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In recent years, there has been a resurgence toward simpler living. People have gone from living in sprawling mansions to living in “tiny houses” and self-sustenance is becoming increasingly popular. People have also begun to transition out of society and into an off-the-grid lifestyle. In plain terms, living off the grid means depending entirely on yourself and your family for the things you need to survive. You forgo government-provided electricity, finding alternative methods of generating energy. You grow your own food, make your own clothes, and live entirely independently. Learn How to Live Off the Grid
Have you ever considered living off the grid? Why? Why not?
 

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Nope. First reason: the "simpler" life is anything BUT simple. There is infinite drudgery involved. People seem to want to romanticize living off the grid, but there's a reason things like electricity were invented in the first place.

Interesting the first part of that article complains about the internet and the last urges people to get online via satellite.

Putting in a solar system is expensive. We can pay our power bill (not a government entity here) for many years for what it would cost to change to wind or solar.

Kerosene lamps do not give off bright lighting, kerosene burns dirty, and it gives off heat which isn't usually needed in hot summer months.

I've known people who lived off grid. They wish they were on the grid, and they end up either getting on the grid or moving to a different place with modern amenities.

I'm all in favor of self sufficiency, but people should understand it doesn't solve all their problems to live somewhere everything is harder and more complicated.
 

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I've been watching the tiny house shows lately and keep coming away with the same questions about them. How are they anchored in case of high wind? Why don't most of them have egress windows in case of a fire? How are they being grounded in case of lightning strikes? Why do people who claim they want tiny houses to help the environment but be mobile build them so heavy they can only be towed with large gas guzzling trucks?

I wish they would update these shows and let viewers know how these owners like these homes several years later. I think tiny homes have their place, but some of the people on those shows don't seem to have thought things through. Same with some of the designers.

I've had campers where things had to be moved/ converted/ set up/ taken down in order to use other things. It's maddening to live like that a couple weeks. I can't imagine it for years.

One of the shows I saw recently, nobody involved seem to remember the family was actually planning to wear clothes, because nobody planned storage space for clothes. What? One family forgot they had a dog that wouldn't be able to climb a ladder to their loft bedroom. Another was eight months pregnant and had other kids too young for ladders, but they had 2 lofts and 2 ladders. I'm starting to remember now why we quit watching those shows.

But giving credit where it's due, some tinies are designed smartly and make sense for the intended occupants. Those are the fun shows to see, instead of the ones that seem to be more about what looks pretty on TV and don't seem to make practical sense.
 

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There is a certain amount of romantic appeal to it. On days when I have to deal with too many annoying people, I sometimes fantasize about living alone in a cabin in the woods.

But I agree that it is not particularly simple. You really have to be knowledgeable about a lot of stuff.

Also there is no retirement option. I read a true story once about a lady who lived in commune her whole adult life. It was a mostly self sufficient farm community. A small amount of food was sold to buy a handful of things the people there could not grow or make. But the people living there were not earning any type of salary. Everyone had to spend X number of hours per week in service of the community: farming, cooking in the communal kitchen, cleaning common areas, repair jobs, etc. They would not support adult who did not contribute. Well this lady had gotten older and her health declined. She was not able to do the required service. She was old enough to retire but...she had no savings, no money, no pension. She did not qualify for social security because she never worked at a paying job.

I feel like you have to work a lot harder for your survival and sustenance. Crunching some numbers...our weekly grocery bill - for two people - works out to between 5 and 8 hours of my wage. Or 3 or 4 hours per week per person. I don't know what farm life is like, but I am thinking it is a lot more hours than that to grow your own food and raise your own animals.
 

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Farming is a very labor intensive job, depending on the type of farming. Animals need care every single day, so no days off, no sick time, no breaks unless you know someone who knows how to do those chores, and if they're farming themselves, they have their own chores. Especially dairy farming where cows have to be milked twice a day. A lot of our farmer friends got out of livestock because they literally never got a break. They started farming small grain instead, no animals. Then of course most of the work is spring and fall, sometimes almost around the clock.

