“There, but for the grace of God, go I” goes the old canard, usually in reference to a disheveled homeless person, dressed in rags sitting on a street corner begging for change and smelling of b.o.
What you are seeing is the result not of homelessness, per se, but dysfunctionality in general, due to substance abuse, mental illness and a host of other contributing factors.
You may see homeless people everyday and never suspect them. Conversely, that panhandler on the street corner may not be homeless at all. But, perhaps, you have that fear in the back of your mind that such a fate could happen to you. Maybe you work a crappy job, living from pay check to paycheck “one paycheck away from living on the street” or maybe you remain in an abusive relationship in exchange for the security of a place to live. Perhaps you find yourself making the choices you feel forced to make rather than the ones you want to make. You may be putting up with that abusive boss, that demeaning job or crazy roommates thinking that the alternative is much worse.
If so this guide is for you. You may never be homeless but knowing what it entails and that you could probably pull it off may give you the confidence to take more risks and fewer compromises, and thus make better choices toward leading a fulfilling life.
To escape a horrible environment, You may have to abandon/throw away all your shit. I will say this: You will miss it a lot less than you think. If you were a fox caught in a trap you might have to chew your foot off, so if your living situation is sucking the life out of you or putting you in physical danger, losing material possessions is a small price to pay. You can probably sell your books and CDs to used book stores for cash which you’ll need. Often what they won’t buy they will let you dump there so they can donate it to Goodwill. If you have any sentimental items that you can’t bear to part with, mail them to a relative sandwiched between two books to send at the cheaper book rate.
BUDGETING FOR HOMELESSNESS:
Assuming you work close to minimum wage and have no savings, you probably make around 600 bucks every two weeks. If you skate on all your bills for the next month and move out that means you will have at least 600 bucks cash or more to make your getaway.
That’s actually enough to get established somewhere else. What you will need:
- One person tent from Army surplus store or department store: $100.00. (Pass on REI-too expensive)
- Set aside some $ for a PO Box using this website. That shouldn’t be too much.
- Sleeping bag from Goodwill$: 12.99
- Get a Virgin Mobile pay as you go phone for $15 with a $20 top up card. That gives you 400 minutes. You might want to lose the Droid/Iphone if you pay a lot month to month, or it might be worth it to you to keep it. Either way you’ll have a phone. People don’t need landlines anymore, so that’s all you’ll need in order to maintain contact with civilization.
- Book bag/backpack, tooth brush, deodorant, two changes of clothes (one to wear, one to pack), and seven pairs of socks and seven undies. (Hopefully you already own most or all of this)
WHERE TO CAMP:
If you live in a big city, walk, hitchhike, or take a bus ($2.00) to the suburbs. The best place is a medium-sized college town. Look for a little patch of woods in a park or even on a college campus. Hopefully the college has hippies that enjoy communing with nature and that you will be mistaken for one of them and blend in. One huge advantage to camping on a College campus is that everyone walks around with back packs, and if you are fairly young you won’t stand out at all. Even if you are older you will look like a “non-traditional” student.
Camp in a clearing in the midst of a patch of fairly thick woods that is not on a path. You may have to hunt around a little for a suitable spot. The best place is where no one normally walks, but fairly close to a road so it’s lit up and you can find it at night. Don’t allow yourself to be observed coming and going from your camp. If people are around, act like you are tying your shoe or texting and then jump in the bushes when the coast is clear. Don’t bring food to the camp,(besides unopened canned goods) don’t store anything valuable there (or anything that has your name on it and can be traced to you), and don’t wear a path to your camp. Approach it from different ways and step lightly. Go there at dusk, set your phone alarm on vibrate and wake up just before dawn.
Follow your instincts. You may find you have survival instincts you never knew you had.
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