What is #CarLife all about on TikTok?

More and more Americans are choosing to live nomadic lives on the road. 

According to a 2019 Census Bureau estimate, over 140,000 Americans call vans, recreational vehicles or boats their homes. With more people working remotely than ever, that number is believed to have increased

While #VanLife, living out of retrofitted vehicles, has become increasingly hip, #CarLife, residing in an ordinary car with few upgrades, still bears many stigmas. Most people associate car dwelling with homelessness, and unhoused people face serious social ostracization. TikTok creators are using the hashtag #CarLife to combat these negative assumptions. 

What is #CarLife on TikTok

The hashtag and lifestyle #CarLife refers to people who willingly choose to live out cars and SUVs without luxury upgrades or adaptations. The hashtag #CarLife has 2.4 billion views. 

Why do people join the #CarLife movement? 

People who opt for the #CarLife lifestyle do so for a slew of reasons. For some it is economical, for others it’s the chance to travel or live with minimal possessions. 

What is the difference between #CarLife and #VanLife? 

Those who opt for #VanLife tend to live in vehicles designed to also function as homes that have things like kitchens, separate living spaces or plumbing. 

But #CarLifers are living out of vehicles that are designed for everyday life. They typically embed mattresses in their cars, cook on handheld stoves, shower at chain gyms and opt for public restrooms or the great outdoors. There are just much fewer amenities. 


Going to miss my USA @jackery.inc and life on the road 🚙 #vanlife #jackery #westcoast #roadtrip #nomad #outdoors ad

♬ Nellie – Dr. Dog

TikToker @sightsofsara is a content creator wrapping up a long stint living out of her SUV to travel the world. During her SUV Life series, she documented how she was able to live out of the vehicle, like how she used solar panels to power equipment. 

Brooke has been living out of her car with her dog Pippa by choice since 2020. In this clip, it was too windy for her to use her handheld stove so she had to eat food from a gas station. 

The user @dogpersonnamedcat decided to live in her car with her pets after her lease ended to travel and visit parks and beaches. 

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