Just like anything else, many people talk about the off grid life and being self sufficient but never actually do anything about it. Perhaps this is related to fearfulness or lack of knowledge. Most likely it is also related to not knowing where to start and the uncertainty of whether or not it is the right decision.
Growing up with two working farms in the family certainly taught me a lot about self sufficiency. I truly was not something we talked about. It was simply the way we lived. Despite my childhood experiences, nothing really prepared me for living completely off the grid. I committed to the idea and just did it without any forethought or planning. This is more that most people would do. So, if you are uncertain about this lifestyle then you should appreciate this discussion about ways to test drive the off grid life before you commit.
Living off the grid and being self sufficient is certainly a deviation from mainstream society. There was a time in history when the off grid life was the norm. That is not the case in our fast-paced, technologically advanced, modern culture.
However, there is a huge trend and increased desire these days for a simpler way of life. More and more people seek out a slower pace and a closer connection with the outdoors. A lot of people also desire a life with less interference and a bit more control over their basic necessities. These are all things that can be rediscovered in the off grid life.
That being said, how do you actually get in touch with these things? How do you test drive the off grid life before you commit. Well there is no better way to gain new knowledge and skill than real life experience. Here are a few suggestions for how you can get a taste of the off grid life without actually committing to it full-time:
Privately owned cabins can be located in rental and vacation listings.
The majority of people with off-grid cabins do not use them full time. They are often willing to rent their property when they are not around. Amenities may be basic but rent is usually inexpensive.
Each regional office maintains a list of cabins for rent. Sometimes these are very rustic, single room, isolated cabins that were built during the mining days. These are great historical remnants of a time when everyone had the off grid life. But they can also be fairly nice, modern cabins. This could be an easy, inexpensive way to spend a couple of weeks out in the forest.
Depending on the location, rural properties can sit vacant for a period of time before they sell. Owners may jump at the opportunity to make a little cash while the place sits on the market. I’ve had mixed success with doing this but have also come across some awesome opportunities.
Dude ranches attract a wide variety of clientele. This includes your basic “city slicker” that knows nothing about the outdoors and would never consider the off grid life. Consequently, this option may not provide you with the best off-grid experience depending on what you are looking for. Usually ranch operations will build small groups of cabins relatively close together. It is still worth investigating to see what you can find. Consider going in the off season when there are a lot fewer people.
This could be an easy way to try the off grid life and do it in style. RVs may be small but they can be a compact house on wheels with modern amenities. If you want peace and quiet, only stay in undeveloped areas or perhaps set up camp and stay in a central location. I’ve had really good luck finding quiet campgrounds in the off season. I’ve parked the travel trailer for weeks in the same place.
This is a time to choose your own adventure and make of it what you want. You can rough it or live in style. If you are willing to purchase a little bit of equipment, then acquire an outfitter’s tent for a few hundred dollars. These provide enough room for several people, a small wood stove, and decent head room. They are a bit more difficult to set up but would be a great option for a base camp. Just be aware that the Forest Service places a limit on the number of days you can stay in one location.
Off grid, undeveloped property is not difficult to find. These properties are often vacant for a long period of time because they can be difficult to sell. Access may also be limited because it is considered a recreational property only. Contact local real estate agents and see if someone is willing to rent their property. More and more often I find people willing to lease their land to someone who wants the off grid life.
Sometimes owners will even accept a nightly “camping fee”. There is actually a market for this because more people are looking for a unique outdoor experience in a nice private location.
Often times people that are involved in these organizations are more than willing to offer advice and share their experiences. This is a great way to get solid advice from people with hands on experience with rural, sustainable living.
These folks are starting to realize there are a lot of people that want to get back in touch with rural life. There are numerous opportunities to work with these folks and get your hands dirty as an introduction to their lifestyle. Some places are organized to do this on a regular basis. Just be aware that they may charge you a small fee to come work for free. This not only gives you a good introduction to a more rural life but also helps them to accomplish some of their projects.
There are a number of house sitting websites that post opportunities all over the world. I have found some very interesting opportunities. One of the most interesting jobs I’ve found was watching after a house, two cats, and a pig on a small private island, completely off grid. Trust me when I say that it is not difficult to find these unique off grid opportunities.
If you watch and wait, you can find properties where the owners want to get away from their off grid life for several months. Most of the ones I’ve come across have all of the basic amenities plus/minus internet. This type of opportunity would be a great way to experience the off grid life in style.
I hope you are anxious to try the off grid life now that you have some great options. This is a great way to choose you own adventure and have some fun.
Go off grid and live well,
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