Soaring SF Rent Forces Woman To Become 'Intentionally Homeless'

Isabella Ohlmeyer
A woman became “intentionally homeless,” gave up her Mill Valley residence, and lived in a car, a houseboat, and a tent to save money.

A Mill Valley resident is avoiding soaring rent costs and has found more frugal places to live.

Kristen Hanes, a former resident in a Mill Valley apartment just north of San Francisco, gave up her pricey rent and her apartment four months ago and lived in a boat, a car and a tent, Huffington Post reports.

kristin hanes

After moving out of her home, the 35-year-old lived in a Toyota Prius and slept in a tent at various campgrounds.

Her new living situation happened while she was working full-time at KGO, an AM radio station in San Francisco.

Hanes’ only living expenses included $50 for camping costs, $150 for extra storage space, and $200 for a gym membership.

In an essay she wrote for The Bold Italic about being “intentionally homeless,” Hanes said that while living in various camping grounds, she “paid off $3,700 in debt and saved $2,500 on rent.”

She stopped her homeless experiment last year and rented a houseboat with a roommate until she was let go from her job in the spring.

This year, she moved into her boyfriend’s sailboat where they cook on a camping stove and do not have working toilet.

Hanes currently works as a freelance writer and voiceover artist and only spends a few hundred dollars a month on her living expenses after losing her radio job four months ago. 

“Yes, I could’ve spent half my income on an apartment and lived a fancy life, but I would always have debt and possibly would have gone into more debt to do so, especially after being laid-off,” Hanes said.

Hanes enjoyed her time without a roof over her head in the campgrounds with her boyfriend and reminisced of her adventures.

“We had a blast, roasting salmon in foil over campfires, playing guitar and drinking beer under the pinprick lights of a thousand stars,” she said. “Unfettered by rent or the need to clean, we both felt so free and closer to both nature and each other than we’d ever felt before.”

However, her past lifestyle of living in a car did present challenges for Hanes.

“It was also hard always being on alert, not wanting to be caught,” she said. “Sleep could never be fully relaxing.”

Hanes weighed in on gentrification in the San Francisco Bay Area saying, “I think the wealth of many is pushing others out onto the streets. Many people are getting evicted and have to move out of the Bay Area or to a different part of the Bay. Others end up living in a tent under the freeway, or in their cars,” she said. “It’s probably the biggest social issue in the region today,” she added.

The increased rent costs leading to gentrification and moving out of beloved homes is upsetting for residents, but it’s inspiring that Hanes was able to make the best financial decision for herself in terms of living. 

Read More: Staggering SF Rents Force Millennials To Live In Shipping Containers

Banner Image Credit: Twitter @Troy_Planning