Last Updated on September 1, 2021
Most people think of tents as a roof that protects us from environmental conditions when going for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and various others.
However, we are starting to see a new trend of people leaving behind their city life and furnished apartments to go camping three or more times a year. Some of them are even living full time in a tent.
While there are some good reasons why people like to do this, you should know the advantages and disadvantages of living in a tent full time before making a big decision like this for yourself.
So, in this article, we will discuss how to live in a tent full time to help guide you if you are planning to move entirely to tent living.
Why Would You Want to Live In a Tent Full Time?
If you decide to stay in a tent full time, it can save you a lot of money. While you will still have to pay the electricity, internet, and gas bills, the overall cost will be substantially lower because you are no longer paying rent.
Living in a tent gives you a lot of freedom to stay anywhere you want. You are not anchored to a city or even a country! You can live really anywhere without worrying about accommodation.
Research shows that when a person spends a lot of time near trees, the phytoncides liberated by plants help improve the human immune system. You may feel much happier and more active more often.
City life has several distractions. But living in a tent is simpler. You can get some extra time to focus on things that are important to you.
#5. Challenge Yourself
Living in a tent means you may have new challenges every day. When you stay in a house, there are many resources at your disposal. Those resources stop immediately the moment you start living in a tent. You will need to find solutions for even the simplest of problems, and that is a great way to keep your mind and body active.
#6. Reduce Carbon Footprint
Tents aren't huge like an apartment or a house. Everything in tent living is small-scale, be it heating, running electrical appliances, and even cooking. Think of how much smaller your carbon footprint would be if you stay in a tent!
Limitations of Living in a Tent Full Time
When you stay in a tent, you will not have all the sanitary devices that you get in a proper home. There will not be any separate toilet or shower for you.
If you stay in a campground or beach, you may find public toilets, but you may or may not get a chance to use them. Even when you have public toilets to use, they can be a lot less sanitary.
In some places, you may not find public toilets or bathrooms nearby at all. So, you may have to use river water for bathing or even do your business in a hole in the ground!
Weather is hard to predict. When you stay in the house, you don't have to bother about changing weather conditions. But when you stay in a tent, changing weather matters a lot more to you. Some tents cannot sustain strong winds and may collapse. If this happens in the middle of the night, you and your loved ones will need to put the tent back up to avoid being shelterless for the night.
During the winter months, you need a heat source inside the tent like a stove or a tent heater. But you cannot put a stove inside every tent. The tent has to be made of canvas or polycotton and should have an opening to release the waste gases produced by the fire.
Your tent needs to be waterproof to resist rain. But if you are caught in a heavy torrent, even waterproof tents may not be able to hold the water. In such cases, it is best to get a rainfly that can protect your tent.
#3. Wild animals
When you stay in a house, you don't have to worry about wild animals. But when you stay in a tent, wild animals like squirrels or rats can enter your tent and eat your food. Even worse, larger animals could potentially attack the tent. You will need to be prepared to protect yourself and your property.
When you stay in a house, you can store your food for longer in a refrigerator. You can get a portable mini-fridge at best in a tent. But that too will have limited room for food.
You can use a cooler, but you need a continuous supply of ice which may or may not be available to you.
There may be accidents, or you may become seriously ill while staying in a tent. Without a permanent address, you may find it difficult to call up emergency services or get medical facilities.
How to Live in a Tent Full Time?
Begin first by finding a location where you want to set up your tent. Decide if you wish to camp at one place for an extended period or change your site from time to time.
You may discuss with your family members or friends about the camping site. If your friend has a yard, then you can set up your camp more comfortably for a longer period.
You can also ask a local farmer and set up a camp on their field, and in exchange, you can help the farmer with cultivation.
You can camp in your tent at the many campsites that are available. There are some free campsites, while others require a reservation. Consult authorities about the site before confirming your location.
Another important thing you will need to check is the duration that you are permitted to stay at a campsite. There are many National Forests that allow only up to two weeks of stay. After that, you will need to change your location.
#2. Setting Up Your Tent
After finding your location, you can set up your tent. Install your tent on elevated and flat ground so that rainwater will not readily flow inside your tent.
If you set up a tent on a sloping area by mistake, your tent can be flooded with water during the rainy season. If there are trees or branches nearby, you should clear them before installing the tent because their sharp thorns or edges may cause a tear in your tent's fabric.
#3. Choose an Appropriate Tent
Pop-up tents are generally not designed for longer periods, as they typically cannot withstand all elements. Choose your tent wisely if your intention is to live in it for an extended time.
