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Home Forums General Discussion How to turn "wanting" into "doing"?

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    I’ll start off by saying “Wow!  Who knew a forum like this existed?!”  I’m eager to meet the community here and see what others have to say!

    Okay, so I’m filled with want.  I almost cringe at the word.  Everyone ‘wants’ to go off-grid, so it seems, but so few actually pursue it.  I will not be one of those people

    My situation:
    I am 23 y.o. female, self employed, and own 1 acre in rural orchard country.  I am soaking up info on permaculture like a sponge, producing only 1 barrel of trash every 2-3 months (burn/recycle/compost the rest), and basically doing what I can to satisfy my inner ‘hippy’.   Not that I identify with that term.  I thought I’d stay here a few years (it’s only been 1!), but several factors are driving me onward.
    1: the sheer amount of toxic chemicals used in orchard country is horrifying, between the mosquito and the weed control, I am constantly ill.  I had no idea when I moved in.
    2:  I live near a busy road.  My dog now has a several thousand dollar metal leg thanks to someone who swerved and seemingly intentionally hit her.
    3:  Nature calls me.  There’s just not enough wild here.  It’s like living in a bad marriage, head over heels in love with another, somewhere far away, but being stuck in this hole you don’t seem to care about anymore, yet you can’t get out.

    I’ve been biting my lip, telling myself I’ll stay put a few years, save up lots of cash, keep my head low and make a ‘smart’ move (according to friends and family, the more years you wait, the smarter it is).  But I’ll be honest.  I’m a willful, whimsical, and very intuitively inclined person.  I am driven to leave.

    So I’ve made a plan.
    Part 1: get a conventional job.  Granted I get paid $20-$40/hour being self employed, but every penny helps.  So I’ll find out tomorrow if I got the job at a local grocery store.  I’ve been self employed since I was 14, but I have to bite the bullet.  Even the $8/hour bullet…
    Part 2: downsize to bear necessities; clothes, tools, equipment, eatery, and a mattress, for the most part.  Sell/trade/give away the majority of what I own.  Not only to better adapt and prepare for minimal living, but deep down I crave the simplicity.
    Part 3: finish projects on the property and see if I can build some equity in doing so.  Luckily the value has already risen $30,000.  I bought when prices couldn’t get much lower :D  Let’s hope it keeps rising.
    Part 4: Attempt to triple or quadruple my business output between now and Christmas (big selling season, you know!).  Doing this plus a job will be tough, but rewarding if I pull it off.  In the process I hope to completely deplete my ‘raw’ inventory and supplies and be able to ride on sales from listed inventory (online sales).
    Part 5:  March of next year .  .  .  sell?

    So here’s where I’m stuck.  I’m all ready and rearin’ to do this, but filled with hesitation at taking the plunge.  Not only am I taking a chance, but am facing incredible disapproval from friends and family, which is hard to ignore.  They don’t change how I feel, but they sure make it more difficult to step forward.
    In a perfect world I sell, come away with $10,00-$30,000 extra, maybe buy an RV (or alternatively I’m looking at custom crafted ‘gypsy wagons’, gotta support the little guys!), and take out another bank loan to purchase land.  But I also don’t know what to expect.  I imagine I’ll be in limbo for awhile; having sold most of my belongings, house on the market, business on hold, riding on savings, I’ll probably move in by the grace of friends and family and bide my time.  Once the house is sold I can move towards land and/or temporary housing purchase.

    And I realize I’m typing a lot, but as some of you may sympathize, I really have no one to bounce these ideas off!  I’ve been alone in my thoughts for years!  So I suppose I should get down to asking the questions, before I continue rambling:
    What are others’ experiences with ‘taking the plunge’?  What are some suggestions with making this transition?  I’m a fan of ‘cold turkey’  (literally and metaphorically), unlike my tender-toed kin who can’t seem to get their feet wet.   Is waiting and saving and planning and biding really the smart thing to do here?  What do I do, just sit on my hands until I’m 30?  40?  50?  Assuming we’re not in WWIII by then.  Is there even one route more or less ‘smart’ than another?  HOW DO YOU DO THIS?!

    There’s more I’d like to go on about; what kind of land I’m hunting for, lifestyle preferences, working land and animals, the fact that HAVING A MAN would make this a lot easier, but you know, one thing at a time :D

    Thanks in advance!

    – Jen


    “Theres always tomorrow for dreams to come true” yes and theres always another tomorow to put it off until
    problem is tomorrows become yesterdys damned awful fast and before ya know it its too late to try
    the first big question is, How much do you really know about going off-grid and li9ving the simpler life style?
    the second one is, How hard are you willing to work to get there?
    and lastly, Cant you take your business along with you?

    email me, lets chat.
    my heads good for bouncing shit off of…lol


    Going by our experience, we too are a cold turkey type of folk…. I had always had a dream of living off grid, so did PB, the funny thing is neither of us knew what the other dreamed of, I thought he wouldn’t want to leave his business or family, he thought I wouldn’t want to leave my family…. once we began discussing how we wanted to live the rest of our lives, we made the decision to get outta Dodge, or at least Irving Texas.

