Opinion: Do the advantages of living off-grid outweigh the conveniences of urban living?

Karen Madej

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Many of us have a kind of longing for freedom from artificial ties. Life in the wilderness with no paid for running water or electricity. Also, no supermarkets, no drug stores, and no medical facilities. I wouldn’t survive, would you?

Wealthier Americans have per capita footprints ∼25% higher than those of lower-income residents, primarily due to larger homes. In especially affluent suburbs, these emissions can be 15 times higher than nearby neighborhoods. PNAS

One could argue that living off-grid is much better for the planet. Still, it’s not for everyone, and a better solution would be to work on the carbon footprint of the 93 million individual homes and make it possible to achieve the Paris Agreement by 2050. According to PNAS, the US will not meet the target unless floor space reduces and its density increases in new build, low-carbon communities.

Residential energy use accounts for roughly 20% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States. PNAS

Comments from the A woman lives in the woods and has no gas or electricity, no running water, and no internet article by reader Tina 1270110–05, she wrote she lived on a herb farm, and her family grew food raised animals. As a teenager, she felt safe and happy. Forty-five years later, she’s still thinking of home.

Peeples 10–05 said he couldn’t live without hot water after working all day. Yet he believes that Americans are all very spoiled and that folks have to learn to appreciate what’s in front of them.

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We take everyday comforts for granted while the woman in the woods lives with nature and without costly amenities. Diva V10–03

Another reader, Deborah Hall10–03, dreams of being in the place of the woman who lives surrounded by nature. Her kids are grown, but when they were young, the state said her children had to have this and that, and even when you provided them, they had to be to the state rules. She knows she could live in the elements and be happy and at peace.

After her kids had grown and her husband passed away. Pat Woods10–06 lived in the wilderness for a year aged 60. She wished she’d done it when she was younger.

Smart people know their priorities and not to follow the crowd. Sue Peters10–03
The true uncorrupt ways. Love this! These are the lost ways people! This is why men and women survived up to this point. This definitely separates the men and women from the little boys and girls! Mountain Goat10–03

Of course, living as one with nature won’t suit everyone. According to kaarenwills10–02, it sounds great, but imagine if hundreds of people decided to give it a go. Would break down into neighbor squabbles, property line issues, sustainability issues, medical emergencies, personality differences, etc. Wishing her peace and long life, but it most definitely isn’t a lifestyle for many.

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Society is used to its mod-cons and life of convenience. However, Robert Harootyan10–02 mentions the lack of social engagement, solitude, illness, and other aspects of life. He also said that Emma has followed her values and created her ideal environment.

Building a community of off-gridders does away with the loneliness and mixes like-minded people to share the responsibilities and the benefits. The Tree Hugger lists 8 Off-the-Grid Communities Carving a Sustainable Path.

The first, The Three RiversRecreational Area in Oregon, has around 600 off the power grid properties. Established in the 1960s, from mansions to huts spread over 4000 acres, only about 80 people live there year-round. Water has to be bought in or comes from wells.

After reading the story of the woman who lived in the woods in Wales, Joan Twumwaa-yeboah10–02 wrote:

I enjoy this life! It’s so peaceful to live like that. Everything changed when I relocated to the western world. I have never been happy ever since I left my village like this in Africa. She made me miss home so badly.

Christina Coy10–02 said it would force her off her phone and social media. That would be nice. (I reckon quite a few of us would welcome less screen time.) As a kid, she doesn’t remember life being hard. She remembers living in the middle of nowhere with no running water and electricity. No toilet. They had a propane stove and a garden, and she had her dog. They showered when the rains came, and they boiled their water.

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This is why many people have chosen to live off the grid, said R H10–02; a simple lifestyle, no worries, and survival basics: food, shelter, and clothing. He would find that hidden wilderness spot with little interaction with humans if he were younger.

You don’t have to live in the woods to be free of city living bills. James Park10–01 lives in a small hut in the middle of the desert with a 300w solar system and a phone. He pays no city bills, no property payments, and no house payments or rent. He said he is happier now than he was 2 years ago in a city.

She’s a great example for competitive people to see and realize simplicity is gold while brick gold is a heavy weight on the soul. Mark Snead10–01

Mark also adds an old saying that applies here; a person doesn’t possess material wealth, but rather material wealth possesses the person.

Business Insider lists Instagram #offgridliving; 394,617 posts from folks living an alternative lifestyle. Home Advisor lists off-the-grid capitals of America (according to Instagram). You’ll find a map with homesteading, tiny homes, and off-grid living capitals.

What do you think, do the advantages of living off-grid outweigh the conveniences of urban living?

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Passionate about climate change and living a debt-free, sustainable life. Determined to learn how to and build an adobe house or Earthship. The goal is to live off-grid and off the land. Energy for heat and to power electrical devices and appliances will use solar, wind, and hydro-powered electricity. No trees will die to make my home.

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