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The Off Grid living thread (Dropping out the rat race)

Discussion in 'Channel Zero' started by misteraven, Feb 5, 2018.

  1. misteraven

    misteraven Administrator

    Joined: May 7, 1999 Messages: 8,986 Likes Received: 413
    Seems a lot of people are in a similar state of mind... Sick of social media or already giving it up, tired of retarded rents and crowds, tired of scraping out a meager existence in the rat race... Realizing that the world seems eager to keep driving full throttle towards the cliff.

    Obviously there's a lot of opinion on this subject that keeps popping up across different threads. In general, I've seen lots of people sort of realizing that we seem to be on one of those hamster wheels chasing the latest iPhone or whatever gadget and then quickly realizing that its just a temporary happiness before your back running on the wheel chasing that next thing. Just a hollow existence that leaves you suddenly realizing how miserable everything seems to be.

    Anyhow, many of you guys know that I made a pretty big move myself a year or two back. I had an apartment in Soho and brand consultancy / creative services agency around the corner, lots of invites to private / industry parties, more free sneakers than I can wear, etc... Yet, I was miserable. Seemed like everyone around me was miserable. Seemed like anytime I made an extra dollar, my cost of living went up an extra $0.98. I realized one day that some of the guys that lived in my building earned many, many times what I was likely to ever see and yet they lived the same basic life I did. At at the same restaurants, obviously lived in similar apartments, walked the same streets. No doubt I wasn't in a place to own a Mclaren GT or mansion in the Hamptons, but I also realized those guys owned shit they never used because it was a hassle to pull an exotic car out of parking, drive it down bumper to bumper cobble stone streets, just to zip around NJ for a few hours. Or wait in Friday / Sunday traffic fighting bridge and tunnel traffic to hit the Hamptons, so they didn't bother. Even worse, they had that same hollow look that seemed to me to be the same misery I saw in everyone else's eyes.

    I used to skim IG and Tumblr looking at these amazing cabins with mountain views or photos of dudes fly fishing in these amazing landscapes and figured if I could only win the Mega... Then it occurred to me that you didn't actually need to win the Mega to live that lifestyle. That the organic vegetables for sale at Dean & Deluca I could really afford and the cabin with spectacular mountain views was accessible if I approached it a different way. So I started making some changes, rearranging plans and eventually dropped out of that situation. Managed to work some stuff around to buy a place in the Mountain of NW Montana, grow my own organic vegetables, raise a flock of free range chickens and ducks and live a more satisfying existence. Finally get back to the stuff that was important to me (12oz) and actually be available and involved with my kids and family.

    So that's the Cliff Notes version of my story. If you guys are interested I'll post some pictures and always happy to answer questions. Mostly, I was just interested in hearing from you all and seeing if a thread like this and some advice from the few of us that have made this type of move, might inspire some of you other guys that are trying to figure it out.
  2. Ray Velcoro

    Ray Velcoro New Jack

    Joined: Oct 4, 2015 Messages: 44 Likes Received: 11
    Thanks for sharing. It's powerful that someone living the life everyone seems to want to live can be so blunt and honest.

    My whole life, I was always the sore thumb. Rebellion is in everyone's' mind, but very few carry it in their heart.
    I never had dreams of fat stacks, household name cars, and boats the size of a ski resort.
    My ambitions have always been centered around stories, experiences, adventure, and finding out what's inside of me.

    Like everyone else, I went to college, graduated, got an office job making more money than my parents, and I was completely miserable.
    Luckily I caked up, pocketed 10k in 6 months, and quit unromantically on a rainy Thursday morning.
    For about a year I just drifted, I had a small apartment, girlfriend, and made my money stretch by frugal living and the occasional side job.

    Eventually, the money ran out and I was forced back into the workforce.
    Through sweat, blood, and being a leader, not a boss, I climbed the ranks of management at a fortune-50.
    I did that for the last two years. I had everything most people seemed to want.
    Girlfriend who would marry me and have my kids, health insurance, 401k, comfortable salary...
    Not a bad life at all, yet, most days I still felt lost, bored, and unfulfilled.

    I put in my two weeks in November, and left Dec.1. I renovated a kitchen with a buddy, saved every dime, and left for Mexico City with the girly.
    I've been here for a month and plan on living here until I can't afford a taco. Ever since I left my job, I have been happier than I've ever been and for the
    first time in years I feel like I'm living, not just alive.

    I know the life I'm living is an anomaly, but I'm going to ride this wave until it crashes into the shore, or drags me out to sea.
    While I've been down here, I reread KeepItRail's thread in one night, and god damn,
    if it didn't motivate me to do everything in my power to never return to a paper mache life.
    No one knows what the future holds, but my plan as of now is to return to the States
    in a few months, and go on a road trip around the country throughout the summer.

