How To Live In A Tent Long Term: Essential Tips

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The off-grid living movement is gaining traction worldwide…

And those at the forefront are leaving the luxuries and convenience of modern urban living and choosing tents for housing.

It is an attempt to reconnect with nature, embrace a simpler lifestyle, and let go of the stress associated with modern life.

But, is living in a tent long term a realistic possibility? The answer is yes!

However, before you decide to leave the city lights behind and start your off-grid adventure, there are some important considerations, which we cover in this guide.

Tent Life: Why Should You Do It?

Before answering the main question, “How to Live in a Tent Long Term?”, you should always start with “Why should I live in a tent long term?”.

Why are you choosing to leave your current living situation and move into a tent? It is a deeply personal decision and one that you should feel at ease with. Otherwise, the experience of living in a tent will only be a further cause of stress.

One of the most popular reasons why people decide to switch to tent life is the need to simplify their lifestyle and get away from the stress of the urban environment.

Others seek a way to reconnect with nature, enjoy freedom and mobility, and spend time with their loved ones away from distractions.

There are those trying to live sustainably and lower their carbon footprint, as well as those who want to find a way to save money.

Whatever your motivation, you should feel confident that this is something you want to do.

Things to Consider Before Beginning Tent Life

During the decision-making process, take into account the following factors. It will help you to get your expectations and plans in-check with the reality of living in a tent.

  • What is the ultimate goal of your tent life? Whether it is sustainable living, going back to your roots, or saving money, make sure that your goal is always at the top of your list of priorities.
  • Do you plan on living in a tent full-time or part-time? The decision to start living in a tent does not have to be all or nothing. Many choose to live in a tent during the warmer months and move back to their traditional housing during the cold months.
  • Where will you be living? Deciding on a location is vital, as it will allow you to plan accordingly. Make sure to consider the legality of your living situation. Camping grounds, trailer parks, or rented land are the easiest places to live in a tent legally.
  • Are you going to be living alone? This will significantly influence the way you plan and prepare. Make sure that your companions know what they are in for.
  • What will happen to things connecting you to your old life? Some people decide on selling everything and going all-in on off-grid living, while others choose to rent out their properties, etc. Plan accordingly.

Permanent or Mobile Tent?

You decided to start living in a tent, picked out the location, and got the necessary paperwork and permits. What’s next?

It is time to choose whether you are going to be pitching a tent in one place long term or moving around. Both come with pros and cons.

A permanent tent location gives you options for introducing more comfort into your tent and organizing the tent site to suit your lifestyle, although at the expense of mobility and freedom. Staying mobile gives you a chance to wander and explore, but it puts a lot of stress on you to keep it light and ready to move—only the bare essentials.

What Size Tent Do I Need?

The size of the tent you need is in direct correlation with your previous decision. Permanent tents tend to be larger than mobile ones. Most mobile tent dwellers tend to go with 2-man tents, while permanent tents can vary drastically in size, with some models mimicking outdoor houses.

For permanent tent living, I recommend tent sizes 4-man and up depending on what you are planning to take with you in terms of possessions. A 4-man tent is an absolute minimum as it will provide you with space for sleeping, some storage, and maybe a place for reading, writing, or working.

Canvas or Nylon Tents?

Whichever option you choose to go with should be good enough to provide you with adequate shelter and the necessities of long-term living in a tent.

Canvas is a natural material that allows the tent to breathe a bit better than nylon. Therefore, it is better for warmer climates. On the other hand, nylon tents are much easier to clean and do not stain.

Tip: We’ve looked at all the available tents on the market today and identified the 3 best tents for long-term camping to help save you time, money, and headache!

How to Protect Your Valuables

While you can lock your tent from inside to offer a minimal amount of protection for your valuables (and yourself), it’s not going to stop a determined thief.

With that said, two viable options are to:

  • Leave your valuables in a secure place (camping ground office, locker, etc.)
  • For permanent tent dwellers, dig a hole in the ground, coat it with concrete, and install a safe.

Wildlife and Safety

Wildlife is the biggest security threat to you while living in a tent. Bears, wolves, feral dogs, and mountain lions can all make their way to your tent site, as they track smells of food.

There is little you can do in those cases, aside from laying some warning traps, carrying animal deterrent spray on you at all times, or having a firearm at your tent site. An alternative is to keep your food away from your tent.

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Handling Storage and Managing Limited Space

Even bigger tents are still limited in terms of space. Finding space to store your clothes, accessories, and tools is always a challenge.

You can maximize the space you have by:

  • Using an elevated or bunk bed which will leave room for storage below the mattress.
  • Utilizing hanging storage, whether that be within your tent or outside from a nearby tree or pole.
  • Taking advantage of foldable furniture that can easily be broken down when not in use.

Durability and Maintenance Costs

As long as you buy a quality tent, it should be durable enough to last you for years.

Still, damage to your tent is quite common. Thankfully, repairing a tent is inexpensive.

Canvas tents have repair kits available in most outdoor retailers for patching.

Complete Repair Kit for Canvas Tents

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Nylon tents require a special tape repair kit but are repairable as well.

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Off-Grid Power

Depending on the level of comfort you seek, your energy needs will differ. Some people go completely off-grid with no electricity.

Others settle for something in the middle, relying on solar panels and batteries, or even diesel generators for getting power to their tent.

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Once again, the way you will acquire food for sustenance has a connection to your overall goal of living off-grid in a tent.

Some people still rely on groceries purchased from retailers. Others prefer to hunt and fish for their food, or even do some light farming in nature and grow their food.

Either is possible, but each comes with its own set of challenges. Fishers and hunters need skills to provide enough food to survive. Purchasing groceries is inconvenient and requires a lot of time, planning, and effort, as well as money.

Heating and Cooling Your Tent

Your heating options will differ depending on whether you chose a canvas tent or a nylon tent.

A canvas tent is perfectly suitable for an indoor wood stove for cooking and heating as long as it has a stove jack for proper ventilation. This feature can be harder to find in nylon tents (though they do exist).

Related: Can You Use a Camping Stove in a Tent?

For nylon tents, there are a variety of gas and electric heaters that will not melt the tent.

Cooling is much easier, as most modern tents have vents, and you can install fans that improve air circulation during hot months. Check out our guide on how to cool a tent without electricity for some effective tips and tricks!

Sanitary Facilities and Hygiene

The availability of shower and toilet facilities can significantly influence your decision regarding where you will set up your tent.

Campsites or trailer parks often have communal facilities you can use. If you are completely off-grid, you can build an improvised shower and toilet away from your tent. There are even off-grid solar shower solutions available on the market, as well as compostable toilets.

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Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet

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It all depends on what level of comfort you expect from tent living.

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