Is Living in Your Car Dangerous?

Is Living in Your Car Dangerous?

I’m guessing that you clicked on this article because you’re interested in becoming a nomad, living out of your vehicle, traveling the country, and creating a new journey for yourself. If so…

You might be wondering; “Is living in your car dangerous”? Since I myself have been living out of a Toyota Prius for 8 months, I’m going to answer this question for you based upon my experience.

The reality is that living in your car is no more dangerous than living in a house or apartment. Each of these has their pluses and minuses, as well as their own set of risks. As long as you take the proper precautions (like you would anyplace else), living in your car can be a fun, safe, rewarding experience.

Here are the facts…

Location is Vital

Where you choose to live (whether it’s in a car, hour or apartment) makes a huge difference.

There are good neighborhoods and bad. High crime areas and safe areas. And while awful things can happen ANYWHERE, the odds of something dangerous taking place obviously increase if you live in a rough part of town.

This is why I only stay in well-populated, nicer areas during my travels.

Whether I’m spending a few nights at a highway rest stop, a Walmart, a truck stop or anyplace else, I ALWAYS try to get a general sense of the location before setting up shop.

  • Do the homes or businesses in the area appear clean & well maintained?

  • Are there sketchy looking characters milling around?

  • Have you noticed a lot of law enforcement activity going on?

  • Is it a well-trafficked location, or is it dark & desolate?

Knowing your surroundings is vital. Keep your eyes and ears open to what’s going on around you, especially if you’re someplace you’ve never been before.

While I’ve personally only had one or two minor, shady situations happen since I’ve been living on the road, none of these had me particularly worried, because I knew I was in a safe locale, and I was also able to read the situation correctly and adjust my behavior.

The plus of living in a car versus a traditional home, is that if I ever feel threatened, I can simply get behind the wheel and move to another location. You should always do the same.

The United States is a large country. There is absolutely NO reason to stay someplace that’s unsafe.

If you follow this single piece of advice by itself, the chances of encountering a truly dangerous scenario in your travels is extremely small.

Some of the safest spots to live in your vehicle are on BLM land. These are also FREE (or dirt cheap)! You can find out the juicy details here, in my article: BLM Car Camping [What You Need to Know].

Take Sensible Precautions

If you lived in a house, would you go to sleep at night without locking your doors or turning on the alarm?

Would you leave your curtains or blinds drawn late at night?

I ask these questions because living in a car is no different, you still have to practice common-sense safety precautions.

At a minimum, I recommend the following safeguards when living in your vehicle…

  • Lock all car doors whenever working or lounging in the car, and before going to bed

  • Always make sure to have your car alarm activated when you’re sleeping for the night

  • Window covers/shades are highly recommended. You definitely don’t want strangers to know that there’s someone sleeping in a vehicle, and you also don’t want prying eyes seeing what valuables are inside

  • You’ll probably never have to use it, but keeping a can of mace or pepper spray on hand, in an easily-accessible spot in the car is a wise form of protection

  • Try to park in well-lit areas at night

  • Avoid getting in & out of the car repeatedly in a short time span. This draws attention, especially late in the evening or in the wee hours of the morning

Common Sense

When you live in a car on the road, you’re constantly in new places being exposed to wide groups of people. While most humans are good souls, use common sense and don’t temp the few bad apples out there.


  • Don’t wear ridiculously expensive clothes

  • Don’t flash large amounts of cash in public

  • Don’t leave pricey electronics and other doo-dads in plain sight in your car

  • Don’t sit in your car for longer periods (relaxing, working, etc.) with the windows all the way down. Crack them only slightly for fresh air

  • Don’t attach any crude bumper stickers to your car. Same goes for political or religious decals. Blending into your surroundings and remaining as invisible as possible is key


  • Do move around constantly. Staying in one location is not only bad form, but doing so will allow others to know your routine. This should be avoided

  • Do keep your vehicle as clean as possible. Nothing sticks out more than an unkempt, disgusting looking car

  • Do have your phone charged at all times. It can be a life-saver in a bad situations

  • Do ensure you always have ample fuel. Running out of gas - or having to stop and fill up - during a time of distress isn’t fun

  • Do be extra aware whenever getting in & out of your car. This is the most common time that criminals target people

Trust Your Gut

Unfortunately, you can take every precaution in the world and still be the victim of a crime. It’s rare, but it does happen.

This is where your spidey senses come in. It is important to always trust your intuition!

If you ever feel uncomfortable in a certain place, or around certain people, listen to your gut and move to a safer place immediately. Even if you’re not uncomfortable, but something just seems “off”, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Contrary to what some may think, living in a car can be just as safe as living in a house. But being alert and on guard at all times is imperative.

If you wish to become a full-time nomad, developing your street smarts is a skill that will serve you well.

We all have a sixth sense, use it!

Final Thoughts

The past 8 months I’ve spent living on the road has been a life changing experience. This journey has not only transformed me into a better person, but it has also enriched me in countless ways.

I want you to experience a similar journey, too. But you need to be brave and get out there.

Once you have done your planning about this lifestyle (which you must!), take the next step and dive in. Don’t let your fears rule you.

Living in your car is not dangerous. Just as with everything else in life though, there are risks. However, I firmly believe…

That the best defense is a good offense.

So flap your wings and fly away. Set sail on your own adventure. The greatest danger is living with regrets.