We live in a world where most people rely on modern technology to survive. How many times do you walk along the street and see people engrossed in their smart phone? Even homes are now becoming smart with the advent of systems such as Hive and the increased use of virtual personal assistants like Alexa. Not everyone wants to embrace the technological age though; simpler times can have great appeal. This why going rural and off grid has gained popularity.
Reliance on the grid provides a valuable safety net. It means that we have access to a regular, and in the most part, reliable supply of gas and electricity. What if you want to leave all of that behind for a more rural and self-sufficient lifestyle; is it possible and what do you need?
Finding land where you can live
It is possible to find land to live on without having to buy a plot, but you do need to make sure that you stay within the law. You can also choose to buy land, but remember that not every land deal allows you to build a dwelling, so you need to proceed carefully. If you are looking to go rural, it’s a good idea to choose an area which is sheltered and where you have access to a water supply. It’s also worth remembering that you need to plan to protect the land that you purchase. For instance, you are unlikely to have formal plumbing, so you need to ensure that you invest in a reliable septic tank, so that you can break up solid waste and treat the resulting effluent, before it seeps into the ground.
Ensuring that you have power
You can opt to keep a heating oil tank on site, or perhaps consider using solar, hydro or wind power as your primary source of power. Given the lack of reliability when it comes to the weather in the UK, the best option could be a combination of all three. The good news is that storage systems for this type of power have improved so you do not have to use energy as soon as it is produced.
Water for drinking and washing
No-one can live for very long without water; survival would be for about a week at best. If you are going rural, and heading back to nature, you will probably not have access to running water. This means that you need to establish ways of getting water from elsewhere; not just for drinking but also for essential activities such as washing clothes, cooking and waste management. This is why it’s a good idea if you can find land where you have legal access to your own water supply, or where you can have access to a water supply on someone else’s land by agreement. Of course, we also usually have readily available access to rainwater in the UK.
In order to use the available sources of water, you need to make sure that you have reliable and durable tanks on site, where you can collect, treat and store water. Remember that some water tanks are only suitable for storing non drinking water, whereas others are manufactured to be used for storing drinking water.
Thinking about the big picture
There are people who go completely off grid and have no communication with others. This is a big commitment and in reality the choice to go rural with contingency plans works better for many. Think about:
- Food supplies – how to grow your own, hunt legally and have access to emergency supplies if necessary.
- Medical treatment – going off grid does not have to mean depriving yourself of access to a doctor; you should still be able to register.
- Access to the grid – some people chose to still have access to the grid, should power be needed in an emergency.
- Contact with others – the reason that many people choose to go rural is to escape the rat race. However, you may want to make sure you have a means of communicating quickly with the outside world, should an emergency situation occur.
You get to choose what going rural means to you. It can simply be a way of getting closer to nature and reducing your reliance on technology, or it can be an exercise in survival where you distance yourself from the world as much as possible. Either way, it’s a lifestyle change which requires a lot of careful planning and investment in the tools you need to make it work.
Guest post written by Emily Wilson.
Emily Wilson is a freelance writer, currently covering articles on renewable energy, rural living and climate change.