Going from City to Homestead

How to Escape the City and Move Off Grid

June 22, 2020
(last update June 22, 2020 )

Daniel Mark Schwartz Profile Picture

As a former apartment dweller gone country, people often ask me how they too can get out of the city and develop a self-reliant rural lifestyle. With everything going on in the cities recently, I thought it would be a good time to explain how to move out of the city and go off grid.

City dwellers moving off grid should start by considering income options available to them in the country, and develop a financial strategy. Next, they should shore up skills necessary for self-reliance which they lack. Finally, they need to plan for practicalities like transportation and shopping/services availability.

Going off grid is a glorious experience, but there are so many things different between living in the country vs living in the city, that it is easy to make mistake. Below, I’ll go through everything that I wish I knew when I first started my city exodus, so you can avoid the same problems that I had.

How to Make a Living in the Country

The biggest question I get about living off the grid or just moving to the country in general is, “How do you make money way out there?” This makes sense, because most people move to the cities and stay there because of high paying employment opportunities. Luckily, there is increasingly more and more options to support yourself out of the big cities.

The most common mistake city dwellers make is to expect a job a their current income level. Country jobs usually pay less than city jobs, and there are usually a lot fewer of them available. While it is usually possible to get work, moving to the country without some kind of income lined up usually means a noticeable income hit. Usually, people who go this way end up commuting long distances, which takes a lot of the charm out of the rural lifestyle.

Online Businesses for Country Dwellers

The biggest potential income source for those living in the country come through developing an online business. While there are online jobs and local business options for the off-gridder, online businesses have almost unlimited potential and are perfectly suited for people living in the country.

Currently, there are a huge number of business opportunities on the internet, which have the potential for serious income. But, like every business, it takes time to build up an income from an online business. The sooner you get started, the quicker you can quite your job and walk out of the city forever, if you choose.

Here are just some of the awesome income opportunities for the rural entrepreneur:

  • Sales / Affiliate
  • Amazon FBA
  • Writing – Niche Sites
  • Consulting and Coaching
  • YouTube Content Creator (but now how you think, see link below)
  • Selling Crafts and Farm Products
  • Education

Making money online requires you to develop a special set of skills. See my article below for more ideas and details regarding how to learn to make an income when you live outside the city:

Convert Your City Job to a Remote Job

If you want to go off grid today, and don’t have the time to wait to build up an online business, then you might be able to convert your current job to an online only job. While some people I talk to dismiss this out of hand, I know my old boss wasn’t thrilled when I first brought it up, it is increasingly common for employees to move their on-site job to a remote job.

The generally strategy I suggest, when talking to your boss about working remotely is to bring up the potential benefits while making them aware that you plan to move on if there isn’t some flexibility on their part. Make them aware that, because remote options are so rare, you plan to stick with the company long term if they make that happen.

Benefits of an online postilion for the employer are —

  • Decreased overhead on their part
  • Increased flexibility when it comes to hours worked
  • Savings from hiring you as a contractor
  • Resiliency to social and economic problems
  • Keep an experienced employee

You will probably require some flexibility on your part as well, including taking on or giving up certain responsibilities. As well as taking a possible reduction in hours and/or conversion to “contractor” status. Depending on your needs, this may be just fine, or may work as a suitable stop gap until you can start making money from the homestead itself or build up another online income.

If this doesn’t work, you may be able to find a remote work position with a different company. See the full article for more details:

Country Money Making Tips

If you are not an computer person, you might prefer to learn to make your money locally. While there may be some jobs available locally, your best option is to build up your own local business.

If you are planning on growing a garden, then selling produce is a popular option, but even with an active farmer’s market near by can be tough. The best way to make money by selling your produce is to grow specialty products and sell them to high-end restaurants in near by cities. Chefs love fresh, local produce, and are able to pay a premium for weekly deliveries of quality ingredients from your mini-farm. And, specialty items like snails, micro-greens, or true Japanese wasabi have potential for huge profit margins.

In the country, a lot of mechanical and technical skills are in high demand. Your best option is find ways to employ skills that you already have. For example, if you studied math, you might be able to find clients as a tutor for local children.

