Instructables

Where, in the US, could a person get away with living in a large tent for free?

I am looking for ideas (of ANY kind) on where in the U.S. I could live (FULL -TIME) in a decent size tent FOR FREE. Is there land that I can live on for free in my tent??
I would like to stay in areas where it doesnt get too cold year round, and doesn't snow at all....But that isn't "set in stone".
I really would like to just get away from the crazy, busy city and all that comes with it...And I want to live as free as possible. And by "free", I mean I would like to live rent free outdoors. Once I am able to do that, I think I will feel more free as a human being. :)
Thank you for any ideas or suggestions!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~NEWLY ADDED TO THIS TOPIC FROM AUTHOR:~~~~~~~~~~~
I also posted this in reply to someone's message to me on this site...But I wanted to make sure everyone else read this too because it gives more info on what I am trying to do:

This is just gonna sound crazy...But I have 2 cats that I will be bringing with me on the road. I refuse to leave them behind cuz they have been with me through a lot of things in my life, and they are like my kids now! lol! So I have to make sure they have a living space to run around in and get proper excersize (hence, why I am choosing to live in a large canvas tent that will be about the same size as my studio apt that I currently live in). I am choosing to live in a canvas tent because I believe that it will be the CHEAPEST, safest, sturdiest, large enough structure for me and the "kids" to live in for a while.
I am also planning on buying a van to travel in for this adventure. I think it will be the easiest and CHEAPEST way to transport me, my cats, and the large canvas tent to where I want to go.



                                           

Try th' Everglades ,  Th' Seminoles been doin' it fer centurys !  And there are places (outwith th' national parks ) in th' Appalachians and Smoky mts where you could stay indefinitly long as you keep it clean and neat ( you know ,  green like th' Sierra club advocates )
Findnfreedom (author)  gearhead19514 years ago
I am just soooooooo amazed on all the great ideas you all have on this website!!!! I feel like I hit the jackpot!!!
gearhead1951-
The Everglades are probably out of the question like paganwonder and oddjobzombie mentioned- There are probably just too many mosquitoes, alligators and snakes in the summer time there. But if there is a Dunkin Donuts nearby, then maybe it wouldnt be too bad???
And OMG!! I cant believe that I didnt even think about staying along the Appalachian trail!!!! A couple years ago I was thinking about hiking the entire trail, but put that dream asside because of not wanting to get rid of my 2 cats, or push them off on someone else for about year. But, now that you've mentioned this, I have been so excited about it and have been racking my brain about how I could possibly just LIVE along the trail instead of HIKING the whole thing (for the time-being anyway). So if you have more details, suggestions, ideas about how I could make that idea a reality, I am diying to know!!!!
The only main problems I can think of about this is....
1.) I read that dogs are allowed along parts of the Appalachian Trail, but  obviously, I havent seen, or havent expected to see, anything about cats being allowed in tents on the trail. I would like to assume that it wouldnt be an issue, since they would only be inside the tent, not walking outside the tent. BUT, how would I TRANSPORT my cats into the woods on the AT....along with my tent, etc? I would have to probably come up with some sort of rolling cart to put a large cat carrier on, in order to roll it into the woods. And of course I wouldnt want to travel very far into the woods pushing my cats on a cart along a bumpy trail. And I would have a van that I would need to find a place to park my van for long periods of time for free to low cost.
Any helpful info on this???
Thank you so much!!
The Everglades is a great idea. I have a few friends who've been in the North Everglades for about 3 months now and their camp is pretty nicely established and close to a Dunkin Donuts. However, I'm sure there's gonna be trouble in paradise once summer and the mosquitoes come back.
and there's the alligators and the snakes of all variety and the pot growers' booby traps and... did I mention the snakes?
psymansays4 years ago
 This is something that I was personally very interested in, for quite some time. Now, I'm married, and my wife says we can live anywhere, as long as there's A/C, cable TV, and an Internet connection, so a Teepee in National Forest lands is no longer in our future, but, the "where can I live for free" question is still a burning one.

I live in California, and the best ideas I've had have been, first, National Forest land, second, empty areas in the Mojave Desert, and third, abandoned Ranch Land (nearly impossible to ID and locate, and then usually difficult to access, with overgrown roads and/or barriers or fences)
paganwonder4 years ago
You can live in a National Forest for free, you just have to change locations every couple weeks.  If you keep a low profile- by that I mean not making yourself real visible- and avoid population centers (towns) you could go for years un-noticed.
Findnfreedom (author)  paganwonder4 years ago
That would probably only be a possibility for me if I didnt have a van, or cats, or a large tent. But I will most-likely do that once all of the above mentioned are no longer an issue.
Thank you!!
Well it's a big undertaking... Not sure about US but often farmers and other people with land will let you camp for a bit if you ask, though they might ask you to help out a little with stuff or give them a few quid here and there. All depends on luck.

I'd say you could find somewhere, offering to do chores or some such might be a good way to do it, unless you just find land where camping is allowed and uncharged.
Findnfreedom (author)  killerjackalope4 years ago
Another awesome idea!! Thank you killerjackalope!! I will not forget this one!
Read the replies to my answer aswell, they've got some good stuff from people that do live in the US, hopefully you get it all planned and going...
I was think of farmers and ranchers also.  Especially ranchers.  My bro-in-law lived for free for two years on a big ranch in Texas.  THe only thing the rancher asked other than keep it clean and not start a forest fire was to keep a watch out for trespassers, fences down and general trouble.   Kind of a human radar.
Findnfreedom (author)  Re-design4 years ago
This would be so great!!! How did your brother find these super cool farmers and ranchers? Online? Or just by traveling and talking to farmers and ranchers?
Thank you!!!
Just make sure you do ask. There are plenty of farmers and ranchers who will not be happy to find people on their land and won't react well.

