OTG…..a weird thing, really…..it kinda screws with your head….

Most of my readers (more than six now thanks to Sal’s recent mail-out) think living OTG is a bit ‘out there’ (pun intended) and not the path most commonly traveled by normal people.  And they’d be right.  OTG’ers think a bit differently.  Well, I do, anyway.

I, of course, write trying to convince my allegedly brainwashed audience of the opposite view and that OTG life is actually very normal.  It is the best. By FAR!  Healthy, natural, non-materialistic, sustainable, critter-friendly and beautiful, OTG is better, way better, than the constantly urban-grinding of your spirit to a nub – working so as to never-own your own home or be relieved of oppressive debt. 

Confession: I do think we OTG’ers are closer to having a better lifestyle.  NOT perfect – just better.   But my bias is obvious.  I don’t hide it.  And I am not just a bit obnoxious about it.  Apologies.  Kinda.  I am like the reformed smoker harping on those who have not seen the light and still carry a lighter to prove it.

But, I do understand any resistance you might have to the repeated message to get out, GET OUT NOW!

I was reminded of all this when a friend recently wrote to tell me that modern living is really very nice, having money is a good thing and that he recently traveled back to his home country to see family and friends and that the cost did not deter him because he was relatively well off.  Furthermore, he enjoyed the pubs and the restaurants and even the madding crowds.  “Modern urban life is good!”

Ergo, my message might be wrong.

He’s right.  Of course he’s right.  And I stand somewhat corrected.  I really do.  Urban life can be good.  Of course it can.  It helps that he is somewhat well-off being a lawyer, though.  And, by his own admission, it took awhile to get there (he’s tipping the 70 mark, too).  But NOT everyone living in the concrete jungle lives large or carries sway at the watering hole. Some never get there.  Some never even get to drink.  Some get eaten. It’s a jungle out there and I doubt that he would argue that.

But the debate is NOT really about that.  His lifestyle vs mine.  It’s not about living close to nature versus living close to a gazillion large-screen TVs.  And, anyway, who am I to judge?

Well, I’m Dave.  And I judge.  So sue me.  (And he might!)

No, there’s no debate.  The message really is just about living more freely.  Having choice.  And because urban life is more expensive, living freely or even living simply and cheaply in the city is more difficult there than living in the country.  In a money influenced world, it’s really that simple – you can’t live simple in the city.  Those on a budget have fewer monetary based choices and many urban choices are determined by money.  I would suggest that urban life is not as beautiful or healthy either but some people like traffic, sirens, chandeliers and gold plate.  And they go to the gym.  So, that part is just subjective.

If you boil it down to the essence, this OTG-promoting theme of mine is really just about freedom.  It is about life choices and freely choosing amongst them. It’s about shedding the chains and anchors that are so easily and unconsciously acquired in a consumer society in the form of debt and obligation and, instead, living deliberately (Thoreau) and in the moment. It’s about finding value and meaning and even, perhaps, personal growth in something other than work, status symbols and manufactured loyalties and propagandized philosophies.  And it is about having more time.

Put another way; politics, nationalism, branding, corporation-made mass entertainment and celebrity-worship pales into a misty grey distant fog the further you get away from it. In fact, the larger brain-control concepts such as nationalism and patriotism and other myriad popular crusades become more and more silly and irrelevant the further you get away from the source of those messages.  By shedding the umbilicals and the money-chase, the OTGer tends to lose the fervor, the allegiance, the loyalty to those causes. And when doing so, we take back our energies.  Feels healthier.

I mentioned in the first paragraph ‘alleged brainwashing’.  Alleged because I have no idea if what I am referring to was or is conscious or not.  I don’t even know if it is real or just my perception.  Is brainwashing and mind-control on purpose?  I dunno.  But I kinda feel that I was inoculated and imbued with a pre-set social programming from the get-go.  I was born into it.  I was taught to love Canada, for instance, (like the Chinese are taught to love China or the North Koreans and Russians and Pakistanis are taught to be rah rah, too).

What’s all that in aid of?  More to the point, who’s all that in aid of?

I was taught to value the system that so-called educated me.  I was taught to be thankful for a life-style that was comfortable and modern and better than those other guys in poor countries.  I was taught to be grateful.  And, to a large extent, I am.  But the educational system contributed less than 5% to my knowledge base.  What did it really teach me?  What was I taught and who mostly benefited from that?

In that great-but-subtle programming, I was encouraged to make the most of my life but, to do so in such a way that was measured by a retirement plan, plenty of money and a big house.  I was told to respect and honour my institutions. And work my whole life for them.

