One of the big challenges for retiring today is being able to afford retirement. Many of us are in the difficult position of not having company retirement benefits to fall back on. What that means is that all we have to retire on is our Social Security benefits. It used to be that if you have a million dollars in the bank, you had it made for retirement.
There are two basic ways that people try to deal with this situation; either downsizing to reduce costs or trying to find a retirement business which can augment their retirement income. Both of those possibilities are workable, although neither is easy.
There is another option; that of going off-grid somewhere and becoming self-sufficient. For some people, it even includes growing their own food. For some, producing your own electricity means that you would have to produce as much electricity as you use now, powering air conditioners, computers and massive entertainment centers. Financially, at least, this option is much easier. While this would require a total change of lifestyle, retirement is a massive change anyway.
Living off-grid would even give you something to do, tending your garden and feeding your chickens. If you own a home now or have any savings, this is a real possibility. Selling your home would provide you with funds to buy property for an off-grid home and hopefully even to build the home.
Whatever retirement savings you might have could be used for that as well, investing those funds in making it possible to retire in a comfortable, albeit different, way. So, where are the best places to go, if you want to retire off-grid? That seems to be the question. Weather would probably be a factor as well for most people. Living in a hot climate, without air conditioning, may be fine for some, but others would really struggle with the heat.
Likewise, living in a cold climate and heating with wood could cause serious problems for others. Ultimately, you have to find what works for you, not what works for someone else.
Weather can also affect your ability to produce your own electrical power. If you were to live in Washington State, you might have trouble with solar panels, as the constant rain would reduce the available sunlight. That location in the Southwest might give you ample sunlight, but it will also be a whole lot hotter. Most people will want to retire somewhere in the Continental United States, so that they can be close to family and friends.
The Beverly Hillbillies probably made one of the most expensive moves in history, moving from the Cumberland Mountains to Hollywood, California. That makes for rather low cost of living, as well as not a whole lot of government officials breathing down your neck about regulations. While I would personally prefer living in the Rocky Mountains myself, living in the Cumberlands would prove to be a whole lot cheaper.
Land in the Rocky Mountains is high, pretty much anywhere you go. Like the Cumberland Mountains, there are a lot of backwoods areas in the Ozarks, which includes the northern parts of Arkansas and the southern part of Missouri.
People tend to be friendly and the cost of living is rather low. One nice thing about this area is that the climate is rather temperate. That term was coined by real-estate developers who were trying to talk settlers from the east into buying farmland there.If you want a taste of off-grid living without making a full-time commitment, these are the communities that will welcome you with open arms.
The urge to quit it all and live an off-grid lifestyle on some remote Nordic island might overcome us all sometimes. Off-grid communal living has had something of a renaissance since its heyday in the s, with many now seeking to digitally detox and simplify their lives.
While these communities are often for residents-only, some invite outside visitors to experience life without WiFi where wilderness and human connection can take center stage.
Since the government designated the area a national park, this small community on the eastern coast of Uruguay has been frozen in time. Part rustic fishing village, part hippie cooperative, the village consists of around 70 houses dotted across a sandy outcrop bordered by stretches of beach on either side.
The few generators available power the single shop and a handful of makeshift bars. For everyone else, cooking by candlelight is part of the charm. Walk down to the lighthouse and watch the enormous colony of sea lions barking on the rocks below. A two-story home, a dance floor, a lighthouse, four greenhouses, a studio, a half-acre garden, and an art gallery are hewn together on 12 floating platforms, strewn with plants, and attached to shore by a few lines.
This ton floating art project is the work of Catherine King and Wayne Adams, who live here with their two children. They fish for their dinner and grow their own produce, offering a model of subsistence living that allows them to continue their pursuits as artists. Browning Pass offers boat tours of the artist studios, gardens, and sustainable living quarters. If your aim is to escape from civilization, this remote wind-blasted settlement on a narrow peninsula in the Scottish Highlands should satisfy.
The latter rewards visitors with stunning views across Little Loch Broom and the Summer Isles, with the occasional dolphin spotting en route. The community is powered by solar and wind and includes just 40 croft houses and a six-student school.
Spend your days wild swimmingfishing, or looking out for the Northern Lights. What else do you want? A shaggy shire horse drags a Victorian plough across a field. A s steam-powered sawmill cuts the timber. A small wood-burning stove heats water for a shower. The group is united by a shared philosophy of living off the land and eschewing fossil fuels.