I've pretty much been living in a cabin in the woods the last 20 years or so. It has its benefits, but of course we're all in when it comes to being on the grid. Kinda rough to pump water up from our 425' deep well by hand, so not having power would wipe out two major utilities right there. Too much work not to have amenities.

I think tiny houses are probably most practical for people who don't have hobbies or have small hobbies that don't take much space. Otherwise it would be too difficult to do larger hobbies in cramped spaces.

To each their own, and I recognize we're all different. But I would still be interested in a show about how many tiny buyers are still in their homes a few years later. Good for them if they can make it work for them.

I don't get why people spend crazy money on those houses, either. I'm talking about the really tiny places. It doesn't seem like they would be very salable later, and then the people have spent all that money they can't get back.

I've seen some really cute park model small manufactured homes online. Those make a little more sense to me because they have to meet RV codes and are made with items already tailored for small spaces. They plan space for stuff like clothing, etc. I still can't get over how so many of these tiny home designers go for fancy but useless artistic stuff, instead of using that space for practical stuff like clothing storage.

I'm sure some of the stuff on the tiny shows is made up for the drama, so maybe I'm just a sucker for believing it.
 

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I guess I have always thought of tiny homes as a phase in someone's life. Not to live in forever. Not though that I think that people who live in ones ever buy a big home again but maybe a small house. We had friends who rented out their home, bought a truck and 5th wheel and lived in it for about 3 years traveling around. It wasn't a forever thing, just something that they wanted to do for a period in their lives before they found where they wanted to settle down. They did say how much they realized that they didn't miss any of their stuff.
 

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It's easier not to miss your stuff if you're on the go all the time.

Just saw the last half of a tiny show. This one was an actual house with a real staircase and other real house features. It made sense to me much moreso than the really dinky ones. I didn't hear how many sf it actually was, but it was a real house for a change and looked very livable. Wish they would show more of that type.
 

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Those are the ones I like, the bigger ones with the full staircase. I could not imagine climbing up a ladder to go to bed. At any age.

Back to the original question, nope, way too much work living off grid for me to even consider it. I do admire people who do it though and find it interesting to hear how they live.
 

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There used to be a show about tiny house hunting. Don't know if that's still on. That was kind of interesting. It seemed like the people did better because they were in the actual house, usually with furniture it it, and not just looking at an imaginary house on a computer screen. It's easier to spot problem areas in real life.

Ladders would be a deal breaker for me, too. Anything without a bedroom and bathroom on the main floor would be a deal breaker for us at this point. I'm not excited about stairs of any kind anymore, but if we leave here I expect to end up in something with basement stairs, at least.

It seems like so many of the people on the shows plan for the ideal situation and don't have any alternative for when crap happens. Sometimes I see those shows and just SMH. The well planned ones are cool though.
 

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yes I have seen some that are ok but for single folk young. I saw one with two lofts parents and teens. like dark ages..what are you suppose to do ignore people having sex? and a boy and a girl teen? and most were no room for toys or you had to have a shed for everything.

I think better to buy a restored vintage trailer like spartan all lovely wood inside built in cabinets bathroom bedroom. proper kitchen etc. a couple of pics of one in a museum in vegas. had been a rental for decades.
Kitchen appliance Building Wood Flooring Handle
Furniture Couch Textile Purple Interior design
 

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Agree about vintage trailers. Some are really cool. Vintage Airstreams come to mind. I've seen some very poorly planned campers though. One problem with vintage trailers, even older mobile homes, is lack of egress windows, but new windows could be retrofitted.

If I had to go tiny, I would seriously look into Ice Castle RVs, because they are built for 4 seasons and made to be towed. I really don't understand people who spend a ton of money on a tiny house they want to tow around. Why not buy a good quality RV that's built to be towed and has to meet RVI codes? A tiny with wood siding and all has to weigh a lot. They can't be safely towed with just anything. And if most of the weight isn't situated in front of the axles, hello sway, which can easily cause a catastrophic crash. That means kitchens, bathrooms, and lofts should be at the front of the trailer, if they are built heavy. The most stable towing would be a fifth wheel, which has the added advantage of providing an instant inexpensive storage shed when parked, with addition of curtains around the hitch area.

