How to Live in a Tent (Without Worrying About..Well. Anything!)

how to live in a tent

If you’re facing the possibility of living in a tent, don’t worry. It’s normal, and I’ve been there too.

See, in my younger days, I was dirt poor and started to eke a living as a cleaner when I was still 16. I wasn’t on terms with my family and couldn’t afford to rent either, so I headed out on my own to live in a tent.

It wasn’t the most blissful experience, but here’re the tips I used to make my life in a tent more comfortable:

1)      Choosing the right tent

2)      Picking a camping Location

3)      Setting up my tent

4)      Finding ways to eat

5)      Sanitation

Now, while living in a tent has a unique set of challenges, it’s doable. In fact, with time, you’ll start enjoying the experience, especially if you follow our helpful tips on how to live in a tent.

Living in a Tent

Here’s everything you need to know when living in a tent.

Consider your Tent: Choose a Canvas Tent

The first step to living in a tent is getting a tent. And not just any tent.

There’re a couple of important things to consider with the tent selection.


Tents are available in different materials, but nylon and canvas are two common options.

I prefer a canvas tent over a nylon tent because of its durability and reliability.

Unlike nylon tents, a canvas tent doesn’t rip, tear or wear under the challenges of living outdoors, such as exposure to sunlight, snow, rain, or wind.

Another huge benefit with the canvas tent is that it’s comfortable to use in hot weather and warmer climates/warmer months because it’s highly breathable.

On the other hand, Nylon tents can get pretty unbearable during summer.

But nylon tents still have their uses, and I prefer them when I need adequate shelter to move around regularly.

See, canvas tents are a bit bulky, and their weight makes them challenging to lug around. Perfect for camping in one location.

But if you plan to move around while camping, consider the lightweight and easy-to-use nylon tents.


Size partly determines the level of comfort in a tent.

Traditionally, the regular camping canvas tents should only be big enough to accommodate you and your camping gear.

But if you plan to live in a tent, finding something big is more convenient.

Remember you’ll be spending most of your time in the tent, so it needs to be as comfortable and homely as possible.

A big tent, at least in my opinion, is where you can sit up, stand up, and even have enough space for folding chairs, camping bunk beds, or even cots.

Don’t shy off from going for the wall tents even when camping alone.


If you’re worried about what people will think of you or simply want to camp discreetly, choose a camouflage tent.

Your location should inspire the ideal tent.

Avoid the traditional tents with invisible colors such as purple, red, green, or blue. Instead, choose something that’s not easily noticeable and one that doesn’t draw a lot of attention.

Khaki, grey, brown, or jungle are some of the less noticeable color choices for a good tent.

Consider a Pop-up Tent

It’s easier to live in a tent if you can stay in one place, but that’s not always impossible.

Considering you’ll be moving around a lot, pick a light and easy-to-set-up tent.

A pop-up tent is a great option because it sets up in minutes and is easy to use. It’s also light, so it won’t fatigue or cause too much trouble moving it.

Picking your Camping Location

Picking your Camping Location

After successfully choosing your ideal camping tent, the next step is picking your camping location.

There’re a couple of things to keep in mind, but legality is probably one of the biggest of them. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the law because of your camping spot.

But the good news is there’re a couple of options, and in the section below, we’ll look at some of the common camping spots.

Camp at your Friend’s/Relative’s Yard

Camping at your friend’s yard is a great option, especially if you plan on staying for a short period.

Ask them if you could set up a tent in their yard for some time, and while there, you can help with some of the household chores.

Also, ask them if they could help you use their bathroom.

Set up a Tent on a Farm

If you don’t like the idea of camping in a friend’s yard, consider camping in farmland.

Make a deal with the farm owner to allow you to set camp on their farm.

Of course, in most cases, the right to set camp on their farm will come in exchange for services. You might offer to work on their farm.

The good thing with this arrangement is you won’t be bothered by neighbors or strangers. Even better, a couple of farmers are willing to accept campers on their land.

Visit WWOOF Organization to identify farmers within your locality willing to accept campers.

