How to Keep Cool While Living in Your Car

by | Oct 9, 2022

Ever thought about living in your car? And if you did, how would you stay cool and comfortable? Maybe you have and maybe you haven’t, but many people have chosen this lifestyle for different reasons. 

One, to help ease the distress on our environment. Another has been the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people and families into this living arrangement because of job loss from their own sickness, family sickness, and layoffs.  

But most of all, the rising cost of living in the US. It has risen to such a barbaric level that according to, “Almost half (47%) of Americans believe that cost of living is the biggest threat to their financial security and long-term investments, according to TD Ameritrade’s financial disruptions survey, which polled over 1,000 U.S. adults with at least $10,000 in investable assets.”

Why car living is on the rise

The single greatest reason for why car living is on the rise is simple.

People just can not find affordable housing these days.  

As of 2016, nearly 44 million Americans were burdened by the cost of housing, a figure which has been on the rise since 2003. A 2018 survey found that more than a third of those renting a home did not own a home because they couldn’t afford one, according to

You’ve probably experienced this in one way or another, just as we all have. 

For my family, we bought our house 12 years ago. In a middle income housing subdivision in the midwest, we bought it for $250K. In this housing market today, if we wanted to sell, it’s worth $350K. Let me tell you, we would have never even looked at the listing if it was in the $350K range 12 years ago and we certainly wouldn’t even today. But that is the housing market today. The number of buyers in that price range is less than ½ of what it was 12 years ago.

So, if the “usual” size houses are so out of a person’s price range, then what is the alternative?

Vehicle Residency is the alternative today. 

Give up my house payment??? Sign me up!

For whatever your reason(s) might be, you may find yourself pondering the idea “what if I did give up this house, apartment, condo, its payment, and the enormous amount of responsibilities that come with it, and really took up vehicle residency instead?  

If you live in a warm and humid environment, one of the very first questions you would ask yourself is how you will stay cool while you are in your vehicle. 

We’ve all heard the horrific stories of children being left in vehicles, forgotten and the unthinkable happens. As Mr. Matthew Robertson of LelandWest Insurance puts it “Young children can develop heat stroke in a matter of minutes. At least twenty-seven people die each year from being trapped in a stifling hot car, and this number does not even consider how many animals.”

So it’s extremely important to know how to survive the extreme heat, whether during the day or at night, when you are sleeping and practically unconscious to the world around you. 

And here’s how you can do just that. 


8 tips for keeping cool when you live in your car

1. Tinted windows 

This is the #1 item that will not only keep the inside of the car 15 degrees or more cooler, but is a constant cooling mechanism. 

It’s sometimes a bit pricey if you use a tinting service, but there are a number of DIY tinting for less money.    

American Wrap Company, Los Angeles | Clear Bra, Wrap, Tint

2. Window vent visors 

These are tinted plastic covers that attach to the top of your windows. 

This allows you to be able to crack the windows a little to let hot air out and the cooler evening air in, without anyone being able to tell the windows are open.  

AVS Seamless Vent Visors – Low Profile Window Deflectors (

3. Rooftop air vent 

If you purchase and install a rooftop air vent, you can drop the temperature of your vehicle by 10 degrees in 5 minutes during a hot summer, according to Evan on his YouTube Channel “Stories from a Van.” 

Check out his video here, for his tips on how to take up vehicle residency.   

This may not be the easiest or cheapest way to get airflow in and out of your car, but it will be the absolute most efficient and quickest way to drop the air temperature.  

This Maxxair (00-04000K) 12V Roof Top Fan/Vent is $193.46 from Amazon.

4. Portable air conditioners 

These have quite a wide range of prices,but the 12V mini ones are the way to go and they are pretty reasonably priced.  

They can certainly be an efficient and quick way to cool you down and keep you cool for many hours.  

Here’s a good one that is environmentally safe. It has LOW ENERGY CONSUMPTION, ENERGY SAVING AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION from Amazon for $55.34.

5. Battery Powered Fans

Fans will be your friend, especially when you are sleeping. 

Have one for your head and one for your feet. 

And it’s also a good idea for them to have easy to turn on switches, because once you lay down, you are cramped for space and you’ll want to lay down and flip the switch easily. 

Also, having them battery powered is an energy savings on your car battery.  

Alternatively, you can purchase a DC 12V to 110V car inverter from Amazon for about $30, but this will require using your car battery to power the fan(s) for the entire night causing you to have to buy a car battery sooner than its life expectancy. 

So battery powered is most efficient and environmentally friendly.  

Rechargeable Clip Fan with LED Light, 10000mah Battery Camping Hanging Fan from Amazon, about $30

6. Blankets 

Yes, I said blankets! I know, sounds crazy right?  

It happens to be a very good way to keep your seats at a lower temperature during daylight hours when you are not in your vehicle.  

No one likes to sit on a scalding hot seat. You place a blanket on the seat when you leave and then remove it upon returning. 

The blanket will be hot but you can store it away when not in use.  

7. Shade! 

Park your vehicle in the shade for as much of the daylight hours as possible. And even better, try not to be in your vehicle except when sleeping.  

Do your work in air conditioned coffee shops or other air conditioned public Wi-Fi areas.  

8. Choosing the right bedding 

Sleep is very important for our bodies to function properly and the bedding you choose can make or break a good night’s sleep. 

You don’t want a fabric that will be hot or grabby. One nice fabric is called a jersey fabric. It tends to be soft, slick and comfortable. 

Any fabric that is similar to this is a good bet.   

Why you need to plan ahead in order to keep cool while living in your car

It’s very important to have a plan before taking the jump to living in your car.  

  • Number 1: One is that you need to be able to eat, sleep, and use the restroom on that very first day/night.  

So, choosing the place you park, that is not illegal, that is close to a restroom you can use and a restaurant is most imperative.  

  • Number 2: As I mentioned earlier, sleep is very important to your body and mind, so making sure you have a comfortable place to lay down, be cool and sleep for the duration of the night takes some planning.  

You may need to find a cot or air mattress that fits in the back of your vehicle, have soft and breathable fabric sheets and a pillow that fits your smaller space.  

  • Number 3: Planning as you go and for the future. You need to make sure you have a plan for the next day, next week and beyond.

You may consider a 12V cooktop for making meals or a small microwave unit.  

You also may want to invest in a composting toilet that is enclosed in a box inside the vehicle.  

Also, planning on where you are going to park and the weather in that location at that time is imperative as well.  

Some people like to stay in one place, work in a permanent building, and make a life in one area. Others chose to move around and see other places and work remotely. 

Whatever you decide to do, it all takes preparation and planning. 

In short: 

Plan, live, and enjoy the ride of life in your vehicle, all while knowing you are helping to preserve this wonderful planet of ours, one decision at a time.