Have you experienced living off-grid?
Would you try it out?
If you don’t know what I’m talking about or even if you do, please keep reading, as I am going to tell you all about my challenges living off-grid and what you can do to prepare yourself for your own off the grid adventure.
But first. What is living off the grid? It is an alternative way of living different from the typical construct that we are used to. It is different in the sense that you do not depend entirely on the government, the electricity and water company or the vegetable and fruit section in the supermarket. You become self sufficient with time to such a level that you overflow with abundance instead of deepening into stress, worries and anxiety.
Actually, living off-grid is a challenge in itself. Why, you might ask? Creating the optimal conditions is costly. Of course, also depends how luxurious you want your level of comfort to be. Shifting from being dependant on the system to be independent is the best investment that one can do for oneself, his family and future generations. It is definitely not cheap, but so worth it in the long run. Imagine not having to pay any bills. Oh my! Do you feel the freedom? The sense of tranquility. That’s what I wish for everyone.
Getting started is what’s difficult. Finances are needed for the solar panels, inverter to transform the solar energy and preferably an alternative source of energy for the rainy days. Wind or water energy can also be an option depending on the resources of the area. Or having a generator that works on gasoline until the option to be totally energy free is viable.
At least a minimum of 10.000 euro is needed just to get started with the energy. The more panels you choose to have, the more you need to invest, but in exchange you have more power to use. And what I mean by that, is that you can have a washing machine charged from the solar panels. An oven, a washing machine requires a huge amount of energy. And this luxury, for sure costs more.
Disclaimer: this post does not include all the living off-grid challenges that one faces, but the challenges that I have faced in my journey so far. I am talking from the viewpoint of a person that travels full time to experience alternative ways of living. And this is what I have observed and learned so far.
Nothing is easy and nothing will go as you initially imagined. Prepare to be challenged at every step along the way.
And of course, these challenges are just that, challenges. They appear. You solve them. And there’s one challenge less.
It’s frustrating, it’s troublesome, but once you figure everything out, it’s satisfying and rewarding.
Challenge #1 Internet
Definitely when living off-grid one of my top challenges is the Internet. As a travel blogger and photographer I need internet every day. And for sure 5 GB or 10 GB barely lasts a week. In every country you will find different prices and data plans. The best and cheapest option is to have unlimited internet and for this most companies, if not all, requires you to have a contract for a year or two. I am personally not a fan of being tied to contracts. I value my peace of mind and always try to avoid this trouble. But sometimes I am left with no options.
As I am currently in Portugal, one of the best options that I found is to have a portable router with 50 GB. To have this router I need to be tied to a 2 year contract. The good part of it is that I can transfer the rights to another person if I decide to leave Portugal before the end of the contract.
Challenge #2 Energy
Another important aspect when living off the grid is energy. Yes, solar panels are great. But, what do you do when there’s no sun? The direct current that comes from solar energy has to be transformed into alternative current in order to be used in homes. The panels have to be in direct sunlight in order to produce energy. Some panels follow the sun throughout the day, but there are also static ones. What is great is that when there are some light clouds, not heavy ones, the panels can still charge. Solar energy is transformed into usable alternative current with an inverter. The stored energy of the day is used in the evening to cook, charge electronics and generate light. A generator is a must for when there is no sun. Or what’s even better is wind energy, if you live in a windy area.
Recommendations: When starting your travel journey, I definitely suggest getting yourself some solar panels to charge your phone, camera and any other small devices along the way. It’s so handy to be able to use free energy and never worry again. I love these highly efficient solar panels. They are great for camping too and super affordable. This is also a great panel, cheaper and light weight. You can carry it on your backpack while walking and charging your phone simultaneously.
Challenge #3 Waste
There are different types of waste that you typically find in a household. It ranges from organic waste (fruits, vegetables, garden), solid waste and human waste. Organic and human waste can be composted and used as natural fertilizer for the soil. Depending on the level of comfort that you want, you can opt for normal sewage toilets or dry ones where there is no flushing. Instead, you can use sawdust as a replacement for water and compost the waste once the tank is full. Can be a shock for some, but as adaptable beings that we are it will become like second nature.
Living in an Eco sustainable place is ideal to use toxic and chemical free products to not contaminate the soil. We drink and eat from that soil and the idea is to live in harmony with nature without causing any harm. I will make a post about what natural products to use.
Challenge #4 Hot water
Have you ever experienced being in the shower enjoying the hot water and suddenly….there’s no hot water anymore? I did! What a fantastic feeling! I screamed inside. What did I do? Put a towel on, changed the gas tank and run into the shower to finally enjoy the hot water. Sometimes, or most of the time, things are unpredictable and you just have to react on the spot. I’ll forever remember these experiences.
With living off the grid one thing is for sure. It forces you to be more mindful of your actions, to appreciate natural resources, be grateful for what there is, to work with what you have, and to not take everything for granted.
The challenges of living off-grid requires you to have an A, B, and C plan. It is intense at times and it can feel overwhelming, but making everything work seamlessly in connection with nature it’s so beautiful. Most of us are used to the city comfort, but if you have an adaptable-flexible nature you will fit perfectly in this environment. There must be many other challenges when choosing to live differently. For me, that’s what has been challenging in the sense that you constantly have to think about them. Like, is it going to be sunny today? Can I charge my phone? Small things that in the “normal” city life you would not have to worry about.
“Challenges make life interesting, overcoming them makes life meaningful. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
Let me know in the comments what other challenges you have faced. Or if you’d give this experience a go. I’d love to hear your opinion.
Lastly, if you wanna see how I travel with barely no money while working on my dreams, please see this post.
Peace and love!