Off-Grid guests

2014-11-02 14.41.59
The guys on the tower…

Moving to and setting up your off-grid home, it’s most likely in an out of the way, rural, scenic spot, a place that is often seen as a good place to vacation, especially by your family and friends. Usually though, your setup tends to be sparse, spartan, utilitarian, rough, nonstandard, even primitive… and often rather small. More like camping than living, for you that is fine, even desirable, but for your potential guests, it can be daunting, the things you have gotten used to may be foreign to your visitors, but if you are patient, explain things well and consider it fun and unique, your visitors will have a good time and go home with great memories of their vacation.

PB’s son and our good friend came out for a visit, they arrived a few days ago and will leave on Wednesday. PB’s son has been here before, but this was the first visit by our friend, someone we haven’t seen since we moved away from the big city, some 8 hours drive from here.

I must say that both of them are taking this all in stride, today they went into town and ate at the local dive, well it’s not really a dive, they have quite good food, they tend to cater to the tourists, so their prices are a bit steep, but it was worth it when the hamburgers arrived. After filling their stomachs, they went to the grocery store, picked up some supplies (steaks were top on that list!) and came home. We ate very well tonight :)

Some of the things to consider when having guests in your off-grid home, I think the first thing that may be different is the toilet, it may be a composting toilet, whether it is a commercial unit, or a sawdust bucket toilet, it will probably need some directions as to how it works. Ours is pretty straightforward, but it’s still not a standard flush toilet.

Next is the water, we have hot and cold running water, and it’s fairly standard, but our water pump has its own switch to turn the pump on and off, the hot water comes from an on demand water heater, it’s mounted right over the sink, it could be unnerving to see and hear fire appearing over the sink if you aren’t ready for it. Another quirk about our water, if you are running the hot water, and it’s getting too hot, you have to turn the water on MORE, not less, that causes more water to run through the system and it cools it off.

One big thing, actually it’s kind of small, the entire house (sky castle in our case), it’s rather small by most standards, when it’s just the two of us (plus the dogs), we get along pretty well, but add a couple of adults, and you now have a crowd, half of which doesn’t know the dance, the one you do when moving around each other.

Along with that space issue comes the question, where are you going to bed these visitors? Often we give our bedroom to our guests and we sleep in the living-dining-kitchen-office room, it works out for the short time our guests visit.

Privacy is another issue in such small quarters, for all involved, it’s just something you have to work out with everyone, honestly you end up giving up a lot of privacy, hope you are really good friends with your family and friends :)

Other considerations are keeping warm in winter and cool in summer, chances are you will not have central heat and air, that just goes with roughing it, hopefully they will visit when the weather is more agreeable, or they will be flexible about dressing for the weather. We tell our visitors to bring warm clothing, even in summer, it can get cool to cold once the sun goes down, winters are mild, it’s warmish in the day, but again, at night it’s going to get cold.

There might be a potential for boredom, especially if your guests come from the city, they are probably used to 24-7 access to digital entertainment, the internet, a million channels on TV, stores staying open all night, where we are, we have internet, but zero cell phone reception, we don’t have TV, so entertainment has to be of the analog version, nearly no digital entertainment, which honestly is a good thing IMHO.

Having visitors can be challenging, but with proper instructions and flexible friends/family, these visits can be quite enjoyable for you and them.

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