Who was served by that?

I was and am told to trust the police. Teachers.  Priests and politicians. Trust the bank. Believe 911.  Believe in modern medicine, science, technology and especially NGOs that save whales and babies. Trust ’em.  Follow their lead.  Why?  Because all those folks are supposed to know better, I guess.

The mantra: I really should follow their lead.  We should all follow their lead. And pay taxes and other homages to them.  Or go to jail.  And I should go to war for them, too.  If they tell me to.

I’m having second thoughts.  They are stronger doubts than before I left.

As it stands for me, all of those pillars of western superiority have been found somewhat wanting as I aged.  They are not pure.  They are NOT always in aid of the right thing. They seem to have lied and cheated a lot.  They are fallible.  Flawed.  And the common people, the animals and the earth itself has suffered at their hands as much as benefited.

I have less faith in the system.  Call me crazy but I have less faith in the system than they want me to have.

Maybe getting out is a good idea.  NOT because ‘being in’ is so bad – not in theory, anyway. But maybe because ‘being in’ has proven to be more than just somewhat flawed in the execution. Maybe ‘in’ ain’t right?  Maybe we should all take a step back and see where this urban-centric, systems-reliant, institution-trusting, debtor-slave lifestyle is taking us.  Maybe there is a better way?

Sal commented on the above blog: “Well written but you’ve said it all before.”

“Aren’t I saying something more?  Something different?”

“Well, you are saying that going to restaurants is okay.  Why would you say that when we have said that it was no longer okay for us.”

“Right!  Why isn’t it okay for us anymore?”

“Well, several reasons.  One; we don’t want to have to work and pay taxes so as to line up to pay too much for processed food in a noisy environment with all the TVs blaring. We hate that…….and two; it’s hard to find enjoyment in something like that when we have fresh oysters on the beach, fresh greens from the garden and we can afford to drink too much wine when we are at home where the food is better and it’s way more fun to entertain friends.  We just think this is way, way better.”

“Didn’t I say that?”

“Nope.  But I just did.”  

31 thoughts on “OTG…..a weird thing, really…..it kinda screws with your head….

  1. She gotcha there Dave.

    I wonder if its also an “age” thing. When you’re younger you enjoy the rat race and the bustle of the city…….after 20-30 years…..not so much.
    Your life experiences teach you that there are scammers, cheats, liars, and scoundrels( and Im just talking about my family and friends!) in the “big city”.
    A more simplistic and solitary lifestyle doesnt look so bad from the outside to most
    Time for introspective thought, away from the maddening crowds is enjoyable. Lets face it. Simple things like drivingc are definitely not as much fun as ithey used to be.
    But there will always be the “urbanistas”. ….I have friends that couldnt build a cardboard box from Ikea if their life depended on it so “roughing it” would be a foreign as humility is to Donald Trump.
    Enjoy the solitude folks .
    It makes the forays into ‘civilization” for supplies that much more a confirmation of your beliefs.that we should “GET OUT NOW!


    • No question; age is a big factor. But it’s more than that……we questioned the establishment in the 60’s and rebelled in the 70’s and enrolled and surrendered in the 80’s, 90’s and oughts. But, by 2008, the scam and sham was totally revealed and we no longer carry the flag, no longer trust the system and actually now fear it. The times they are a changing and the truth is being revealed for the Ponzi scheme it is. Since remedy seems impossible, only retreat seems logical. That’s part of it, the negative part. But the positive aspect is even stronger – this path is better than it ever was. OTG is good. Who knew?
      So….I gotta shout it…..


      • I remember talk radio hammering away about the evil of socialism. Today Obama care was described as socialism in the USA. In Canada the proposed federal tax changes are being described as ‘class warfare’ and wealth redistribution. Canada’s taxes on the wealthy are among the lowest in the G8. Evidentially questions of privilege are being challenged. Is the purpose of democracy to build wealth for the very wealthy? And to stagnate wages for the average worker. Currently Canada’s tax system is tilted towards the privileged few. Privilege wants no changes.


      • The money system doesn’t work on too many levels. The rich want more. The poor want some. The middle is disappearing. And yet, we have lots. So, where’s the problem? I think part of it is that everyone wants more of what DOESN’T satisfy. If you get what you want and it doesn’t make you happy, doesn’t that suggest that what you want is wrong? More money ain’t the answer for anyone. More health, happiness, time, sanity, family, friends and nature is what we should want but we think we can’t afford that. We need to have MORE money before we can have that other stuff. Madness!


