do some "camping," which I love. (No shortage of open campsites in January.)

This was back before I had the bug for overnight stays. On days when I had the bug, I *did* take up my friends on their offers, and made use of their (lovely) accommodations. But the rest of the time, I made like a vagabond and lived out of the Radmobile.

You could say I was homeless (and some did just that), but it wasn't like I was eating out of garbage cans .. wrestling hobos for fingerless gloves. I mean, how many "homeless" people do you know driving around (beautiful) Laguna Beach in a Porsche?

I'd arrive at the campsite late (~10PM), set up my tent, and get out early (~6AM). If you arrive after the ranger leaves and leave before he arrives, you don't have to pay for the campsite. (More money for lawyer bills.)

My friend Battman, who spent a year touring the world (by choice), was very helpful in conveying insights on the less-obvious aspects of life on the road.

I also changed my 24 Hour Fitness membership to allow access to any club at any time. (Previously had the single-club, 4-days/week plan.)

Surprisingly, during this time, I felt happier than I had in a long time. Not sure why. I feel it had something to do with confronting obstacles and making the best of a bad situation. (You might recall, by that time, I'd had plenty of practice dealing with a variety of challenges.)

I'd wake early (to the sound of the ocean), pack up the tent, and make tracks for the coffee shop (at Main Beach, Laguna). It's difficult to make out, but the coffee shop is actually pictured in this oil painting. Altho now it's closed, due to renovation, since Starbucks bought out the local Diedrich's chain. The place had nice, comfy sofas and everything. Great friendly staff.

Most coffee shops here in SoCal offer free wireless Internet (as do all libraries and colleges). I signed up for a library card (easy to do) and registered at a local community college so I could use their wireless Internet, tho never actually took a class during this time.

[Previously, I'd taken 45-units worth of classes at Saddleback. Got all 'A's, not even a single 'B'. My GPA at Saddleback is a perfect 4.0, which includes two Calculus courses and other gnarly classes.]

On days when I had the bug, I hang out at a friend's place in Laguna. (Everybody always likes to see the bug.)

It wasn't long however (not more than a few weeks) before my lawyer called and said I needed to move into the new place, even if it wasn't ready yet. She was sympathetic, having also lived out of her car for a stint, with her daughter. (We all do what we have to.)

But I learned a lot in the process. In fact, I learned enough that I could throw together a little guide titled, Rad Guide to Living out of your Porsche.

Note, I don't want to make light of *real* homelessness, which is a serious problem, both here and abroad. I needn't include links. There are thousands (actually millions), and they paint a depressing picture.

I feel there is something fundamentally wrong with our society when some have so much they cannot even spend the interest they earn daily (many million$), while others (too many, including children) go hungry every night, without having their most basic needs met (food, shelter, security).

Makes me think of the old Dylan tune: My Back Pages:

"Equality," I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

But that's another discuss, one I might address another time.

The first thing I learned .. is that it's not easy to live out of a Porsche. They're too small, not enough room for all the stuff you need to haul around with you (have on hand, such as water, clothes, etc).

And you can't sleep in them. On nights when it rains (and some nights it rained very hard), it would've been nice to had a Volkswagen van. Cuz setting up a tent in the pouring rain suks.

I already mentioned getting a full-boat membership at 24 Hour Fitness, so you can shower any time, at a number of locations .. (and stay in shape). You also learn to buy foods which need no refrigeration, and don't spoil easily. You make more trips to the grocery store.

Most surprising is that, if you don't have kids, and you work via the Internet (from a laptop), you don't actually need a residence. I mean, if I had a Volkswagen van, I coulda done much better.

Then there's the financial aspect. As you know, homes in SoCal are ridiculously expensive. And if you can avoid that expense, it can help .. especially when you have lawyer's bills to pay.

Another thing is you need a PO Box for your mail. I already had a PO Box .. the same one I've used for 10 years now. But getting a new one is not so easy any more. The "Patriot Act" now governs mailbox accounts. They want two forms of ID. One must be a photo. And they'll want you home address. See the problem if you don't have one?

I did laundry at a laundromat, quickly learning which washers and dryers worked best.

Cell phones make it easy for today's hobo to stay in touch with family & friends. Many people are terminating their home-phone accounts, to save money, and relying solely on their cell, so you no longer need a home phone .. like you used to.

With a credit card (or debit card) you're ready to begin your new life as a hi-tech hobo.

Essentials:

Old VW Van, preferably from the 60's (bonus points for living out of your Porsche)
Tent & sleeping bag
Health club membership (for showers)
Cell phone
Wireless Laptop
PO Box (mail)
Library card (for free wireless access)
Quarters (for laundry)
Credit card (so you don't have to carry cash)
Storage facility (for your stuff, preferably one you can access 24x7)

Extras

Register at local Community College (for more wireless access, don't have to actually take a class to register)
Locations of all coffee shops with free wireless access
T-mobile wireless account (for even more wireless access, available at most Starbucks. Sign-up here.)

In closing, I'd like to say I try to limit my comments to things for which I have first-hand experience .. and, living out of my car .. (unfortunately) is something I know a bit about. (We do what we have to.)

For more along these lines, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query > how to survive living out of your car

Looks like somebody actually wrote a *book* on the subject. See here > Car Living Your Way : Stories and Practical Tips From Those Who Have Been Down the Road. Here's another > titled: Car Living: How to Make It a Successful, Sane, Safe Experience

I wouldn't recommend it, of course, but sometimes life throws you a curve. And if it does, you'll have more insight than I had, and will be able to roll with it. I'm convinced we're far more resilient than we know.

Now I live in a veritable garden of eden. We have orange trees, lemon trees, lime trees, fig trees, a guava tree, a loquat tree and lots of bright, colorful flowers.

If I told you the details of how I got here (the story), you might say, "That sounds providential," (or "cosmic," depending on your orientation) .. and I'd have to agree.

If you go back and read January again (starting at the bottom), you can see how/where I left clues. But this isn't something you can come right out and say .. at least, not at the time .. for reasons I'm sure you understand.

The *idea* of living out of your car (fear of the unknown, stigma) is much worse than actually doing it.

I've even heard talk that Jesus was a homless guy, referencing Matthew 8:20 > And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.





Posted by Rad at April 13, 2007 07:50 AM

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