    One of my buddies is a vagabond who has been homeless on & off the last few years,
    and my best friend from childhood is currently trying out for the Special Forces, but he is on
    his last chance. I'm hoping I can recruit one, or both of them to roll with me, but if not, I will go solo.
    I am in no way going to attempt to recreate KIR's epic journey, but my version
    of an unadulterated, unfabricated journey around the country.

    Not sure I could ever live on a mountain, or fully outside of society, but I want to spend the rest of my 20s traveling around the world.

    Regardless, I'll be damned if I ever just accept a prosaic 9-5 life without fighting for an alternative.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
    fat ralphy, Fist 666 and misteraven like this.
  3. misteraven

    misteraven Administrator

    Joined: May 7, 1999 Messages: 8,986 Likes Received: 413
    @Ray Velcoro Good for you man. Takes huge balls to do what you did and glad to hear your story man.

    If you ever make it up this way, DM me... And definitely share some photos along the way.
    Ray Velcoro likes this.
  4. Ray Velcoro

    Ray Velcoro New Jack

    Joined: Oct 4, 2015 Messages: 44 Likes Received: 11
    If I follow through, I will gladly take you up on that offer.

    My SF homie's uncle lives up that way and he goes once a year. It sounds rad as fuck.
    I will be documenting the trip as best as I can without incriminating myself too much.

    I'm not one to yap a lot about what I'm GOING to do, but this trip has given me confidence and emboldened me.

    What was the defining moment of your decision? I imagine movie-moment type realizations or happenings, but sometimes it's just a flat ''I need to do this''.
  5. misteraven

    misteraven Administrator

    Joined: May 7, 1999 Messages: 8,986 Likes Received: 413
    Hard to say what the defining moment truly was. There was a series of events that got me there. Like I'd said previously... Simply seeing how miserable everyone was each morning ion the train as I took my daughter to school. There was little difference between the average joe and what was clearly a well off Wall Street type. Then the realization that some of my neighbors literally made 100x my income, yet lived essentially the same life (minus the occasional escape they could afford that I couldn't)... Just left me feeling like there had to be more to life than what I had achieved or what they had achieved. Found myself annoyed at every noise, every jostle on the sidewalk, every siren, etc. Then when Sandy hit, realizing the first thing the City did was close off all the bridges and tunnels, leaving you having to fend for yourself. After having lived through 2 months without power under Hurricane Andrew and even a week or so of Marshall Law, then later 9/11 and that big East Coast blackout, I just sort of started thinking how fragile / fake / superficial so much of it seemed to be. My escape was going to Florida and Wyoming to go shooting with some world class tactical instructor and just found it harder and harder to come back to the "Real World". Couldn't really reconcile living in the Everglades for a week with a bunch of Special Operations dudes and then going to some expensive private dinner in NYC to politic with clients. Felt I was caught in between living two fake lives. Then I started thinking that I'd been there 15 years and even if I still loved it 110%, that you get one lifetime and I did my time in the big city. My daughter was almost old enough to start asking to hang out in the street with friends and I just decided it was time for a new chapter. Started thinking about the things I wanted and how more and more of it would be attainable if I could get a little breathing room. How doing that would be a better life and also a strong hedge against a lot of the trouble I see the Country / World heading towards. Ran some math and realized I could own acres of land, a huge house, a car, buy a round trip ticket every month to NYC and a week at a nice hotel and still be below the rent I was paying in Soho. Became impossible to ignore it all once I'd done that.

    Hasnt been all easy, but can honestly say that after years of feeling I hadn't reached the goals I expected for myself or be where I thought I'd be at that point in life, that I finally feel like I've made up for a lot of lost time getting to where I am now. Seems to have erased a lot of years of frustration and I'm genuinely content for the most part. Working on some stuff now that I hope will tip over and at that point, not sure I could wish for anything else. (though winning the Mega would still be pretty awesome).
  6. Mercer

    Mercer Moderator Crew

    Joined: May 2, 2007 Messages: 10,652 Likes Received: 1,072
    In many ways I'm traveling in the exact opposite direction as both of you at the moment. I spent most of my 20's & 30's either writing my name on stuff, selling weed, and quitting my job every October to be a snowboard bum out West until moving here. I didn't even take it seriously when I moved here at first and I'm shocked I've lasted here this long. Starting out in a career a few years ago while in my late 30's was hard pill to swallow, but I'm starting to get the hang of it now. I'm basically working towards being able to work remotely on the side, while holding down a 60+ hour a week full time gig.

