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March 6, 2013 at 3:43 pm #44925
My boyfriend and I are actively looking to make the switch from apartment dwelling city life to an off grid life somewhere in the country. I absolutely love the idea of living a simple life, being self sufficient, am not scared of hard work and know that we can do it together and also think it would be the perfect place to bring up a child, which we are hoping to have in a year or two, after getting settled in. However, the idea of living in a very isolated area, miles from another human being, terrifies me. Am I over-reacting and worrying about nothing? Do you think you are more likely to encounter violent crime if you live in a remote area (say, in the desert or mountains or surrounded by woodland with no other houses for miles) because criminals see these homes as being more vulnerable? I really need some words of reassurance or confirmation that my fears are valid. If valid, how do you deal with this? Do off grid homes tend to be isolated or can you find plots of land that are in relatively close proximity to other (on or off grid) homes? We currently live in Los Angeles and are hoping to find somewhere within an hour’s drive, at an affordable price, we don’t have a big budget. (I know, not going to be an easy task).
Thanks and I look forward to hearing your opinions.
JMuffinMarch 7, 2013 at 9:56 am #44928
I moved to an amish mennonite region in central Pa. 99% of my neighbors are honest and watch out for each other.
people say Location location location
but i say neighbors neighbors neighbors
even the best location can have some nasty neighbors which turns it into a place of hell..March 7, 2013 at 6:31 pm #44926
First of all, I doubt there is any place within an hour of LA that is actually “isolated”. Look at a map, there isn’t anything there that is sparsely populated within an hour of LA. Secondly, IF you do end up some place “miles from another human being” you are going to be SAFE! I have lived my whole life in remote, rural areas. No crime! We don’t lock our doors and we leave the keys in the truck. I have raised my kids out here and never worried for a single moment that they would be harmed. Criminals do not come out here because they know everyone is armed. People watch out for each other. As for California, like I said, you aren’t going to find anything isolated within an hour of LA and your gun laws are so restrictive that criminals are the only ones armed now.March 7, 2013 at 6:32 pm #44953
I live in the middle of nowhere Texas. No traffic lights, no doctors, no fast food. It is 40 miles of cactus and rattlesnakes in every direction. I love it! You don’t have to worry about your kids getting snatched here. People don’t lock their doors and everyone leaves their keys in their truck.
I doubt you are going to find anything that is truely isolated within an hour or even three hours of LA. If you do, you will be SAFE. Neighbors our here watch out for each other. Everyone is armed so criminal don’t come out here.March 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm #45011
Burglary, drug related, and domestic abuse problems are the most prevalent crimes in rural America. Really, it is very different than city living. Not much violence in comparison. Do your homework and pick a safe area; there are many. An hour from LA, that is not rural or isolated, and probably high-crime. Check central and north Nevada, eastern California, Arizona outside of the center, and New Mexcio away from Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, and Las Cruces.March 16, 2013 at 11:11 pm #45043
Thanks for your replies. Ok, “no houses for miles” was a stretch within an hour of LA, but there are definitely some areas where your neighbor is not right next door to you, for example, just over a hill or maybe a quarter of a mile down the road. I was just wondering whether you feel that not having another house right next to you (as is the case in city living, your neighbor is a stone’s throw away) would make you be more of a target for thieves. I guess that the fact that there are just LESS people around in general means that you are less likely to encounter crime in general anyway. Much more likely in the city. I agree that being on good terms with your neighbors is a very good idea and can make all the difference. We actually live right in the heart of Hollywood and there is always something crazy going on, weirdos walking the streets day and night. I’m definitely looking forward to getting away from it and joining you Off Gridders :)March 26, 2013 at 6:46 am #45163
have you, by any chance, considered these guys?
GLOG stands for Green Living Off the Grid, so they could be something looking into…
Let us know, how you did.April 13, 2013 at 3:49 pm #45433
Criminals are opportunists, and generally lazy. They are not going to bother with you as the effort is much more than staying local and hitting people in thier areasApril 14, 2013 at 5:10 pm #45450
Hi jmuffin: you said ” However, the idea of living in a very isolated area, miles from another human being, terrifies me. Am I over-reacting and worrying about nothing?” I don’t live as rural as kejmack but allow me to share my experiences. I grew up in as rural an area as kejmack, but it was the 50’s and times were waaaay different. It was on a farm, my Granpa and Uncle knew how to do everything to fix or repair things, and if they needed a helping hand, the nearest farmer was 10 miles down the lane. Like you, I lived in a very urban area, Chicago, for 30 years of my life and LOVED it, but when I got into my 60’s, my husband and I decided on a less hectic lifestyle that “youngin’s” love. You know: pub crawls, Starbuck’s, Indie theatres, etc. We’d “Done That & Bought the T-shirts.” So, when it came time to move to “The Country”, I weighed EVERYTHING: 1) How far are you willing to drive, round trip, for groceries, a movie, pizza, laundry, car maintenance? 2) How far away is the nearest hospital, fire station, police/sheriff’s office? 3) Are you willing to have a gun and can you use it properly? 4) What about really bad weather for an extended period? Snow? Drought? Heat? Cold? 5) How “far” do you want your nearest neighbor to be and are they Full Time or Week-Enders?