Find Free Campsites

The other popular campground option is setting up your tent in a free tent site.

A couple of locations/ national parks allow campers to set up their permanent tents at no extra cost or free.

Most of these locations are flat and usually cleared out for setting tents.

Even better, some of the free campsites have communal amenities and bathrooms.

However, before you head out to a free campsite, check with the managing body for regulations and reservations.

Some of the crucial details to check is how long they allow visitors. Most free camp grounds have a limitation of time you can spend there, ranging from a week to several months.

But I’d suggest you find a campsite open all year round.

Consider a Secluded Spot

If everything fails and you can’t really find a spot to set up your tent, consider a secluded spot.

I’d recommend you avoid the busy cities and parks because you’re likely to get ejected by the authorities. It’s not a great option for staying year-round.

Also, be sure not to set camp on privately owned property.

Understand that even if your spot isn’t marked privately owned, you might still not have the right to set your living space there.

Instead, the ideal spot for setting up a tent is the remote woodlands or forests, where you’re less likely to be a bother to others.

Setting Up Your Tent

Assuming you’ve found a nice place to set up your tent, the next step would be the actual setup.

Now, it’s easy to think you can set a tent anywhere, but that’s far from the truth. There’re a couple of things you need to keep in mind.


The ideal spot for setting your tent should be free from wind or water pools.

Avoid the lowland such as valleys because it’s where most water collects. I know it might be tempting because of easy access to freshwater sources, but it may make your life miserable, especially when it rains. Mosquitoes are also a menace in lowlands with water pools.

Instead, consider the highland areas, free from the risk of natural catastrophes.

Consider Ground Insulation

The exact spot you set up your tent should be free of rocks, branches, and other debris.

But that’s not enough, even with a sleeping bag. While it’s definitely comfortable, you can make it better by adding a layer of ground insulation.

A padding or thick blanket is sufficient to keep your tent’s floor and sleeping bag from getting extremely cold while offering a nice sleeping spot.

If you can’t get a blanket, consider using other materials such as dry leaves as ground padding.

Organize your Space

Your life in a tent gets manageable if everything is neatly organized.

Have everything in place and with a purpose. Food should be in tightly sealed containers, while clothes and other gear should be neatly arranged.

And when you wake up in the morning, be sure to spread out your beddings in the sun to dry them and eliminate any dampness.

Build fire

The final step of setting up a camping tent is building a fire pit.

A fire pit provides a convenient place to cook your meals, warm-hot water for bathing, and stay warm at night.

Building a fire may also scare potential animal threats such as bears.

Of course, depending on the location, you might not always manage to start a campfire.

You’ve the option of building a wood stove, and consider a tent with a stove jack.

A wood stove is more manageable to use even in crowded spaces, while a tent stove jack will allow you to light a fire inside a tent.

Finding Ways to Eat

Finding Ways to Eat

You’ll still need to eat to stay alive.

But just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you can eat healthily or maintain a balanced diet.

Here’re a few tips to help you survive in camp:

Eat a Healthy Diet

When shopping for your food supply, avoid processed foods, especially those with high salt, sugar, or fat levels.

Instead, consider healthy food choices such as veggies, whole grains, and fruits.

Dried legumes are a great source of protein and will provide you with the much-needed calcium.

Eat Dehydrated Foods

Dehydrated foods are a nice option for camping because they don’t go bad easily. You don’t need a fridge or anything to keep them edible.

The other plus with dehydrating your meals is it saves you money, reduces food wastages, and speeds up the cooking time.

While at it, consider freeze-dried foods. These have a long-shelf-life than regular foods.

They don’t require refrigeration, and the good thing is they regain their shape, form, and nutritional value by slightly warming them over a fire or in warm water.

Cooking Over Fire

Your options for cooking while camping may be limited, so you need to go back to the basics of cooking.

Using a campfire might be a great way to cook your meals, especially if you don’t have camping stoves and heaters.

It’s economical since you don’t need to buy firewood or anything.

Grow your Food

If you plan on staying on a camp year-round, consider growing your foods.

Some low-maintenance foods such as tomatoes, lettuces, carrots, and potatoes are easy to grow.

