Before my wife and I ever got married, we decided that we wanted to homestead. We knew that it would take a lot of research and work; however, we were determined to live off the grid. Five years and two children later, we are living in a homesteading community. We do not miss the high utility bills and stress from modern-day living. The National Association of Homebuilders estimates that the average American electric bill is $110.21 per month, which is a lot of money. An off-the-grid lifestyle has taught me several invaluable lessons:
1. Off-the-grid living takes a lot of work
It was not easy to plan a mostly self-sufficient house. We had to do a lot of research to find out what kind of power, water, and septic systems were the best for our family. Once we decided on solar energy, healthy water, and a composting toilet, we did all the work ourselves. Fortunately, we have homesteading neighbors who told us how to do it.
2. We did not have to live in the wilderness to live off the grid
When we talk about living off the land, most people picture a little hut in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness—miles away from civilization. While that may be some people’s ideal situation, we still wanted to be close to town. We chose to build a small community of homesteading families. It is a rural area where everyone has a parcel of land for gardening. There are some chores that we do together as a community. I found that we could live off-grid without being hermits.
3. It is possible to survive without modern technology
The first electric lights were put in street lights in 1879, says the historicalarchive.com. Even in the early part of the 20th century, many rural homes did not have electricity or running water. They depended on lanterns, candles, wells, and outhouses. I do not think that our kids miss out on not having television or the latest video games. We have more time to spend with a family. We work together in our garden, tend to the animals, and tackle DIY projects.
4. Homesteaders are just regular people like anybody else
Not everyone who lives off the grid is a hippie who spends time burning incense and creating yogic poses. I found a lot of ordinary people in our community who still loved comfortable living.
5. I discovered the joy of farm-raised food
Before we began gardening, we bought all of our food at the grocery store. Now, I can see a big difference between the puny produce they sell and the ones that we raise. We use organic fertilizers that are safe for people and the environment. We also build free-range animals that are fed a natural diet and are butchered humanely. We know exactly what our children are eating.
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6. My family and I have learned valuable skills
Part of living off the grid is making the things the family needs. We no longer buy as many toiletries and cleaning supplies from the supermarket. These things are filled with potentially hazardous ingredients, warns organicconsumers.org. Instead, we make homemade soaps and cleaners like our grandparents did. My wife has learned to sew a lot of our clothes and household items.
7. Living off the grid is not free
Even though I do not have utility bills, we still have to pay for supplies. We still have to buy at home improvement and grocery stores like flour, cornmeal, milk, soap, and medicines. We still have to earn a living.
8. We still use modern technology as needed
Setting up solar panels, windmills, or wells requires technology. When we go to the library for books, we still take advantage of the free Internet time.
9. Not everyone who lives off the grid homeschools their children
Several families in our homesteading community homeschool their children. We also found that just as many of our neighborhood children attend the local public school. After careful consideration, we felt that our children would be beautiful in public school. We give them a practical education when they are home.
10. Living off the grid is not for everyone
We have a lot of friends who enjoy the grid every day. There is no moral superiority for those who homestead. Not everyone can live off the land. I appreciate and accept my friends for who they are.