The Hobo Guide to Living in a Tent in Your Mate's Backyard

The Hobo Guide to Living in a Tent in Your Mate’s Backyard

Having spent the last four months in small-town New Zealand, I was itching to get back to Wellington, the Big(ish) Smoke, before setting off back to Europe in a couple of months’ time. A job contract for the month of March came up in the capital, and I jumped at the opportunity.

George, a good friend who I hadn’t seen in nearly three years, had put in a good word, and generously offered me a place to stay. The days passed, an interview was arranged, and I got the gig.

After letting George know I’d landed the job, I sent him the following:

Now that last part of the message was intended very much tongue-in-cheek. But I guess tongue-in-cheek as a manner of speech is a little difficult to convey over Facebook messenger. It seemed I’d done a pretty piss poor job of it.

Turns out somebody else had dibs’d George’s couch for a month.

But I’d already accepted the position and I was pretty set on moving down to Wellington.

This is how I found myself living in a tent for a month in my mate’s backyard.


While it may be viewed as a peculiar choice by many, to live in a tent for a month in your mate’s backyard, I see myself as a lemon’s ≈ lemonade kind of guy, and decided to look at the positives of the situation.

Having spent a decent chunk of my early 20’s gallivanting around Europe as a part-time employee of Stoke Travel, I think it’s fair to say I’ve slept in my fair share of campgrounds, and I’ve been around a tent or two.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt across my tenure, one invaluable life lesson that will stick with me until I lay to rest on my (self-inflating) deathbed, it is how to live in a tent for a month in your mate’s backyard.

Handling Societal Expectations

Alright, so the first obstacle you’ll have to face is the mental battle, something to keep in mind when you’re out there in the tent, and when you try to explain your situation to close friends and family, and that girl you met on Tinder.

You tell people, “Yeah, I’m just, like, crashing on George’s couch” and you’ll usually get the response “oh yeah, cool, sick, nice, rad.” Tell people you’re living in a tent in George’s backyard, and most people look at you like you’re a sick deprived puppy who hasn’t been fed in three days.

I detest that.

A couch indicates you have don’t have a room. A couch indicates you’re encroaching on other people’s space. A couch indicates that every flatmate in the house will slowly grow to resent you due to the fact that they can no longer play Mario Cart on the flat TV ’til 4am because YOU’RE asleep on the fucking couch.

A tent on the other hand…

A tent is your own room. A tent encroaches on no other person’s space. A tent attracts no such resentment, but rather casual praise from your would-be flatmates, applauding your commitment and dedication to the tent life.

Nobody’s there to be woken by your snores, repulsed by your stench, or to awkwardly walk in on you whilst you’ve got your right leg wrapped around your head trying to figure out if that’s an ingrown hair on your left arse cheek.

Tent > couch. Any day of the week. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Keeping Your Shit Tidy

This is where having some level of obsessive-compulsive disorder comes in handy. Maria Kondo you need not be, however, just be mindful of where you keep your shit, with the number one priority being: clothes. At the very least keep your clean shit in one tidy pile and preferably have a laundry bag to take care of all the dirty shit. If you wanna go one step further, cardboard boxes make shelving infinitely cheaper than IKEA.

  • Hobo Tidy Tip #1: Leave your dirty undies at the top of the laundry pile. A day will come when you may need them.
  • Hobo Tidy Tip #2: Leave your dirty socks out on your front porch area, at least overnight. If your feet smell half as bad as mine do, you’ll be thankful for it when you wake up.
  • Hobo Tidy Tip #3: No shoes in the tent. Why? Refer to tip #2.

Your Tent is Your Temple

I’m going to make an assumption that if you are living in a tent, you’re not exactly flash for cash. Which means you probably can’t afford to be out and about every single night, performing the role of consumerist cog in the capitalist machine that is modern society.

So you may be spending a bit of time in your tent. Sure, you can hang in the common areas of the flat (standing in the kitchen staring out the window is v fun) but sometimes you just want a bit of alone time. Not like “alone time” “alone time”. But also, actually, probably, sometimes a bit of “alone time” “alone time”, too.

What I’m getting at is you’re likely to spend a bit of time in your tent, and thus you should make an effort in trying to make it a bit more liveable, focusing on the following:

  • Ambience: candles and incense are a good shout, just don’t burn your tent down. Fairy lights and car air fresheners are a solid plan B if you don’t trust yourself. Or if you live in Australia.
  • Comfort: a good blanket over and under you will help foster the illusion that you’re sleeping in a real bed. And arguably more important to an uninterrupted night of slumber; a decent pillow. Neck support, people, neck support.
  • Technology: you don’t have to go full bushwhacker just because you’re living in a tent, you’ve just gotta be savvy with your tech. Assuming you’ve managed to swindle the password of your old flatmate’s ex-boyfriend’s Netflix account, download as much shit as you can before you hit the ‘no-wifi’ zone of your tent. And make sure to keep a portable charger on hand to charge your shit overnight.

So there you have it. The definitive guide: how to live in a tent for a month in your mate’s backyard. Sure, if you don’t have a myriad of items before setting off (eg. A tent, a bed, an obliging friend with a large backyard) then you may view this article as almost completely futile. If you live in a climate that’s freezing and constantly pissing it down, then everything I’ve said may come across as utter fucking codswallop. But if you have next to no shame about mooching off a close friend by posting up temporary lodgings at the bottom of their garden, remember this: your tent is your temple; be respectful of your tent; and should you be given the choice, don’t you dare opt for the fucking couch.

Cover via Flickr

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