Living Off The Grid

Some thoughts on what it means to me and how to achieve it.


What Is Living “Off the Grid?”

How to live off the grid

A solar and wood-stove heated off the grid cabin - photo by Peter Blanchard

It has long been Ken’s and my dream to live “off the grid”. We have spent many hours discussing, dreaming, and planning that perfect place we would build someday. A little piece of land that we could grow a garden, raise a few animals, and be basically free from dependence on stores for our day-to-day needs. Selling those things that we personally produce: Ken makes a really wonderful wood cleaner/preservative that we are starting to sell called KIK, while I knit and pour candles to sell on etsy, (I will post the link to my store when I have a few more articles to offer). These are just a few ways for us to make extra money while we work toward our eventual goal of living sufficiently.

This is what it means to us; but for most, “off the grid” simply put is independence from an outside power source. Well that is part of it, but for us it is the whole idea of sufficiency. Living a life of voluntary simplicity. Frugality. Independence. I know that our definition is at odds with what most would term “off the grid” but that is what it means to us.


How To Live “Off The Grid”

off the grid canned food

Canning your own food is a great way to live off the grid - photo by Lynn Szwalkiewicz

Not being connected to the electrical grid is the main definition of “off the grid” of course, so solar power would be my first choice. Of course if you choose to, there is also wind power. Septic would be a little more demanding. I lean toward composting toilets rather than having a septic. Human waste, when handled properly can be and is used for garden fertilizer. I am not talking about “night-soil” which is dangerous, but composting our own waste for use in the gardens. There are many ways to do this from very basic systems you can build yourself to the very expensive composting toilets you can find on the internet. Growing our own food is another way to keep “off the grid”, not being dependent on stores for most of the daily supplies is a real plus. Canning, pickling, and drying what we grow will go a long way to further independence. Last but not least, having some animals. I have raised goats, chickens, cows, and pigs. Raising your own animals really cuts the costs and need for outside supply sources.

Making the final move is the biggest step. We have been looking at several pieces of property that would suffice for what we plan to eventually do. Having said that, real life requires that we both still work full time jobs and slowly step out of the mainstream. For the time being that is what we are doing. It will be a few years before we are able to have enough money saved to buy a piece of property, but in the meantime we continue to lighten the load of material things, sell our products, and dream.

Let me know what you think! What are you doing to obtain sufficiency in your life? Do you have any suggestions for me? Please, leave a comment, let’s talk!


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Comments
5 Responses to “Living Off The Grid”
  1. Amanda says:

    Tell us more about your home. It looks quite small for two people What does the floor plan look like? You say it is solar/wood heated, but how do you cool in the summer? What compromises did you make to reduce the square footage and are you happy with the choices you made?

  2. Came to you from pinterest. That little cabin looks like it would make a great year round greenhouse ;).

  3. Chris says:

    Actually, that little cabin isn’t ours. It was a picture we found on Flickr. It is cool though, isn’t it! It looks very efficient for passive solar heating.

  4. Deb says:

    Love the idea of living off the grid, however, it isn’t practical for me. I live on Whidbey Island on 5 acres of heavily treed land (not enough light for solar). I think I’d like to be as self sufficient as possible. I like your ideas and look forward to seeing your progress.

    • Chris says:

      Hey Deb,

      If you’re on Whidbey Island and are interested in off-grid ideas, you should consider installing a 500 watt wind turbine like the one I have on my boat. It’s made by Sunforce. I don’t have solar panels on my boat either, but the wind provides enough power for everything but my electric heater (I use propane for heat).

      -Chris

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