- Green Household
Life Off the Grid
Once a month, millions of citizens around the world open up their mailboxes only to find a stack of bills mixed in with the normal ads, letters, and other mail. To some, these bills can seem like a veritable ball and chain, a tether roping them into a handful of contracts. Paying bills can be a tiring and all together frustrating hassle. Getting away from all of those bills can seem like a dream. Luckily, there is a way to escape the nightmare of difficult bills and live your life free of obligations to all of these companies.
Living off of the grid, as it’s called, is a way to avoid all of that. It’s becoming more and more popular for those that want to reduce their carbon footprint, step away from their reliance on fossil fuels, and create a more independent lifestyle for themselves. How far into the lifestyle that you decide to go is up to you, but there are people that manage to live completely off the grid.
Now, this is something that I, myself, have personal experience in. I’m not currently living an off the grid lifestyle anymore, but I spent the better part of somewhere between four and five years completely immersed in it. My own setup was nowhere near as complete as the explanations and advice that I’m about to give you, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it. That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t have a few improvements in mind if I were to end up in another off the grid living situation.
I lived on a mountain in between Santa Cruz and the Silicon Valley, located in Northern California. I lived in a few different places, but my favorite was the double-wide trailer. If I walked out my front door, I could see the entire expanse of the Silicon Valley. If I walked out my back door, I could see the Santa Cruz coast line. The views alone were phenomenal. I lived with a loved one, on a property that was owned by one of his older childhood friends. We shared a well that ran water out to both of our houses.
While the property owner had been up there his whole life, we hadn’t been there long enough to be set up as well. The property owner had solar panels, batteries, and a boxed-up windmill that he had yet to install. For emergency use, he had an industrial sized gasoline generator. Inside of his home, he had a refrigerator, an oven, a microwave, and a television. He had a laptop and some form of internet too, though I never did ask him how he had that set up. All I know is that it was slow, and he said that if I wanted to use it I could set up a soda can antennae to catch his wifi signal.
My own situation was much different. We didn’t have the resources or the time to have collected as much as the property owner had. We had a small gasoline generator, and we only used it when we wanted to watch a movie or play video games of some kind. It powered just one room, so we didn’t keep a refrigerator, oven, or microwave. When we wanted to cook, we walked out to our porch and used an old camping stove. It ran on propane, and we managed to be frugal enough with it that we only really had to take the tank into town to refill once every month or every two months. I spent the majority of my day listening to the radio on a CD Walkman with rechargeable batteries. Being so high up on the mountain, I only got a few stations, but it was nice to have something to listen to while I made little hand-sewn projects and read.
I was living what is known as an off the grid lifestyle. I didn’t pay any city bills, though my roommate did pay for his cell phone service. We didn’t work in town either. I was unemployed for the majority of my time there, and my roommate worked off the books at a deconstruction company with someone else that was owned by someone else that lived up on that mountain. I find that when you live that “close” to people in a place that’s so secluded from modern society, you make friends, and you help each other out. My off the grid experience was vastly different than anything I’ve ever found inside of a town, not just because of the lifestyle itself, but because of the people that I met while I was out there.
Basic Things to Think About Before Beginning An Off The Grid Lifestyle
First and foremost, research your plans thoroughly before you begin. The last thing that you want is to start trying to set yourself up and realize that you overcompensated, under-compensated, or bought things that you don’t understand. Plan your situation, and try to make sure that you think about everything.
This isn’t a situation where the phrase, “go big or go home” applies. You don’t need all of the latest and greatest equipment, and you don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to set yourself up. Always make sure that you have a backup, just in case something important stops working, but don’t buy things unless you’re absolutely certain that you’re going to need them.
Consider a P.O. box. There are some places that are so far off of the grid that they don’t even have real street addresses, let alone a place that a postal worker can deliver things to. Even without the plethora of bills that a normal, modern lifestyle implies, you might still want to make sure that people can mail things to you. Most post offices offer multiple sized boxes for different fixed rates. They’re generally inexpensive, and you can pay for the entire year in advance so that you never have to worry about where your mail is going.