I've wondered too about the lack of privacy in some of those tinies. I have never noticed smoke or CO detectors in any if them either, but I haven't specifically looked. When they show those long narrow windows in the bedrooms in some tinies, all I can see is a death trap. RVs are even required to have egress doors or windows in sleeping areas these days. Codes exist for a reason, but tinies don't seem bound by them in all areas, especially if built on trailers.

I can see the appeal of tiny houses, especially in certain areas and for certain stuations, but a lot of them on the shows don't make sense to me. I've read articles about the negative aspects, but of course those parts are never shown on TV. So many of those families don't seem very realistic about it either, which is what makes me wonder how many people stay with their tiny house for very long.

It's a really interesting concept though. I can see why people are intrigued by it.
 

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I hear a lot of people talk about you do not need many things. I am guessing that none of these people like to craft as a hobby. Lots of people go overboard with there crafting materials. But even sticking to a more modest supply, that takes up a bit of spaces. Especially if you have more than one craft hobby. It is not in the same category as having lots and lots of clothes or shoes.

I also think about how we save lots of money by getting extra food for the pantry or freezer when things are on sale. I could not do that with a mini house.

It is also seems a bit ridiculous to call them an alternative to the oversized houses. Yes they are an alternative, but there are so many other alternative available. Like a medium sized house. Or a small, but not ultra small, home. Or a condo. Or a camper/trailer home.

I sometimes detect a whiff of eco-friendly self righteousness in the small home movement. In general, I support eco-friendly things - but there is a LOT of "more eco-friendly than you" mentality in the movement. There are people out there who feel the need to go though extreme lengths to be more eco-friendly. I went through a stint where I did paper crafting with recycled materials. But when I got posted them on one of the eco sites I was criticized by someone for not using all natural eco-friendly glue and paint.

We have a condo. It is big enough for our stuff and big enough to invite friends over. And I like not having to do outside work. I am not sure if it is 100% accurate to say it is a choice. A big home - or even a non-condo home - would be out of my current price range. At least in the part of the country I am currently living in. But I think even if I had a choice, I would still opt for a condo.

I feel like apartments and condos actually leave a smaller "foot print" than tiny houses. You get the benefit of residual heat from your neighbors. One apartment we lived in the downstairs neighbors had their heat cranked so high, we literally did not have to turn on our heat all winter. Plus you can fit more homes on the same amount of land with condos or apartments. I have noticed that every example of small homes has them sitting on a larger lot than the house where I grew up.

IMO, an extra large house is mostly just about impressing others. I could see it if you had a really big family though. Or maybe if you like to have huge parties with lots and lots of people.
 

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Ok...I DO live off grid...but work on the grid because I have a regular job (with a gym membership) so I'd like to address a few things

I don't see off-grid as constant drudgery, but there is SOME drudgery just like in all types of lifestyles. I do not find snow shoveling or snow-shoeing to the car each morning and back to the shed (not a tiny home...more on that anon) in the evening afterwork as "drudgery" but I would rather pull out my eye teeth with rusty pliers than vaccuum a mcmansion...or even a bungalow. I loath vaccuuming and dusting but not emptying a composting toilet. I've been a janitor and a hotel maid and cleaned and unclogged my lifetime quota of toilets. I don't mind the sawdust composting toilet because you carry a sealed bucket of sawdust and poo (my brother calls it the litter box...) out to the composter. No clogs, ever. Clean it outside about 1/8 mile from the home. Seems cleaner over all but it is not the norm.

As for space. I live in 135sq feet and have a storage unit for the furniture and household items for my future "real" home of about 500-600 sq feet. It's just me. It will be plenty. That will also be off grid.
I have a well with 15' head so pumping to the surface if I lose solar won't be too bad, but I have to carry it or pump it uphill about 50 feet to the house. Right now it pumps with solar power from 100' down to a cisterm 40' vertical uphill from the homesite providing passive pressure and 1250gallons in reserve.