    I had enough money saved in a stock plan though my part time job of 10 years to be able to buy up a piece of raw, unwanted land in far west Texas, there was just enough left over to build a 16×16 box that would become home, that was in the middle of 2007, by the end of Dec 2007 we had left our old life behind and began our new life.

    We came out here with little money but plenty of supplies, I couldn’t imagine living any other way, I have not looked back. So you could say we did a whole lot of wanting and did a whole lot of doing. Of course it’s easier for me because I have a very creative man in my life who isn’t afraid of hard work, doing something like this being one person would make things much more challenging but not impossible. Maybe you could find some piece of land that no one really wants, make a good deal on it and plant one of those Morgan type shed buildings on it, you can finished it out yourself with little problem, the trick is finding someplace with few to no restrictions as to what you can do on it.

    Be sure to keep us updated on your progress, and there are lots of people here who would be more than happy to give you advice.


    Thank you so much for your replies.  Beast, I emailed you my long response to your inquiries.  Your questions made me think, they were good questions.

    WrethaOffGrid, I imagine having a significant other helped immensely!  I’m lacking in that department, unfortunately.  I’m not in a very good location to find like-minded people.  Your story is inspiring, you make it sound so easy :)

    The areas I’m idly property shopping are affordable and completely unrestricted building wise.  Many of them have mineral rights, even.  But they’re several hours from the the nearest town, zero services or reception (fine by me).  It’s hard to shop seriously when you’re not in a position to buy, but I’ve formulated my requirements.

    I will likely have limbo time with selling; my house now is a manufactured home.  It’s up to code and specs, but there’s a funny quirk with how the concrete foundation was laid and banks are restrictive with giving loans on it (as I found out during the purchase process).  I got a great deal on it and was able to get in, but there may be delays in selling.  I don’t want to hassle renting, and I fear owner-carry could be a total nightmare.  I figure I could live extremely minimal in the house until it sells, and easily move out in one truck load.

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    jengr I understand how you feel.  I have a lot of ideas on what I want to do for going off grid.  Just funds are limited and I don’t want to live off grid with out a basic necessities being stable.  I have already purchased my land but I have 5 years to pay it off, so I figure that that gives me quite a bit of time to save up as much as I can and to build up little by little.  A lot of things I have learned since starting this idea is there is so many road blocks that can get in the way. Such as permits and inspections which wastes so much money even when you want to live so simple, but makes me think of things to cut costs in other areas.   For one ways of cutting down electricity while still keeping a decent standard of living, because Solar panels and batteries are EXPENSIVE!  So I have invested a lot of time into researching other ideas like rocket stoves, Stone ovens, root cellars, and ideas for growing veggies year round.  My plan is to be off grid by 30.  So that should give me more then enough time to save up and start building small things on my land before I make it permanent


    In the time waiting to get off grid, use that time wisely, buy things little at a time, things you WILL need, some long term items are solar panels (they don’t go bad), wiring, building materials (especially good if you can get them free or cheap from somewhere like Craigslist), hand tools, warm clothing, things to go inside your off grid home, sinks, plumbing supplies, cabinets, countertops, flooring… these are all things you will need, buy it up little at a time, look for deals, do this while you aren’t under the gun to get your place setup to live in. That’s what we did and it worked very well for us. I kept an eye out for bargains all the time, one of my best “hauls” was from an older duplex that was being remodeled, there was a huge pile of discarded goodies outside the duplex, it was OBVIOUS these were being tossed so I grabbed as much of the stuff as I could, got a great old kitchen sink that was still in very good shape. Buying or acquiring these things over a period of time means you can bargain shop, and it doesn’t hit your pocketbook so hard.

    About 3-6 months before you KNOW you are going to move off grid, but while you still have a job and money coming in, start buying up non-perishable foods, canned foods, dry foods, things that you can rely on to keep you going until you get yourself established, don’t forget about gardening stuff and if you plan on having animals, don’t forget about the things you will need for them.


    More good feedback, thank you.

    My urgency to move was reinforced last night. I was walking my dog along the river when the mosquito abatement truck passed and dusted me. I collapsed, unable to breathe. I laid back in the dirt and focused on a single star poking out of a round hole in the clouds, trying to breathe, trying not to panic. It was about 2 hours before I could breathe well enough to stand up and stumble back to my car (although I did fall down a few times). I was extremely disoriented. By the time I got home around midnight I had a fever, my breath tasted like blood, and my face was paper white. Weathered a terrible night and am feeling very put out this morning. This town is going to kill me if I stay another year. That darn truck rolls through town every weekday night, anywhere from 8pm to 2am, spewing liquid permethrin into the air.

