WE’RE HOUSELESS NOT HOMELESS, RIGHT? But conventional society sees everyone not living in buildings as homeless. As pitiable. As suspicious. As criminals. Dangerous to their worldview, anyway. Happiness without a house? That’s impossible! And it should be illegal, right?

We occasionally encounter homeless people while boondocking. If not them, then the evidence they have been there. Although regular society sees no difference between them and us, we see clear delineations—even when the dividing line is razor thin and full of holes and our own biases. If you need a succinct explanation of how our unconventional life choice is very different than homelessness, or if you’re starting to wonder whether you’re less of a pioneer in alternative living and more of a glorified wandering vagrant, here are four measurements social workers use.


Those living non-traditional lives usually have the desire and resources to keep themselves and their rigs looking presentable. If not fancy, at least clean and neat.


Those living non-traditional lives usually have plans beyond the immediate need for food and shelter. The plans might be about saving toward a goal, joining a community of likeminded people, recovering from trauma, traveling, finding work, collecting experiences, or some other intentional action.


Non-traditional living tends to lean toward minimalism. As much a possible, each possession has a job, is used often, and can be easily accessed when needed. Conversely, a symptom of homeless is the gathering of possessions regardless of their need or usefulness.


But the most straight forward measure of whether you’re homeless or simply living simply is what you consider yourself to be, and whether it’s working for you in ways conventional living didn’t or can’t. Are you content with who you are and what you’re doing? That’s what matters.

So, what do you think about these indicators? Do the social scientists know what they’re talking about?