I'm on solar because though there is a powerline on my property, I'd have to pay at least 10,000$ for a pole to be set and line to the house. Probably need a second pole and a transformer. That was upwards of 20,000$. So, I can get solar for less and I did. 30% of the initial installation price for solar was refunded in a gov't program. My brother put in a grid tie system (I am not grid tie...would have had to have those poles) for 0ver 200,000$ and got 30% of that back too. He lives in a different state and got a state refund as well.

In the summer, I solar shower outside. In the winter, I shower at the gym, I get a membership with my job.
I heat with wood. Uninsulated shed that I live in looks like a tiny house but those are actually NOT cheaper than real houses and are not generally easier to live in. I have no kitchen, a privacy closet for the composting toilet, no running water. I am not hooked to the ground as the whole thing sits on wooden skids (no wheels or trailer...that's expensive). In the midwest/tornado country I would use trailer tie downs which screw into the ground and are cabled to the structure. When I have the shed in a permanent spot, I may do that but a 70mile an hour wind didn't phase the place so I'm comfrotable in there.

As for simpler...no. Not simpler. Just different. I prefer no tv, no internet, just a cell phone and a laptop with some DVDs, no email etc at my home. Hence, easier for me to move off grid than most. I am not remote. Right on a major highway.

I've lived in 2 versions of vintage campers. they were fine but the maintenance was more challenging for me than the shed. And, I didn't like the pilot lights on the furnaces and hotwater heaters. The space was too tight for me and I didn't feel safe from CO poisoning. Others like it. In my 2nd trailer, I didn't use the propane. Just disconnected it and used candles...I guess I'd rather burn than smother.

With LED lights and rechargable batteries (charged on my solar system) I find I can light the place just fine. I do burn a candle in the evenings because it corrects the range of light from LEDs pretty well and makes it easier on the eyes.

Again, it is a distinct lifestyle choice and no way would I share the tiny shed or a tiny house with another human or some kids and a pet. I prefer my alone time. Having someone that close to me all the time would drive me bonkers.

Parts of the article are unrealistic, but I find that true of any "how to live" article. Perhaps they are just not my style.

that's more than my 2 cents so I will stop now! I'm enjoying hearing/seeing your views on this type of lifestyle.
 

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Maggie,

I do not mean this to be confrontational, but I am a little curious as to how "off the grid" is defined. I am puzzled when I see people posting online about living off the grid. Isn't the internet part of the grid. Don't you have to pay someone for the internet. Is that something that can legally DIY? Or is living off the grid a matter of degrees? For example maybe someone lives mostly self sufficiently but comes into town to buy toilet paper and salt.

I guess when I think of off the grid, I picture someone living 100% independently from the rest of society. Or possibly with a small group of like minded people helping out each other.
 

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people are always there to criticize everything and seems to be women more. I got told off yesterday in a discussion of going door to door cookie selling w my guides because I don't follow safe guide and go right up to the door with them. like the bottom of the stairs is fine. what is someone going to do rape or stab them in broad daylight 3 or 2 little girls as soon as the door is open with a couple of adults there. plus just keeping up with the girls lol. but that is off topic!

I think the tiny houses are on trailers because they don't have land or can't afford to build a house. so they need to be able to move it. also extra costs if it is on ground sewers etc.

