Living off the grid sounds like something Jason Bourne would do. However, escaping a world driven by consumerism and cash – especially if you don’t have an ideal credit rating – is certainly worth considering. So, how do you do it?
Why would you choose to go “off-grid”?
Assuming that you’re not being chased by a government agency, the main motivation for living off-grid is often to escape the influence of over-consumerism. Many people with poor credit ratings also find themselves trapped in a world where products and services are expensive and it’s difficult to improve a credit rating to get access to better deals. Going off-grid means you can escape the shadow cast by your credit rating and make life choices that aren’t dominated by consumerism.
7 stage plan to live your life off-grid
Minimise what you own and what you need. It’s very easy to become a hoarder in the shopping-driven world that we live in today. You might feel like you really “need” to have a power shower and 15 pairs of red shoes but the reality is that you don’t. If you want to go off-grid and make it work then it’s best to adopt a traveller-style attitude so that you only have with you what you really need. Minimise your possessions and identify what it is that is essential to your survival and what is really just luxury or extra.
Own your own home. It’s quite difficult to live life off-grid if you have a landlord or a mortgage, as every time you move or remortgage you’ll be subject to credit and personal checks. If you own your own property then you have no ties to outside financial institutions or other companies or people. This doesn’t have to be a bricks and mortar property – it could be a canal boat, a yurt, even a tent on land you own.
Investigate alternative power sources. Some people who go off-grid are happy to forgo basics such as water and electricity. If that’s not you then you’re going to need to find other sources of heat and light than just getting them from big power companies. Alternative energy provides some great options here, from solar panels on the roof through to wind turbines in the garden. You could also resort to more traditional sources of heat and light, from wood-burning stoves to oil lamps and candles – or just get used to getting up and going to sleep as the sun rises and sets.
Look at the future cost of everything you buy. When we’re evaluating the cost of an item we often only look at how much we’re going to pay to acquire it. This kind of short-term thinking means you’ll most likely be back on the grid in no time at all. So, when you’re investing the money that you have in something, try to get an idea of the future cost too. What will it cost to run, how much would you pay to replace it and what will the maintenance expenses be?
Take a step back from tech. Technology requires a lot of energy to power it and, if you’re going off-grid, that could be difficult to obtain. So, it’s often useful to take a step back from tech or go back to simpler times – replace your radio app on your smartphone, for example, with a windup radio that doesn’t require electricity to power it.
Make frugal living your goal. If you’re living off-grid then life isn’t going to be one expensive whirl of luxuries. Although, of course, that depends on what your definition of a luxury is – if it’s freedom from commuting, spending time in nature and not having to worry about energy price rises then off-grid could feel like a very luxurious lifestyle. Either way, get used to looking for the cheapest options and finding ways to make savings. That could be something as simple as growing your own food, making your own furniture or getting a sewing machine and learning how to create or customise your own clothes.
Don’t leave debts behind you when you go. Going off-grid with a poor credit rating is one thing but taking the step when you have a poor credit rating and a lot of debt is quite another. If you clear your debts and stop spending as a result of going off-grid then the end result could be that your credit rating actually beings to improve. However, if you leave debts behind you – on which you don’t plan to make any further payments – this will send your credit rating through the floor and could result in court action.
Amanda Gillam is Solution Loans's General Manager and has been since 2009. She is also a prolific writer on personal finance issues, and has been quoted numerous times in articles published on 3rd party websites and in press releases. Her...Read more about Amanda Gillam