12 Tips: How to Be Homeless and Survive

How to be Homeless and Survive

Did you know that one-third of Americans are one paycheck away from financial ruin? That’s a scary, but realistic, truth. Americans aren’t as financially prepared as we should be, and one massive medical bill can send your finances in a downward spiral. Homelessness is something anyone can face at any time.

Learning how to be homeless and survival is a skill set everyone should have, especially if you like to be prepared for an SHTF scenario. You never know if a situation will force you out of your home onto the streets.

Being homeless forces people to become resourceful and skillful. You learn how to take advantage of what you have available to you.

It’s easy to look down upon homeless people, but we shouldn’t. Even if they made mistakes, no one deserves to be homeless. Also, in the events of a massive disaster, they would fare better for than others, so maybe we should learn a few things from them about how to be homeless.

Layers of Clothing Are Key

Learning to stay warm is pretty important when you’re on the streets. Sleeping outside in the cold means you need to dress in layers.

Three or more layers is crucial. First, you need a layer that’s closest to your skin, then an insulation layer that helps keep you warm. The third layer is the shell that keeps you protected from the wind, rain, and snow.

You want to think about the choices of clothes wisely. Clothing can have other uses too like rope, bandages, shelter, or to collect water. Everything needs a purpose.

Most people assume bulky winter jackets are a smart pick, but you’re better off with multiple light jackets that you can remove or add as necessary. These lighter jackets dry faster too and make great shelter covers.

Use Newspapers

One of my favorite movies still is the Day after Tomorrow. There is a scene where everyone is huddled in a library and they’re trying to stay warm. With them, they have a homeless man who shows them to stuff newspaper into their clothing for insulation.


Newspaper can be used for several uses. They work as shelter, blankets, pillows, toilet paper, and fuel for a fire.

Pick the Right Place to Sleep

One of your biggest concerns, when you’re homeless, is figuring out where to sleep or rest. Sometimes. You can find shelters for the homeless or abandoned buildings that you can use.

When you’re picking an abandoned building, you want to make sure it isn’t a hazard. Safety is important. If you aren’t too sure, try to sleep close to an exit or under a support beam.

Most importantly, you don’t want to be alone. Finding other homeless people does help your situation. When you have a group of people sleeping together in the same area, the cops are less likely to bug you, and there is safety in numbers.

You do want to be careful because it can be dangerous to encroach on the territory of other homeless people. Depending on the people in that group, there might be risk involved, but it’s risky to sleep alone as well. So, you have to pick your battles. You’re more likely to be robbed or attacked if you’re totally alone.

Stay Warm

Staying warm is one of the most important things you need to do to stay alive. A large portion of our energy in our body goes to keeping warm, including over 50% of our calories. The colder you get, the more food you will need. That’s not good.

Dressing in layers and using newspapers like mentioned above are good steps, but you might want to try a few other tips, such as:

  • Put cardboard underneath of you like a layer of insulation between you and the cold ground.
  • Try a survival tent or mylar blanket to hold in more heat. They’re small and fit well in survival bags.
  • Gloves are a necessity as well as sock because fingers and toes get frostbitten first. Handwarmers are nice as well. If you don’t have hand warmers, add warm water to water bottles and hold between your hands, but wrap the bottle in a towel to avoid it leaking.

Try to Stay Clean

This one isn’t easy because you probably won’t have access to a shower with soap very often. Trying to keep yourself as clean as possible does help. Wet wipes can easily be stored in your survival gear.

Stopping at public toilets give you access to running, hot water, letting you clean yourself properly.

Staying clean may not seem like a big deal, but it does help with morale, and that matters. People tend to treat those who look nicer better, and you’re more likely to get help. Let’s not forget that good personal hygiene helps to reduce the risk of infections. Dirt rubbing on you can cause rashes or blisters.

Keep baking soda on hand. It’s one of the cheapest items for personal hygiene that’s versatile. You can mix it with water, and it can be used for soap, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, and more. A box is less than $1, and you can find it at most stores. It’s definitely a survivalist’s friends.

Use Up What You Have

Figuring out how to use what you have is a mentality that survivalists need to have. You might not always have what you need brand-new from the store. Without the means to get those items, you have to figure out how to use what you have and make it work.

Creativity and imagination are necessary when re-purposing your items. Plus, the more things you get, the heavier your backpack will be. Since you’ll be walking a lot, keeping things as light as possible helps your back.

Don’t Leave Your Stuff

Your items are your lifeline, and you can’t afford to lose the stuff you do have. Everyone around you might be as desperate as you are, and leaving your things unattended gives people the opportunity to steal your things. While you might feel comfortable, never be that comfortable, even if you feel safe.

Have a First Aid Kit

If you were able to prepare ahead of time or have the means to get one, having a first aid kit is really important. Who knows what could happen when you’re homeless? Everything can get a lot worse if you don’t have access to a medical facility.

While you can recycle things that could apply to first aid, you want some medicines with you. Things such as antibacterial ointments, antiseptic solutions, and pain relievers are necessary. You also want ways to bandage up cuts and to stop bleeding.

Store Food

You won’t be able to buy food, and if you’re in a disaster scenario, heading to the store may not even be an option. Scavenging doesn’t always work either. So, keeping stored food in your survival gear ahead of time is a smart idea.

That means you need to pick food that can be stored long-term and food that won’t weigh down your bags. If you have a place to store things like canned goods, soups and canned meats are filling and give you the necessary protein.

Be Ready to Leave

One thing that homeless people understand better than others is being ready to leave quickly. Homeless people are always on the move, rarely staying in the same place for long. Law enforcement officers make them move.

In the event of an urban survival situation, you’ll probably be on the move just as much. Staying in the same area for long can be dangerous. Angry mobs or scavengers could see you as a target.

One tip to remember is to keep everything gathered up in your bag unless you’re using something. That makes it easier to leave quickly.

Avoid Conflicts

Whether you find yourself homeless because of a financial situation or due to a survival situation, avoiding conflict is the most important self-defense tip.

You don’t want any injuries when you live on the streets. Even a small injury can become dangerous without any close medical attention. It might seem like a small cut, but minor cuts can turn into infections quickly without proper cleaning and management.

Blend In

Have you ever thought about how many people are homeless but we have no idea? That’s why the homeless are called America’s invisible population. Most of the time, its because homeless people don’t want to be noticed. They’ve perfected blending in with the population.

When people know that you’re homeless, you tend to become a target for thieves, and being noticed means that you might be kicked out of whatever location, you’ve chosen.

This is something to consider when you’re in any survival situation. Blending in is key to preventing people from trying to take what you do have. For example, if your power goes out for the long-term and you’re the only person who has a generator, you quickly become a target to everyone else in your neighborhood because you have lights on and no one else does! Blending in is important.

Prepare Yourself for Homelessness

Being homeless could be a result of several events, but being prepared ahead of time is smart. It’ll be a test of your willpower and determination to survive and survive well. Remember these tips on how to be homeless and stock necessary items in your bug out bag now.

1 Comment

  1. Nick


    There’s a great video from the Canadian Prepper on YT comparing the worst day of a homeless guy vs the best day in a EMP attack. Long story short the moral of the story is – when there’s no electricity, no clean water, no food, when you live in fear every day, you are going to “wish” you were homeless instead in a SHTF event as such. People often forget how bad it could be.

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