Is living 'off-grid' worthwhile?
- Merriam-Webster defines living “off-grid” as “not connected to or served by publicly or privately managed utilities (such as electricity, gas, or water).”
- Environmentalist Nick Rosen is thought to be the first person to use the term “off-grid” in the 1990s, when he launched his ecologically-motivated website, www.off-grid.net.
- US News & World Report reveals that as of 2022, “more than 250,000 people in the US have an off-grid lifestyle.”
- HomeAdvisor reported in 2020 that the top US states to live off-grid were California, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Hawaii, Florida, Alaska, Utah, New Mexico, and New York.
The Ikea effect: 'the increase in valuation of self-made products.' Harvard Business School studied how building something with your own hands is more rewarding than buying an identical item already made. The study revealed that even those who do not have a natural inclination to labor valued the work as much as those who do. And living off-grid is the easiest way to embrace this phenomenon.
Off-grid living certainly will keep one busy, but there are rewards. Ecclesiastes talks about enjoying the fruit of our labor, with the presumed author, King Solomon, sharing that we are so focused on the work that must be done that we have no time to consider the fear of our fleeting days on earth. However, off-grid living doesn't just provide spiritual salve; the complete independence that off-grid living necessitates also supports mental health by increasing self-reliance. And it also 'strips away the stress from modern living' and reconnects people with nature.
In contrast to the 'loner' off-grid archetype, permaculture and off-grid enthusiast Daniel Schwartz explains that when living off-grid, there is a greater dependence on one's community, particularly one's partner. Taking lessons from raw nature helps build stronger, more fulfilling relationships and allows one's true self to be expressed.
Notably, a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that 20% of the carbon emissions in the US 'stem from heating, cooling, and powering households.' Living off-grid allows people to be part of the solution to a potentially catastrophic problem and leave a healthier planet for future generations.
Off-grid living, although arduous, profoundly affects every aspect of our lives in a positive way.
Living off-grid may be a dream for many. However, it can quickly become a nightmare for those who don't know what they're getting into.
The initial price of living off-grid is quite high. In fact, the 'average cost of moving off-grid' is $101,078, with a range between $12,447 and $463,269. And these numbers don't account for recurring hidden expenses such as home insurance and fuel.
Moreover, there's a lot of work involved--even more for individuals opting for DIY to avoid paying contractors.
Another important aspect to consider when attempting this lifestyle is state restrictions and regulations. For instance, disconnecting from the power grid in Alabama is illegal. And while storing water is legal, homeowners need permits for pit and portable toilets.
People also need to make many adjustments, and not all of them are easy to pull off. For example, living off-grid may prevent people from socializing, which may be especially true for those living in remote areas with limited road access. And having no internet or Wi-Fi may cut people off from the rest of the world and isolate them even further. As a result, off-gridders may experience sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression, further impacting their physical health and causing reduced immune function and cardiovascular disease.
Worse, off-grid living may lead to not receiving the help one needs on time. Therefore, it's essential to be prepared for possible emergencies and invest in alternative communication methods.
Considering the financial commitment, the amount of work involved, and the isolation that off-grid living entails, this lifestyle choice is simply not worth it.