If you love camping, you may have found yourself wondering whether it would be possible to live in a tent full time. It might be an extreme life choice that few would choose, but living in a tent full time is not only possible but even enjoyable for the right kind of person.
Living in a tent full time can help you find freedom and discover what makes you happy in life, but it’s definitely not for everyone. Choosing to opt-out of a conventional lifestyle can be scary, especially when you’re doing something that few others do, and you need to make a lot of sacrifices.
If you can’t shake the romanticized idea of full time tent living, you’ll need to work out if it is a good fit for you. Below, we deep-dive into the subject, detailing the realities of living in a tent, along with pros, cons, and important considerations if you do decide to take the leap.
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Advantages Of Living In A Tent Full Time
Many people will never understand the appeal of living in a tent full time. We’re all different and what one person loves, another hates. However, there will be a special group of people who adore the idea of severing their proverbial ties and leaving everything behind for some alfresco living. If you’re reading this article, you are likely one such person!
There is no doubt that if you can persevere with the rough times, living in a tent full time offers some incredible advantages when compared to a conventional lifestyle. We’ll discuss these in more detail below.
It Will Save You Money
Life can quickly get overwhelming. Mortgage payments, rent arrears, and utility bills quickly add up, often leaving little to nothing to enjoy at the end of the month in terms of disposable income. It doesn’t have to be this way though. Plenty of people have already turned their back on the strings of a conventional lifestyle in favor of tent living and are much better off for it.
Initial Cost Outlay
If you decide you want to try living in a tent full time, there will be some large costs at the start of the process. After all, you’ll need a tent that can withstand all weathers for starters! Sadly, as any camper already knows, these can be expensive.
Aside from the obvious, you’ll also need gadgets and supplies to help you adapt to your new life. These could include gas stoves, cooking utensils, home comforts, and food. While there will undoubtedly be cost outlay to start with, this will actually save you money in the long run when compared to paying for an apartment or house.
You Can Pack Up And Move Whenever
For people sick of their routine, living in a tent full time could offer the ultimate solution. The wonderful thing about living in a tent is that they are portable, meaning that if you get bored of the place where you are staying, you can simply pack up and leave!
Consider Portability When Buying
While this shouldn’t be your main consideration when buying a tent for full time living, portability is an important factor to think about when investing in your tent. You obviously want something sturdy that will withstand the trials of nature. However, you’ll also want to consider both how long your tent takes to erect and dismantle and how easy it is to do this.
Tent Living Makes You Appreciate The Small Things
It is pretty easy to get caught up in the hubbub of routine and forget what is important. When you’re living that 21st-century life, Zoom calls, busy commutes, and money struggles tend to take up much more rent space in our heads than they should really be allowed to.
Live A Simpler Life
By shedding the stress of a conventional lifestyle and living in a tent, you free your mind of worries, allowing you to live a simpler life. Forget about the responsibilities of homeownership and shake off other restraints and things that hold you down. With full time tent living, the only person you’re accountable to is yourself.
You Can Live More Sustainably
For many of us, the world is a scary place right now. Warnings of melting glaciers and rising sea levels fill us with fear, both for ourselves and the children and grandchildren we may not have met yet. However, even for those of us who are dedicated to protecting our precious planet, it is very hard to cut your carbon footprint and live more sustainably in a traditional setup.
Make Better Choices For The Planet
Full time tent living offers us an escape from the 9-5, consumer-driven world that most of us live in. By opting for a simpler and more organic life, we can make positive action-driven choices that not only benefit ourselves but also the planet.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Living in a tent means that you don’t have to worry about central heating, water supply, or many of the other factors which can lead to a high carbon footprint. If you’re set up on a permanent pitch, you could even look at growing your own fruit and vegetables to feed yourself in a sustainable way.
It Provides The Chance To Get Close To Nature
Those who love exploring the backcountry will already understand the importance of nature, not just for the world’s function but also for your own personal wellbeing. Seeing animals in the wild is a hugely rewarding experience and one you have to experience firsthand to really understand.
It Can Be Very Rewarding
Living full time in a tent will provide more opportunities to get up close to wildlife than the average person will have in their lifetime. It is these little things and the ability to get back to nature that make tent life so appealing to many.
Better For Your Health
It is no secret to most campers that access to the great outdoors can do wonders for your mental health. According to Harvard Medical School, the symptoms of mood disorders can be lessened by spending time outdoors.
Forest bathing is another example of how living in a tent full time can improve your health. Japanese studies show that spending a lot of time in forested areas can help your body in a manner of ways.
Plants release phytoncides which help you to breathe in more air, regulate your body, and strengthen your immune system. Vitamin D also has a number of positive effects on the body, including regulating calcium and phosphate levels.
It Allows You To Feel Free
Ask anybody who lives in a tent full time what they like best about it and they are likely to say the freedom. Not only do you have the flexibility to live where you like and change your location at a moment’s notice, but you are also free of modern ties. This relinquishing of responsibilities allows you to spend your time doing more of what makes you happy.
