Modern day life is tough. Wedged between student debt, global warming and claims of social media addiction, you're not the only one feeling overwhelmed.
But what if you could just step away from all the madness and literally unplug yourself? 'Off the grid' used to mean you were independent of the municipal grid but today the term has grown synonymous with a sustainable lifestyle.
People who choose to live off the grid are laser focused on sustainability and healthy interdependent lifestyles. The lifestyle is growing increasingly popular across all demographics. From programmers to new parents, to expats, to college graduates looking to reconnect with the natural world -- moving off the grid is a novel concept for good reason.
Living off the grid is a process and the first step is to make your own electricity. Solar panels are getting cheaper and personal wind turbines are now an option in areas with less sun. Some choose to go off the grid entirely and sever their ties with government utilities, but most take it slow, constantly adding and improving on their current systems.
On your journey, you'll have to renounce certain pleasures, but you'll enjoy a deeper sort of happiness that will keep you feeling fulfilled. Change is part of the process and it'll help you become a more whole, happier person.
1. You'll become a DIY expert and learn how to use your hands again
"Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." - Zen Proverb
If you spend some time looking at the process to go off grid (without spending a fortune), you'll see it's a never ending to-do list of DIY tasks and fun forages into the inner workings of electricity circuits. You'll be attaching new solar panels and learning how to top up batteries with distilled water. If you're worried about your current DIY skill level, ask a professional to show you how and next time you'll know how to do it yourself.
Putting the phone down and doing a manual task with your hands will give you grounding and a newfound purpose. Buddhism teaches that simple chores such as can serve as meditation practices -- leaving you a calmer, happier person with a peaceful mind and functional house.
2. You'll eat healthier and be healthier
Producing enough electricity for fridges, ovens, stoves, microwaves, and dishwashers is going to be expensive and a little tricky. To conserve electricity, you'll need to cut down on unnecessary appliances, using only the essential and burning firewood where possible. The meals you prepare will need to be thought out in advance -- no more convenient microwave meals -- and you'll naturally start eating more fruits and vegetables.
Seeing as you've provided your own electricity, why not grow your own food too? Food is not intrinsically something you have to pay for and a well-kept garden can feed your entire family while providing a constructive activity. Imagine slicing open a freshly picked tomato, still warm from the sun, for your sandwich (made with yummy homemade wood-baked bread).
3. You'll stop manically consuming
Beauty products, fast food, the latest gadgets... all those things fall away when you begin to reconnect with your surroundings. You've already made good on your decision to switch to self-sustainable electricity, and that 'saving' mentality will filter down to the rest of your lifestyle. Life will become more simple, more wholesome. Happiness can't be found in a visit to the hair salon, but it can be found when you are connected to your environment and community. By living off the grid, you'll be one step closer to the natural world.
4. You'll have more time to spend on your 'purpose.'
Now you are off the grid, you don't have to pay for your electricity bill. In some parts of the world, you'll even earn money for the electricity your solar panels put back into the grid. If you go a few steps further with your 'off the grid' lifestyle, your monthly expenses may even drop to zero. With this drop in recurring expenses, you can afford to find alternative means of income by working online or starting your own small business.
Instead of sitting in traffic or waiting for a boring meeting, you can spend your time focused on creating artworks, writing stories or knitting scarves. Free from the confines of a traditional 9-5, you can now spend your time how you please. Whatever takes your fancy, you now have the time to do it.
5. You'll find a close community that is invested in health and well being
There's a misconception floating around that sounds something like this, "people who live off the grid are a group of dirty hippies who dumpster dive and have excluded themselves from society," and while that is certainly true for some people, it doesn't have to be for you. Just do a quick Google search and you'll be able to find modern communities invested in off the grid living at every level. You don't need to renounce society, there are many strong, tight-knit communities that are focused on helping their fellow neighbor succeed without giving up the internet. There are examples in Japan, Auckland, California, and many more, of modern communities happily living off the grid.
Thinking about becoming independent?
With Solar panels getting cheaper by the day, living off the grid has never been easier. At first, it sounds like a daunting task, but just like investing in a retirement fund, you can do a little bit each day. Living rent free AND utility free is no longer a dream of the future, but a possibility of the present.