Get Away From That City Hoopla and be free
City life is stressful. Do you dream of getting away from it all?
Most people are crammed into a concrete forest with hundreds of thousands of masked strangers. Everyone seems out for themselves. It’s all rules, rules, rules. There are people around you all the time, cramping your style.
The upstairs neighbors are thumping around in the middle of the night. What are they doing up there, wrestling with a bear?
You have to sit beside the strangest people if you take public transit. Like that guy who keeps muttering “Covid, covid, covid” while he stares at you.
You get stuck in traffic. You wait in lineups to grab a burger or a coffee. You are forced to fit the mold and do what everyone else does every day.
Things like that make you want to flee the city and go live off-grid, somewhere far from the giant mess that civilization creates. But is living out in the boonies really better?
What is Off-grid Life Like?
When you think of living off the grid, maybe you imagine living in a post-apocalyptic world like The Walking Dead. Or maybe you see a one-room shack with no electricity or running water. That trip to the outhouse doesn’t sound fun in the middle of the night.
But in modern times, living off-grid doesn’t have to be as bad as all that. With solar panels and a battery system, we do just fine out here in the sticks. Indoor plumbing and wi-fi make all the difference.
I live out in the boonies, but I still got Netflix.
While I type, I’m looking out the window at birds on the bird feeder. A moose walked out of the forest this morning and stood on the lawn.
Why would I live in town if I got all this good stuff going on? Here’s why maybe you should join me out in the sticks. I can set you up on the North 40.
1. If Society Goes Sideways, You Can Get By
You can set yourself up so that if society crumbles, you won’t go down with it. Once you live in the middle of nowhere, it’s easy to set aside enough supplies to last a while. And with the right preparations, you can live months into the zombie apocalypse before you run into trouble.
- A full pantry with dry goods, condiments, and baking supplies.
- Your own garden.
- Backup power source.
- A solid home security plan (in case of those zombies!)
2. Sustainable Living With Less Impact
Wouldn’t it be nice to give more than you take from the world? By growing even a little bit of your own food, you can start doing just that.
Living off-grid can mean a lower environmental impact. If you are baking your own bread or raising animals, then you are probably doing it with fewer resources than it would take to buy that item from the supermarket. That means the whole world comes out ahead.
How to live more sustainably:
- Grow or raise some of your food.
- Make your own preserves or pickles.
- Bake your own bread.
- Buy less pre-packaged food.
- Get what you can’t grow or make yourself from local farmer’s markets to avoid buying things shipped internationally. Except for bananas and avocadoes. Come on! I’m not willing to sacrifice everything.
3. Off-Grid is as Environmentally Friendly as You Make It
If you’re in charge, you can make environmentally friendly choices. Want to eliminate plastic and do your own composting? You’re the boss!
I built our house from 75% recycled lumber that I salvaged from a building that was getting demolished. I added extra insulation during construction to increase the efficiency, and we went with in-floor heating to use less energy than a forced-air setup.
Ways to make off-grid living environmentally friendly:
- reduce your landfill contribution with composting and recycling
- build energy-efficient homes
- use renewable energy sources for electricity and heating
4. Escape Consumerism
Listen, I’m not perfect. No one is. But just by living so far from the city, I have to think through every purchase I make because I need to go pick that sucker up and drive it back to my house. Even if I order it on Amazon, it gets delivered only as close as the nearest town.
There’s no pizza delivery out here either, so we make more of our own food too.
Living out here, I find that I just don't need as much stuff.
5. Raise Capable, Tough Children
My wife and I raised three kids out here. They’ve all moved out and are successfully living on their own, without handouts from mom and dad to keep them going.
Why are they so independent? Room to be themselves. Seven days a week access to the great outdoors.
Our kids had a huge area to play in. They got to spend time doing things like climbing trees and playing in the mud. They skated on and swam in the pond right in our front yard.
We had them help with all of the daily living chores too. They learned to do dishes, wash laundry and raise animals. Each of them had chores like feeding the horses or gathering firewood.
When they were teenagers and wanted more freedom, they used the money from the chores they had earned to buy their own cars. They got their driver’s licenses and started driving at young ages. It was either that or sit around at home with mom and dad!
6. Grow Healthy Organic Food
If you have a spot to grow your own groceries, I highly recommend it. Tending a garden is therapeutic and rewarding. And best of all, it’s a cost-effective way to feed yourself nutritious, organic veggies.
We planted some berry bushes and rhubarb to grow fruit. potatoes, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs round out the crop. It’s a good place to keep the compost too.
What you need to grow your own garden:
- Some space in the country
- Seeds and tools
- Time and ambition
7. Connect With Nature
The forest is less than 100 feet from my house. It’s full of deer, moose, birds, squirrels, skunks, and hundreds of other animals.
I can’t see a single house when I look out the window.
I can hear birds outside my window while I type.
That’s just what I see from inside my house. When I go out in my yard, I’m surrounded by an open sky, trees, and nature.
We have enough room, so we built our own camping spot for visitors. It’s totally away from civilization.
8. You Can Build Things
I built all of my own buildings. This isn’t for everyone, but if you have a spirit of adventure and aren’t afraid of hard work, it can be done!
Here’s my shop, which I started working on last summer. It isn’t quite finished yet, but it’s coming along nicely. The electrical power will be solar, and I’m going to heat it with sustainable deadfall wood.
Things you could build off-grid:
- Your own custom tiny house or home
- A barn for your horse
- Storage sheds
- A snazzy greenhouse!
9. A Giant Back Yard
My property is 7.2 acres. That means my backyard is huge.
I have tons of outdoor storage space. I don’t have to carefully plan how to organize a tiny postage-stamp backyard.
I had so much room, I built two huge ponds. I’m partially done building a labyrinth between the two with a flowerbed in the middle. With several acres to work with you can do whatever you want.
Things a giant back yard is good for:
- Fish ponds.
- A big garden with all of those organic veggies.
- That snazzy greenhouse!
- Room to raise a few animals. We used to have miniature horses and a few sheep.
- Your children and pets can play safely.
10. Fewer Rules
We still have to follow laws out here. But maybe we can bend a few.
Building codes are important to always be aware of and follow. But it’s a lot easier to build that custom green home in a rural area where there are fewer things in place.
Parts of life that are less strict off-grid:
- No one tells me how often I need to cut my grass or shovel the walk.
- Land and home taxes are a lot lower.
- No rules against fireworks or bonfires (unless we are under a fire ban.)
- I can have animals like chickens, goats, sheep, etc.
- I can make all the noise I want.
11. Enjoy your Deck or Bonfire in Private
Living out here off-grid means not many strangers wander into my yard. We can sit out on the deck naked if we want.
I never bothered putting curtains on all the windows. I don’t give a crap if a blue jay or a squirrel is creeping on me.
We invite friends over for a bonfire if the weather is nice. As long as there’s no fire ban, we can use our firepit area year-round and not bother a soul.
It’s fueled with deadwood harvested off the property. We clean up our chunk of land to reduce fire hazard and stock up the woodpile at the same time.
You don’t have to live off-grid to get all of these things in your life, but it is part of the package. Out here away from society, we live a great life:
- Security and independence
- A more sustainable lifestyle that doesn’t take more than it gives
- It can be environmentally friendly
- Become less consumer-oriented
- Raise independent children
- Grow your own organic food
- Connect with nature
- Build things
- Enjoy a big backyard
- Live with fewer rules
- Have more privacy!
Living away from civilization isn’t for everyone. It isn’t an option for all of humanity to spread out like this. But if you weigh the costs of building a home in the city against living off-grid, sometimes it makes a lot of sense.