    As far as lifestyle prep…  I’ve travelled a lot in my short life.  I’m content living out of a bag, eating what’s available, sleeping on whatever’s available, and generally feeling comfortable being uncomfortable.  Especially camping and being in the wilderness.  All of my few furnishings are second-hand, most of my few electronics I’ve had since I was a kid.  Basically I don’t really spend any money, I don’t buy myself anything (except tools and a new shirt from time to time).  My possessions are largely comprised of tools.  Everything but the saws and drills are hand or gas powered.  Chain saw and log splitter are on my list, maybe a foldable ladder, too.  Unfortunately these are also bulky.  I’ll have to build a shed ASAP, aside from figure out a living area.  I built an 8x12x6′ chicken coop this spring out of repurposed materials.  $100 in scrap vinyl flooring, hinges, and screws for the entire job.  It was done in probably 10 days total, completely by my lonesome.  So I know I can do something to house my tools quickly and relatively easily.

    Gardening and livestock…  I have 40 chickens and 3 turkeys right now.  Mostly this year’s chicks. All pasture/free range non GMO.  The turkeys I’ll be keeping and breeding (1 tom and 2 hens).  I’ve also got a free-range bunny who I intended to breed, but she’s just hangin’ for now.  I can dry process a chicken from alive to freezer in under 1 hour with nothing but a scalpel.  Rabbits are even quicker.  Squirrels I can prep in under 5 min.  Lots of game processing experience!  Taking my birds with me will be a challenge though, especially if I have any limbo time.  I hate to sell off and re-start, but I may have to.  I don’t eat a lot of meat but feed my dog and cats all raw, so fresh meat is a must.   Good hunting/fishing in the area I choose will be mandatory.
    Gardening is another story.  Seeds are in my top ten “must have” items.  I would want to get some healthy perennial patches started ASAP.   I’ve been successful with growing fresh greens in sub-zero temps the last two years.  I’ve been learning more about canning, preserving, and rationing food in the last year.  I don’t eat any grains; they’re expensive, hard to grow in quantity yourself, and are buggers about increasing your appetite.  They’re just not practical. I’m getting my feet under me this year with figuring out sustainable food.  Over half my garden was planted with chicken feed in mind this year, it’s an experiment to see what it will take.  I’ve also been potting grapes, berries, and other fruiting plants with the expectations of bringing them with me.

    Stocking surplus is a good idea.  I hadn’t though of paper goods, like toilet paper and such.  I buy only 100% recycled unbleached rolls.  1 $1.30 roll will last about 2 weeks.  I try to use mostly rags for cleaning, but do buy recycled unbleached paper towels too.  1 $2.30 roll will last about a month.   I’ll sit back and do some math on stockpiling.  I don’t eat any canned or pre-packaged goods from the store, aside from honey, maple products (and other sweeteners), nuts and seeds that I can’t get myself, and I’m sure there’s other things I’m not thinking of.  But my cupboards are typically bare, I eat mostly fresh raw foods.  I will be mass-canning and drying this year though, for experience and stock-piling purposes.

    I am accustomed to washing myself, my clothing, and my dog in the river.  My sister makes an organic, fair trade, 100% raw ‘soap’ out of natural clays and butters.  It’s environmentally safe and works wonderfully.  I can scrub me and my clothes down at the same time, my dog, and anything else that needs it right there in the water.  As I eat very healthy, I don’t often have problems with body odor, so cleaning mostly has to do with physical debris.  Same with my hair.  I can’t imagine missing the washing machine much.  I rarely use mine, and I don’t use detergent.  Line-drying works well for the most part.

    Other thoughts are in regards to power:  A nice fan is always good to have, something to charge the laptop with (if I continue my online business I will need it), my printer (if I’m doing business), charge the phone, run some lights in the morning and evenings, the blender and other small kitchen wares, and if I’m living in a mobile home I’ll need a heater, a fridge and/or freezer, a small water heating system and possibly a water pump.  My tiny speaker system would be nice to keep around for some musical indulgence.  Plus running tools; charging batteries, running a jig saw, air compressor, or who knows what else on rare occasion.  That’s about the extent of my electricity usage.  If I am someday able to build a custom house, some of this can be weeded out; such as space and water heating, by utilizing wood burning stoves.   Solar energy obviously comes to mind first.  I don’t need to run a microwave, oven, tv, or other massive items regularly, so I imagine a solar setup could be attained for under $2,000 to suit my needs.  I’ve read a lot on water and wind energy but don’t feel confident with implementing it.

    Sourcing unwanted things like sinks and such is another good idea.  An outdoor wash basin for fresh produce and dirty hands/feet is a beautiful thing!

    Root cellars are another item I’m reading into.  It would be a must for me!  I’ve seen many style of building and many plans, most seem doable in a short timeframe without much cost.

    Greenhouses…  I’ve done so much looking into this, too!  I kept 1 pepper and 3 tomato plants indoors last year and got a few tomatoes over winter.  Some things do alright inside, but it gets impractical.  I’ve been eyeballing atriums that can function as year-round greenhouses attached to the home.  This feels like a must for any house design I’ve come up with.

    I envision the first year still being co-dependant with some shopping and family support and such.  I can’t have it all right off the bat.  Eventually I fantasize about raising a few pack goats and maybe some fiber animals, but that’s all farther out…</p>


    Sounds like you are ready to go for it :) Sorry it took something so drastic to make that happen, makes me wonder what they are spraying and if it’s more dangerous than what they are trying to control….



    Someday never comes.

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