I love vintage trailers lol I want one in the backyard to escape too. we did have a tiny one that the guys convinced me to sell but I regretted it. could have been my escape home. depending on the trailer some have lots of windows. but yes you can buy a nice 5th wheel and it has all you need in it proper storage, kitchen etc.

we have a small house 40s but it is big enough (nothing is big enough for dh lol he would fill a palace but you can always declutter) ds complains sometimes with people who have newer bigger homes. but really new homes here look bigger huge windows etc but the size of the rooms are the same or smaller. or open plan. even condos. yes having a master bathroom is great but... seeing next door being built huge windows a whole wall facing the sun all day from sunrise to late afternoon..the air cond. bills. rooms small no linen closet, no storage, no utility rooms. sm mud room. no basement because suites in it. extra kitchen so you can cook your smelly food it in so you don't stink up the open plan kitchen etc. so who needs a third bathroom on the main floor with a huge shower? toilet and sink powder room is enough. no shower you could have had a coat closet/storage. their electrical box is in daughters bedroom closet, hvac in their walkin closet. worth 1.6 million all looks so pretty and nice but our old house is better built. but that is the way it is now because the other house on the block is being built the same way.
 

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Hey Maggie, I hope you didn't take offense to my post, didn't mean any! Just because living off grid is not for me does not mean that I am not interested in people who do it. I really like hearing about anybody who lives differently than I do. If we all lived the same way it would be very boring.
 

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My remarks about the drudgery of off grid living was a response to the type of off grid living described in the article above. That is drudgery to have to do virtually every menial task yourself. That's a full tome job in itself. Off grid living without power but with easy access to amenities like grocery stores, and a paycheck to pay for some of the necessities instead of having to manufacture everything personally is a whole different thing.

I can well understand living in a small space while waiting for a real house, as we did that while our current house was being built. We had power, a propane furnace, and a septic system but no fresh water. It was the two of us and 4 huskies living in about 250 sf. If it had been permanent we would have done it better . We drove nearly 50 miles round trip to shower at my mom's house. If we had it to do all over again (oh, please, no!) I would like to say I would have planned better for making meals and freezing them ahead of time and planning the space we had, but I was my own general contractor and all my energy was going into that. It was very stressful. We were also our own movers and stored everything in our double garage, which took a huge physical toll that still flares up from time to time. Never again! I don't care if we're going to the moon for our next move, we will be hiring movers no matter what it costs! 😀

I never minded dealing with the compost toilet either, but we bought it used for $850, plus the compost was $25 for a little bag. If we had that to do over, we would have bought a top of the line Porta Potti for about $150 instead and dumped it into the septic as needed, but we weren't campers yet then so weren't really aware of the benefits of PPs. We've learned a lot from camping that would have been helpful to know during that time, but we were clueless.

I don't quite get the whole Mc Mansion thing either. We used to like watching that Extreme Home Makeover show, but it never made sense to build those huge elaborate houses for people who had not been able to afford to deal with the old houses they had before. Some of them, not all. It just set some people up to fail. I think that whole oversized house thing led directly to the recession when too many people bought too much house and then couldn't pay for it.

Some people don't understand us being willing to pay extra to live on a lake, either. As I and others have said in this thread, we're all different, and I like getting others' points of view, too. 🙂
 

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Maggie, I don't know if anyone mentioned it to you, but you can have the tie-down attachment points installed in the wet concrete when your slab gets poured. That provides better protection than the screw-in anchors. I recall you aren't doing standard construction but don't recall the details so maybe that won't work for you. Just thought I'd mention it because of all the stuff like that our contactors failed to tell us ahead of time, although our concrete subs did install our anchor points.

You mentioned possibly not anchoring your shed. I don't know if you meant the same about the house, but if you haven't, you may want to discuss it with your insurance carrier. Some won't cover buildings that aren't anchored.
 

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KathyB: not confrontational at all...though clearly I was feeling a bit defensive when I wrote my reply. I get quite a bit of criticism from folks around here and sometimes that leaks out in other areas. Either I'm too off grid or not "off grid enough" for people.

Anyway...your question:
Off-grid can mean anything. For me it is no link to the power grid or public sewer/water, no landline phone. As for 100% independent of society...not terribly possible for me and not my goal but for many people that is the ideal or holy grail of "off grid" I don't know anyone who manages it for long because eventually you need to use a road (built by "society") or use a library, the mail, a store etc.

If someone is in one of those tiny houses they generally aren't all that isolated because those don't do well on dirt roads or soft gravel roads so you can't get too far out.
 
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