  2. I’m curious. Of your readers, how many live off the grid already? I have connected with a few through comment links. When Wayne and I first got our float cabin, I started looking for other OTGers online. I could find homesteaders or Alaskans, but few Canadian remote cabin owners. You are an exception and fairly easy to find after reading your first book and finding a review on Chris Czajkowski’s blog. I guess it’s a small but connected world. I look for other OTGers because I like to learn from their experiences. But, I still love to go out to eat at a restaurant. All the noise and people make me appreciate the quiet and solitude I get to have. I love Thai wings and that’s something I can’t make at home. Wednesday wing night at the Shinglemill pub is still a bargain even with a brew, and it’s only a boat ride away from home. – Margy


    • Timely comment. One reader wants me to do a blog on the people whose blogs I follow and have listed. Same reason – he wants to know more about ordinary, wing-eating otgers. Who are the not-so-extreme otgers? How many folks like me vs how many Alaskan bear eaters. I don’t know but I suspect that there are a lot.


    • To answer: I think maybe fifteen. Maybe another 15 or so that are rural but gridlinked. Maybe half that who RV, Liveaboard or live ‘loose’ like travelers or house sitters. I may have a few students, too. Hard to say….but very few are regular, every-post readers. I truly have only a dozen or so loyalists who read each one. Not enough Margys and non-cons to be popular.


      • Hey! I read every one – some even more than once.
        I guess there’s room for a few more out here, but can you imagine the pandemonium if every person in Vancouver took your advice? No, I don’t refer to the ‘down there’ real estate market, but that would be pretty interesting too.


  3. ”Most of my readers think…is a bit ‘out there’…” I disagree with your thesis. Mitigating circumstances complicate many of ones life choices. The question of what one might like to do versus the current constraints of day to day imperatives often overrule many wonderful possible choices. My surmise is that if circumstances were propitious more folks would be accepting your hospitality. One piece of evidence for this might be the number of summer visitors.


    • Hmmmmmm……..you make a good point….we ARE deemed less eccentric in the summer….maybe MORE people than I first thought would prefer this life and it is only the modern worlds shackles that hold them back….? I dunno…..
      Many SEEM like fair weather admirers. Many readily admit to being daunted at the lifestyle. Many declare ineptitude and inability….but still, they DO come….but they don’t stay…..so it is hard to truly know….is this good? Or is this weird?
      It may be they, too, are asking that question basic question.
      I’ll admit to this: the few readers of Choosing (our second book) who commented, agreed with it. So they are inside. And Choosing is definitely a bit NON mainstream.
      Maybe they DON’T think it’s odd,………..do you?


      • I’ve spent many years in OTG places as a youth but at the time did not see these places as OTG. One year in particular contains many great memories of being free range all day long: no school, no media, and few constraints. Basically free enough to walk out on a beaver pond with only the cracking of ice suggesting that this was not a good idea but not feeling in any peril at the time. A circumscribed life punctuated with dramatic events such as fleeing a forest fire. Did I like it? Yes, mostly but I could have done with the momentous events.


      • Thoreau described that walk on the ice as living deliberately and in the moment. Being surrounded by nature seems to do that to people and they like it. I think they long for it. I think they need it. And I do not think being a drone in the city provides that. Maybe for some. Maybe, if you are totally fulfilled pursuing a personal passion there, it can be done. I don’t know. I didn’t feel that there. I do feel it here. That’s why I write.


    • Thanks. But if Sal and I can do it, others can. Though, I admit that starting late is harder. If readers are under 50, I urge them to start getting out now. We were older (I was 56) and that seemed late to me. I could not have done it starting at 60. I am almost 70 now and the bulk is done….. thankfully.


      • Interesting that you mentioned your age that you started.
        I’m 56 and can…..not…..stand …..the “city life”.
        I’m 56 and after reading this blog I was going to purchase the old family farm last month to get things rolling, but, at the 11th hour, my Uncle has reneged….it seems the Chinese property purchasing juggernaut have moved to eastern Canada now that the BC and Ont “foreign ownership rules/taxes” have started to bite ……….and prices back east are going crazy.
        Our verbally agreed upon price last year……….not even close.
        So much for owning ones own property when the siren song of foreign cash drowns out all semblance of family heritage, pride and continuity.
        I drove past old family farms that were owned for generations….with new vegetable stands out front with elderly asian men sitting at the tables piled high with produce. A huge sign next to the driveway announcing the “farm” was now owned by a ” Registered company”. 4 different farms in one small area
        Nice way around foreign ownership. Get Canadian lawyers and Canadian govt officials to Form a Canadian company and let IT buy the farm…….Prostitutes have more honour
        Disgusting doesnt even begin to describe it.
        War with North Korea? China? Dont worry…….China wont invade us……….they already OWN us.
        Perhaps It’s time for an Australian type Law which only allows foreign ownership leases??????????????

