An off-grid life with less than 14k- Is it possible?

I´m dreaming of an off-grid life and impatient to leave the city. But how much is really possible when you don´t have a few hundred grand tucked away?

taking the step to go off-grid
Flying free, Madrid Río
Photo by me

This is the question that I have been asking myself these last few days.

With the global situation looking ever more bleak and an economic recession no doubt imminent I am wondering if this could indeed be the golden opportunity in disguise for people like myself who are dreaming of a different way of life.

But the fact remains that taking on the venture of buying land and starting an off-grid project takes money. No matter how romantic the dream and how pure the intention, there is no way to escape the ugly fact that all of this needs some cold, hard, cash.

And that my friends, is exactly what I do not have!

I might have some of my own savings and a little bit of inheritance, but it’s a minuscule amount compared to what people usually start these kinds of off-grid projects with. A recent post on a Facebook off-grid group confirmed my original suspicions:

“Think you would be hardpushed to achieve much with that budget I’m afraid”

“Honestly, I don’t think it is possible with so little savings. Yes, you can build a house out of wooden pallets, yes you can read a book with a candle, yes you can take a shit in a field, yes you can take a bath in a river- yes if that’s what you want”.

Ouch!

Whilst these comments echoed my own thoughts and intuitions, seeing it written down in black white was a little disheartening.

Out-growing the City

I am impatient to make this move to the countryside and I am hoping that my small budget can just about take me there.

My heart is yearning for it. Life in the city no longer interests me. I feel like my whole being is crying out for a change.

far form being off-grid
Riding home from work, Calle Alcalá, Madrid
Photo by me

But whilst that is all well and good, poetic and inspiring, the question still remains: How am I going to do this?

How am I going to acquire land, a place to live, and some solar panels with such a small budget?

Sure I could just hang tight in the city, practice patience and save, save, save. But realistically how much can I really save on an English teacher’s salary?

Sure I could save up a few extra grand, but is that really going to make that much of a difference? Perhaps if I could save up another 10-15 grand it would, but this would require hanging around in Madrid for another god-knows how many years…

And that is simply not an option for me!

I don’t want to wait until I have the perfect amount of money, the perfect situation, the perfect amount of knowledge to go and fulfil my dreams.

Why?

Because I will be waiting forever. And I will leave this Earth without completing what it is that I came here to do.

Wait we need a plan!

The intellectual mind that likes to control and organise does not like not knowing. It likes to have everything in order, under control, ready and prepared. That way when you step forward you know that everything is in its place.

You can step forward confident in the knowledge that you are so well prepared, so clever, so ready that nothing can possibly go wrong. And if it does you have everything to prepared to remedy the situation.

Only Life doesn´t wait for you.

When the time is right, the time is right and there is no amount of cash that can create that.

It can help of course. It is obvious that money helps and organisation is important. I am not anti-organisation or anti-money by any stretch of the imagination! (I am British after all and we like structure and organisation!)

But I feel that if I wait another 5 years until I have exactly the right amount to move to start an off-grid life easily and comfortably, I might have already grown tired of the idea. Or maybe I will have got too comfortable and wedged in my comfort zone to take the leap.

Or else I might have had the life and soul beaten out of me by the city and lose all the motivation and inspiration to dream…

And also, if there wasn’t a challenge in all of this, it would be incredibly boring, wouldn’t it?

“Hey, I’m starting an off-grid life in the country with 100, 000 euros” is just nowhere near as interesting as “Hey, I have a bit of cash and I don´t know how but I going to try and make this dream happen”.

Guaranteed I would have zero readers of this blog if the former were the case!

Money can get us everything we desire but isn’t it so fundamentally boring?

Convenience over Creativity and Self-Reliance

I have to admit, I am also guilty of throwing money at a problem instead of thinking creatively.

If my bike needs a repair, I am pretty likely to take it to a repair shop when I could just as easily take a look at it myself. If my lamp breaks, I am probably going to throw it away rather than take it apart and see what the problem is.