They add to your food basket, ensure you’ve enough food and don’t take much effort to maintain them.


Keeping clean while camping is usually a big challenge because of the lack of amenities.

But it doesn’t need to be so; here are the tips for maintaining personal hygiene.

Bath Regularly

Maintaining personal hygiene is the first step to cleanliness in your tent camping.

There’re a couple of ways to clean your body, but most people prefer taking a dip in the water. But that is only possible if you live near a stream or river.

Alternatively, boil some water over water and use it to clean yourself.

A clean tent site is also a bonus. Collect all the garbage on your camping grounds and tidy your environment.

Remember, a dirty camping vicinity may attract rodents, snakes, bears, or even provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Also, consider how you dispose of your food and leftovers. Don’t just stash them in your refusal bin. Instead, use a closed bin or sealed paper to put them, and once it’s full, dig a hole to bury them.

Relieving yourself shouldn’t be any different. If you don’t have a toilet, dig a hole far from your campground, and once you’re through with your business, be sure to bury everything.

Why Live in a Tent: 5 Undeniable Benefits of Tent Life

Why Live in a Tent 5 Undeniable Benefits of Tent Life

Whether you’re searching for a new challenge, want a change of pace, or your luck has taken a turn for the worse, many people opt to live in a tent.

While it’ll take time to live in a canvas tent, the experience has some interesting benefits.

Some of these include;

Save Money

The biggest benefit, at least in my opinion, of living in a tent is to save cash.

Living in a tent is so much cheaper, especially with the soaring cost of living.

While there are a couple of expenses to live off a tent, the overall cost is still much lower than your regular house bills.

Offers More Forest Bathing

Forest Bathing is a relatively new term that simply involves spending time up close with nature.

While the term sounds a bit silly, research indicates numerous benefits to spending time in the wild.

The phytoncides released by plants help take more air, boost your immune system and regulate your body.

Taking a simple walk through a forest unplugs us from the real world and opens our senses.

Simply put, setting camp in the wild will improve your health.

Lower Carbon Footprint

If you’re an environmentalist or simply care for the environment, living off a canvas tent is probably one of the easiest ways to care for Mother Nature.

Life in the great outdoors unplugs you from the need to use appliances that could impact the environment.

You also get rid of the power or gas usage related to housing.

You’ll be reassured and confident that you’ve made the world a better place.

Tent Life= Simplicity

The modern lifestyle is complicated, and it may feel less rewarding for some users. Sometimes, we’re wrapped in things and drama that we don’t need or even matter.

And with everything going so fast, a simple life change in pace, such as living in a tent, helps you focus on things that matter and appreciate the small things you have.

Camping in a tent, even temporarily, can be a life-changing moment, especially for people who haven’t experienced the simplicity of life before.

Chance to Move Around

Another benefit of tent camping is you’re no longer stuck in a single place.

If you don’t like your current location, you simply pack your stuff and move. Again, if you want to experience a new environment and set of challenges, you simply move.

Challenging Experience

The truth about living in a tent is that it’s a challenge. But this is the reason to do it even more.

See, there’s always a reward overcoming challenges of modern life and modern society, and intent life isn’t any different.

In a tent, you learn so much about life and what it can offer. You harden your resilience, become strong-willed and get creative with the solutions to your problems.

And getting back to normal life, you’ll feel more empowered and instill a sense of accomplishment.

Challenges of Living in a Tent

Challenges of Living in a Tent

Of course, living in a tent has a set of disadvantages.

Most of these challenges are the compromises you need to make a living from the comfort of your home, and they include:

Safety Concern

The biggest challenge of camping is personal safety.

While you can still lock your tent, it’ll do a little to save you from burglary. And depending on your camping location, you might also be a target of wild animals.

Bad Weather

Bad weather is a huge concern for those living in a tent.

Even with the best canvas tents in the market, surviving a heavy downpour, winter cold, and freezing night can make life miserable.


While camping itself isn’t unsanitary, the lack of amenities can really inconvenience your life in the wild.