The Opportunity To Challenge Yourself
If you’re somebody who thrives on dealing with problems, tent living could be ideal for you. This kind of lifestyle presents a unique set of challenges that will require you to learn quickly and adapt to changing situations.
Grow Your Skills
If you are looking to develop your bushcraft capabilities or just want to expand your skillset more generally, alfresco living is sure to present some opportunities for this! Tent living can allow you to think more creatively and also discover new truths about yourself. It’s also much cheaper than ‘finding yourself’ on a trip halfway around the world!
A Tough But Rewarding Experience
Although you shouldn’t be under any illusion that tent living is an easy thing to do, there is no doubt that it can be hugely rewarding, making all of the challenges worth all the effort!
Disadvantages Of Living In A Tent Full Time
While living in a tent has plenty of benefits, it also comes with its downsides. As you would expect, living in the wild full time will take some getting used to, even for the most experienced campers.
Bad Weather Can Make Life Miserable
If you tell your friends that you are considering selling your house and living in a tent, they are likely to look at you with their mouths agape. After they’ve asked what on earth you’re thinking, their next question is likely to be, “But what about the weather?”
It is no secret to people who already camp and spend time in the backcountry that the weather can really make or break a trip. That isn’t too much of a concern when you’re on a day hike, or even a week-long vacation, but it can make life very difficult when you’re living in a tent full time.
Be Prepared For Anything
Whether it’s blizzards, droughts, floods, or storms, those brave enough to dive into full time tent living will have to be prepared for it all. Weather considerations should play an important part in deciding where to pitch your tent, as bad weather can make you miserable and in extreme situations it can even endanger your life.
Know What To Expect
Make sure that you know what conditions to expect in your chosen location year-round and also check that you have the right kit for it. Investing in more expensive gear can really be worth the money in the face of weather adversity.
Heating May Be Necessary During Winter
If you are planning on living in your tent during the winter months, you’ll need to make sure that you have a heating solution. Most canvas tents can be fitted with a stove jack which will accommodate a wood stove. This can help to keep you warm during the cold, but it does come with a cost.
If your budget is very tight, it is worth heading to a location that benefits from a warmer climate year-round. That way, heaters are something you won’t have to worry about!
Security Can Be An Issue
The vast majority of people who choose to live in a tent full time are not motivated by material things. Instead, they value life experiences. Even though the average tent dweller may not be storing the latest technology or a ton of cash in their tent, security can still be a concern.
Tents Offer Little Deterrent To Thieves
When you leave your house, you can simply lock your door behind you, putting off any potential thieves. However, things are significantly harder to manage when you live in a tent. Although you can padlock the zips when you leave your home base, there is little deterrent when you consider that your house is likely to be made of canvas, a material that can be easily slashed or torn.
Keep Your Valuables On Your Person
Although tent invasions tend to be pretty rare, that offers little comfort to those living in a tent full time. Sadly, there isn’t much in terms of security solutions for tent living either. The best advice is to store your valuables on your person or in your car if you have one.
Wild Animals Can Pose A Threat
Depending on the environment in which you are living, there could be predators all around you that pose a threat to your safety. In North America, bears, wolves, mountain lions, and snakes are all creatures that you may have to contend with when you choose to live in a tent full time.
Keep Wild Animals Away
To keep yourself safe, you’ll need to consider how to best keep pests away from your camp. This could involve lighting a campfire, making lots of noise, appropriately disposing of your trash, or hanging food in high places.
Be Ready To Defend Yourself
As well as keeping wild animals away from your tent, you’ll also need a Plan B in case the worst happens and you find yourself in a dangerous situation. Bear spray is a must-carry item for those in bear country and all campers will find that a whistle is a good investment to ward off attackers.
Facilities Aren’t Always Readily Available
Sanitation can be an issue for those living in a tent full time. Unlike in your house, you will not have access to plumbing or waste removal which means that simple things like showering or going to the toilet will be more difficult.
Opt For A Campground
One good way to get around this issue is to set up in a campground with communal facilities. By paying a fee to pitch your tent, you’ll usually get access to shared toilets and showers. This is much more convenient as you will not be responsible for disposing of your own waste.
If going off-grid is all part of the appeal for you, then you’ll need to find somewhere isolated to shower using a portable setup or be willing to take a dip in a nearby body of water. While this can be a nice treat when the weather is nice, it can be rather less pleasant in wintery conditions!
Consider Leave No Trace Principles
When it comes to waste disposal, you should always remember to follow leave no trace principles. Dig your cathole at least 200 feet away from any water sources and always pack toilet paper out as trash to dispose of it responsibly.
Tent Living Can Be Isolating
When you choose an unconventional lifestyle, you need to be aware that you’ll be a bit of the odd one out in your social circles. Full time tent life isn’t for everybody, so you’re unlikely to have neighbors and people close by that you can pop out to see.
