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Going off the grid is a decision that more and more families and individuals are making. Doing so may mean building a homestead in a rural area with no neighbors and few ties to others. People who go it alone would probably tell you how difficult it is. With no help, you and your family must be completely self-sufficient. That means finding and growing your own food, making sure you have a readily available water source, and being able to protect your home and land.
Because of these downsides, many people who choose to go off the grid prefer to do so with a group of like-minded people. It is possible to find individuals who share your values, dreams, and goals for a simpler lifestyle. If this describes you, you have a few options: you can start a new community with people you know, you can get in on the ground floor of a new off-the-grid community, or you can join a well-established group. Earthaven Ecovillage is a great choice for the latter.
Just fifteen miles east of the Appalachian town of Asheville, North Carolina lies this cooperative, off-the-grid community nestled in the mountains. It was founded in 1995 and since then, the community has grown to include sixty full-time residents and members. They expect to top out at 150 people, which makes for a nice-sized community.
There are many, many challenges related to starting your own community or going it alone. An advantage of joining up with Earthaven is that the process has already been started, the community has been largely built, and many of the kinks and problems have already been worked out. Another reason to join the ecovillage is that living with others means that you can share and use multiple resources and skills. If you are a former teacher, for instance, you can teach the children of other families. If you are not very good at gardening, you can rely on others to provide the food. Living in a place like Earthaven is all about contributing to and benefiting from the community.
Cost is another consideration when it comes to finding your ideal off-the-grid location. Certainly, living this lifestyle is simpler and costs much less than in traditional society, but there are still expenses. The first decision to make is how much to spend purchasing property for your new home. The initial costs of buying into Earthaven are a bit pricey, but after that it is fairly inexpensive. Members pay a one-time joining fee and a one-time site lease. The joining fee is a flat rate, but the site fee depends upon the number of people in your family and the type of residence you will be occupying in the village. Annual fees after these costs are around $800 to $1,000.
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Living at Earthaven also gives you the opportunity to start a business or work for an existing business within the village. Several members started environmentally friendly businesses that operate within the community as well as in surrounding areas. These include building services, farms, nurseries, a bookstore, counseling services, and educational services. If you have skills in these areas, you may be able to earn a part-time income. You may also choose to start a business if you see that there is a need for a service or product.
Another great aspect of Earthaven is that it is income-independent. This means that although you can benefit from the community atmosphere, you are still an individual or an individual family. Some similar communities share incomes, but at Earthaven, you can retain your independence. You are fully responsible for your own needs and those of your family. It is the best of both worlds: help when you need it and ask for it, with privacy and independence at all other times.
If one of your reasons for leaving the rat race includes safety concerns and societal pressures on your children, Earthaven is a place where you can relax. There is no need for policing here. The community works together to resolve conflicts and make decisions by consensus at council meetings. You can educate your children as you see fit and participate in homeschooling activities and get-togethers as often or as rarely as you like.
Earthaven is a good option for going off the grid if you would like to be a part of a co-operative and eco-friendly community. If you want to learn how to be self-sufficient, but also to rely on others when necessary, you will not be disappointed with Earthaven Ecovillage.
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