Bell tents or wall tents consisting of canvas material can be an excellent option to stay year in and year out in a camping site. They have sufficient space to place your furniture and even a stove, as well as to keep your essential gear and move around. You can even entertain guests in the tent if you have adequate space.
Canvas tents are made from waterproof material to keep you safe in all four seasons. They are durable and easily tolerate strong winds, rainy weather, and ultraviolet rays of the sun. They don't rip easily. Canvas tents can last for more than ten years if you maintain them properly.
If a canvas tent is out of your budget, you can use nylon tents instead, though you might have to compromise a bit with comfort.
More on this: Canvas vs. Nylon Tents: Key Differences You Must Know!
Some people may want to set up their tent at the back of their truck or car. This is a portable solution, and you won't have to worry about finding a campsite or setting up your tent on an uneven or muddy ground. You also get extra space to store essential things in the front seat of your vehicle.
Another popular option is using glamping tents. These are fully functional tents that can have all the luxuries of an apartment including cooking facilities and regular-sized beds. While glamping tents are more expensive, they are sturdier than regular tents and therefore more suited to full-time tent living.
#4. Find Carpeting for Your Tent
If you are going to stay in your tent for a long time, you will want to cover the floor space. Otherwise, it can become muddy and dirty, and this can cause accumulation of pathogens and damage to your tent.
Pick a carpet or tarp for the floor of your tent. It will provide you with insulation during colder months. You can even sleep comfortably on the floor of your tent without worrying about sharp objects or rocks.
Try to use carpets or tarps that are smaller than the size of your tent. Otherwise, it will invite the rainwater inside your tent, which is never a good situation.
Some people use wood or tiles on the floor of their tent. They do so not only for comfort but also to make the tent look more elegant.
If you plan to have a wood stove in your tent, you should not put it directly over your carpet because carpet floors are not resistant to fire. You can use a fire-resistant material below the stove for safety purposes.
If you cannot afford a carpet or tarp for the floor of your tent, then it is better to use an old towel or blanket, which will absorb any liquid and keep your essential things dry.
#5. Find a Comfortable Bed for Your Tent
Ensure you have comfortable sleeping arrangements. If you don't use a suitable bed inside a tent, you may find that you will often wake up in the morning with body pains all over. There are three main options for bedding in your tent:
An inflatable camping bed or air mattress is quite suitable for campers. These are comfortable, and some also provide additional space beneath the bed where you can store all the essential items. Regular home mattresses will likely be too heavy and bulky to carry from one place to another. Air mattresses can be deflated and folded up when not in use, so they are much more portable. Do remember, however, that air mattresses may leak and cheaper ones may be less durable.
Another great option is a tent cot, which is portable and sturdy. However, tent cots are usually not comfortable to sleep in for a long time. You can place an inflatable mattress on top to increase comfort. Tent cots also have space underneath them, which gives you some extra room to keep your things.
The third option you can choose is to use camping bunk beds in your tent. If you have a tent life partner with whom you are sharing your tent experience, a bunk bed will give you two beds without taking up too much space in the tent.
Sanitation is quite challenging when you stay in a tent permanently. You will likely need to depend on a nearby public bathroom if you can find one. If your camp is near a beach, public restrooms will almost always be available.
However, if you set up your tent in a remote area, you may not have this option. In this case, you may need to depend on water from a nearby river or stream for bathing or washing your clothes and utensils. If you find a gym nearby your campsite location, you can become a gym member and take advantage of the shower facility.
#7. Water Heater
During cold months, you may require hot water for bathing and other essential things inside the tent. One can set up a fire and boil one or two pots of water and use it for washing utensils. However, you will need more water for bathing. For this, you can carry a propane or electric water heater with you so that heating becomes easier.
A solar shower is another great option for bathing,. The sun will heat the water, and you can use that water for bathing and other needs.
#8. Collect Rainwater
Water is precious if you are going to stay in a tent for a long time. You can rely on purchased bottled water, but that can become a hefty expense over time.
If your campsite is near a source of water, you can use the natural water bodies for drinking, bathing, or various other activities.
However, rain is unpredictable. What happens if you are faced with drought or lose your source of nearby water? You can collect rainwater in a portable rain barrel, which comes with a zipper system to protect your water from insects and bugs.
