The grid refers to the mains electricity network. The core concept of Living Off The Grid means disconnecting from most or all of our everyday creature comforts and returning to a much simpler way of life.
No TV, radio or Internet. No more dishwasher, mains gas cooker, central heating, washing machine or clothes dryer – and certainly no electric blanket.
It’s a growing trend in the US and only a fringe choice here – but can one live off grid in the UK?
Two extremes of living off the grid
People forced into homelessness are an extreme example at one end of the spectrum. They have absolutely nothing. Maybe a smartphone that they can occasionally charge and use publicly available WiFi to keep some connection with society.
It’s hardly a lifestyle choice. They depend on their wits and on handouts to survive. Substance abuse is prevalent – it dulls the pain. Many die.
At the other extreme are those who own their own home, or have enough capital to buy one in a remote area perhaps, and disconnect from mains services including water and sewage.
They achieve a happier back-to-basics lifestyle without the constant news and data overload that the rest of us seem to need like oxygen.
This article tells the stories of two contrasting examples – Steve (USA) and Dorothy (England).
Why would you want to live off grid in the UK?
There are many reasons why one would want to do it:
- To hide away, probably from the authorities and constant surveillance
- Live disconnected from utilities such as electricity, gas, water and sewage services
- Become self-sufficient, possibly generating your own electricity and growing your own food
- To get away from society
- Escape from social media – the digital umbilical cord
- A strong desire to immerse in nature
Or a combination of two or more of those. It’s a concept that each person can adapt to whatever they want it to be – there are no rules, only degrees of isolation.
Where could I live off grid in the UK?
Unlike places such as Alaska, there are no wilderness locations where you can simply build a log cabin and get away from it all.
A house boat or canal narrow boat is ideal for some people. Others find a remote mobile home or even a motor home where they can park away from it all when they find a suitable location.
Without some form of income, or capital to buy a property, you may need to team up with like minded people. Communalism is one option to get away from it all.
Off Grid communities – Like this one: “On a remote peninsula in the north-west Highlands of Scotland is the small off-grid community of Scoraig.” Ideal for those who want to get away from it all but still retain face to face social contact. Here’s another: Tinkers Bubble in Somerset or this – Lamas Eco Village in Wales
Communal living – Not necessarily off grid but certainly out of mainstream life, communal living may be a good starting point. There are several communes in the UK and in Europe and many welcome new members who share the group’s outlook and ethos. Start here on the Diggers and Dreamers website or read this article in The Scotsman.
Themed Communities – For example, Pilsdon in Dorset welcomes those who seek a period of tranquillity in their lives. Or Windsor Hill Wood in Somerset. They are both Christian focused communities and are mentioned in this Guardian article.
Watch this movie trailer about sustainable living
The makers, all amateurs, travelled up and down the UK looking at people trying to live a properly sustainable life. Worth a watch and worth getting the video too. wetheuncivilised, A Life Story.
Diggers and Dreamers https://www.diggersanddreamers.org.uk/
Lamas Eco Village http://lammas.org.uk/en/welcome-to-lammas/
Scoraig Community Association http://www.scoraig.com/
The Pilsdon Community https://www.pilsdon.org.uk/
Tinkers Bubble http://tinkersbubble.org/
wetheuncivilised, A Life Story https://wetheuncivilised.org/
Windsor Hill Wood http://www.andytowner.co.uk/windsorhillwood/
BBC (Nov 2018). The remote UK community living off-grid. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-45046023
Chirila, A. (Nov 2015). 10 Off the Grid Communities Living in Harmony with Nature. TopTenz. https://www.toptenz.net/10-off-the-grid-communities-living-in-harmony-with-nature.php
Cooper, D. (Jul 2014). How to Disappear (almost) Completely: living off the grid. Engadget. Retrieved from https://www.engadget.com/2014/07/07/how-to-disappear-completely-part-three/
Dearden, L. (Oct 2019) Drug poisoning is blamed for a record rise in homeless deaths. The Independent. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/homeless-deaths-increase-england-wales-death-toll-ons-a9127451.html
Jones, T. (Nov 2009). Tobias Jones: why I’m setting up a woodland commune. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/nov/17/tobias-jones-woodland-commune
Jones, T. (Oct 2015). The new communes: Why I live with a dozen other people. New Statesman. Retrieved from https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2015/10/new-communes-why-i-live-dozen-other-people
Rosen, N. (Sep 2019). How to live off the grid. Wired Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.wired.co.uk/article/how-to-live-off-the-grid
The Public Purse (Sep 2019). Live Facial Recognition – Coming To A Street Near You? Retrieved from https://www.thepublicpurse.org.uk/general/live-facial-recognition-coming-to-a-street-near-you/
The Scotsman (May 2017). 5 alternative communities of Scotland. Retrieved from https://www.scotsman.com/news-2-15012/5-alternative-communities-of-scotland-1-4460509