As many of you probably know, a few months ago we moved off the grid – 10 weeks ago, to be exact. The term off-grid can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but for us it means living without utilities provided to us by a company, and trying to be as self-sufficient as possible – i.e., not relying on society to provide us with all our needs.
We also try to recycle and repurpose as much as we can, while simultaneously making an effort to minimize our waste. Lastly, we do not have a physical address, which was never a goal of ours, but we thought you might find that interesting. We basically live in “the middle of nowhere,” though we do have a few neighbors out here.
Why did we move off-grid?
#1. It’s fun!
We’re having a blast living this way! Every day we get to come up with our own solutions to the problems we face and it’s a whole lot of fun! It’s like we’re living in a video game, except the stakes are much higher and the consequences of losing far more severe; but that just adds to the excitement.
#2. We’re sick of cities.
We’ve lived in lots of cities, including some really big ones, like Portland, OR and Austin, TX. City life is just not for us. We spent years hunting for the “perfect city” until we finally realized we hate living in a city. We enjoy visiting cities, but again, living in one just doesn’t suit our personalities or goals in life.
#3. It’s financially wise.
We don’t have a mortgage, nor do we have to pay rent, or make payments on our land, or our car, or electricity, or hardly anything at all. We paid cash for everything we have – it wasn’t very much money – and the only things we have to pay for are groceries, cell phones/internet, car insurance, and business expenses. This means that going forward in life, almost all the money we make will be pure profit.
#4. It’s good for everyone else.
By switching to this lifestyle, we’ve drastically reduced the amount of resources we use. We collect rainwater to water our plants and clean our tools; we get our electricity from solar panels; we cook all of our meals at home and we’ve starting growing some vegetables, as well as making flour from our mesquite trees… You get the idea.
If you’ve looked at some of our pictures and/or videos, then you’ve seen that most of the stuff we build is made out of junk we’ve found littered around the nearby roads and towns, so we don’t use many new building materials. We’re also two less bodies clogging up the street, subway, sidewalk, etc…
Overall, it’s a win for us and the rest of society.
What are the biggest challenges we face?
#1. No running water.
We still do not have running water but it doesn’t even make sense to try to fix that problem right now because in less than a month, our rainy season is going to be over, so we won’t even have any water to run. Next year, we’ll have a proper rainwater catchment system and the water we collect will naturally flow through our pipes via gravity.
At this point, you’re probably wondering what we are going to do for water… For roughly five bucks, we can drive into town and purchase a week’s worth of water; so it’s not really a big deal, it’s just kind of inconvenient, and like we stated earlier in this post, our goal is to be self-sufficient.
#2. Shoddy, unreliable Internet service.
While there are several ways to get the Internet off the grid, none of them work that well. We’re constantly working on improving our connection out here, and it is slowly but surely getting better – more on that later – but these past couple months it’s been terrible. Sometimes it’s as bad as dial up if not worse, which is a nightmare for two people who make their living online – we build websites, write articles, produce videos, etc…
#3. Planning projects around the weather.
We’re in the midst of our monsoon season right now, so the weather is unpredictable. There are several projects we want to work on inside of our house, but that would mean moving everything outside, which could easily result in many of our things being ruined by rain, wind, or even sunlight/heat – the Sun is intense right now. We’ve already lost a tent and a few pieces of furniture due to this.
Unfortunately, there’s just not much we can do about it. We just have to wait until monsoon season ends and the weather cools down a bit.
Flies are hands down the most irritating pest we’ve had to deal with. They’re constantly buzzing around us during the day and it’s nerve-racking. Apart from keeping our house and yard as clean as possible, and setting some traps, there’s nothing else we can do right now to get rid of them. Don’t be surprised when we literally invent a fly-killing machine that runs on a solar panel or something like that, because it’s basically gotten to that point.
#5. Not always having full power.
Our fridge is the only appliance that we run all the time. That’s not to say there aren’t times that we can literally power all of our appliances and electronics simultaneously, but there are plenty of times that we have to choose between devices. Sometimes we might have plans to make a video for our Youtube channel, but we have to wait a day or two because we don’t have enough power to run the iMac for hours on end. Running out of power is not a huge problem or even very stressful, though, because when it does happen, all we have to do is wait for the Sun to come up.
Over the next couple months we’ll be expanding our solar system to eliminate this problem. All we really need is a couple extra panels.
What do we like the most about living off-grid?
The freedom! Hands down, no contest, there is nothing better than the personal freedom we have now. We have complete control over the way we live out here and it’s great! That one thing alone makes all of it worth it; however, we probably will write an entire article or make a video about all the perks, because there are plenty to discuss.
Do we have any regrets?
No. We’re having the time of our lives! We don’t regret our decision to do this at all. That being said, if we did it all over again, we probably would’ve have brought some more supplies to get started, and we probably would’ve moved here a little bit sooner so we could have collected more rainwater.
Here are some photos of our current setup. Nothing sophisticated or glamorous, but it works.