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August 4, 2017 at 10:48 am #59599
Hi all, thought I contribute my experience on a few countries I tried out, I suppose every input can potentially help someone.
I read Nicks Books 2 years ago when I was outfitting my LutonVan Campervan, looking for mobile, low-cost off-grid concepts.
I lived in one of the well known central countries quite long (too long, 34 years lol) which is great for summer holidays, but too cold the rest of the year, but without proper snow as in Scandiavia, which would be fun, instead central europeans enjoy cold rain and sludge best of the winter days ;) On top of that the rules and regulations turned me off to live there.
I tried/tested some countries with the intention to find out if I want to stay/live there (DomRep,Greece,CanaryIslands,England); mostly 3 to 4 months….I would highly recommend that to you, as it doesn’t cost much as long term rental (non tourist tariff, simply negotiate) is cheap in most countries, and done while a local winter where one potentially lives, you don’t miss much ;)
Dominican Republic: I almost went to Thailand, and switched to DomRep in the very last weeks of preparation: very divided country – there are dark skinned natives which are looked down at by the lighter skinned ones – education for everyone might make a change in that in teh future, I hope so.
And then there are – the Tourists :/ when you go there to live there, you feel like something different (of course you are in a way) but the natives always see you as a “tourist”…hard to change. Bad people to be aware of exist everywhere, especially when poverty is involved, but in the DomRep the have ShotGuns, are organized and know the police chief – not a good situation to be in when you are rich and foreign, and think your new shiny houes is safe, it isn’t…A house/villa in the open, even with guard dogs has no chance – the dogs will be poisoned sooner or later (even private dogs, as the native don’t like them, as expats often use them as protection) That’s why most rich expats live in gated communities with guards (even there the shiny solar panels are destroyed by stone throwing jealous by-passers – if I can’t have it, I destroy it.
All this above is regarding rich expats, which I assume you wouldn’t be, nor me was….then the danger switches from the natives (which I had a good relation with) to the drop-out-at-home-expats or once-came-wealthy-now-poor-expats – the worst of sharks to stay away from. These (international) social drop-outs with disputable ethic values are always on the look out for new arrivals to skin of their cash – some in a nice way, some the opposite end of the scale. Also common there is bribery, especially police when you need them, and harsh regulations regarding import – you can expect to pay double on everything you buy abroad.
Greece: on the mainland up north, not much tourists, cheap, lot’s of agriculture, nice mountain range in sight, Turkey and black sea in reach, some islands in boating range (Thassos & Samothraki) – problem I encountered which repelled me: though I knew a few people well who introduced me to the sometimes odd rules of life there, I disliked to not be able to read anything, nor ever really be able to learn the language. Also the Greeks up there are a very tight social bonded group, which isn’t easy to penetrate and doesn’t easily accept foreigners into their circle, without being married to a locals’ daughter or knowing the major it’s very hard to not be everyones target for trying to make money etc..don’t get me wrong, nice people, but it seemed that’s on the surface, and it needs more than just moving there to become a “local”. Finding a job would be very hard. Also very harsh rules regarding VAT & tax (though member of the EU, surprise!) when you bring valuables into the country, for example cars – not easy nor cheap to have them legal on the road.
Canary Islands: well, sounds and looks nice in teh beginning, but after a while you have a huge division between (real) locals grown up there and expats, having moved there. A lot of native locals are very simple minded (in a negative way) which makes it hard to open conversations. The expats are a very diverse folk – either rich, or trying hard to live there whithout much or enough maney to make it – monetary survival there is hard, income is not easy to generate. Also – they are islands quite far off everything else – if you get an “island phobia” and need a little holiday, it’s expensive and far by plane to escape – the Baleares just next to Spain is sooo much nearer to everything, a little ferry ride and you are on main land spain or france, and with a rental car beyond. Nick from Off-Grid did choose Mallorca for that simple reason as far as I remember – if you haven’t read his book yet, do it alone for his description how he picked his location, and managed to get accepted by teh locals etc ;)
In the end (after the experiences above) back in my home land in central Europe I discovered my dislike for being dependand on a rented accommodation to test such countries, and switched to living in a mobile home; a pretty standard VW T2 Campervan with a high roof (a must because of storage) it was the happiest time in my live by far – minimalistic stuff around me, changing place whenever I wanted, to where I wanted, daily or not. Still working to make a living though.
The way to live mobile in central europe is easy to accomplish, as there are free facilities for camper vans everywhere, in almost every town – and if the van looks “normal”, no-one takes offense, given location is switched every couple of days. In THAT respect some central european countries are paradise (…see a good blog of a british guy travelling since 3 years – his blog is calledvandogtraveller )
That all changed when I decided to pack up and come to England, simply because everyone speaks a language I speak, and it’s an island with loads of nice coast and (sort of) civilized people – what I learned quite quickly after living a while in my camper van, it’s a gypso-phobic country which makes finding over night stays a thing which spoils it.
It probably didn’t help I “upgraded” my VM to a classic MB MotorHome, lower tax and insurance, but not a lower profile.
Normal residents / “proper” UK citizens are always on the watch for anything looking like a scout vehicle of a gypsy family invading the neighborhood a day later – so I was inspected by 3-man-strong police cars more often than in any given time in other countries. They were called in by residents simply lying, saying I was parking there since 2 weeks – what joy.
