The meaning of living off the grid is changing

As most readers know, we didn’t go ‘off the grid’ to do the Mountain-man thing or even to be adventurous or au naturel or anything.  I, personally, went off the grid simply because I was bored with being on the grid.  Our move ‘out’ was really a way of getting away from being ‘in’.  And Sal is just one of those supportive spouses who just sorta feels that it will all work out in the end and she’s always up for an adventure anyway so, why not?  She was not really conscious about what we were embarking on any more than I was.

And, of course, it has been an adventure.  It has been kinda mountain-manish and we are living much more naturally.  And we have grown in many ways.  So, on the surface, it may look as if it was all part of our intention.  And that our intention was to be more independent.  But it was not.  Most of the really neat off-the-grid stuff was a surprise and or a bonus.  It was all a surprise bonus, really.

I mention all this because I tend to read a lot and I am always looking for books about people who intentionally went off the grid.  Freedom seekers.  And there aren’t many.  One of the few is Chris Czajkowski.  She of Nuk Tessli fame.  The others are more accidental.  Like us.

There are the folks who think they live off the grid because they can’t afford hydro or a truck.  They may live on a road and there may be power on the pole but they don’t have it so they consider themselves off the grid.  Another was a woman who divorced her husband and was a writer on a small acreage.  She considered herself so cut off that she was off the grid.  She wasn’t.  She was just alone.  I recall another who wrote a series for a newspaper about living off the grid because the local store closed in the winter when she decided to visit and because things froze and the ferry didn’t run on time.  Poor baby.

And then there is Nick Rosen.  Nick writes about living off the grid while living in London.  He has expanded off the grid-ness to those who RV or live in cars, those who travel a lot or those who are homeless.  Nick even includes those artistic types who build homes from rubber tires and shipping containers.  Eccentric?  yes.  Off the grid?  Not necessarily.

And It all got me to thinking about what, in fact, is off the grid living…?

In theory, we are way off the grid.  I even called my blog that.  But, honestly?  Our neighbours are going into town and will pick us up some tomatoes which we forgot the last time we went shopping (last Friday).  My genset is running on gasoline that was delivered a month ago and books come by post (via the mail-plane).  Sally fussed when we last went to town because I didn’t have a ‘nice shirt’ to wear.  The dogs eat ‘produced’ dog food.  We drink wine and scotch.  Last night’s dinner was beef Stroganoff with a nice salad with vinaigrette dressing.  Sally finished her meal with a Roger’s chocolate.  Then we watched a movie.

How rough is that?!

I guess what I am saying is that living off the grid nowadays does not seem to be like it was when Chris headed out.  That kind of off-the-gridding is rare.

Then I listened to radio reports about the flooding in Alberta.  People couldn’t go home.  The authorities wouldn’t let them!  Their houses might be unsafe. Presumably the poor dears were too stupid to determine that for themselves.   Reporters were interviewing people who had no electricity.  Or water.  One woman made the news because she had not had a shower in two days!

I dunno, folks.  Maybe it is just me.  Maybe it is just the news.  Maybe it is the authorities.  I honestly don’t know.  But if living off the grid means the lifestyle I have versus the one where everyone is so incredibly dependent or obedient to the grid authorities, where their hardship is measured in showers had and or TVs not working, then there really is a difference and it has nothing to do with hardship.  It has nothing to do with challenge.  Not anymore.  Not like Chris.

Now it has more to do with personal responsibility.  And it has more to do with helplessness.

I guess what I am saying is this: you don’t have to live like a mountain man to be independent and capable.  Not anymore.  But, somehow, living on the grid seems to rob people of even a semblance of that.  Gridders (or some of them) seem to become more helpless. They seem to be more dependent on the grid.  And they become reliant and dependent on the authorities instead of themselves.

Living off the grid today can be modern, reasonable, comfortable and good.  Living on the grid today seems to foster dependence, reliance and helplessness. Who knew?

And this is something else we didn’t know about when we moved out here.  We had no idea that moving off the grid would be confidence growing, capability increasing, responsible and as independent as it is.  It is by comparison, anyway.

We are still very dependent.  We need products and services.  We need each other and our neighbours.  But, honestly?  We don’t need them as much.  Not by a long shot.

5 thoughts on “The meaning of living off the grid is changing

  1. Took my dirtbike for a ride around downtown Calgary this morning, ignoring the barricades and practically nobody challenged me or even really noticed me. Bit of silty dirt on some of the streets, seems like the high water only affected a relatively small area in East Downtown. Basements and underground power vaults being pumped out all over this area. The big problem appeared to be the Enmax Substation that powers the city centre was in the flood zone.
    It’s quite post apocalyptic puttering around the streets below deserted office towers and there is no life except for a few work crews. There is a big washout near the Stampede Grounds which took out 3 lanes and the LRT rails. Some of the bridges are closed until they can be inspected for undermining I suppose.
    What’s interesting for me is that I never read, watch or listen to the news media, so I have found it is possible to live somewhat off the grid even in an urban environment. I pick and choose what I need from the system and leave the rest. It’s a bit of work and requires willpower to stay off the grid in a city but it can be done.
    Sorry for the long post.


    • No apology necessary. I really appreciate feedback and the longer the better. Plus there is a ‘lone cowboy’ quality to your meandering downtown. Kinda early Eastwood. Josey Wales does Calgary. Maybe a smidge of The Road (Cormac McCarthy). Post apocalyptic. Hmmm…could throw in a bit of Mad Max, as well, I guess.


  2. If you are saying that ‘off the grid’ is a misnomer, I agree. The third world with its very low standard living means almost half the world — over three billion people are living on less than $2.50 a day. Off the grid, hell off the quality of life scale. So I get the point about no shower for two days is a hardship but not unbearable. How about no food for a week or longer? But I agree it does come down to one’s perception of hardship.


    • Yeah, you are right – that is what I am saying. OTG is a misnomer. I should have titled my blog Life of Riley. Really. It is a challenge but not a real one – a real one is running from government or revolutionary troops and not having food to eat. We have it pretty good.


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