Maintain Your Social Ties
So that the isolation doesn’t become too much, make sure that you carve out time to spend with the people you care about. Although there are plenty of activities you can enjoy with somebody in a social setting, the gym or pool can be good places to go as there are shower facilities included with the cost of a visit. Two birds with one stone!
You Will Need To Be Resourceful
Arguably, it is the challenge that comes with tent living that makes it so worthwhile. However, there is no denying that on some days, you just want to kick back with a cold beer in your armchair and watch some TV. These little comforts are much harder to achieve when you live in a tent.
When you live alfresco, unexpected obstacles will rear up at the most inconvenient of times. In a traditional living situation, you can put most things off if you don’t fancy putting your problem-solving head on, but this is not so easy when you live in a tent.
Be Ready To Tackle Problems
The weather can change at a moment’s notice and a storm can result in a late-night tent fixing session rather than the peaceful slumber you were hoping for. Living in a tent full time requires you to be resourceful and ready to spring into action at any time.
Considerations Of Living In A Tent Full Time
The above list of pros and cons should have demonstrated that full time tent living will not suit everybody. If your dream of tent living is still very much alive, you’ll need to begin thinking about the logistics of making it happen.
Choosing a location is perhaps the most important decision that you will have to make before you begin permanent tent living. Location can have a profound impact on the durability and longevity of your gear and also a huge bearing on your overall happiness and wellbeing.
Weather and climate is something to seriously consider when choosing your destination as it can make a huge difference to how comfortable you will be living in the wild. Constant rain and wind pose a large threat to those living in a tent and this is best avoided if possible.
Off-Grid Or Campground?
When selecting your location, you’ll need to choose whether to go off-grid or stay in an organized campground. The latter will usually come with a cost, but it also comes with the added benefit of communal facilities, which will make washing and cooking much easier.
Know Your Rights
Although there are plenty of places across the world where it is possible to camp for long periods, you’ll need to be well informed about the legalities of camping where you are. Some areas might require you to move on after two weeks or purchase a permit to stay longer. Failure to adhere to the rules could result in a hefty fine, so make sure that you do your research.
Just because you’re living in a tent, it doesn’t mean that you have to be a Luddite! If mod cons are important to you for whatever reason, you’re going to want to make sure you are somewhere with cell signal or internet access. Staying in touch with your support network is an important part of tent living, so make sure you’re connecting with others from time to time.
Food And Water Sources
Hunting and fishing can be a practical way to source food in some areas, but storing food will come with its own issues. Without a refrigerator, you’ll need to get creative with food storage. A cooler is an option, but it requires a frequent supply of ice, something that may not be logistically possible.
Owing to the challenges around food storage, it may be a good idea to tactically place your camp so that it is within driving distance to a store. This way you can replenish your supplies, as and when you need them. This means you won’t need to store food around camp, making you a less attractive prospect to potential predators.
Find A Water Source
Some people like to set up their tent close to a lake. Being close to a water source definitely has its benefits as it means that you will not need to carry large amounts of water on your person and can refill as and when you require. Washing is also significantly easier when you are close to a body of water.
The downside of basing yourself close to a lake or river is that you will need to wander further to use the toilet, and the area could be prone to flooding in heavy rains.
Choosing Your Tent
You’ll need to be prepared to drop a lot of money on gear that will last multiple seasons and can withstand the rigors of all-year camping. Below are some of the things you’ll need to consider when choosing a tent for full time living.
One of the most important things to consider is what type of tent you will choose. Bell tents and wall tents are popular choices that are favored by long-term campers. These give you space to move around and can also accommodate furniture and a wood-burning stove if required.
You will need to choose a tent that can withstand rough weather. You don’t want to be worrying about your tiny house every time you venture out of it! Canvas tents are great because they are made of a stronger material than conventional tents, making them less likely to tear or rip.
If your budget can stretch a little further, opt for a four-season tent. These have been specially designed to hold up in more extreme climates and weather conditions. As these tents are often used in mountain conditions at altitude, they also hold the heat in better.
We’ve all camped in poky little tents that are too small to sit upright in. While this isn’t too much of an issue if you are on a short backcountry adventure, you’ll want to make your tent as comfortable as possible if you are living in it full time. Opting for something like a bell tent will allow plenty of room for you to move around and store your belongings.
A leaky tent equates to a miserable time in the outdoors. To limit the chances of any water finding its way into your new home, make sure you don’t skimp on the waterproofing element.
Although all tents should be waterproof, the waterproofing is rarely 100% effective. Therefore, it is well worth investing in a dedicated tent water proofer. This will add another layer of defense to your tent skin, helping you to avoid getting wet during any downpours.
Living in a tent full time is a life choice that many people would never consider making. Bad weather, wild animals, inconvenience, and discomfort are all side effects that come with this way of life. However, it is these challenges that make tent living so rewarding and worthwhile for some people.