Living on the Road

Dwelling Portably

Tips for American nomads

Practical advice about being homeless or low-budget in-motion by choice — camping on the edges, living simply, getting by on the road and loving it. This old-fashioned zine crams tons of tips onto a few sheets of paper printed in minuscule 6-point type. Holly and Bert Davis have been publishing this resource for several decades (formerly called Message Post) so they have a no-nonsense perspective. It’s for modern nomads in the US choosing alternative lifestyles to working 9-5 in the same place. You get hard-won need-to-know wisdom like: How to live in cars. How to buy staples for 25 cents per pound. Can you camp in U-Hauls? Where can you find a cheap dentist? The dangers of social services taking kids without a house. Fixing a free bike for long-haul travel. etc.

Everyone should live in near-poverty at least once in their life, and this humble newsletter provides guidance and inspiration of how to learn the max from it.

— KK

Dwelling Portably
$1 per issue
Back issues available
DP c/o Lisa Ahne
POB l8l
Alsea, OR 97324

Note: Microcosm Publishing is selling books with a full year’s worth of back issues. (via Bjørn Gabrielsen)



Legality of salvaging from dumpsters. Amy Dacyzyn, who phoned several police officials, said (in The Tightwad Gazettte, July 1993), "Dumpster diving is generally considered to be legal with the following exceptions: -- If the container is on CLEARLY MARKED private land, behind a fence or locked up. However, most dumpsters in 'semi-public' areas such as parking lots are fair game. -- If the discarded items are outside the dumpster they should not be taken." A deputy district attorney in Santa Clara, CA, where many people rummage for high-tech discards, told Amy: "By putting items in a dumpster, the companies have abandoned ownership.... The idea that people are stealing is not a prosecutable case."


For quick earning with little expense, consider cab driving. I can almost always get a job immediately, anywhere in the country. Drivers often quit, and cab owners are anxious to keep their equipment rolling. After 6 months, a driver will usually start to 'burn out' and not put in as many hours. That's okay: if you've worked hard and not spent much, you'll have enough money to move on. I just quit the best deal I ever had: 38% of meter plus owner paid gas. I did so much business I couldn't handle the stress. But I now have enough to live modestly for two years.

I usually lease a 24-hour (single shift) cab and sleep in it, bathing at public facilities. Generally, if one is working hard, the owner gives you a lot of leeway. You will need a valid drivers license with good record, and a sense of direction and ability to rapidly learn your way around. Cab driving is a good way to scout a new area, and gain information and interesting experiences.

Alas, driving is becoming increasingly competitive and, in big cities, regulated. Also, some cities are dangerous, even if one knows the streets well. I advise: small towns, or working-class suburbs adjacent to big cities. Depressed areas are actually good places to make money as many people there can't afford cars. You'd be surprised how many people I take to welfare offices. Waitresses and bartenders often tip well, because THEY depend on tips. Las Vegas is, by universal acclaim, the best place to earn big bucks. As with anything, ask the old timers -- which will be easier after one has 'hacked' a few times.

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