    Ultimately, my goal is sort of a combination of what both of you are doing. I want to both live on a ranch someplace remote, and move south of the border. Specifically, I'd like to operate a tourism ranch in Patagonia Argentina, befriend as many stray dogs down there as possible, and help tourist get great photos via horseback rides, and grueling hikes. Had a really good vacation to Los Glaciares National Park down there that I can't stop thinking about almost 3 years later. Sometimes I'll be showing a fellow photo enthusiast I've met online around NYC, just roaming, exploring good spots to take pictures. They'll thank me for spending all day on foot showing them the spots, thinking I'm taking time away from something else I'd rather be doing. I'm more like "This is exactly what I like doing". Feels like something worth working towards for me and my soon to be wife. Either way, if I ever make my goal or not, I'm at least content with what I've earned now, I've always assumed I'd be behind bars, or worse.

    I'm at a point where I'd regret going back off grid, without achieving some success in the rat race first to help make that lifestyle a little more comfortable. I just don't want to have regrets and if I wasn't on this path now I'd always have that voice in the back of my head. My current pursuit has brought the added benefit of forcing me to face my demons so to speak. I'm going out of my way to make sure focusing on the grind won't make me lose sight of what's important. I actually schedule time on a fairly tightly booked calendar to give my girl a 30 minute back rub, or spend quality time with the dog, and other weird shit most busy people would never schedule. I've accepted the fact that I'll probably never "find happiness", and honestly, I don't care at this point. I think life will always be about suffering in one form or another, for all of us. I just came to the realization it's important to choose the type of suffering I'm willing to accept. Right now, it's not having much free time and a social life.
    Fist 666 and misteraven like this.
  7. Mercer

    Mercer Moderator Crew

    Joined: May 2, 2007 Messages: 10,652 Likes Received: 1,072
    True, but I sometimes wonder if most of that straphanger guise is in an effort to look unpleasant/unapproachable to bums, and weirdos. It's like when I go upstate to visit some fam and the people there seem genuinely stoked to see someone else, they'll wave at you and sometimes it catches me off guard. I'll think to myself "WTF you smiling at dickface" before catching myself slipping back into my unapproachable NYC mode. Here, people have had enough of seeing other humans, and just want to pretend they're alone for a moment especially North of 14th St. or down in the financial district.

    I don't think it's a healthy lifestyle to live crammed on top of each other, breathing in stray cigarette smoke, truck exhaust and a 21 million random farts with every breath. For now I'm just willing to put up with, and contribute to it.
  8. Hua Guofang

    Hua Guofang Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Oct 29, 2013 Messages: 1,943 Likes Received: 462
    @@misteraven - still awaiting news on when you're going to begin developing an epic network of mountain bike trails on your property.

    Build it and they (read: I) will come....., and mooch off your hard work.
  9. misteraven

    misteraven Administrator

    Joined: May 7, 1999 Messages: 8,986 Likes Received: 413
    No, I don't think being approached is such an issue for most people that they've methodically put up a front like that almost unanimously. Plus I probably had the same look on my face and was indeed pretty unhappy. You can see it when people are totally off guard as well. Sitting on the platform looking through a window at some dude just staring at the floor... Shit like that. Occasionally you see people smile at some half way decent performer on a platform capable of drawing a smile, and I suspect thats because for those few moments people forget their grind.

    And yeah I know what you mean about running into smiling people and wondering what their angle is. Last winter I slid off icey roads into snow banks a half dozen time. Every single time, someone stopped to help and a couple times 2or 3 people stopped to help. At first I was really defensive and was wondering what their angle was and just waiting to get hustled or threatened or something before realizing they were simply being nice. Seemed crazy that people would stop in the freezing cold snow and literally spend 30 minutes helping me dig my car out and help pull me out of the snow bank.
  10. misteraven

    misteraven Administrator

    Joined: May 7, 1999 Messages: 8,986 Likes Received: 413
    You do realize the resort by my house is a top mountain biking destination right? https://skiwhitefish.com/mountain-biking/

    Glacier National Park is about 15 minutes in the other direction as well.

    You're welcome to come visit man. Plenty of room for you (and the Misses) to stay comfortably.
  11. misteraven

    misteraven Administrator

    Joined: May 7, 1999 Messages: 8,986 Likes Received: 413
    Surprised to not see more activity in this thread. I know theres at least a couple more that have made the move so unsure if they're just lying low about it. Likewise with all the gripes, thought more people would be interested in knowing how others have made the move.

