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Considering an Off-The-Grid Lifestyle

Constance Larson

My wife and I have been living a self-sufficient, off-the-grid lifestyle for the last six years. We switched from a modern suburban lifestyle outside of Chicago to a remote, rural mountain one. Our decision didn’t happen quickly, most of it was over a fifty year period. I made my living as an artist and professional musician and my wife was in the corporate arena; not exactly pre-requisite experience for living off the grid.

Off-The-Grid Lifestyle

Successfully changing from an urban/suburban way of living to a rural self-sufficient life is first and foremost a conscious and committed change of lifestyle.

The two books that most influenced our decision were “The Good Life” by Scott and Helen Nearing, they made a similar decision and lifestyle change at the same age as we were and “Voluntary Simplicity” by Duane Elgin which helped in evaluating what we wanted out of our lives for the next fifty years. These two books help the reader to evaluate where they are now in comparison to an off the grid lifestyle and what is really important to them in their lives in order to make such a change. Before finally making the move, I researched for three years, read over a hundred books and interviewed many people in the area we eventually decided to live in. Choosing to change your current, long established way of life should not be entered into blindly.

There is more to living off the grid than the general public understands and the mainstream media portrays.

After a steep learning curve, we found that even after a considerable effort at conservation, we do not live with any less personal convenience than when we lived in a Chicago suburb. We make our own energy from solar panels and a back-up generator, draw water from our own well and grow our own produce in a quarter acre garden. With a little conservation, we have cut our energy usage by 50% and reduced our food expenses by 40%. By reducing our daily commuting distance from 140 miles to 28 miles we have not only saved fuel and maintenance costs but have gained lost commuting time back into our lives. These are but a few practical rewards when living self sufficiently and taking back the responsibility for your life.

To be clear, this way of living is different, not less convenient. It is not for everyone. If you make the change completely, not straddling the fence by trying to live in both worlds, then you will discover that you have more time, more health, more self confidence and a brighter outlook on life than you have had before.

Learning to live off the grid in a self sufficient manner involves a practical application of all aspects of conservation. If it is approached in a manner of simplifying your daily life, there is minimal loss of convenience. Down-sizing, conservation of energy and resources and pursuing a self-sufficient lifestyle provide for a mentally and physically healthy life.

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