Thanks to my 9-5 job, I don’t have a lot of free time…or at least I would prefer to take my bike to a shop and pay for someone else to fix it and spend my free time doing something else.

bike riding and self-reliance
Bike ride In Casa de Campo, Madrid
Photo by me

But this is exactly the modern-day trap that I want to break free from. Everything is so comfortable and easy here in the city. And that’s wonderful progress- it has allowed me to do so much with my free time and I am truly grateful for that.

But it also makes us completely useless. How many of us know how to rewire a lamp or fix that wobbly chair or make ourselves a jumper? Some of us do, but I would imagine that most people reading this don’t.

If the chair breaks, no problem. You can get a new one for a fiver from Ikea. You need some new clothes? No problem, just hop down to HnM, you can pick something up for under a tenner. Problem with the electricity? Just call the electrician. And the list goes on!

Modern life makes us completely useless! We are all one-trick ponies. We go to university and study one thing in depth. Then comes the career and we get really good at that one thing. But outside of that, most of us have no real-world skills.

And I include myself in this too category of useless too.

The real question is not just financial. It’s also practical.

How I am I: a) going to get myself to the countryside in the first place and b) be able to make an off-grid project when I have zero practical skills and almost zero experience?

But as I said before, this adventure really wouldn’t be an interesting one if I were to have all the answers.

I’m okay with not knowing.

I am just curious and excited to find out exactly how all this is going to unfold!

The realistic comments on the Facebook were true- from where I am now I don’t see how this dream is possible and I can completely understand that from the outside, it looks very much unlikely that given the circumstances, I could make it happen.

However, Martin Luther King didn’t come out and say “I have a plan!”, he came out and said, “I have a dream!”.

And with that dream he continues to inspire and create change in the world.

So big was his dream that it continues to live even when he does not.

Faith

Such is the power of belief in a dream, a vision.

It is only with unwavering belief in my dream that I am going to have the courage to make it happen. And to have unwavering belief you also need to be crystal clear as to what you want.

I would be a liar if I were to say to you that I don’t feel in any way intimidated by this dream. I know that it is going to need me to take a big leap of faith and go back to a very back to basics off-grid lifestyle.

That might include digging a hole for all my bathroom needs, collecting rainwater and reading by candlelight- to begin with. It might involve getting a cold bum if I have to venture out in the middle of the night to use the loo a.k.a. hole in the ground.

But the fire in my heart gives my soul far more warmth than a comfortable toilet in the city would. And that is far more delicious a feeling than having a warm, cosy toilet.

Yes, this dream is going to require going back to the very bare necessities of life and that will no doubt be tough. But I have the feeling that this is exactly the experience that my soul is longing for.

Comfort

Up until now, I have lived a very comfortable lifestyle. I have known central heating and fluffy carpets, indoor plumbing and hot water on tap, access to more food than I could possibly eat, the freedom to consume as much energy as I want and a multitude of convenience stores just round the corner.

After 31 years of comfort and convenience, I think it is about time I experienced the bare bones of life a little bit.

Yes, maybe there will be moments that I will be eating my words and dying for the comforts of Madrid life. But you can’t live your whole life looking for only comfort and security.

Comfort is pleasurable but it doesn’t give any meaning to life. The meaning of life is not to be comfortable. We have not spent billions of year evolving to arrive at the grand ideal of ‘being comfortable’.

Spend too much time ‘being comfortable’ and you are already halfway to the grave.

This Life is for living.

What does that mean? It means exploring, growing, adventuring…it is dynamic, ever-changing, ever-shifting, ever-evolving.

A More Beautiful World

The Earth can not wait for everyone is have thousands upon thousands of euros/dollar/pounds ect in the bank to begin to live more sustainably.

The Earth needs people to begin to wake up from their slumber of modern Western life and begin to take some initiative.

The Earth needs people who are willing to put their physical comfort aside in favour of serving something much greater than themselves.

The Earth can not wait for the younger generation to have worked for 30 years before being able to save up enough money to embark on an off-grid, alternative way of life.

