Off the Gridding sounds so romantic, don’t you think? Conjures up adventure, nature, simple, healthy, rustic and and being independent. Flora and fauna abound. Ravens. Whales. Blackberries. Oysters.
‘Oooooh, what’s not to like?’
The short answer: NOTHING! That image is correct. It’s heaven out here, no question.
The long answer? Well, much the same….of course. Heaven is heaven for a’ that. But there is a slightly different reality over the long haul from the one first imagined from the statements above. It ain’t just a walk in the park.
For one thing, you still need some money. Not as much as you think you need but you have to have some. I figure $1500 a month per person more or less depending on how far out you are. And that also requires whatever house you have built or bought out here being debt free. Same for vehicles and equipment. And the sky is the limit when it comes to equipment. So, bottom line: you need a lump sum to get started and then a regular income even if it is rather paltry. OTG ain’t free and it is a rare person who can make much of a dependable income out here.
You need a good partner. All the single people out here struggle so much more. They also get more and more eccentric without the balances and off-sets a partner provides. We all need partners and the further OTG you are, the more you need one. No. A dog or a pet Grizzly bear does not qualify.
You need basic good health. Your prostate can be too big, your bowels easily irritated, you can suffer cat allergies or need to remain gluten and peanut free but your back has to be strong, you have to have your balance and you need to heal well. OTG is physical. It is NOT for sissies.
You need to think outside the box-store. 75% of what you need, you can’t buy at Home Depot. You are going to have to figure that out quickly and often. My advice: start now, while you are in the best garbage dump in the world: the city throws away all the stuff you will ever need. It is literally like a giant free-store if you have the ability to forage and hunt amongst the junk. Preferably with a one ton flatdeck. Four-wheel drive.
You will need to develop some pretty basic skills quickly. Like carpentry and mechanics. Skills are currency out here. And they help keep you alive and your stuff operating. A good attitude and a lot of DIY books will suffice for awhile but you will have to rise higher than that over time. You will be fixing your own washing machine, car, outboard, computer and, even more often, your own body and limbs. Smarten up as fast as you can.
Try not to be a zealot about it. Living OTG is great but you are allowed to enjoy a beer and a pizza if you go to town. You do not have to be a Buddhist vegan pacifist who only eats raw vegetables and fruit. That stuff has nothing to do with OTG. I have no idea what that stuff has to do with but you can eat steak, drink scotch and watch cheap B blow-em-ups and still be an accepted OTG’er in my books.
I may even visit.
Living OTG is a simple goal – you are just not hooked up to all the umbilicals (read: leeches) of the world. Road, electrical, plumbing, social, communication, shopping – they are all grids, systems and the ties that bind. But that’s it. You may even try to pull them off of you while living in the city (ignoring the road grid)….it might be possible….but the fewer of the grids there are on offer, the easier it is NOT to have them. So, I suggest just getting out.
To be honest, I suggest getting out to a small town that has some grid offerings. Then go a step or two further out so you don’t have to rely on them but you can go there now and then for pizza and beer. Best of both worlds.
But you don’t have to go far. There is nothing about living OTG that requires the Dempster highway or Patagonia. I think it does require a complete immersion in nature, the wilderness and a rejection of concrete, asphalt and stifling institutional-think but I am really only a short distance from the ‘grids’ myself. Maybe an hour or so away. I am definitely OFF them, but I can do a hop, skip and a jump to gain a toe-hold whenever that beer and pizza is heard calling to me.
I don’t go often, tho. My last trip to town was over two months separated from the previous one. And that was too soon! If I girded up to attack and plunder the grid three times a year, it would be enough.
“Dave, why tell us this?”
Well, more and more it seems people are considering doing this or, at least curious as to what OTG means. But almost all their questions show a lot of pre-acquired misinformation. And many answers I am reading are just plain silly. Many wannabes feel they have to be self-sustaining, live off the land, hunt squirrels, eat bugs and roots – that kind of thing. “Gotta build a house from tires and straw bales. Compost my poop under glass”. Others think they have to go vast distances into harsh environments armed to the teeth and dressed in camo. I blame Survivor Man, the Idaho Militia and Duck Dynasty – for those very wrong pictures. I blame hippy chicks for that raw vegan syndrome.
Living OTG can be sane, simple and doable.
It can also be hard.
So, this is a very brief perspective-sharing post to try to share that ‘moderate version’ of the OTG message.