You Might Also Like: Best Water Containers for Camping – Buying Guide
#9. Use a Stove for Cooking
You will require tent stoves both for heating as well as cooking. These stoves run by wood or gas and have a pipe to liberate fumes from your tent. However, not all tents support this, so if you plan to stay in a tent for a longer duration, it's best to buy a tent with a stove jack and chimney.
Another great option is to set up a fire pit outside of your tent, which you can use not only for cooking but also to keep your hands warm in cold weather. Try to make the pit at least two feet away from the tent and put some dirt on the pit so that fire will not spread.
Remember that a fire pit will take longer to cook than a tent stove.
#10. Plan Your Food
Try to maintain a healthy diet when you stay in the tent for a more extended period. It would be very fortunate if you can find grocery stores near your camping location.
If you have water bodies nearby, you can catch fish. You can also collect food by hunting, which requires a gun or a crossbow/bow. Both fishing and hunting require practice or professional training.
Many locations ban hunting of animals. Learn about the laws and regulations of your site before hunting or fishing.
You can grow vegetables outside of your tent. Seeds can be bought from a local market and sowed near your site. Try to grow food that requires less maintenance, like radish, potato, onion, beans, and lettuce.
Dehydrated food can be useful, as you can store it for long periods and save it for times when you’re short on other food. Prepare a lot of water to stay hydrated, and you can also take nutritional supplements to fulfill your nutritional needs.
#11. Invest in a Cooler
You can have a refrigerator if you have a power supply on your site. If you don’t have a power supply, you can prepare a cooler instead. However, a cooler can keep your food fresh only for a limited period, and ice may also be hard to come by.
#12. Try to Eat Your Food Before It Spoils
When you don't have a cooling device inside your tent, you may need to purchase limited food and eat before it spoils. Also, the food inside your tent may attract animals inside your tent, so limit the quantity of food that you keep inside.
#13. First Aid Kit
Accidents are unpredictable. Keep a first aid kit inside your tent for any emergency.
#14. Air Conditioner
If you have a power source at your camping location, you can invest in a portable air conditioner or a tent fan and use it inside your tent. It may be a lifesaver in the hot summer months.
Remember that you are staying in a tent whose walls are fragile. They are not insulated. So, a portable air conditioner will not be as efficient as the air conditioner you use at home.
#15. Avoid Mosquitoes
You may want to seal your tents from mosquitoes and bugs, and use mosquito repellent on yourself. Candles with lavender, basil, or eucalyptus can help to repel mosquitos.
#16. Learn About Wildlife at Your Site
Whenever you camp in a new location, you will want to become aware of the wild animals nearby. If bears are present in that locality, then you need to take precautions with the food that you keep in your tent.
More on this: Bear Essentials of Life
Apart from this, you may want to become aware of which plants are edible so that you don't eat fruits or vegetables that are poisonous and harmful to your health.
#17. Find Jobs Nearby
Unless you have the savings to support your camping life entirely, you may want to find a nearby job. You can search for jobs available in your camping locality, or work online.
#18. Use Bikes for Transportation
Bikes are a simple way to get around and can also be used to get groceries if you attach saddle bags or baskets to them.
#19. Keep Your Valuables Safe
To keep the valuables in your tent safe from burglars or wild animals, you can lock your tent. However, this will not protect your valuables completely because the thief can always cut a hole in your tent. Strong animals like bears can claw inside your tent.
It's best to keep your essentials, such as your identity card and money, on your body. You can put them under your bed while sleeping inside the tent.
Another great option is to lock your essential things inside your car, as a car is harder to break into.
Frequently Asked Questions
#1. Can you live in a tent permanently?
Yes, it is possible to live in a tent permanently. It will cut down your electricity bill and rent. However, it can be a challenging way to live unless you are prepared and consider important factors as outlined above.
#2. Can you live in a wall tent year-round?
Yes, you can live in a wall tent throughout the year. If you maintain canvas tents properly, they endure all four seasons.
#3. How long can a tent stay up?
While there are no set rules to decide how long a tent can stay up, sturdier tents such as three season and four season tents are more likely to be able to withstand the weather conditions and therefore stay up longer.
#4. Can I live in a tent in the woods?
As long as you follow the rules and regulations set up by the federal or local authorities (depending on which type of land you are setting up camp), you are free to live in the woods in a tent. Make sure to follow safety guidelines and protect yourself from wildlife as well as the elements.
#5. Why is it called Boondocking?
Boondocking is essentially camping out in a forest, just like our ancestors used to live. The origin of the term is from the Tagalog word for mountain, “bundók”. American soldiers who were part of the Philippine-American War brought this word back with them.