Can I live in my car in LA? (7+ places to park)

In this article, we will answer the following question: Can I live in my car in LA? We will talk about the law banning sleeping in your car in California, but also give you advice on how to sleep safely and comfortably in your vehicle if you don’t have an alternative. 

Can I live in my car in LA?

No, you cannot live in your car in LA. The law cannot prohibit you to sleep in your car for a few hours – if you are driving long and tired, for example – but you cannot live full time in your vehicle in LA. 

But what does the law say?

  • During the night hours of 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., Los Angeles drivers are prohibited by law from sleeping in their vehicles near or in residential areas;
  •  As well as 500 meters near a school zone or park.

The approval of the extension was met with boos and shouts from protesters against the measure, which contrasts with a federal court ruling in 2014 that living in a car is not illegal.

Why do people live in their cars in LA

According to a CNBC report, the housing problem in California is due to the high price of living in this state, as California is the second most expensive state to live in the United States, with an average home price of $ 1,182,092 and an average price of $ 235.44 per month electricity.

The most recent report from the city indicates that there are a total of 36,300 living on the streets, in cars or mobile homes, known as RVs.

However, a recent New York Times report, who interviewed several Los Angeles residents who live in their cars, points out that living in a car is temporary for several people who, for some reason or another, cannot afford to pay the high rental costs in California.

Living in a car, on the other hand, is synonymous with adapting to hygiene routines that involve looking for public toilets, carrying few belongings, looking for parking lots or public places every day to sleep peacefully, waking up during unexpected hours and carrying out daily tasks. how to change and eat, in a small place, among many others.

The housing crisis is so alarming that this newspaper recently reported that Uber drivers are living in their cars because they don’t earn enough.

For several years it was illegal to live inside a car until in 2014 a federal court decided to remove the ban.

What the local council did to avoid breaking the law was to adapt the restrictions to residential areas, among others.

In February, the Sacramento (California) state assembly considered putting to vote a new law that does not penalize or expel university students for sleeping in their cars at night, this due to the problem of housing deficit that the state suffers and that stalks students with alarming numbers.

Where to sleep when you live in your car in LA?

If you are sleeping in your car in LA, here a few places where you can park:

  • Churches;
  • Docks;
  • Cycle route stops;
  • Public parking spots;
  • On the street;
  • Truck stops;
  • At shopping centres;
  • At WalMart or Target (where they allow overnight stays).

What are the essentials for sleeping in your car?

Installing your bed in your vehicle is a possible and achievable mission. But, to relax comfortably, a few steps should be taken before curling up in it:

Cleanliness: as a car is a small space, the cleanliness must be impeccable so as not to encumber it more. A clean and tidy space promotes a good night’s sleep;

Useful items to enjoy good privacy: sun shades, curtains, a tarpaulin

Night essentials: a pillow, a sleeping bag, a night mask

Accessories: an alarm clock, a torch, a bottle of water, a thermos

How to sleep in the backseat of your vehicle?

If the owner of the car does not have the necessary sleeping gear, it is quite possible to sleep in the back seat of the car:

  1. Reduce rear space by moving the front seatback. In this way, falls will be avoided;
  2. Install a seat of the same height as the rear bench, cover it with a board with a blanket of foam. This method saves more space, especially if there are two people sleeping there;
  3. Place an inflatable mattress on the back seat and on the seat and the board.

How to sleep in a van in LA?

The back of a van or pickup truck is known to be a restful place because it is more spacious. To arrange it, there are simple and effective solutions to apply yourself.

If the rear seat of the vehicle can be removed, then a wooden bed can be fitted. With a stand and a sturdy wooden plank, it’s easy to recreate a box spring. Everything must be well immobilized for foolproof safety. Then, a special inflatable car mattress or a sleeping bag is enough for the cosy side.

If the backseat cannot be moved, it just needs to be folded down. The installation of foam to act as a bed can then be done. During the day, it can be simply covered with a tarp.

How do you sleep in your car in hot weather or in winter?

In summer: to avoid heat stroke at night, it is recommended to ventilate the car, even at night. Essential oils can repel mosquitoes. Using a fogger is also effective in reducing the temperature inside the vehicle.

In winter: blankets, sleeping bags, warm clothes, hats, and gloves are preferred during winter. Indeed, it is not recommended to operate the heating of the car for too long. In such a small space, the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning increase dramatically.

Final thoughts

While the law prohibits it, and we are aware of the possible dangers of sleeping in your car in LA, it is not our place to judge anyone. This is why we gave you the above tips, and hopefully, you will be able to find a safe place to sleep every night. 

If you are on a long trip and need to rest, our final advice is to be vigilant. As long as you don’t give people reasons, you will be safe at any rest area. Read carefully our tips and make sure you are prepared no matter the situation.

If you have any questions or comments about this content, please let us know!

FAQ on Can I live in my car in LA?

Where is it forbidden to sleep in the car?

It is forbidden to sleep in the car in national parks. These are protected areas and therefore it is totally forbidden to camp and sleep (even in the car) in them.

Are truck stops dangerous to sleep in your car?

Generally, truck stops are not dangerous places to rest for a few hours. Still, there are some risks that you must consider, and thus prepare yourself in order to rest. 

When you take a long trip, should you stop to rest?

Yes, when taking a long trip it is recommended to stop to rest, at least every 2 hours behind the wheel or every 150/200 kilometres travelled. In any case, the driver must rest whenever he needs it, even if the hours or kilometres indicated have not been reached.

Can cars sleep at truck stops?

It is not prohibited for cars to sleep at truck stops. The parking spots, however, are on a first-come-first-served basis, so you must think well and plan ahead your rest time on a long journey. 


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