What is “off-grid”?

“How can you be off-grid and be on the internet?”
“You use propane, that’s not off-grid…”
“You go to the grocery store to buy food, how is that off-grid?”

These are just some of the questions I have been asked from people, sometimes it’s an honest question, other times I feel the twang of jealousy or even hostility from people who don’t seem to know any better, certainly not from other off-gridders-no matter the “level” of off-grid’edness they live. Most of the time my reply is we don’t have to live in a cave, wear skins and eat worms to be considered off-grid :)

There are different levels of being “off-grid”, different people have different definitions of what off-grid means to them, personally I would not judge another person’s level of “off-grid”, especially when compared to how we live. It’s a very individual thing, for me-for us, I consider off-grid to mean we aren’t hooked up to any utility, ie we don’t have city water or sewer, we don’t have city gas, we don’t have a land line (phone), and most important to me, we aren’t hooked up to the electric grid.

We haul water, we are working toward getting a rain catchment system that would fill 2-3000 gallon water tanks, that would last us all year with no problems. We generate all of our own electricity (solar power), we do buy propane, we use the small BBQ grill size tanks that we take to town to fill, we cook and heat water with that.

We do have internet, it’s a wireless WIFI system that services our rural neighborhood, it’s our only source of communication and entertainment, we did live without internet for the first few years, I would go to my neighbor’s house once a week (+/-) to check my email, then a company brought in wireless WIFI internet, we decided it was an important service for us to have.

I just recently got a smart phone, only because of my job, honestly it doesn’t work at my house, it’s pretty much only used while I’m out on the road doing my job.

So that is my definition of living off-grid, we don’t have a utility pole on our property at all and as far as I’m concerned, we don’t plan on having one. The only monthly “bill” we have for anything resembling a utility bill is our internet and now, perhaps, the cell phone bill.

I am not in a competition to see how primitively we can live as compared to others, we chose to live at this level of “off-grid”, we are comfortable living this way. I think sometimes it’s all too easy to confuse living off-grid with being self sufficient. We are certainly MORE self sufficient that we were when we lived in town, but no one can claim to live 100% self sufficiently, we don’t claim to live that way. We do say that we live 100% off-grid because we aren’t hooked up to any public utility.

How do you want to live? Are you living the way you want to now? Do you want to go off-grid? If so, how far do you want to go?

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