What we decided upon was a tiny “no population sign” hamlet in S.W. Michigan that is flooded with tourists from May-Labor Day and then dwindles down to less than 200 people other times. Nearest neighbor is two football fields away, but a thick woods surrounds us. Nearest grocery is 1.5 miles one way (Mom & Pop); nearest laundry is 16 miles one way; nearest hospital is 13 miles one way, nearest fire/EMC/Sheriff is 1.0 miles away. Our cottage is 800 sq.ft. with a massive pantry, two upright freezers and a gasline generator, so we never need to worry about gas pumps being out when the power goes out in our area, which is 2-3 times per month.
Having people around you is a Safety Cushion. I don’t mean right up in your grill, but full-time residents that you can cultivate a healthy relationship with. WHY? Back Up Safety Plan! Our nearest neighbor called me 2 weeks ago; his car wouldn’t start and he needed to get to dialysis! I drove to his home (1/2 mile away), jumped his car, and away he went. But…I got a call 5 hours later, that his car wouldn’t start at the clinic, so could I pick him up? Of course I could…that’s what neighbor’s do IN THE COUNTRY! What choice do we have? I picked him up, got AAA to tow his car into town to be looked at, and each day that I went somewhere, I’d call up Keith and ask if he needed something/wanted to tag along. Other friend’s of his also picked up the slack by driving him to the clinic, so it wasn’t just me. Now, in turn around is fairplay, when hubby and I go on vacation or even back into Chicago, Keith looks after our home twice a day: fills the bird feeders, turns on the lights, feeds and exercises the dogs, makes sure it’s safe.
Another story: Grace and Glenn are 1 mile away neighbor’s. A bad thunder storm blew the roof off of their tiny home at 2:00 a.m. one morning! A series of phone calls later, 30 neighbor’s were at Grace and Glenn’s home, some with tarps and ladders, others with hot coffee and cookies, everyone pitching in to help our neighbor’s. This was one day before a massive 22″ snowfall, and the roof was completely tarped up, the old ceiling torn down (it got waterlogged and destroyed), carpeting ripped up…ALL FREE OF CHARGE…because the neighbor’s all pitched in!
Another thing: in our area of S.W. Michigan, there’s a lot of drug use/alcoholism by the local kids. They cruise around the very isolated places, looking for signs of life: trash cans at curb, car tracks in driveway, curtains ever opened. When they scope out a place for weeks and there’s no sign of life, they break in. No, they don’t steal the art or antiques, they’re going for the TV’s, DVR’s, power tools, tools, boat trailers, snowmobiles….basically anything and everything they can either sell or use themselves. So, if you and your boyfriend plan to do ANY traveling away from home, leaving it empty, I’d be sure to hire a house-sitter or have a friend come by to look in on things. A friend of mine lives in very rural Minnesota and she said this is very prominent during the winter months there, when kids can tell that no one is at the cabin’s until Spring.
So, lesson to be learned: if you can conceive of a car not starting, a fire breaking out, a roof being blown off, a sickness that waylays both you and your boyfriend, or being away from home for a length of time, then having neighbors within a moderate distance of you is better than a gold plated American Express Card!!!! In the 15 years we’ve lived here, dear friend’s have had fires burn them out, trees crush homes, heart attacks, and stepping on a hornet’s nest happen to them. No one likes to think this can happen to them but bad stuff does, so having the safety of a nearby fire/EMC or dear trustest friends is absolutely priceless for peace of mind.
