Could You Really Live Off The Grid?
So much of the tiny house movement (be it as it may) revolves around life off the grid. But what does that mean? Does off the grid mean life without grid-tied electricity? Does it mean life without an address? Does it mean life without running water? Consider Nick and Esther who left everything they had in suburban Boston behind to live without electricity, running water, or any means of communication in the backwoods of Eastern Idaho. Why? Because in Esther’s words, “It felt like we were living in different worlds sometimes.” They desired connection again. And like an estimated 180,000 Americans a year they chose to live entirely disconnected from our modern internet-focused world in pursuit of a more sustainable, simple lifestyle. But is that easy?
In a recent Seeker Stories series host Laura Ling goes on-site in Idaho to visit with Nick and Esther and see how their life really is. With no electricity, no plumbing, and no running water, it seemed as if the family had gone beyond just living off-grid and had, in fact, moved back in time 200 years. As the camera panned left to right showing the golden glow of an autumn forest and transformed into a cozy early winter lushness the romance of a life so completely without status quo seemed eerily beautiful. But it also seemed radical and dangerous. The family of five (3 kids under the age of 7) moved from their Boston apartment to a less-than-400 sq.ft. yurt. The outhouse is a few paces away and the shower (which is used rather sparingly) is downhill about 50 ft. Why so extreme? No amount of Ken Burns zoom technique could make such archaic living seem truly practical in today’s world. A year long experiment? Sure. An adventure? Absolutely. But a long term living situation? It came across as a ticking time bomb as the series stopped just about the time the winter doldrums and cabin fever began to set in on the family.
Questions began popping up within three minutes of watching. Why did Nick and Esther not choose solar power of some sort? Wouldn’t candles seem excessively dangerous with three active children? Where is any shred of parental privacy? Where was the long term though in choosing the yurt size? Without a form of communication or telephony what are there emergency preparations? Do they know first aid? Does anyone check on them periodically? The list just kept growing! There is ample argument in support of living off-grid but isn’t this excessive? Where is the social interaction for both the children and the parents? Where does the line separating surviving and thriving exist?
Clearly this series left more lingering questions than steadfast answers and there has been no further update on their success. Is it something you could do though? Could you live this far off grid?
by Andrew Odom via Tiny House Listings