The most often question I am asked: Is it possible to live COMPLETELY off-grid? While my answer to that is a definite “YES!”, I immediately ask a follow up question … “Do you really want to?”
My family moved from a 80 mˆ2 apartment, into a house in the middle of the forest back in 2008 … and the difference is amazing! Since we lived on the 3rd floor of the 4th story building, my biggest complaint was the noisy neighbors upstairs. Each time somebody walked across the floor, we could hear it! It drove me insane on some days, especially since our upstairs neighbors had little kids. No such problem in the forest, in our own home. In fact, our nearest neighbor is approximately half a mile away! The silence is amazing!
So how “off-grid” are we? Well, we do have our own water well; we also have our own waste processing station (not a septic) … the only two things we are still hooked up to are: the electric and the internet. The cables for both the electric and the internet had to be laid from the nearest hubs … half a mile away! We do have a 10kWt generator, but only use it when the electric grid is down (which tends to happen several times a year in this region). It is possible for us to invest in solar panels, but not practical, since we live in a region with very little sun (maybe less than 90 days a year). We can’t install a wind turbine, since we do live in the middle of a forest and have very little wind. The same goes for the water turbine … just nowhere to install it. But for now, the electricity we can get from the grid.
Internet is a completely different story …
For nearly a decade, we first had mobile internet, then followed by satellite internet. This made internet very expensive and very slow. So about a year ago, when the local internet company installed a hub in the nearby village, we just had to connect (although, once again, we had to run a half mile long cable of our own). In our modern age, in order to stay connected to the outside world, internet is an essential tool. Sure, should need arise, we can immediately disconnect and live without it, but currently this tool is used by us for everything from business to communication … so it is essential.
The biggest benefit to living “off-grid” and also the reason as to why most governments “do not encourage” off-grid living, is because you can really do anything with very little control. Nobody wants to come out into the forest, unless they really have to. Mail service … we have to go to the local post office to pick up all the mail. Even when we had the local police try to contact us, they asked us to come to the local station … they did not want to go into the forest. And definitely no door-to-door salesmen or the Jehova witnesses. We are left to live in peace!
Now that I look back on it, I wouldn’t trade living off-grid and in the middle of the forest for even the greatest of apartments in the city.