Hope this helps. It’s not meant to scare you, just stuff to think about.April 15, 2013 at 9:27 am #45457
jmuffin: Just a bit more to share with you. Our tiny rural cottage is only a 90 mile drive from the heart of Chicago, so I have the absolute BEST of all worlds. I mention this point because you stated, “(we) are hoping to find somewhere within an hour’s drive, at an affordable price, we don’t have a big budget.” There have got to be scores of smallish towns all around L.A. within a 90 mile drive. This is good news! Why? Because it allows your boyfriend and you to take extended “Week-End” trips to various areas and scope them out. For instance, where I initially wanted to buy a cottage, I heard from the locals that a casino was in the works, which would have put me right back into the madness I was trying to escape! Tons of traffic, huge increases in property value, out-of-staters clogging up the road, new hotels and eateries built all over the place…you get my drift. But, by looking 15 miles further North, the casino has zero effect on the land or congestion and the prices were super low, too. Fastforward 15 years and the casino did indeed get approved and now that quaint old town looks like any other McTown you find that’s hooked into outlet malls, big box stores and greed.
Feel out a place; go to the local post office, ask the postal worker there, “What’s the town like?” The Post Office is a major hub of activity in our tiny hamlet and where we see our neighbors all week long. Look at the ads on the cork board, see what they are selling/offering to get a feel for the place. Same goes for the grocery store and laundrymat: read the cork boards, hang out, see who comes in and goes, to see if these are people you want to live with. Only the two of you know what kind of “look” you want your neighbors to have and what makes you feel comfortable.
Also, just drive around the area, up and down, all over the place. People that CARE for their property take care of their property!!! If you’re driving on a country road and you see shack after shack with abandoned cars, refrigerators, junk yard dogs and more than 6 cars out front…keep driving!!!!!!! Look elsewhere ’cause these folks are trouble! One cottage I looked for backed up against a creek, a state forest and had one neighbor. They used it as the local place to sell drugs, blared their car stereos 24/7, and did shotgun practice in their back yard, which abutted ours! I found out from the locals that the cottage for sale had “flipped” 4 times in six years, simply because of the neighbor’s! And mind you, their house was a mile down the lane and you could STILL hear their music at all hours and the cars racing up and down the sandy lane. :( If you plan on having kids, pups, chickens or whatnot, you don’t want them to end up being road kill because of nutter’s like this.
Also, if you’re looking at vacant land, find out WHAT was on that land before it became vacant! Very little undeveloped land exists except in the Wild Wild West; usually there was a farm house or something on it that got torn down or burnt. One property that I looked at had the burnt down foundation of an old farm house, but 3 acres away on the 10 acre property, we found old buried 50 gallon drums of MOTOR OIL on the property!!!! Seems that the old farmer that lived there used to just dump his machine oil in these drums and buried them; if we hadn’t discovered them and bought the place, then the E.P.A. would have gotten involved and condemned the property! If you buy land, WALK THE LAND to make sure there’s nothing hidden! And if a creek is important to you, watch for Flood Plains and what is Up Stream of you! If there’s a dairy farm with tons of cow poop flowing down stream, your creek is useless. Same goes for golf courses; the toxic chemicals they dump on the course can make you glow in the dark; I know, I used to work for a course in Chicagoland.
One last thing to investigate: who owns the surrounding land, how old are they and what are their plans for it? I don’t know how you could find this out but it doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if you see another property owner near a place you’re interested in buying. A good friend of mine bought 5 prime acres in Michigan, built their retirement home and thought they were “sitting” pretty. Well, the person across from them, who owned 60 acres of land, went bankrupt and sold the 60 acres to a developer, who chopped it into 120 1/2 acre lots! The construction traffic is NON-STOP, the dust, the noise…and they’ve lost all their privacy. Their home is now up for sale, and sadly, another developer offered to buy their 5 acres and is planning on splitting it into 2 more lots if they sell to him. So sad. Truth is, if you look at a place that’s nice to YOU, other people think so, too, and want to live there. Seems like the only places that no one wants to develop are because NO ONE wants to live there.
You’ve got it nice that you want to move within driving distance of where you live; I did, too. However, if you lived in L.A. and were looking at another state that you couldn’t visit often, it would be Buyer, Beware. Do your homework and the right place for you to settle down will come to you. :)April 16, 2013 at 9:49 am #45479
SUPER good advice and nice info sharing Cahow…my wife and I started a Homestead last summer and the first thing we did (before doing anything) was to develop a very comprehensive list of questions, which we could apply to all the land opportunites we were looking at. AND…you are so correct….neighbors can make or break the lifestyle we all seem to seek. :))April 18, 2013 at 6:32 pm #45491
Thank you SO very much, LivingitNow, for your kind words. :) I realize that I’m “Odd Duck Out” on this website, since I live fully ON the grid, but I spent the first 16 years of my existance UTTERLY Off Grid on my Grandparent’s dairy farm…so I know off grid living! LOL But, I believe in learning everything you can about different lifestyles so you have empathy rather than prejudice toward a subject. I must say, I’ve been very, very impressed with the “regulars” on this site, who are living their off grid lifestyle honestly and with good intent; I’ve felt welcomed, not just tolerated.