Retiring off the grid: An alternative retirement plan
These are the duties you would be undertaking as a volunteer, one of that visit every year. It can be a damp experience, but fulfilling; get your hands dirty and discover the joys of an outdoor toilet. While many off-grid communities focus on escaping the anxieties of the 21st-century world, here at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillagethe community of about 60 residents is busy reimagining that world.
The village of ramshackle houses and whirring wind turbines is set in one corner of the acre property, with woods, hills, creeks, and swimming ponds to explore. Sleep to the sound of the coqui frogs croaking or the rain hitting the roof of the tiny guest cabins of Asante Gardens. Lush and tropical, its fruit trees are overflowing with avocados, coconuts, mangos, and more. While the Wild West attitude is liberating, the art is as much of a draw.
The massive expanse of desert terrain is a veritable al fresco museum, with sculptures ranging from the downright bizarre to the spectacular. Most famous is Salvation Mountain —which featured in the film Into the Wild— with its staggering display of colors and scripture. Make sure to check out the art commune East Jesusone of the many neighborhoods here.
Earthship Biotecture sounds like the future in which we have relocated to Mars.This article was published more than 6 years ago. Some information in it may no longer be current. The Essay is a daily personal piece submitted by readers.
Have a story to tell? See our guidelines at tgam. The first thing we did when we moved from Vancouver to an off-grid retirement homestead in the mountains near Kamloops was to think of a nickname for ourselves — to get in front of our story before somebody else did. Almost everyone in our hamlet straddling the Thompson River has one. Some are flattering.
Others aren't. We were afraid of being dubbed "the fools on the hill," though we realized that, to our new neighbours and old friends in the city, we probably fit that description. We have made many of the same mistakes made by others who built their dream homes, yurts and straw-bale cabins in the area: We spent more building the house than we could ever sell it for, we underestimated the cost of drilling a well in a desert, and failed to appreciate the difficulty of building roads through a rock farm.
We paid too much for everything, and bought equipment that we really didn't need to raise farm animals that became family pets. Daisy, our miniature "test" goat, is allowed in the house on movie nights, and happily curls up on the couch, munching on carrots and watching Humphrey Bogart. We gave up our plans to raise goats to sell for meat after hearing that first endearing little bleat.
As for building a solar-powered house, barn and cabin in the bush … well, we are still married. The long and windy road to an occupancy permit was littered with the stories of wannabe country squires who ran out of money before they had a chance to live the rural lifestyle they fantasized about.
More than a few have ended up back in the city, living in a basement suite, scraping by on a pension. Like them, we had cashed in our Vancouver-area real-estate chips to live large in the country. Our community had become overrun with wealthy yuppies, our old house was overshadowed by new mansions.
We felt it was time to move on, taking with us our three elderly horses and three big dogs. For the cost of a studio apartment in a scary part of the city, we bought acres of forest and open meadows with staggering views of the river valley below. While most of our sixtysomething friends moved to condos close to hospitals, and confined their travel to cruises and all-inclusive resorts, we cut and split firewood, chipped ice from water buckets in the barn, put chains on the truck tires and learned to use a shotgun.
Is Retiring Off the Grid For You?
My friends in Vancouver, whom I visit regularly, shiver at my somewhat exaggerated tales of fending off cougars and coyotes, and snowshoe jaunts in minus degree weather. But the physical benefits of our new lifestyle were marked: We both lost weight, tossed blood-pressure medication in the garbage, and slept better than we had in years.
The psychological and social changes during our first year "up country" were harder to measure but equally profound.Retired Couples Beautifully Designed Tiny House - The Perfect Layout
In our urban life, we rarely experienced physical discomfort: When we were cold, we fired up the furnace. When things broke, we hired someone to fix them. On the mountain, we were on our own. The plumbers we called to fix frozen pumps or burst pipes that first winter were out of town, enjoying tropical vacations paid for by people like us. We relied heavily on Google, and on each other, to solve our problems.
We became a team. Like many suburbanites, we used to think the world — along with all cultural, political and intellectual activity of any consequence — ended at the outskirts of the city.With the trend in tiny housesand celebrities like Ed Begley, Jr.
While most off-gridders are families with children, there are a number of retirement-age couples that find the off-grid lifestyle very rewarding. Not wanting to slave away at a job until the age of 70, these tenacious individuals have quit their jobs and followed their dreams of living a more stress-free, healthy, and satisfying lifestyle.