The next step was an attempt to go “Stealth” – if you are on off-grid.net and familiar with off-grid campervans chances are you know the term Stealth-Campervan, a vehicle looking like a commercial or un-inhabited looking mobile home, which can in theory park anywhere for a short time without suspicion. So I purchased a bigger version of my previous MobileHome
So I needed a change of strategy – and eventually moved my mobile residence onto water, and live (more or less) off-grid on boats at the seaside of britain (on a jetty whith access to land ever since, this is now a few years ago, and everything is fine :) (note I’m keeping to the sea shore, not “inland waterways” which is different and heavily regulated)
My plan to move away and abroad is not cancelled; teh opposite – I now have the means of practically take my off-grid-“house” with me and enter other countries easier than by vehicle, to check them out and possibly life there. Right now I’m simply stocking up on funds to be more independant.
I did not want to sound too negative, but ‘positive’ stories about foreign countries are always too easy to find…
Any questions simply ask :)August 15, 2017 at 4:37 pm #59628
Hi, interesting story, I too have thought about living the van life across Europe and I have even picked up an old Hymer A class MH to fix up for travel. I have also thought about buying a sail boat instead but I don’t have much sailing experience and have never slept on a moving boat so I don’t know how I would get on with it ( I like my sleep :) )
I guess in the end I would still like to find a patch of land I could live off grid on but the question is where and with who and how much money. I hate money but how do you avoid it in this world we live in??August 21, 2017 at 8:50 am #59643
NomadicWolf, sleeping on water is soooo calming & relaxing – try it once when you have the option. And I’m not a keen “sailor” either – nowadays all sailboats have reliable (mostly diesel) engines, which get you around; sails are nice to have and to set to save fuel on the long hauls of course.
Small sail boats are available for under $5000 – simply look for well equipped and working ones for less hassle – I did the opposite in the beginning and got stuck with projects – more fun to “test the waters” with something small, hassle free, maybe not as pretty but cheap to moore in marinas due to small size ;)
Regarding land property – there are coastal patches which are in-accessable hard to get to by land…but not by boat – you can imagine the prices are much lower than “normal” land…that’s my plan on teh long run, to find and get something like that, with a little hut, and my boat tied up on my own jetty :)August 21, 2017 at 6:52 pm #59651
Sounds idyllic, I have seriously considered a boat, your right, I need to try sleeping on one to see how I get on. Do you have anywhere in mind for your little piece of land? Taking the first step will be the most difficult part for me but normal life is dragging me down I have to do something soon for sure.
Are you still in the UK? I’m in Anglesey, North Wales, nice part of the UK but the UK non the less with all it’s anti nomad rules and laws and the cost of land is beyond everyone but the rich. I still work the standard job for now, saving to fund my escape :) Have you ever tried the USA or Australia?August 22, 2017 at 7:54 am #59657
NomadicWolf, on AirBnB there are quite a few little boats to rent for a night on a reasonable price to try for a weekend :)
Yes sure I’m still in UK, south in the Solent area, working as well a “standard job”. I still guess you are better off in North Wales, less population density, and I hear there is lots of space and prices are still low compared to down here – but of course you’re right, anti nomad rules and laws and the cost of land – still UK.
I personally didn’t try Australia & USA to live there, but Nicks’ book about USA off-gridders is a very good mirror of society there. Both AU & US have the benefit of the low population density compared to land mass…Canada is good one as well. But all three quite hard on immigration, but not impossible :)
You ask if I have anywhere in mind for “my” little piece of sea shore with boat access – well, EU is out of question due to pricing – even Albania is rising since a few years. So for me to afford after saving a few years (zero right now btw) there will only be abroad like south america, or asia. Note that when there is already a road to the area, then it’s already unaffordable (for a low budget) or taken by developers anyway. This is especially true for sea side property. Some un-developed areas I know of are in Ecuador, and Brazil. I’m sure there is still plenty in Asia; but getting rare of course.
A nice entertaining read in this respect (low price countries) but not too pushy is the blog of Tim Leffel, it’s called ‘cheapest destinations’ (..this is no commercial, I honestly think it has good unbiased info…this US guy lives with his family in Mexico and explains how the price difference enables them a better life (incl. Health insurance, school system etc) than in our so-called “first world countries” , as UK is one as well lol)
Well, that’s my thoughts for today :)August 22, 2017 at 9:55 am #59658
Hi, thanks for the reply. I will check out Air BnB & Tim Leffel’s blog. I think your right about the EU although I do have a friend that has a small holding in Bulgaria that he never uses. I have never been there but I’m sure it is a lovely place and maybe he could be persuaded to allow me to live there off grid, it’s worth a try. Failing that maybe somewhere in south America would be a good second, there must be lots of small islands only accessible by boat at a reasonable price down there.
Do you mind if I ask how old you are? I’m soon to be 45 and it feels like time is running out to get this life started. Are you planning to live alone or part of a small group?August 22, 2017 at 11:08 am #59659
Oh sorry -when I meant “Eu to expensive (for me)” I meant sea shore property; of course there are still plenty of reasonably priced land patches in-land available; you are mentioning Bulgaria (..great you know someone there!) absolutely – beautiful country, poor population = low prices. Same is Romania, and to some extend Portugal – in the more mountainous regions, and parts of Spain in the mountains.
I tend to plan more for myself, on my own – I suppose people would call that a loner, though I enjoy company / a lively town or village once in a while ;) …if you look for small groups, there are plenty – all over the world; that’s probably the cheapest option, and shared risk, costs plus company. But it’s just not for me.
I’m 47 this year – and time can run out for anyone every hour, even 21 year olds who think they have plenty of time -so…don’t worry ;) It doesn’t matter when someone does something he likes, it matters IF he does it at all. One wise sentence I read often (no idea from whom) seems to make sense to me is “It’s not the things someone does/did in his life he regrets, it’s the things he didn’t do” ….but, I sure did engulf on a LOT of un-planned, stupid, chaotic endeavors which I could have done better in hindsight, but at least I can laugh about them now :)
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