I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.
For those who have a recreational vehicle and are willing and able, there is a way to cut the umbilical cord that ties them to the basic costs of everyday living.
There comes a time in the lives of some people when they simply get sick and tired of all the commercialism and hype. They do not want to pay high electric, water and sewer bills, and they prefer nature to traffic.
For them, walking away from it all is the answer. For many, the easiest and most comfortable way to do it is to buy a motor home or camper, purchase or find a piece of land to live on legally and set down roots.
They call this living off the grid, and for many, the best part is that it spells financial freedom!
How Do You Cut the Cord That Ties You to Public Services?
People who are healthy and strong sometimes choose to live "off-grid," which is a way of life that excludes hooking up to any form of public utility in a place where you can legally stay for free or for very little money.
Some people do this on a full-time basis while others do so seasonally. Many build makeshift housing, but others move into recreational vehicles and adapt them to their personal needs.
This may sound ideal for those who are struggling financially, but living without the use of regular services can be uncomfortable and difficult. It also requires a certain amount of hardiness and creativity.
If you think you fit the description of someone who wants to follow this path, you might be wondering what you need to know and will need to do to become involved in this lifestyle.
What Is the Downside?
There are many caveats that go along with giving up the use of electric, water and sewer, so before you decide to give living off the grid a try, you should ask yourself three questions:
- Are you willing to live far from hospitals, doctors and stores?
- Are you willing to live without adequate plumbing?
- Do you like solitude and not being able to easily connect with others?
Many people would answer "no" to these questions, but for those who are sick and tired of being pushed around by the tax collector and the utilities companies, this move to an alternative life can work well.
What Are the Options?
If you are serious about trying this type of RV life, the first thing you have to do is plan where you want to live and how far you want to go with this concept.
- Live Rent Free in Your RV gives you ways to partially move off the grid for various periods of time without giving up too many of your comforts.
- You can also buy a tract of land and place your coach on it, but not hook up to utilities.
- Conversely, you can find free land where you can squat legally, such as certain BLM areas, and completely go off-grid.
- There are also communities of off-grid RV owners such as Slab City in Arizona that you can join. You can read more about this place by clicking on the above link to their website.
Here's the deal: If you choose item number 1, all you have to do buy a travel unit, and use the information in the article to help yourself get situated.
However, items 2, 3 and 4 will require the purchase of an RV along with considerably more planning.
For starters, if you are going to locate yourself on wilderness land, you will have to figure out which tools you need for clearing it and purchase them ahead of time. You also will have to decide whether you are going to clear the land yourself or hire someone to do it for you.
Can I Live in an RV On My Property? will give you some good information about this option.
For item 4 you will not need this information because you will be involved in communal living of sorts, where no land improvement is necessary.
Once you make your decision, you can then continue on with these details:
1. Purchase an RV that is large and solid enough to withstand changing weather conditions and make sure its tanks are of good size.
2. Make certain that your coach of choice is in good condition and that all of its systems are in good working order.
3. Figure out how you plan to deal with the lack of basic services. For example:
- Will you use a generator or propane for heating and cooking?
- Will you build a septic system or do you want to have a composting toilet?
- How will you dispose of trash? Will you burn it, bury, compost or recycle it?
- What will you do about keeping in touch with other people? Will you take standard mail delivery or use free library internet services?
If you really want to go all the way with off-grid RV living, here are some of the most basic items that you will need to purchase:
- a wood burning or propane powered stove that can serve as a way of heating your unit as well as your hot water,
- a generator, battery setup or solar power system that will supply you with power,
- a well or cistern that can supply you with safe drinking water,
- a septic system or other means of disposing of your personal waste,
- a grill for cooking (such as the one shown here)
- a battery charger,
- 12-volt appliances and fans,
- gardening, household and land clearing tools and
- a vehicle that is large enough to transport water, gasoline and groceries
The video below gives you a good example of what it is like to live this way.
Only the Toughest Need Apply
As you can see, this type of lifestyle requires grit, creativity and the willingness to live in a way that is totally different than normal. The land you use is usually off the beaten path and far from civilization, and you will be mostly on your own when it comes to dealing with health and other problems unless you choose to live in a communal setting.
Make no mistake: even though you will be living in a recreational vehicle, you will have few luxuries, and you will work hard every day just to maintain.
If you think you have what it takes to use your RV for off-grid living, go for it. My best wishes will go with you.
Tips for Off-Grid RV Living
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2014 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on November 11, 2014:
RhondaAlbom: My article that is an introduction to RVs describes various types of travel units. Some are small and as easy to drive as a car and yet have all of the basic facilities. Maybe something like that would work for you. There is one for just about every individual need, so don't give up on RVing...it's a great deal of fun!
Rhonda Albom from New Zealand on November 08, 2014:
We have traveled around the world in just about everything except an RV. Neither hubby nor I want to drive one. Actually the only time we talked about it was in Europe, so maybe one day in Australia or America.
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on November 07, 2014:
billybuc: There are so many ways people can do this...some are pretty interesting. If you haven't watched the videos, you should. They are real eye openers!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 07, 2014:
I'm all for any article that talks about living off the grid. Great information as always my friend.