In conventional terms, it means self-sufficiency without reliance on public utilities such as electricity, water, sewer, and natural gas. Homes generate power with alternative sources such as solar or wind, and water comes from an underground well instead of the city water supply. Off-gridders are totally reliant on themselves for everyday needs. More power to you. You are fearless and I commend you. Going off-grid takes considerable planning. I encourage you to check out the following resources:.
Think of off-grid living vs. You toss in a few ingredients, run the mixer, fill the pans, and put them in the oven. Having the flour, butter, cocoa, and vanilla, much less growing the wheat and grinding the berries is not a requirement for success! Compare minimal living to baking a cake from a box; you take measures for self-sufficiency, but you still have an electric bill.
As city-slickers turned rural dwellers for the last 12 years, I can testify that minimal living is the way to go. We sold the house, got out of debt, and pay cash for everything while living productive and abundant lives. True, there have been some jobs here and there to help pay the bills, but nothing permanent. We live in a nice home, eat home-grown vegetables, enjoy watching wildlife from our back door, take trips, entertain, and are part of the community.
Get out of debt — Once and for all, cut up the credit cards, pay off the bills, and live on a cash basis. Think of times past when people paid for merchandise when they purchased it, as opposed to charging everything under the sun.
Empower yourself. Lift the burden of debt and lessen money-related stress. Determine where you will live — In order for this to work, you may have to remove yourself from the judgemental eyes of friends and family who may think your ideas are nutty.
They may likely put pressure on you to continue the old lifestyle, and expect you to adhere to the status quo. If you can sell your house, and move a reasonable distance, you are less likely to be fearful of the peer group giving you the eye-rolls. Benefit by starting a new adventure and living life to the fullest.
How will you earn your living? No worries. Put your thinking cap on, and consider the field of all possibilities. What did the year-old you always want to do? Stream movies and tv shows from your computer. Get your news from there, too. Work out to videos on Youtube. You also might like chopping wood. Benefit from the healthful nutrition of growing your own natural foods, while saving on the cost of groceries.
I would do this, but bears would relentlessly tear away at the chicken coop. If possible, heat your home with wood.One of the greatest things about an independent off the grid lifestyle is that it sparks creativity and resourcefulness.
You may find that once your off the power grid you'll be inspired to start growing and producing your own food. It seems like a task designed only for those living out in the middle of nowhere of those who have a bit of extra money, some specialised knowledge and a lot of extra time on their hands but, in fact living off the grid can suit almost any type of person if they have the will to stay committed to the process.
Families living of the grid do not rely on ay municipal services such as water, sewage, garbage removal and gas supply. They basically are self-sufficient in all aspects of production, consumption and removal or reusing of food. The best place for a completely off the grid home would be a remote area where there are limited codes regarding sewage, water and building. To begin your journey to self-sufficiency you must first do the necessary research to establish if you are truly willing to put in the time, effort and resources that it will take.
I suggest that you make it your business to find someone who has gone through the process and have successfully become independent of the grid and municipal utilities and find out as much as possible from them.
There are also many great books available that can help you learn about everything. You also need to decide exactly how far you want to go. Do you want to get off the electrical grid only? Do you want to do away with the water and sewage services too? You need to learn about electricity, generators, motors, plumbing, water and sewage systems and a whole lot more. This sounds a bit intimidating but even if you decide not to get off the grid you'll save a whole lot of money on plumbing and electrician services because you'll have gained the knowledge to do some basic maintenance and repair tasks yourself, a dream for any retired individual.
Some benefits of off the grid living include; saving on utility bills or removing utility expenses completely, generating a profit from reselling the excess power generated, being self-sufficient and not dependent on the over-stressed municipal utility services, contributing positively to the environment by significantly reducing your carbon footprint and being able to lead a cleaner, more creative life.
You may think that going off grid is best suited to the young because of the sheer amount of work that it will take but this is no longer the case. With modern technology at your disposal you can set up an off the grid home that will take minimal effort to maintain and work. In an effort to get off the grid you need to ensure that you are debt-free - which is a critical part of preparing yourself for a comfortable retirement anyway.
Firstly, you have to find a way to generate electricity and this is mostly done with windmills or solar panels or a combination of the two. This is a very efficient way to generate power but minimise any negative environmental impact. We all know that income from our retirement fund can only go so far but apart from downsizing and saving why not invest the money to get your home off the grid now?
It will certainly save you a chunk of your income in the future and if your home is fully paid off by the time you retire, you'll be living comfortably with money to spare.