You can choose a campground shower, but they might not always be accessible, especially when boondocking.

Rivers and streams are great for keeping clean, but your options may be severely limited during winter.

Absence of a Community

Most campers crave a “me” time until it’s all they have and now want people around.

Living in a tent may seclude you from the general population and sometimes be quite lonely.

The good news is, depending on your camping location, consider buying a gym membership or attending regular events or games to beat the loneliness.

Signing up for gym membership is particularly a nice gesture because it gives human interaction while allowing you to access some creature comforts, such as a shower.

A public library may also be a great location for meet-ups while enjoying free internet.

Crucial Thing to Keep in Mind


You can legally stay in a tent, but you can camp anywhere.

Campers should be aware of the restriction, especially private property or state land.

Is it Hard to Live in a Tent Long Term?

Is it Hard to Live in a Tent Long Term

Yes, living in a tent long-term is harder than living in a house.

Of course, the challenging experience will depend on how you set up your wall tents and the preparation method.

You can choose to rough it or invest in some resources and plan to make the experience comfortable.

If you’ll be living in a tent for quite some time, my advice would be to think about how your stay will be and how to make it more comfortable. Gather the right equipment, cut on the luxury items, and pack enough food.

While roughing provides the real camping challenge, it can be uncomfortable, especially if you don’t have the basics for a simpler lifestyle.

Generally, some of the challenges you’ll experience living in a tent are:

  •         No running water
  •         No creature comforts
  •         Limited space
  •         Limited sanitation amenities
  •         Weather

The good news is most camp living challenges are solvable through adequate preparation.

For example, if you need more space, consider a large tent. If you need access to water, consider a camping spot with a river or creek. If you need creature comforts, consider a campsite with electricity or invest in a cot bed.

Either way, understand camping isn’t an option for everybody, but rather those willing to sacrifice on some modern conveniences.

Can you Survive Winter in a Tent?

Can you Survive Winter in a Tent

Yes, it’s possible to survive winter in a tent. After all, people have done it, and modern technology only makes it easier.

The trick to permanent tent living during winter is preparedness. Proper insulation is key.

Insulating your Tent

The first step to insulating a tent is getting a tent rated for winter camping and cold weather use.

A four-seasons tents is a great option because it’s designed with heavy-duty fabric and prevents heat from escaping.

Along with the choice of tent, consider insulating to prevent the escape of warm air.

We had already mentioned cold ground insulation, but you can also insulate the internal sections through heavy blankets or foam.

Pay special attention to the seams since most of the cold air gets in and warm air escapes.

Keep in mind the more insulation used, the less space available, so don’t overdo it.

While at it, don’t forget about the ventilation to avoid condensation of the warm air. Ensure your tent has free-flowing air.

Heat Sources

While tents lose air faster than houses, their small design makes it easier to heat them.

There’re a couple of methods to heat camp tents, but the most popular ones are a wood stove, propane heater, and an electric heater.

Whatever method you choose to warm your bell tent space, be sure it doesn’t get in contact with the tent walls to avoid the risk of fire.

How to Live in a Tent Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to Live in a Tent Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is it legal to live in a tent full time?

A: Yes, camping is legal, but you can’t live anywhere.

You need to check with the local authorities on places designated for camping.

Q: Can I live in a tent full-time?

A: Yes, you can live in a tent your whole life, and many people are already doing it.

Tent living is a great way to save money, live a simple lifestyle, and save on carbon footprint.

And with the right gear and preparation, it can even feel comfortable.

Q: What should I Avoid bringing to camp?

A: Basically, anything valuable that may be stolen.

Securing your quality tent permanently is challenging, and sometimes, things can take a turn for the worst.

Also, keep in mind some camping grounds and national parks don’t allow alcohol or firearms.

Wrap Up

Wrap Up

Tent living has both its pros and cons. But with our tips on how to live in a bell tent, it’s easy to overcome most of the challenges.

The experience is also one-of-a-kind and probably will be a memorable one in your life.

If you feel you need to get out, be up close with nature and sacrifice all your creature comforts, then go for it.

It may even turn out to be an option for long-term living.

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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