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I quit my sales job to live in my Toyota Camry. The simpler life has helped me find happiness.

Alyshia Hull   

I quit my sales job to live in my Toyota Camry. The simpler life has helped me find happiness.
  • Monica Maragos had a good paying job and was making good money when she quit her job to travel.
  • She downsized her clothes, her shoes and she began to live out of her Toyota Camry.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Monica Maragos, a 25-year-old digital nomad who lives in her car full-time. It has been edited for length and clarity.

When I was 18 and living in Florida, I got a good job and started making really good money in sales. As someone who didn't have a lot of money growing up, the financial independence felt great.

I got myself a nice place and eventually a car, too. For the first time in my life, I felt comfortable and I was no longer living in survival mode. My days were simple: I went to my 9-to-5 job, then the gym after work, then went home. According to society, I was doing well.

But after a few years, I realized it wasn't what I wanted to do. I didn't want to go to work anymore, and I didn't want to talk to people about sales. To be fair, the job itself wasn't bad — it had a great atmosphere and great morale — but it wasn't for me.

I remember how much I disliked being indoors. I craved taking walks and being outside, and I dreamed of being in nature, traveling and doing photography. I think the deep longing came from spending my childhood being outdoors with my family. I have fond memories of hiking with my dad and brother and spending time with my mom at the beach.

I was 15 when my mom died, and then my brother died six years after that. I began realizing how short life is, and while the financial independence I got from my job felt good, I knew I wanted a life of adventure.

I had to make a change — the more I dreamed of traveling, the more soul-crushing it was doing anything other than that. I wanted to create content and travel while doing it.

During this time I watched videos on van life, and although I considered it, I knew realistically it would take me another year before I could save up for a van and convert it. I also wondered what would happen if I didn't like van life. The plan didn't feel very realistic to me.

I then saw videos of people who backpacked and lived in their cars, not vans. As I watched them, I remember thinking I could do this, I could live out of my car.

In May of 2022, after quitting my job and giving up my apartment, I began traveling and living out of my 2017 Toyota Camry.

What I took with me

Before I left, I took the back seats out of my car and laid down a memory foam mattress to sleep on. I also downsized and gave a majority of my things away, like my clothes, shoes, and my old bed frame.

Today I have roughly 20 shirts and four pairs of shoes in my car. Since I'm always on the move, my shoes get ruined rather quickly so I'm always tossing them out and purchasing new ones at thrift stores. I also keep things like wipes, water, a zero-degree sleeping bag, a tripod, and a knife, too. I live very minimally.

How I afford it

My first destination was North Carolina. I had been there in the past, so North Carolina felt somewhat familiar to me. Before that first trip, I had saved up $18,000. My plan was to stretch the $18,000 to last me one year, after which point my goal was to make enough money as a content creator.

There wasn't a reason for that exact amount, it was simply what I was able to save up from my sales job and also from donating my eggs, too. To be honest, I was so eager to leave Florida that I would've left with far less.

Almost a year later, my savings has nearly run out, and I'm able to pay my bills through making content. Although my income ranges, I often make a couple thousand dollars off of my videos a month. This income mainly comes from ad revenue and working with brands.

Additionally, I like to pick up little jobs when I travel too. In the past, I've dog sat, cleaned houses, and completed other random house gigs I've found on Craigslist.

As for my savings, I keep enough set aside as an emergency fund to pay for a few months worth of living expenses, though my bills are minimal.

A breakdown of my monthly expenses

My expenses vary month-to-month, but here is a rough estimate of what I spend money on every month:

  • Gym membership: $50
  • Phone bill: $9
  • Food: $200 - $300
  • Car payment: $300
  • Car insurance: $300
  • Gas: $150 - $200 (It costs $40 to fill up my tank and this expense varies on how much I travel.)

My daily routine

I go to the gym almost every day, so when I'm there I will take a shower. One time I camped near a lake for an entire month, and I just jumped in the lake and bathed in it.

If I have to use the bathroom and I'm not at the gym, I will go to a gas station or the grocery store. If there is nothing nearby and I'm out in the middle of nowhere, I'll usually just go outside.

When it comes to cooking, I have a camper stove. When I first started living in my car, I tried cooking two to three meals a day on it. I'd make pancakes, or I'd buy veggies and throw them on a skillet. Cooking that often and cleaning everything got old fast, so now, I usually buy and eat pre-made meals from the grocery store instead.

Living in a car vs. a van

When it comes to living in a car vs. a van, there are some things to consider. I really like how my car is smaller, so it's easier for me to fit into tight parking spaces. I also get better gas mileage in my car than I would driving a van.

But there is an obvious downside: I'm more cramped in a car and can't move around as easily. Vans also have enough space to install a bathroom, which is a big perk. Buying a van is one of my future goals and something I would've done earlier if I had the money.

For anyone who is considering living out of their car, it's liberating and fun, but it's definitely not for everyone.

If you quit your corporate job, significantly downsized your life, or relocated somewhere and would like to share your story, email Alyshia Hull at