There are some rather obvious benefits to living off the grid, such as saving money on utilities and likely not having neighbors too close to your home. But there are some not-so-obvious benefits that you should take into mind whether you’re living off the grid now or thinking about making the move.
You won’t learn these on Facebook. Here are four:
1. Your Inner Clock Needs Reset
Studies show that modern Americans are way out of whack with the ways that nature intended us to live. Up until the invention of the electric light, people went to bed early and rose early. Now, we stay up late with our eyes glued to one type of screen or another, and this behavior is taking a toll on our minds and bodies.
Before electric light was common, people went to bed early, then often got up in the middle of the night for an hour or two, and then fell back to sleep until morning. Scientists believe that this is human’s optimal sleep pattern, and our current habits are far worse. There have also been studies showing that going camping for one week without electronics can reset our inner clock, reducing stress, depression and hunger, while also increasing serotonin levels. If you can make yourself healthier by cutting out electronics for a week, imagine the physical and mental health benefits that can be gained by “camping” all the time.
2. You Don’t Need Modern Amenities
Unless you’re making the move to an off-grid house that is like any other on-grid house, chances are you’ll have to make do without something. Whether it’s lights, Internet, cable TV, or something else, learning to live without every single modern amenity can be good for you.
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By living off the grid, you will learn to make do, and to rely more on your wits, wisdom and ingenuity than most other people need to. You may need to start cutting your own firewood or you may decide to raise chickens or have a garden. No matter what, living off the grid lends itself to you being able to rely on yourself more and more.
3. You (Really) Need To Get In Touch With Nature
My first spring in the little cabin, I was blown away by the sheer volume of wildlife I saw and heard. It was a wondrous thing to fall asleep to the sound of frogs chirping and to wake to the sound of songbirds singing, (That is, until a yellow-bellied sap sucker decided to use my metal shed roof as a tool in his mating ritual).
When you eliminate excess lights and noise from your property, you will start to notice all sorts of plants, bugs, animals and smells and sounds that pass us by when the TV is on. You’ll be able to see deer in the yard and turkeys strutting through. The weather becomes more important because you won’t be able to kill endless hours inside surfing the web. You’ll start to learn the names of birds that you’ve seen. A nice, quiet off-grid home can make not only the animals feel more welcome, but will make you feel more comfortable as well.
4. You Need Real Friends (And You’ll Have Amazing Stories To Share)
I had a chimney fire my very first night living off the grid. My driveway was plowed by anonymous people. I had a woodpecker banging away on a metal roof at 4 in the morning trying to find a mate.
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People are fascinated by those of us who can maintain an off-grid lifestyle. And even though I was roughing it pretty hard (no running water, no indoor plumbing, hiking a half mile to the cabin all winter long), many were whole-heartily convinced that they could do the same thing. Of course, they told me this as they distractedly and compulsively checked their smart phone for the umpteenth time.
But the nice thing about this is that living off the grid not only gives you plenty of material to share with others, it can also create a bond with other off-gridders. My cabin was at the end of a dirt road, and my closest neighbor lived on a different road. He could hear my rooster through the woods, but that was it.
We had no overlapping property, and only occasionally would I hear his chainsaw as a low distant rumble. He was the best neighbor I ever had, and then when we actually met for the first time, we had an instant bond and plenty in common. We’re friends to this day, and help each other out when need be. But one of the best benefits of living off grid is that by getting away from people a little bit, we can then appreciate it when we do have a bond with someone else. We don’t collect Facebook friends. We collect real friends.
Living off the grid can be a challenging and wonderful experience. Whether you’re doing it temporarily or permanently, being off the grid can teach you to rely more on yourself, while also allowing you to appreciate your real friends and experiences.
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