Living off the grid sustainably

Apple iKht78
Sep 29, 2017 11 Comments

I've seen a few posts about people feeling burnt out, asking if anybody left tech, etc. I'd like to know if anyone here has lived off the grid sustainably or has researched into it.

Here is what I mean: solar panels for power, pump water, grow fruits and vegetables, farm animals, minimal cellular network, someplace remote but accessible by road, in a simple house surrounded by forests/mountains/lakes/whatever natural setting floats your boat. You could sell your produce and buy stuff you can't make yourself using that money. You'd need a car/pickup truck.

Is this even possible? How much money would you need to go down this road? Drawbacks?

comments

Want to comment? LOG IN or SIGN UP
TOP 11 Comments
  • Tableau Muskie777
    The Amish do it everyday. It is doable. Most of the Amish I know are very well off. In fact, it is problematic having them near some communities. Particularly poor rural areas where they tend to be near because their wealth doesn't end up back into the non-Amish community (schools, etc).
    Sep 29, 2017 7
    • Apple iKht78
      OP
      I guess I'm naive too. Can you expand a little on the difficulties?
      Sep 29, 2017
    • Tableau Muskie777
      It would be a bit long-winded to do so, but I guess the heart of the matter (...if we are just talking straight vegetable farming -livestock is another issue...) is this: it takes a hell of a lot of land to make any sort of living farming. More land means more work. More work means employees (unless your kids can help, but that is a short term fix). My father-in-law's life shows this dilemma very well (also, incidentally, my FIL holds a PhD in agriculture science, and was a professor before chucking it all to run 100+ acre melon farm...so he knows his stuff. Intimately.). To live in a pretty low-cost area in a very rundown farmhouse (meaning: no drywall, well water he dug & connected himself, bare subfloor) he's busting his rear far more then I do. To farm even 1/2 his available land and generate enough produce to sell at a few farmers markets and at 1 seasonal stand - he's gotta take out loans (seed & equipment) at the start of every spring. If he's lucky (weather-wise), and can find enough short-term labor (kids only...he tried adults but the problems with paying them 30k and benefits really put him on financial thin ice if there was a bad growing season) - he'll be able to repay those loans and reap a super modest profit. Then to just keep him and his wife fed and pay the health insurance through the winter, he'll drive trucks or do minimum wage gigs (note: I've NEVER met a single farmer or rancher who wasn't working a side gig. My mom is an accountant at a consulting firm & rancher. She'd starve if she wasn't working 40+ in accounting all year long).

      Anyways, long story short: agriculture/subsidence living does pretty bad in our economy. It is a land rich, cash poor lifestyle. Unfortunately, in the USA...you need a lot of cash to have the barest bone needs met (i.e. Health insurance being the biggest problem). Farmers need multiple hustles to make that work. Multiple hustles are always very stressful.

      Farmers do it for the love...not the pay. You need to be prepared to work very hard if you want it to work. Sometimes that level of hard work destroys what you love doing.

      It is not a coincidence that all 3 of my FIL's kids are college-educated city dwellers.
      Sep 29, 2017
    • Tableau Muskie777
      Also...since we all know professors don't make bank, my FIL would've had no shot at his farming dream if it hadn't been for a large inheritance. That is where the down payment came from. He will never retire though...and he knows this, and accepts it.
      Sep 29, 2017
    • Apple iKht78
      OP
      Thanks for taking the time to explain, really appreciate it. Looks like healthcare cost is the biggest burden if you're trying to live minimally, growing enough food just to feed yourself. Otherwise, you end up trying to make enough money to cover healthcare cost and breaking your back doing so.
      Sep 29, 2017
    • Tableau Muskie777
      Health insurance is a huge issue. It simply is not optional if your labors rely heavily on having a healthy body (which is an entry requirement for farming).

      That said, most Amish I know are pretty healthy (and by choice they do not participate in our crazy health care system). I'm attaching an interesting article about it below.

      My mom's ranch was crippled (now it is more a hobby farm then anything by 2 factors: 1) my brother and I growing up and leaving, 2) her advancing back issues which have required very costly surgery. Health-wise: she's a terrible candidate for agriculture living.

      I don't want to discourage you from doing what you dream. If you are healthy and have a decent nest egg- it is possible. But just be aware: there is a downside and risk. The farm is no more an Eden then a cube in someways.

      Good luck!

      https://qz.com/695101/the-amish-understand-a-crucial-element-of-modern-medicine-that-most-americans-dont/
      Sep 29, 2017
  • Oracle / Eng ClouDev
    Of course it's possible. Look for small towns in Colorado, Texas, etc.

    If you are moving out of the Bay, I think you'll have more than enough money to have a complete setup.

    The only downside I see is healthcare, if/when you reach an old age and need medical help.
    Sep 29, 2017 0
  • eBay / Other Tormunde
    John Connor did it while being hunted by a cyborg. Im sure you can as well
    Sep 30, 2017 1
    • Apple iKht78
      OP
      Very insightful!
      Sep 30, 2017