Treetop Jen has returned home to the UK, and now she is wondering how to reshape her life.
Aim: to live off-grid in the back of a minibus, simply parked in a ‘normal’ town, with a job in the charity sector, still part of ‘normal’ society.
WHY? Hmmm…where to begin?
Well – like most people, I have spent some of my time in life pondering on the future; imagining how my life may turn out & how I might feel in each of the imagined outcomes.
I also spent (& still spend) time observing my others’ lives around me as they currently are. These two activities left me less & less inclined to live in an ‘ordinary’ house with a mortgage & equally less willing to rent accommodation; whilst it gave me some respite, knowing that the mortgage could be via the Co-operative Bank (www.co-operativebank.co.uk) or The Ecology Building Society, I still was not happy with the prospect of being part of the common “mortgage trap” where I’d be ‘reliant’ on or constantly hoping for house prices not to fall if I wanted to sell & would be committed to long term, huge amounts; yet more monthly payments on top of taxes, utility bills & student loan repayments.
It did not seem very attractive to me. So – I turned to the idea of renting forever more…yep – I even researched about pensions, to ensure (presuming politics wasn’t to change much in this area) that if I lived for long into old age – I’d still be able to afford renting & very basic living costs.
Again, the volume of money is not attractive to me here, though some comfort was provided to me with the idea of using more ethical, alternative energy suppliers (e.g. Good Energy www.goodenergy.co.uk).
I am also not comfortable with the average landlord/lady profiting from my rent. Renting/mortgages for typical housing is relatively inflexible or requires a lot of work & extra cost for conversion to eco-friendly as well.
I am also not interested in all that most renting/housing establishments offer (e.g. conventional toilets, superfluous space & extensive cooking & washing facilities). This does not fit well with me whilst there are still many lacking in the world. The fact that both options are also permanently fixed to the ground puts me off further as does the ever decreasing amounts of green/wild/free land (of course there are other big causes of this too but more and more houses being built is not helping). Having said all these reservations, I was still initially thinking I would rent.
The knowledge required for anything else seemed unreachable to me, requiring perhaps years of study & living quite apart from society, which I had not prepared my CV for.
But then….I read Nick Rosen’s book “How to Live Off-grid”. I found it easily readable & non text-book-like. I learnt that living off-grid in a way suitable to my views seemed doable for me! Yay! Realistic, relatively inexpensive & simple. Then, with a little extra research I realised that it is definitely doable. And so I began on my preparatory path for it. Basically, my reasoning is very well covered in Rosen’s book; environmentalism, a sense of independence, self-sufficiency & freedom, a dash of survivalist attitude (especially considering if global warming does occur & I live in a minibus on the coast – I can simply drive away if rising tides increase too much, as opposed to the tides engulfing entire fixed properties. I would of course also save a lot of money that I could instead spend on more life-fulfilling things. So, why would I like to stick around in a bigger town instead of living off-grid in th emiddle of nowhere?
I would still like to be part of society. I would like to work in the charity sector & most of these jobs, matching my experiencce, will be in towns, at least, or cities. Why in a minibus? This mode of living would be less conspicuous than a caravan & easier to handle in order to just get me started. I don’t really think I’ll need or want more though either – maybe check back for updates in a couple of years to see if it has stayed this way!
I am not proposing this compact and quite basic level of living for all, I just know that I’d like to try investigate it further and show what’s possible. I believe I have it all worked out….One solar panel on top of the roof – enough to hopefully power a netbook, mobile phone charger (or I can do that at work), mini-heater (for the winter; I did consider a mini woodstove but I believe this wood be deemed a nuisance by the public) & perhaps a lamp.
My research also suggests having two batteries for storage of the solar energy will also help for periods when there is no or limited sunlight. I have also come across websites that assist in estimating how much sun, on average shines in various UK regions. As far as bathroom, washing & toilet facilities are concerned, well, I shall be making full use of public facilities…and perhaps making use of the great outdoors on the odd occasion. And food?
Yep – I do not plan on installing cooking facilities & my recent experiences with a raw food community has shown me how to live very healthily without the need of cooking. I am equally enthused about boat off-grid living, if not more so. However, again, living in a minibus seemed more immediately tangible to me…perhaps boat off-grid living will be something I move towards in the future, especially if I keep the interest up as a hobby. I’ve read it may be hard to find a permanent spot to moor the boat, it’s more expensive, requires more knowledge & may be more liable to be vandalised. Off-grid also means more for me personally than it is currently defined as.
I extend its meaning to include a small as possible input into unethical corporations as well. I will gladly report back to this website with updates. Many thanks for reading and to Nick Rosen for the existence of this website and for writing of his off-grid book!