In 2006 my life was humming along the normal path of middle class Americans. Living near a major metropolitan area, mid 30’s, working for a fortune 500 company, married, kids, two cars, house in the suburbs, 401k, health insurance, life was good.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, a toxic financial situation was brewing in our economy and the systemic effects were going to be felt far and wide as the global financial system froze almost overnight. I remember in 2008, watching Lehman Brothers collapse live on CNBC and thinking to myself that I was witnessing the fall of Rome and what a financial collapse would mean to me and my family. At that time, I would say that I was partially prepared for an event. I had a bug out bag, a few long guns & pistols, a small amount of ammo, a remote hunting cabin, very little stored fuel, and whatever food I had in the house. I had common sense when it came to planning for the future, stay away from debt, save money, keep some emergency cash on hand, keep warm clothes in your car, etc. but planning for a major event, like a financial collapse was far from my mind.
The Fall of Rome
Lehman Brothers changed all of that; I remember the fear on the faces of the CNBC anchors like Maria Bartiromo during the stock market plunge with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaping down by hundreds of points.
At that point, like most of Americans, I felt really unprepared. And when you are raising a young family, the feeling of being unprepared is a scary one. I decided to make a change in my life; I was no longer going to follow the herd because that was a life of dependency. A life dependent on others, dependent on the government, dependent on a guy on Wall Street to make the right decisions for me and my family, a life I no longer wanted to live. It was in 2008 that I discovered the Survivalist community online. I began to read different blogs like SurvivalCache, Survival Blog, Modern Survival Online, and Tactical Intelligence. From there I gained a new appreciation of what I needed to do to be more secure for my family’s future.
My first step to independence was to figure a way out of the suburbs. You can’t be independent while living in a cul-de-sac that backs up to another housing development. Sure, the convenience of the suburbs is hard to beat. Pick up the phone and someone comes to your house to deliver a hot meal. Local grocery stores full of your favorite corn syrup based food, restaurants ready to wait on you hand and foot, police for your false sense of safety, schools to indoctrinate your children, and the list goes on. But what if those things go away, what if the veil of society is much thinner than you think. I love the saying that “America is 9 meals away from anarchy” and I believe that to be about true.
Talking my wife into living a more remote lifestyle was not an easy first step but there were some upsides to having more room to stretch out and a smaller tight knit community that she appreciated. My wife and I are by no means your typical off the grid people, we both have college educations with advanced degrees, we both have studied abroad, and we both appreciate the typical city lifestyle. You will not see us on a future episode of Doomsday Preppers.
With a good job that I did not want to leave, I decided that the commute to work was much less important than the overall safety of my family. I was also able to negotiate with my boss the ability to telecommute at least one day a week if not more which made the commute a little less painful. So our search began….
Finding a house was not as hard as we thought, we had a few requirements from my research on Survival Blogs.
- We wanted five acres or more.
- We wanted to be on our own well and septic system.
- Access to high speed internet and cell phone coverage.
- We wanted a decent school system.
- We wanted a wood burning stove.
- We wanted to be able to plant a garden.
- We wanted multiple ways to get from my work to our new home.
- Any alternative energy sources would be a plus but not a requirement
I know this does not fit the exact model that other survivalist have laid out (stream running through your property, natural gas well, 500 acres, a stocked fish pond, etc. ) but this was the set up that worked for my family on our budget.
By 2009, our dream came true. We sold our house in the suburbs and moved to a more remote setting. The first thing you learn about living this way is to make a detailed list before you drive to any store because if you forget anything it is a painful process to go back. The next thing you learn is that Amazon Prime is your friend and that it is sometimes easier and cheaper to just order toilet paper from the internet rather than drive 25 minutes to the closest Target or Wal-Mart. I also learned that during my commute to and from work, I would become the primary shopper for the family because I drove by countless shopping centers each day. It did not bother me but I have new appreciation for shopping and the frustration of having to find certain things for recipes.
Now that we made the move, it was time to work on a budget for cutting the cord to the grid.
Check out the next article in this series: “Off the Grid – Part II – The Upgrades”