We need to do this now, not in some future time when everything is perfectly in place and we have saved up enough money.

Shared Vision

Over the last few days as I have been sharing my posts on Facebook I have heard the same story over and over again.

“I have the same idea as you but I don´t have enough money”

“I am waiting to have enough capital”

“I am waiting to have enough courage”

“I would love to do that too!”

“My partner and I also have the same dream!”

It is clear that I am not alone in this. There are so many people across the globe that are getting more and more fed up with modern life and are yearning for something more meaningful, more peaceful, more connected to nature.

What if we all came together and tried to do this together? What if we stopped thinking that this was a dream that we had to achieve alone and we pooled our resources and our knowledge?

What if, instead of the competition and ruthlessness of the modern world, we swapped it for collaboration, creativity and co-creation?

What if we just dared to believe that much more is possible than our intellectual mind can accept, that miracles exist, that synchronicity is there to guide us and help us out when we are in need?

What if we just accepted that we have a dream that we don’t know how we are going to accomplish but we are steady and strong in our belief that one day, it will be accomplished?

Maybe 10 years ago I would have been embarrassed to voice this but today I’m not scared of saying that I believe in all of this.

The honest truth is that when I saw these Facebook comments, maybe at first I thought “Oh. Right” somewhat disappointedly.

But the next moment I also had a huge desire to laugh! In fact, I did laugh!

My will is iron-strong and to think that I am going to let the prospect of doing my business in a field put me off felt like a huge underestimation! We have been crapping in fields of millennia- what’s the problem? All of a sudden we are so prim and proper that only a nice cosy toilet seat will do?

Come on!

Let’s stop with this domestication and get a grip.

Yes, going back to basics is going to be a big challenge- one that right now, from the comfort of the city I probably can’t really imagine properly and maybe I am underestimating how tough it will be.

But one thing that I do know for sure is that what is also very difficult is living a life that is no longer representative of who you are.

Not following your dreams, not living authentically, giving up because the odds seem to be against us- that is just downright painful. Compared to that, a cold arse doesn’t seem too bad.

I am going to make this happen one way or another. I’ve been blessed with the freedom to do whatever it is that I want with my life and I am going to honour that and do my best with this gift that I’ve been given.

So, to conclude:

Let’s be realistic…

And expect a miracle.

Isha Yoga Centre
Just one of the daily miracles at Isha Yoga Centre, India. Photo by me.

Credits:

A big thank you to all those lovely people who reached out to me on the Spain Off-Grid living Facebook group. All of your voices were the inspiration behind this article- even the more realistic ones! I am very happy to have discovered this community of people who are so willing to share what they know so freely and openly. You are all an inspiration, thank you! With a group of people like this behind you, it makes you feel that anything is possible 🙂

If you have enjoyed this post then please help support my blog by sharing it with others. Let´s make this community grow 😀

Olivia

Join me as I transition from the city to the country, following my hearts desire for a more sustainable life based on respect for the Earth and all the creatures in it.

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Elsie

You go on and make that dream a reality! Don’t wait. I’m just starting out off grid and I wish I’d done it before I hit 59! Here’s to everyone with a cold arse!

Alison Rese

Get onto national real estate sites like Idealista and Think Spain and start looking at properties. If you are prepared to go ‘off the beaten track’ there are some amazing deals out there! Then JUST DO IT! And don’t look back. I recently immigrated from South Africa, aged sixty six and bought an old stable in Andratx. It dates back to 1927 and has no water, no electricity ~ nothing! Some days I wake up thinking WTF – and others YAY! I’ve done it! Can’t wait to start work! So seriously ~ just brave it!
Good luck!
Axxx

Lou Connell

It’s possible if you can develop the skills to grow your own food and are handy with mechanics when your water pump doesn’t pump. I met a lot of young new arrivals whilst living off grid in Portugal who thought one only had to cast a few seeds into the soil and off you go. Go spend a year woofing or as workaways and get some experience first.

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