When you ask make sure you have answers to the following questions:
- What will you do with your garbage? (They don't want someone who's going to make a mess.)
- What will you do with your.. uh, bio waste? (they are not going to want to deal with it.)
- Where will you be getting water and other supplies? (If its from them they can tell you what sources are safe for humans.)
- How will you be providing heat (if any).  (They don't want you harvesting the place for firewood or starting wildfires.)
- How much time will you spend on site? (living there or just sleeping there?)
- How will you access the site. (They might not want your truck mucking up their land or your car might get stuck in the mud.)
- How long will you be there.  ("Indefinitely" is not a great answer.)
- How much space will you need and how many people will there be? (They don't want you taking up more space than they expect.)

I'd go so far as to bring a liability agreement that says of you starve to death, die of exposure or fall in a hole and hurt your self you won't sue them.
Findnfreedom (author)  Grathio4 years ago
Grathio-
 Very good advice on how to stay on good terms with property owners and staying on the land. I believe all land should be free and shared by all, but since it is usually not free and a lot of people work very hard to stay on the land, I would like to be respectful of this and keep that in mind at all times.
Thank you!
framistan4 years ago
Last summer someone was camping out nearby the st louis airport... in a semi remote piece of airport property.  Looked like a homeless situation. Their tent was there every day for MONTHS.  A couple times, the campsite looked like someone had came by and ransacked everything and took all their belongings.  Then finally after a few months the tent was gone.  Looks like they didn't ask permission and it took months for airport authorities to figure out  what to do about it.  I would say, camp on public land and move around a lot.... by the time they come around to evict you,,, you are already gone.  Expect your campsite to get ransacked every now and then.  I would not feel safe doing that though.  I think you should try to do the suggestion of REDESIGN.  Get permission on someones land and offer to be a watchdog for their property or other minor repayment like that.
Findnfreedom (author)  framistan4 years ago
framistan-
Yeah, I agree. I would feel more comfortable if I could find a place in the woods somewhere rather then that close to big cities, etc.
I DO like the idea of watching someone's property! That is an excellent idea!!! I could either stay on someone's property for free that way, or I could even make a little cash doing so! Very cool! Thank you and REDESIGN! :)
Do you own a car?  Do you have good nerves and a willingness to talk to strangers?

If so, hit the highway and pick up a hitchhiker.  Now, there's two main types of hitchers.  There's the guy just trying to get back and forth between work and home, and then there's the guy who's living a nomadic lifestyle.  You won't get the latter very often, but talking to a person who actually lives on his or her wits yields a wealth of information.

Last year, I gave a ride to a couple of guys who were traveling all around Canada with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a small backpack each.  They explained that if they needed a meal or they wanted a beer, they played their homemade travel guitars in a park somewhere until they earned enough for lunch.  They were skilled dumpster-divers and big fans of thrift stores and truck-stop showers.  When I met them, they'd just filled a clean grocery bag with wild-berries and they were able to make a passable meal of that and their other provisions for both of them and myself.  The only money they actually took with them to my island was the cash needed for the ferry ride off the island.

As far as I know, they spent most of their nights in abandoned buildings (not recommended), or put their tent up in public places like the park in the middle of town or out on crown-land. 

They said they worked on a farm in Ontario in the wintertime, trading food and shelter for the task of keeping the farm equipment serviced and keeping access to the buildings on the property clear of snow.

See what I mean?  One two-hour car ride and I had a solid picture of how two friends survived for eight months out of the year with no fixed address, not to mention a full belly!   Sure, hitchhikers aren't all going to be as great as that, but picking one up every now and again can teach you things you never expected to learn.

Ultimately, the only way to really learn how to live for free is to go out and do it, but lots of books have been published on the subject.  You should have no trouble finding one at the library.  A similar subject of particular interest is squatter's rights, and you might want to do a search for books on that subject while you're there. 
GuardianFox (and everyone else please read also)-
Thank you very much for the this info! I have always thought that the people who would know the most about how to make it out in the world without much at all are squaters and people on the road. 
I used to live with a lot of different people who were squaters and have had looooong conversations about how they lived day to day without a "job" and a house/apt to live in. I should have gave more info in my original post about what I really want to do when I start this "simple living" adventure.
This is just gonna sound crazy...But I have 2 cats that I will be bringing with me on the road. I refuse to leave them behind cuz they have been with me through a lot of things in my life, and they are like my kids now! lol! So I have to make sure they have a living space to run around in and get proper excersize (hence, why I am choosing to live in a large canvas tent that will be about the same size as my studio apt that I currently live in). I am choosing to live in a canvas tent because I believe that it will be the CHEAPEST, safest, sturdiest, large enough structure for me and the "kids" to live in for a while.
I am also planning on buying a van to travel in for this adventure. I think it will be the easiest and CHEAPEST way to transport me, my cats, and the large canvas tent to where I want to go.
I want to live without money as much as possible. That is my ultimate goal. And when my cats pass away, I will for sure be able to do that a lot easier because I wont need a large tent, or a van...And I will be able to travel on foot and wont have to plan as much.
So with all that said....I will definatly be checking out the "Squaters Rights" book that you mentioned, GuardianFox, so thank you for that info! :)
And if anyone has anymore helpful info on how I can make this dream a reality...I would be incredibly greatful. Thank you!


Hello Kitty4 years ago
Walmart!
Acepilot424 years ago
craigslist.com