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Off The Grid In Manhattan!

Updated on October 1, 2014

If that's not an oxymoron I don't know what is!

Ok, Ok, I know that not many people are thinking of Manhattan when they think of going off the grid. But, I happen to love Manhattan and going off the grid to avoid expenses is just as important in the big city (maybe even more important) than it is in the country.

Manhattan is expensive, what better way to live here than to live here off the grid? The tax rate is around 40% so if you can get your housing, utilities, internet, cable, and food through an exchange or a bartering are ahead of the 8 ball to use a cliché. If you can get paid in cash even better! If that's not off the grid I don't know what is!

How do you go off the grid in a big city like Manhattan without being homeless? It's not easy and to be perfectly honest I am using the term off-the-grid in the literary sense. Being off the grid in Manhattan means you don't pay rent or utilities and if you really play your cards right food either. Who cares if you built the house yourself, grew the garden or set up your solar panels if you can get all those things for an exchange of labor..that, to me, is being off the grid and that's what I've done in Manhattan for the past 5 or 6 years give or take a few breaks to wander the country.

Here's how it's done. You have to get a live-in job, it can be full-time or part-time but with a live-in job you don't pay the high rent, utilities or food in the city. Sure, if you do it part-time you're going to need to supplement your income but there are ways to do that too. There are a few jobs in particular that you'll want to consider.

One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center | Source


I would suggest trying to get a nanny position through a private person but if you can't do that and you have to resort to an agency, well you can try it. But, I've never liked agencies and I've never used one. It used to be very easy to get a nanny job through Craigslist but now all the rich families in New York are using agencies so the pickins are few and far between but you can still find them. You just have to be diligent and check everyday.

Home Health Aid:

A Home Health Aid works with the elderly or the handicapped. This job usually requires a certificate or even a nurses degree. I never worked as a Home Health Aid because I didn't want to bath anyone or assist anyone with toiletry functions. I'm squeamish like that. So, if you are willing to do duties like that you could easily get your certificate and get a live-in job doing this.

Paid Companion:

This is the coup de gras in my opinion. Working as a Nanny is a lot of work, working as a Home Health Aid has..shall we say, unsavory duties, but working as a Paid Companion is the bomb! If you are a decent cook, a good companion and don't mind hanging out with an elderly person this is the job for you! I did this for 4 years and it was a good gig, let me tell you. I lived on Park Avenue, went to the Harvard club with my boss, the Metropolitan Museum of Art every Friday, drinking cocktails and eating hors deuvres and going to the Opera now and then. It was nice until he came down with dementia and died. That's one of the drawbacks of working with the elderly, they eventually die and you're out of a job!


The last position is one that I never had but there are a lot of openings in major cities like Manhattan for live-in housekeeping positions. Physically it is a demanding job but so is being a Nanny. In New York you can make a good salary as a live-in Nanny or as a Housekeeper or doing both.

Living off the grid in Manhattan is not easy and it can be quite uncomfortable at times, but it's worth it and it might be the only way to get your behind into the city.

So that's how it's done in New York City. I'm sure you could find something in these fields in other cities as well. So, the next time someone tells you that you can't go off the grid in the Manhattan, point them to this article and tell them nothing is impossible in New York City!


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    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      3 years ago from Manhattan

      Yep..none of that, no felling of trees in Central Park either ;)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      3 years ago from USA

      I was also prepared for suggestions like dumpster diving or hitting up the homeless shelters for room and board. Whew!

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      3 years ago from Manhattan

      True Rochelle, I never thought of that!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      3 years ago from California Gold Country

      Sounds like you have found a way to combine two passions.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      3 years ago from Manhattan

      Yea, this one is a bit of an anomaly!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      3 years ago from California

      Have loved your going off the grid series. This one is definitely impressive. Voted up, useful and interesting:)

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      Funny, that is my least favorite.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      If I had to go off the grid in any city, I would choose housekeeper. I think it would be gratifying to see your work progress and complete at the end of a day. I don't know if I could love in such an exciting city as Manhatten, but your suggestions are ones sure to help those who do.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks "WiccanSage".

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 

      4 years ago

      Wow, I'm originally from NYC and never even would have thought it's possible, but this is so true. My grandparents were in Brooklyn and, while not 'off the grid' they were pretty self-sustaining~ they owned a small 4-apartment house and lived off renting the other 3 apartments, Gramps had a workshop in the basement where he built furniture, they raised rabbits and grew food and grapes for wine in their yard. Just shows that when there is a will there is a way. Great hub.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      Where there's a will, there's a way! Thanks for stopping by "breakfastpop" even though I KNOW Manhattan is probably not your cup of tea!

    • breakfastpop profile image


      4 years ago

      You are amazing!!! I don't know how you did it , but it seems to make sense. Voted up and amazing and totally useful in motivated hands.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      I'm sure, I've never lived in a city as big as Manhattan though. But, I'm sure it will work in other places. Thanks for commenting "greatstuff".

    • greatstuff profile image


      4 years ago from Malaysia

      When I saw the heading, I too was expecting the typical 'off the grid' lifestyle. Interesting suggestions, which I am sure are applicable in other big cities as well.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      LOL, now that is funny!

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 

      4 years ago from California

      What a funny idea. I thought you were going to recommend that you cook on a propane stove and filter your water at a nearby duck pond. A nanny sounds a lot more pleasant.


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