Off-Grid updates

My off-grid life is more enjoyable and more fulfilling than just about any part of my old life – living in the city, working 2 jobs just to make ends meet (barely), work, eat, sleep, pay bills, repeat. Honestly I am more busy now, but it’s things I want to do, not things I am forced to do by government, society and life as I used to live it. I get to choose what fun activities and community activities I wish to do and is that ever fun! How does this work?

Simple, I have no bills to speak of. Our land is paid for, I cleaned out my savings to do it, it was hard to let go of that money but I consider this a better investment. We bought cheap property, we did everything ourselves from moving, to building our sky castle. We brought no bills with us, we own a 69 VW Beetle, no car payments there, we do keep up our car insurance, but that’s not very much per year. Of course we have property tax and school tax, but since our property is cheap and what we built is small, AND I take advantage of a homestead exemption, our taxes are small.

We have no credit cards, let me repeat that, we have no credit cards. No loans, no outstanding bills. This may be difficult for some of you, maybe even seem impossible, but I assure you it IS possible to live without credit cards. If you have the discipline, you can have a credit card, use it every once in a while for a small purchase and PAY IT OFF before it accrues interest, that way you keep your credit card active and available for emergencies. Honestly, most of us are not able to do that, it’s far too easy to think that you will use the card more and more, and pay off the bill later… that’s a trap and it will hurt you in the long run, so for us, it’s just easier and better to not have a credit card at all.

I do maintain a bank account, and I use a debit card or bank card for all of my purchases, and I do not take advantage of overdraft insurance, I have it, but don’t use it, it costs too much money, it’s equivalent to a “stupid tax”. If I know I don’t have the money in my account, I don’t use the account until I do, period.

We support ourselves by doing odd jobs, I have a (very) part time job that pays a regular paycheck, but even that job is not a major undertaking, I work for the state as a caretaker for a lady who happens to be a friend, I also clean houses and the 2 churches in the neighborhood. In fact, I have to turn down cleaning jobs from time to time, if I took every one that came along, I wouldn’t have time for anything else. Of course we barter too, trading services for building material and other things we can use, these are often things that would be tossed into a landfill anyhow, or leftover new material from other peoples’ building projects.

I can appreciate not everyone is willing to or even wants to live like we do, and that’s fine, I am simply demonstrating there are alternatives to the way many people live, with big houses and equally big mortgages, taxes, 2 car payments, multiple credit cards, and such. Too many people/families are living on a razors edge, they are one paycheck away from being homeless, they are one illness away from being destitute, one unexpected bill away from losing everything. We chose to take charge of our lives and lifestyle. Living the way we do, we are much more insulated from the financial woes of the world, that’s not to say we aren’t affected at all, we just aren’t so immediately affected that we can get by much easier for much longer than we could before we made these changes.

I have an internet friend who has chosen to live in a similar way to how we live, she and her husband purchased raw land and are building a small house, they are doing everything themselves, with a bit of help from family and friends.

They are using a lot of recycled/salvaged material. The really wonderful thing (IMHO) is they have not gone into debt to do this, they own their land, they own their house, as I stated in a comment on her blog, it’s not a mansion, but it’s paid for and that is priceless. My internet friend has a generous heart, she also has conquered her fears, she has actually taken the steps necessary to live this life, that takes courage, not to say it’s not scary to step out and actually do it, it is scary to do new things, it’s scary to make such major changes, but that did not stop them, and that, my friends, is the epitome of courage. I am very proud of her and her family. Please take a few minutes to visit her blog and say HI to her.

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10 Responses

  1. “We have no credit cards, let me repeat that, we have no credit cards.”

    That is so important. I decided I was going to get rid of all my credit cards, school loans, etc while all my friends and co-workers were carrying around tens of K’s of debt. I did it, then the financial crises hit. I didn’t lose my job, but if I had I was even. I could have sold my house without a loss. And I had nearly a year’s pay stashed away. It is so liberating.

  2. I am just beginning to make plans for moving to an off-grid lifestyle. Been feeling a pull in this direction for a couple of years now. Didn’t really know there were so many others out here that felt the same and are acutally successfully living by choice. You guys inspire me greatly. I am presently working on buying property in the country and selling my home. Getting plans together for a self-sustaining lifestyle, but it won’t happen overnight. Am alone with a teenaged daughter, so we do have some work to do. But am looking at purchasing my grandparents old homestead and gradually modifying it to make it more sustainable without electricity. Have water well, septic, barn, acerage. Hope to be moved out of our present home and into the country home by springtime. Suggestions for what to do to modify a 2 story, tall ceiling country home would be appreciated.

    1. Hey Dede, glad to hear you are making the move, it’s not going to be easy, but it will be more than worth your effort. I assume your grandparents home is on the grid? I would suggest that you try modifying a smaller out building to be off-grid, learn from that, then you can work on taking the house off-grid. A friend of mine did that with his garage, it was already hooked up to the electric grid, he just ran a separate set of wires and system for the off-grid part. This way if the power goes out, he has his off-grid backup to rely on. I hope your teenage daughter is on board for all of this, it can be a great adventure for both of you. :) Good luck, write to me privately if you want, wretha(at)


  3. hello my name is mike and congrats on off-grid living i am looking to move off-grid in the next year i am tired of having to bust my hump to pretty much have nothing just a 550$ car payment ,2000$ rent for a little one bed room apartment and struggle to have food on the table for me and my girlfriend and my Puppy was just wounder where you bought your land and if you do live north how tough is it to make it through the winters

  4. Dry food surpluses be they from garden or supermarket! Pressure can food! Meat too! I do I save a fortune! Wrap up in a cozy comforter from the good will and turn the heat way down! Older now, so I burn some natural gas to keep my bones from rattling! Still drinking tomato juice, pressure canned from bumper crop three years ago! Humanure! Done properly is environmentally safe and good for the environment – Chinese have always done it! Part of their advantage! Beware the nay-Sayers, listen to your soul and keep away from the corporatist propaganda machines. I get great comfort from going to church – a personal thing.

  5. I have taken the approach that the current job I have will get me the off-grid life without suffering.The last 4 years of living on thie 16 acres I purchased and the 980 sqft house has taught me was to be reasonable about the transition. I’m using todays technology, recycling and being reasonable in decisions to make my off-grid property a reality. within a year the house should be finished. the run down farm should be working and 2 years the place will be ready. and then pay off the mortgage. considering i had nothing to satrt with Im pretty happy

  6. Very nice post. It does take courage to step away from a structured environment and a society that closely resembles sheep. I believe our present society teaches dependence. Dependence on government, dependence on big business (agri business), and dependence on money. What is often forgotten is dependence on yourself and your God given talents.

  7. More power to ya! I really do envy your courage. I would love to do what you are doing. I do however practice the same thing on a part time basis. Fortunately, I do have a little country property, with a small camper. which I utilize whenever I can. And it is totally off-grid, no water, no elec, period.

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