Can you live in your car in Alberta?

Can you live in your car in Alberta?


The idea of living in one’s car might seem strange. But in a place like Alberta, where the cost of rent and housing is very high, it is more common than you can imagine. However, many people are worried about the laws regarding this, leading to the question, can you live in your car in Alberta?

If you wonder whether you can live in your car in Alberta, the answer is; Yes, you can. But there are local parking laws that might restrict you in terms of where you can park. Being aware of these laws might save you from losing your car. However, you’ll still find few places that are open both day and night to park your car and sleep.

Regardless of this, there are still several things to be aware of when living in your car. This article discusses everything you should know about living in your vehicle in Alberta.

Can You Live in Your Car in Alberta?

There’s no national or provincial law banning people from living in their cars in Alberta. This means you can live in your vehicle. However, parking laws across municipalities and provinces may limit your ability to live in your vehicle. But this shouldn’t discourage you. You’ll still find plenty of parking spaces for your vehicle during the day, and few places are open at night.

Why Do People Live in Their Cars?

The decision to live inside a car isn’t usually taken lightly. Otherwise, described as vehicle residency, it’s fast becoming a common occurrence all over Canada. The primary cause is homelessness and lack of affordable housing in different cities in Canada.

For example, the average cost of housing in Alberta is CAD 3763,000. The rent of a 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre costs an average of CAD 1,220 monthly, and in other areas, it costs between CAD 800 to 900. All these prove expensive for people earning minimum wage, resulting in many choosing to live in their cars.

Some travellers and adventurers resort to living in their cars as they travel from one town to the other instead of renting pretty costly hotel rooms. In this way, a culture of vehicle residency is slowly emerging, partly out of necessity and partly out of adventurousness.

When Is Living in Your Car Illegal?

Living in your car will generally involve sleeping inside it at night and doing other things such as cooking, eating, etc. If you want to live in your vehicle in Alberta, you’ll have to abide by the parking laws of the province and the regulations applying to the city or town you find yourself in. There are also laws on overnight parking that could affect your ability to live comfortably in your car.

However, it’s generally considered illegal to sleep in your car while you are intoxicated. The DUI laws of Alberta make it illegal to control or care for your vehicle while under the influence. These laws may apply even when your car is parked and turned off. It usually includes where an intoxicated person is sitting behind the wheel, or the keys are in the ignition. So, you can get a DUI even if you don’t plan to drive the car and you’re just sleeping in it.

You can avoid getting a DUI while living in your car by ensuring you sleep far away from the driver’s seat when intoxicated. If possible, make sure the key is not in the ignition and out of reach. That way, you can avoid any speculation that you wanted to drive the car or did drive the vehicle while under the influence.

Where Can You Live in Your Car in Alberta?

Due to the parking laws, you need to make sure you park your car where it’s legal to do so if you plan to live in it. Such places include:

1. Campgrounds 

You’ll usually need to pay to use campgrounds. But they don’t cost as much as hotels or a standard room, so you’ll be getting a bargain. There are several campgrounds in Alberta, and you’ll find at least one in all the major cities and towns. Some even have several amenities, and you’ll have the freedom to pitch a tent when you park in a campground. The good thing about campgrounds is you can park overnight.

2. Rest Areas

Rest areas are great places to park for a limited time. However, rest areas are generally restricted, and many of them won’t allow you to park your car overnight, which means finding another place to park for sleep.

3. Private Property

If the property is yours, you should’ve no problems parking on it and living in your car. However, there could be residential parking laws that you may need to obey if you plan to park in the street. If the property isn’t yours, you need the owner’s permission to park on the property. Living in your car on someone else’s property without permission is trespass.

4. 24-hour Retailers

Some stores allow people to park and sleep in their cars overnight. Such stores usually operate 24/7, and if you can find one, it’s an excellent place to live in your vehicle. However, since such stores are private properties, you must ask for permission before parking there.

5. Truck Stops

These are generally private properties. But with permission, they’re an excellent place to park your car while living inside the vehicle. Of course, it helps if the truck stop also allows overnight parking.

Safety Tips for Living in Your Car

While living in your car might protect you from harsh weather conditions, it isn’t the safest option. It offers less security than a home, so you’ve to be more conscious. Here are a few tips to ensure your safety.

  • Park your car in a safe area with a focus on places with lower crime rates and, if possible, a gated enclosure.
  • Don’t leave your engine running, especially when you’re sleeping, as this can be very dangerous with carbon monoxide levels rising.
  • Hide your valuables from where they can be easily seen, as this can encourage car thieves and burglars.
  • Sleep in the backseat when intoxicated.

In Conclusion

Whether you’re driving a car or RV, vehicle residency isn’t the most convenient thing. However, most people resort to it out of necessity. If you should find yourself living in your car, you can rest assured that it’s acceptable to do so in Alberta. But stay within the confines of the law in terms of where to park to avoid losing your car.

Thais R

I moved to Canada in 2016. This was the best decision that I ever made. I created this website to share what I’ve learned with anyone who’s thinking of moving or travelling to Canada.

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