Skills you may have to study a bit, like chimney sweeping, tree cutting, and piano tuning, are also becoming hot job opportunities as many older people are starting to retire, and there are few young people taking up these jobs.

Essential Self-Reliance Skills for City People

Living in the city, there are quite a few skills that you may never have needed or never even heard of that are absolutely essential in order to live off the grid successfully. Before you make the move out of the city, taking some time to learn what you can of these skills through self-reduction, or even local classes, can take some of shock away from the rural lifestyle.

Basic Mechanics

Country living generally means a fair bit of driving. Having a functioning car is absolutely essential, but generally there is no mechanic near by, and calling a tow truck out to the boonies can cost a fortune.

Every off-gridder or aspiring modern homesteader will need a basic understanding of car mechanics and maintenance. At minimum, you should be able to:

  • Change a flat tire
  • Check, fill, and replace oil and fluids
  • Jump a dead battery
  • Pull yourself out of a ditch
  • Troubleshoot simple problems

But, the more you know, the more self sufficient you will be.

Cooking

Door Dash doesn’t deliver to the country. Surprisingly few modern humans have the skills necessary to cook their own meals from scratch, or how to shop in bulk and plan meals from storage.

Restaurants and groceries tend to me more expensive, or just not available the farther you get from town. Because of the distance alone, you will need to fend for yourself, and be able to go for weeks at a time between shopping trips.

This means baking your own bread, learning how to cook with canned or frozen food items, and rationing your food stores.

If you plan to grow some of your own food (which you definitely should), or even forage some from the land, you should make sure your cooking experience covers how to use fresh, whole fruits and vegetables that grow in your climate. Often times, making the most of everything you have at your disposal is a special skill all it’s own, which is slowly being lost to time. Seek out older cook books or teachers with experience cooking for substance to help flesh out this skill set.

Food Storage

Canning, drying, fermenting, smoking, pickling, and salting are all special skill sets that are not so commonly learned in modern times, but are absolutely essential if you plan on storing your harvest.

Many crops you might want to grow in a garden tend to ripen all at once, berries and zucchini for instance, and so you will have to take steps to preserve what you have grown. Food storage is quite a bit different from just “cooking” because you are usually doing it at quite a bit larger scale. You will need to develop an industrious method to efficiently handle the bulk of produce you will grow.

With access to decent quality organic produce, you can and should practice these skills before you need to depend on them. Learning and practicing them while you are still in the city is a great way to get first hand experience, learn what storage methods you like, and build up the essential tools more slowly.

Growing Food and Gardening

When you move to the country, your own garden will be the cheapest and freshest source of food at your disposal.

At minimum, ever household should have at least a small herb garden at their disposal for fresh and healthy seasoning options. Fresh greens are also high recommended and are easy to grow.

As your skills and interests expand, you can even grow your own fruits, nuts, and grains. With relatively little skill and monetary investment, modern methods of no dig gardening and permaculture “food forests” can make you as food self-sufficient as you want to be.

Transportation

Your city car is probably not suitable for country life. One of the best ways to tell a recent city transplant to the country is by the car that they drive.

While many in the city place a premium on fuel-efficiency and gas milage, the most important thing to look for in a country car are:

  • Reliability
  • Drive-ability on country roads
  • Overall utility

A break down in the country can be a big problem, since there are usually no cabs, and there may not be anyone around who can give you a ride. Country folks place the reliability of a car as the single most import factor.

When I first started going off grid, I was surprised just how much trouble my car had with muddy driveways, deep ditches, rocks, and snow. Country roads and driveways have all kinds of trouble that you will never see in a city. This makes 4wd and AWD vehicles very attractive. Without them, you can easily get stuck or find yourself unable to leave your property even in an emergency situation.

Lastly, you need a vehicle that is capable of doing as much as possible around the homestead. Having a decent carrying capacity for bulk shopping trips, a load of hay, or even a goat or two is highly valuable. Getting a lot done on a single trip to town is very valuable in terms of time and money.

So, if your current vehicle doesn’t seem up to the task, then you should start looking for a replacement that meets your needs.


Free Off Grid Guide

Thinking about going off grid? Subscribe for a free 30+ page PDF that helps you get there! My gift to you.

You will receive your free guide, exclusive discounts, and occasional announcements