Going Off Grid – Part I

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.

Doomsday Preppers

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.

Doomsday Preppers Survival

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.

First Step

Doomsday Preppers

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.

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.

Remote Living

Off The Grid Survival

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”

Photos by:
Terry Pridemore

Joel Jefferson
Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.

13 thoughts on “Going Off Grid – Part I”

  1. Good first read, I think the world woke up in 2008. In 1999 there was Y2K and people acted a little wacky over some supposed computer code that would change the world. I never bought into it. People should not prepare for a crisis that you can see coming (ie Government shut down, Greece Bankruptcy, etc.) – you need to prepare for the unknown. That is the only way to prepare.

    • I dunno, call me naïve but I like to think that, though no one can really anticipate the worst of what's about to go-down, most of us here have a pretty good idea of what we're preparing for, wouldn't you say?

    • "People should not prepare for a crisis that you can see coming"…

      Would you care to rephrase that a wee bit, laddie?

      I get your point that we need to prepare for the unknown. But to not prepare for the known is a fool's parade!

  2. Man, my original plan was to join a union hall, learn to weld and let that take me and the new wife to Alaska, but the mill dried-up and now we're stuck in the South – of coarse, there's worse places to be, by far, but that one's still sore that our central plan fell through. We do what we can and are making the best of the fact that, though we're just outside Birmingham, AL, the woods are just RIGHT THERE in any direction…

    • I also live in Alabama. There are a lot of advantages to living here like 8 million acres of woods to hunt and fish in, Its dirt cheap to live here compared to other parts of the country, gun laws are pretty well relaxed compared to other states, and there seem to be lots of like minded folks here. Hope you do well here and good luck.

      • remember those 8 million acres to hunt and fish are not all public land. my pond has been fished out by the democrats over the last year and it pisses me off.

  3. You've become aware, and have taken the first steps in a long journey to being less dependent on other people doing their jobs in order that you can live. We started down that road 30+ years back. Be interesting to read your next segment.

  4. I think a great alternative to moving to a rural area and converting a home to be off grid is having an underground bunker. A bunker is easier to equip to become off grid rather then a house. Most people are not ready for the sacrifices of an off the grid lifestyle, but they do love the security of it. An underground bunker can be the perfect solution for that issue. You can live in your home (even in the suburbs) and have your secret bunker that will allow you to live an off grid lifestyle when you need it the most. Here is good article with a similar idea, but outlines what it cost to convert to an off grid lifestyle and the different options you have. http://www.risingsbunkers.com/self-reliance/cost-

  5. Greetings:

    I always get a kick out of people like this… 'advanced degrees'? Without advanced logic, their piece of paper is useless (I have one those too, so what). They state they are 25 minutes away from Walmart/Target… if you're that close to any mega-center like that, you're way too close-in… certainly not Off-Grid… maybe off-grid for some Yuppies (who install a solar panel in the backyard of their urban home). But for those who are serious about the advantages gained by real off-grid living, half measures like this are bad examples for others to follow… on top of which, they skipped over a couple dozen points (the real guts of what it actually takes to go off-grid) that others wanting to do this would want… So, with that said, IF you are one of those people seriously interested in this subject, here is an article that covers more of the bases:

    Cheers! Bill

    Capt. William E. Simpson II – USMM Ret.
    Semper Veritas / Semper Paratus
    IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6505899/
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/NauticalPrepper
    Member: Authors Guild

  6. We are about to see another one IMHO these financial cliffs are becoming more frequent and takes longer to climb out for the working class.
    this was thrown on the backs of the working class as soon as they figured out how to do it they robbed our retired by cutting interest rates prices kept rising and products were trimmed a new normal instead of 1 pound you got 12 ounces.

    Going off the grid at that time will not be an option without money your stuck companies will dry up only those that are in bed with whomever has funds if it is rubles dinars or hockey pucks will waddle along maybe I do not think we have ever seen a computer speed crisis in all markets at the same time.
    Since NAFTA many countries tied to us and vice versa will flat line and all that are connected will fail like a grocery store in a steel town and I do not think anyone will know what one will survive.
    companies will try to hang on as for independent owned know that if they close their doors the family and business are doomed.
    this has played out thousands of times over all the years it is just that whatever is coming must be worse as each failure has doubled the national debt or more.
    prices are going to blow up like this crisis it will happen like a strike of lightening I think it will be much faster than the depression and wipe people out in minutes.


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