        I started looking around , spoke to several realtors back east and they ALL said they have never seen anything like it. No price negotiation. No price financing….cash
        And where is the cash coming from? Illegal money squirreled out of China as the govt there cracks down on corruption and tax evasion.?
        Corrupt money now corrupting us to the highest levels of society

        But I’m merely wishful. Its too late.
        But I can dream.
        So that Canadians can still actually buy a pice of Canada?
        I cant wait to imagine what Canada will look like in another 150 years. Perhaps we’ll be paying cash for Chinese farms?

        Liked by 1 person

        • I know. The Chinese are not entirely at blame……who wouldn’t get out? They are getting out now! And we are not entirely at fault….haven’t we been brainwashed into getting maximum returns? Sell to the drug dealers, sell to the oligarchs, sell to the Chinese….? Business as usual.
          But don’t worry noncon….say the word and I’ll find you a better site. Just ask.


  4. When the price of a home increases by 25% in one year, keeping ones money in a bank offshore makes little sense if one can use the offshore money to invest in Canada.


      • Why can’t I reply to Noncon’s statement above, ‘Prostitutes have more honour (than)?”
        I’d rather my daughter was a prostitute than marry a realtor. At least she’d be bargaining with her own goods.
        (Some of your posts allow a ‘LIKE’ Others permit a ‘LIKE’ and a ‘REPLY’)


        • Understanding the mechanics of WORDPRESS is beyond me. But so is the like button….
          Noncons metaphorical prostitutes have more honour than does our own govt, lawyers and realtors who endeavour to hide foreign ownership. Mind you, having more honour than our legal system is not a high bar. Methinks we sold our honour a long time ago.


    • Its easier to say as you age – that pursuit of money is stupid – I know that. But it’s no less true. A simple healthy life is a joy and, in a peaceful country, not hard to achieve. A modest humble life is easy here in Canada. But you are right, we like to reach, we want to grow, we need to be engaged. Tragically, that is a path made clear when it is a career path, a profession, a business. We can measure ourselves with money. We think more money means more growth.


  5. and then we have this “news”. .


    Obvious to anyone trying to buy housing, property, whatever in Vancouver, Toronto, etc for the past 5 years……

    Time for a Charbonneau commission for real estate “developers” that make political contributions?

    Which raises another question?
    Where IS Christy Clark going to go to find work once she finishes sulking?
    She was used to a pretty lavish lifestyle up until a month or so ago. $2ook per year as Preem Private schooling for junior, $50k Cash top ups from the Liberal Party. Living(renting from a numbered company owned by a real estate developer) in Vancouver’s Dunbar district as a “Duchess”. I cant wait to she where she finally hangs her hat…….
    Any guesses?
    Vice President of marketing for Bob Rennie perhaps? Should be good for $250k per year to blurt out glib remarks and then smile.
    Same old same old.
    Its a “shame” the Feds are finally ratcheting up the interest rates. We might actually see the obscene housing bubble pop in the not too distant future.


    • I doubt CC has a financial worry anymore. Premiers pension, backroom deals, token spokesmodel position in the future along with lucrative boardroom appointments. Stock deals. Gifts given now that no one is watching…….Hell, Mt Polley alone owes her. So do big contracting firms. So does the Liberal party. She’s set for life. She might get hired by some media again as well. Maybe be appointed CEO of Cheerleaders-R-Us.


  6. Porto Rico residents are mostly with out much needed help after the hurricane. Wasn’t help delivered to devastated ares of Texas in a timely way?


    • Puerto Rico looks like it’s getting second class treatment. Grossly unfair. Worse, Trump denigrated their island and implied that they were partly to blame. He just insulted and offended 3m PRs.


  7. Puerto Rico owes Wall Sreet money and this indebtedness is surmised as a reason to slow help to a trickle.is this vindictiveness on display?


    • I doubt it. Vindictiveness is childish and Wall Street isn’t that. But Trump is. Trump is also ignorant and racist. Both are satisfied somewhat by dissing PR. Mind you, I am a bit biased….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.