Bumper to bumper traffic, high fuel costs, pollution, city-crime rates, political uncertainty, pesticide laden food, even the next door neighbor who insists on mowing at 8a.m. on Sunday — all of these things are enough to make even the most conventional of us want to chuck it all and live off the grid.
What exactly is the grid, anyway? The grid refers to the system that routes electrical power from providers to the consumers. Although the term “living off the grid” means different things to different people, the key element seems to be to live more naturally and independently. Nick Rosen, who not only founded the Off Grid website, but also wrote a book about off grid living is quoted in this Mother Nature Network article as saying, “The era of 40 acres and a mule has been replaced by the era of a half an acre and a laptop and a solar panel.” We may want to get off the grid, but we go to the Internet to find out about it.
John Platt, the author of the above-mentioned MNN article gives three main reasons that people choose to live off the grid. Some people want to leave a smaller carbon footprint by living a greener life. They stop depending on fossil fuels and use wind or solar power for their energy needs. They may use a personal vehicle as seldom as once a month. Their houses are smaller, sometimes as small as a few hundred square feet. They have pared down their possessions. Others, who are better known as preppers or survivalists, are fearful of natural disasters, wars, or government collapse. Bankruptcy, job loss, and other economic factors can also be the reason behind people adapting a less expensive, less dependent on consumerism lifestyle.
“Going off the grid is not a game,” says Nick Rosen, and he emphasizes that it’s nearly impossible to get off all the grids all the time. Platt expounds on this by explaining, “Some people live off the grid part of the year for leisure purposes, taking a few months off their jobs so they live in a more relaxed manner. Others get themselves off the public electrical or water systems but still participate in what Rosen calls the ‘car grid’ or the ‘supermarket grid’ or the ‘bank grid.’ Even Ma and Pa Ingalls had to occasionally trek into town to visit the general store. Living simply is not simple; it’s very hard work.
And if you can’t do things alone, it’s best to do them in a group. According to Rosen, aging hippies with large tracks of land are looking for younger people to move in and restart the “back-to-the-land” movement. In Platt’s article, Rosen reveals his dream of creating an off-grid village in his native England.
So there you go. Living off the grid isn’t just for conspiracy theorists or extreme social recluses. It’s for anybody who longs to disconnect from the fast track and plug into nature and self-reliance.