    Anyhow, happy to answer questions if anyone has any.
  12. SpyD

    SpyD Elite Member

    Joined: Aug 22, 2002 Messages: 3,093 Likes Received: 62
    I've been daydreaming for the past few years of escaping the rat race. I'm somewhat financially stable, have a job working remotely, just moved to California and it's 75 degrees in February. Even with so much going well for me, I know that it's all an illusion and this isn't what I want to be doing deep down. Still trying to figure out my next moves, but I'm thinking of joining or starting a non-profit working with disadvantaged kids and exposing them to the outdoors. I just am tired of having to chase money and things. I catch myself buying things I don't even really need, but I'm addicted to Amazon.
    Fist 666 and misteraven like this.
  13. misteraven

    misteraven Administrator

    Joined: May 7, 1999 Messages: 8,986 Likes Received: 413
    I can relate to every word of what you wrote.
    Topzy likes this.
  14. Topzy

    Topzy New Jack

    Joined: Feb 8, 2018 Messages: 5 Likes Received: 0
    My husband and I really want to homestead. We are looking at properties, and some of them are completely off the grid.
    I was wondering what the biggest challenges of off grid living are. I would love to hear first hand from someone who has done it.
    The things I thought of right away were:
    Washing clothes by hand
    Taking a bath (water would have to be heated on stove, bath in large tub)
    I want to consider everything before we make this leap, so please add any other big challenges for someone coming from a "modern" lifestyle.
    Thank You!
  15. misteraven

    misteraven Administrator

    Joined: May 7, 1999 Messages: 8,986 Likes Received: 413
    Wow, thats big! Not just going rural but literally rolling it all back.

    Will sound corny or cliche, but the largest challenge is the mental part. Disconnecting yourself from all the things you thought you couldn't live without or needed. It'll likely take 2 - 6 months or maybe even a year to settle into your new way of life and to transition from being freaked out that maybe you shouldn't have done it, to the content feeling you get knowing it was a smart move (and likely a lot closer to how humans are supposed to be living).

    Second to that are the financial implications. I'm going to assume you aren't independently wealthy and don't need any income. If you can either work remote or commute back to the regular world without having it consume a majority of your time, that'll be the next challenge and definitely one I suggest you plan multiple contingencies for. Savings, very low monthly bills and a couple avenues for tangible income that'll safely cover your monthly overhead. If you can do it via homesteading, than that's obviously best. Example: Heritage, free range non-GMO / organic pork can go for as much as $26 a lb. Two adults could live off one big a year of its properly processed and stored, and there's not a ton of difference raising one versus 3 - 5. If you add a cow to the mix, it'll produce 5 gallons of milk a day (roughly), which goes a long way to feeding the pigs, so long as they can root well off your land. Factoring in some other small livestock like ducks (that can get $8 a dozen for eggs), you'd have a pretty nice setup going. Once you figure it all out and get it well coordinated in terms of efficiency and function stacking, it honestly isn't a lot of work either. Depending on your overheads, that alone might be able to cover it or at least put a dent in it.

    As far as the concerns you described, that's not too bad really. They sell hand crank washing machines that obviously aren't as easy as just throwing it in the wash, but also aren't too big a deal. You'll see that having the proper gear / clothes helps a ton and that working a homestead isn't like living city life in that you're constantly rotating what you wear and throwing it to wash anytime it gets put on. Not to say to slum it, but its rare that I wash my pants more than once a week for example. I'd say for this side of it, there's lots of books on the subject. Lost knowledge (or at least not as common) like when to put in your seeds, what to plant with what, when to rotate crops, how to process livestock, how to build a smoke house, canning, etc... Best bet is finding an old timer that can teach you, but I'm amazed at how much of that is out there online and on YouTube if you take the time to hunt it down.

    Obviously going totally off grid has its own unique considerations and likely the property you get considered the main ones (hopefully). Stuff like sun exposure, proximity to clean water, proximity to forested area, quality of soil, etc are all things you'll want to know. Likewise, what the area around you is like, how its zoned, any stupid shit like HOA, hunting rights, etc.

    You can likely get a feel for what you're up against if you literally try and make it a week with no electricity and using only one faucet in the house. Then maybe go for doing it a month.

    Personally I'm looking to eventually buy a bunch of land and have a place on it that is totally off grid, but for now I cant say we're living that basic. This being said, we do mostly rely on a wood stove for heat, we have our own well and do a lot to keep ourselves as self sufficient as possible (with ambitions to do increase it year over year). My electric bill is literally a 1/4 what it was in the city despite my house being almost 4x as big, but yeah... We do in fact have electricity.

    Beyond the above, if internet is critical, I suggest you confirm this with hard numbers. That was a gotcha when we moved here... That satellite internet that gets promoted everywhere here was nowhere what they claimed it to be and just about worthless. In another 2 years, it probably wont matter as 5G cellular is supposed to start out at about a 1gbps (far faster than most high speed internet), but for now its just a spec and doesn't exist. Likewise, if its mountainous terrain you might not even get cellular.

    Anyhow, if you have specific questions, as away. As said, I'm not living quite that simple but I've been moving more and more in that direction, have learned a lot and know a few people that are.

    Good luck and keep us posted.