BEST OF LUCK to you and your wife on your homestead! And you’re so right..neighbors are as important as good soil and a regular source of water!
I wonder if we’ll ever hear back from the Original Poster or if it will turn out like so many of these “Escapist” threads that are started by doe-eyed newbees that never come back.~shrug~April 19, 2013 at 4:42 pm #45498
@cahow…LOL….you are welcome. I enjoy reading your posts (i.e. the guy fron Denmark asking about volunteer work). Thanks for the luck with our Homestead. I grew up on a chicken farm in the country when I was a boy and now that I am retired, I wanted to get back to that feeling of being able to have animals around without any permits/regulations.
I also wondered about the original poster on this forum post but we have found (as we have advertised for others to join us) that so many people say they want to live off the grid or even low grid until you explain to them what that really means and what it entails. (LOL).
I like your “doe-eyed” analogy. Most interested people seem to be dreamers and not doers….and that is okay…as having dreams is important; it is just the many of the reactions we receive are so funny when we explain how our Homestead works, which can’t be too much different than the many other successful off the grid places talked about on here.
Keep up the interesting insights. I don’t feel you have to be living something to give advice from your past or even advice that you might feel relevant learned through life. (LOL)April 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm #45499
Hi, LivingitNow. Well, your words are MOST welcome to read, in particular, the last line of assurance that a person doesn’t have to be a certain way to express interest in something. When I told several friends that I had joined this website, they just stared at me and said, “What in the WORLD were you thinking? Are you moving to Montana, growing a beard (I’m a woman, for cryin’ out loud!), and joining a com-mune?” I politely told them that old Indian motto: “You can’t know someone until you walk a day in their shoes.” I’m an architect that specializes in additions to pricey homes but I adore the Tiny House community concept for their ingenius space-saving solutions. Well, it’s not a stretch for many of the Tiny House owners to also be “Off The Grid”, and knowing nothing about what that meant (except slurs), I decided to find out the truth, for myself. The serious people HERE are kind, welcoming, have their head screwed on properly, and have truly done their homework. Yes, they may have asked a 1,000 questions when they started but they also put into reality their dreams and I deeply admire that work ethic. Coming from immigrants and pioneers who sat on a stinking boat for weeks, traveled from New York by wagon and built their one-room log cabins from sweat and determination, I still carry that passion within me.
What I’ve learned in life is that there is NO “One Size Fits All”, either in clothing or where one wants to live. I grew up on a pristine off the grid farm, moved to the very heart of Chicago and lived as urban a life as you can for 30 years, and now I’m returning to my childhood, like you, by retiring to the quietness of rural Michigan. Having lived with wood stoves and outhouses, they hold no charm for me, but I’m cool with that, since I feel I just lived my life in reverse by living Off Grid for my first 16 years. Living “country” is a tough life; rewarding but tough. Any fool that thinks that they’re going to be kickin’ back, hanging out in white cargo shorts and flip-flops while the chickens bring their eggs to your table and the crops fall into your dinner bowl is a dang fool!
This site shows remarkable patience with the “doe-eyed” wanna-bes; I can’t come here often and post or I’d be banned for blasting most of the original posters into reality with a swift kick to the backside. LOL I did read a comment from the gentleman who owns that farm in Pa; one woman lasted ONE DAY at his place. Typical poser. ~insert eye roll HERE~
I enjoy coming here to learn, read about alternative ways of doing things and also the peace that so many have found. It’s a happy place, if you can just weed out the nutters. ;)
If you care to reply back, what breeds of chickens do you raise? We just had the common White Leghorn but I used to dream about owning some of the fancier breeds when we went to the State Fair and I saw what the other 4-H kids were raising such as Silkies, Polish or Rhode Island Red. But nope, Gran would have nothing to do with those “goofy chickens”, as she called them so we just had plain ol’ white chickens. I still visit the Poultry Barn when we visit the county fair in our area each August.April 20, 2013 at 10:48 am #45522
@cahow…thanks for your words….currently we DON’T have chickens but they won’t be the typical white chickens. The “whites” are what we had when I was growing up.
This summer we plan on getting Cinammon queens for brown eggs and meat.
I am glad (in some ways) that this site is tolerant of anybody’s “dream” level or desire as we never know what spark might be ignited by others to turn that other person’s dream into reality. And if this site provides a wake up call to the “dreamers” before they act and do something silly and hurt themselves or family (or waste lots of money) , then this site has served another useful purpose. I am a firm believer that “Information is Power.”
Keep up the sharing. :))
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