On the road: Small space living takes ingenuity


As winter approaches, most people prefer to stay in their homes with the heat cranked up high. However for some, the thought of living in a house is constricting, and instead choose to live in a car.

Britt Peterson and her dog Bee (Photos courtesy of Britt Petersen)

Britt Petersen, 28, of Oakville is a prime example of someone who prefers to live life filled with adventure. The thought of living in a house may seem comfortable to most people, but for her it was the opposite. With student debt weighing her down and the cost of living in her house draining her, Petersen has chosen to move out of her home and into her own car.

“I felt like living in a house wasn’t in line with my own values. I felt like my anxieties were taking over being in a home. I wanted to be out in the world and have a more adventurous life,” Petersen said.

When people hear that Petersen is living in her car, they ask how she is able to keep warm during the night, how she manages hygiene like bathing and brushing her teeth, and if it is safe being on the road.

Despite people’s worries she has so far been able to handle it. She has all the necessities she needs with her to deal with the cold of a winter night she has a thermal sleeping bag, which combined with reflective window covers, keeps the temperature in the car warm.

She can go to her gym or the community center to shower and brush her teeth. She doesn’t have a huge amount of clothes either, so she can simply make a trip to a laundromat when she needs to wash them. “I’m a minimalist, so having a lot of things just stresses me out. I love being able to have only a few things and living in the car is honestly more relaxing than being in a house,” Petersen said.

Inside of Petersen’s car, showing some of the necessities.

Petersen has a mobile career, so living in a car doesn’t keep her from working. Instead it actually has helped her be more on time for appointments.

It can be boring living in a car, but Petersen manages to keep herself entertained. The best way to spend her time however is going out and seeing the world. “The idea when you’re in a car is you’re supposed to be spending time outside in the real world, and come back to the car for down time.” Peterson said. When she is in the car there are books to read and can she go to places with wifi in order to use her phone.

Petersen also isn’t alone in her car. She has with her at all times her dog Bee. Bee is currently in training to become a therapy dog for anxiety, so he is able to come with her wherever she goes. “Bee’s adjusted well to living in the car. I’m able to take him out for walks more often now and most of the things I have in my car are for him,” Petersen says adding, “I love that I can go into the world with him and explore almost everyday.”

Petersen’s dog in the back of the car.

When it comes to safety, she isn’t overly concerned at the moment. “I did research on living out of a vehicle before I actually moved into my car. I learned tips like never hanging out in an area where I would plan to stay the night,” Petersen says adding, “If someone did try and start trouble I could simply drive away.”

Petersen and her best friend Katie Vanderlaan.

Her friends and family that do know about her new living conditions have concerns for her well being. Katie Vanderlaan is Petersen’s best friend and tries to be supportive of her. “My biggest concern if it doesn’t work out is she’ll realize she can’t keep up this lifestyle, but her ego will get in the way and she will deny that the reality of it isn’t matching her vision,” Vanderlaan says adding, “Overall I just want her to be safe, happy and successful. If this is what she believes will do that, then I want it to work for her. ”

Petersen understands the concerns of her friends and family. She also is glad that many of them are supportive of what she is doing. It helps motivate her to keep happy even during the roughest times.

“It makes me very happy to know I have such supportive people in my life,” Petersen says adding, “I feel like I have made the right choice. Even though this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, I feel like it’s the right fit for me.”