Many people that want to get off the grid decide to buy a piece of land and build a home from scratch to maximise the amount of energy they can derive from solar and wind energy generating systems, develop a water and sewage system and even grow their own food.
A couple will rarely require more than a standard residential home wind turbine or solar panel system to provide them with adequate power. Conducting thorough research on all your options is crucial because you have to make the right purchase decision which means you have to ensure you'll have enough power year-round as well as have backup power should a mechanical issue arise for whatever reason.
So how do solar panels actually work? This electricity will then flow to what is known as an inverter that will then convert the DC electricity to Alternating Current AC electricity, which is standard type of electrical power used in most homes.People want to know. There is no easy way to make the move to living off the grid. Moving off grid is usually a slow and deliberate transition that happens over a period of years.
It is a transition from a modern city and suburban lifestyle to life in the country. Many people I know have a lifelong dream of owning a cozy country cabin or log home in the mountains. Now that dream is becoming shadowed and ever-distant in the minds of the people. Some people give up and get sucked into a monotonous work routine and give up on their dream because it seems so out of reach and so far away. Because that dream is alive and well in the hearts and minds of millions of people all over the world who realize it is still possible, and even more so, within reach.
Sell everything you own and use that money to buy land and move off grid. Money is the single most limiting or contributing factor to how and when people can go off grid.
Selling your stuff is the easy part. Craigslist and Ebay are still good options. Facebook marketplace is one of the easiest and fastest ways to sell everything from clothes to cars. Facebook groups for your neighborhood, town, or special interest are another good option. There are also a variety of apps available now that let you sell to people in your local area. Going into debt to raise your initial chunk of cash should be your last resort, though.
More about selling your stuff later. The expenses for moving and living off grid will almost always be higher than you think. Usually, the best way to make sure you have enough money is to do an assessment of all the equipment, materials, tools, and supplies you will need for at least the first year, preferably years.
Then triple that number. I said triple it. This article will concentrate on the initial lowest start-up costs to move off grid as quickly as possible. There are many things you need to make the move to living off the grid. The first step to saving money is to stop wasting it. Get rid of all unnecessary bills from your monthly spending. There are, however, things like car and health insurance that are necessary expensess. If you have a mortgage, that also complicates matters because you will likely have to sell your current home before you can move off grid.
Note: Keep in mind this list does not fit everyone and is not representative of all people. Perhaps this list might help give some ideas on how to save money for everyone.Perhaps as you sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you can even hear the wilds of Alaska or the wide-open spaces of Arizona calling out to you. Although many people who make the move relish spending their retirement years in the beauty of nature, special considerations are associated with aging in a remote location. So, before you pack up and move to your little piece of paradise in the middle of nowhere, consider these tips from retirees who have done it themselves.
Many retirees are in great shape at 65, but health can change over time. Moving to a remote location can require a lot of physical work around your property. It can also mean long drives to see doctors.
For Pete Burokas, 69, who lives in a remote cabin in the wilderness of Alaska, medical help is 65 miles away. Despite the trek, he has lived for years in his remote paradise and loved every minute of it.
But this year he has decided to move some place less remote for a number of reasons. For Burokas, shoveling snow and chopping wood are two tasks that are now too difficult for him to manage. Be sure to include in your retirement budget money for transportation and any help you may need around your property.
In fact, one of the other reasons Burokas decided to move is to see his grandchildren, who live in Texas, more often. Choosing a location that has reliable cellphone and internet access may help fight the potential isolation of living remotely. Also, planning trips to visit family and friends or making sure they can visit you is important.
For Warren and his wife, the move has given them their dream lifestyle. They are growing an organic garden — something that was important to them — and they appreciate the rich forest soil and the clean well water of the Tehachapi area.
But you may end up paying more for things such as construction, shipping and everyday products. Burokas has found that food prices are much higher because of the cost of shipping goods so far north.
For Warren, the biggest challenge is budgeting for the times when they go to town and spend a lot of money stocking up on supplies. Before you buy a piece of property, research what others living in the same area are spending on essentials such as utilities and food.
Despite his plans to leave his wilderness outpost, Burokas is adamant that he has never regretted his choice. Escaping the frenetic activity of city life can be the ideal way to spend your retirement.
If so, you can enjoy a quiet retirement in the remote location of your dreams. Amanda Reaume is a freelance writer and the creator of the blog Millennial Personal Finance.