One of the great things about my current setup is that I can work from anywhere. We just wrapped up the summer of swim parenting, and after the meet, we spent a few days at a rented house in the Utah mountains. And while this house wasn’t exactly off the grid, it did get me thinking about what it would take to live off the grid.
The house in Utah was fantastic. We had a large group of family members staying together and used the house as a base camp for exploration of the surrounding area. With deer and moose wandering through the yard and scenic views of the ski area, there was definitely a feeling of getting away from everything except what mattered most.
But is actually living off the grid permanently something that I would want? And if so, how would I achieve such a thing?
I know a few bloggers who have either already pulled this off or are in the process, but I’m not sure it’s really for me.
What Does Living Off the Grid Mean?
We have some friends who own a cabin in Colorado that is truly off the grid. It does not have power or plumbing. The bathroom is an outhouse. It’s a slight step up in comfort from sleeping in a tent, and the weather protection is better, but it certainly does not have the comforts of home.
I’m not ready to live that far off the grid. For one thing, it would be impossible to maintain this site without internet access and without power. I am also not the kind of person who wants to live that far removed from society. I enjoy modern conveniences (especially plumbing).
But with two teenage kids, I’m not ready to pull them from school and sports to live in an RV full-time.
So for me, living off the grid looks a little different.
Living With Less
The important question isn’t what can we live without, it’s what do we want to live with?
The key to living off the grid – at least our version of the “grid” – is to simplify. While we have accumulated lots of stuff over the years, and quite a bit of it can be sold or donated, I’m not interested in getting rid of everything. Moving to a smaller house, keeping a single car, and modifying our spending habits are all reasonable.
But I still want to travel. I want to eat out occasionally. And I’m not ready to give up conveniences like refrigerators, microwaves, washers, and dryers. Those things just need to be done in moderation.
Living off the grid means focusing on the essentials and not buying stuff because we’re bored. It means taking care of maintenance and housekeeping chores ourselves. Living off the grid means being self-reliant and purposeful.
Will Need Passive Income
In addition to the logistics of downsizing, living off the grid would require some major changes in our finances. The big question is whether we would still be earning an income.
It would be a challenge to continue earning in our current roles. While both Ms. Financial Slacker and I work from home and have for many years, we don’t have complete flexibility. There is some travel involved for both of us which means we need to be relatively near an airport.
But even more of an issue is that our jobs are either all or nothing. Meaning while you’re working, you commit long hours and make sacrifices (even when you work from home). While you can walk away completely, it’s difficult to just cut back on your hours and earn less. You’re all-in or you’re all-out.
The other option is to convert our financial assets into income-generating assets. This is the longer-term plan, but it’s easier said than done. Low interest rates and dividend yields make those options less attractive. And buying rental property requires either the cost to hire a management company or to do it yourself. Which if we’re living away from the properties is challenging.
I’m not exactly sure what form of living off the grid would work for me. But I am sure that living off the grid would simplify my life. While the kids are in school, I don’t foresee us making a change of this magnitude, but it is something to think about.
Readers, I know many of you have already made your move to live off the grid. I would love to hear about it. Please share.