Shannon Conley | |

Meet Ed and Laurie Essex — just two of the many millions whose lives were smashed by the greed of others in the Great Depression that began 2008.

They lost almost everything in the crash and have lived in remote, rural, Wauconda, WA, for the 2 years since. They make a living by helping others to get the same lifestyle.If they wanted they could now supplement their income by growing the local cash crop on public land out their back door.

Ed works as a middle man for others wanting to live the same way. He meets with solar and wind companies for quotes and handles the red tape side of things. However the pair are still struggling to make ends meet. In fact the two of them have to take odd jobs locally when they can and beyond that are relying on their savings to tide them through until they start to make more money from their business pursuits. Ed says he wants to find more permanent work and has been applying for anything that he can, but says that ‘this area is tough. If you aren’t in the medical field, everything else is minimum wage and when you live as far out as we do it can be a problem with the price of fuel. We just don’t spend money unless we absolutely have to.’

With Ed having a background in management and Laurie having worked as both a horse trainer, and health care professional, this tightened financial situation must be quite unusual, and perhaps difficult, for the two of them. But they don’t believe it has much to do with their off-grid lifestyle, saying ‘There were millions of us that were affected by the greed of others and we are all paying the price right now. On grid or off grid – it doesn’t make any difference’, on the other hand being so remote adds another dimension to the challenges they face. Ed knows that ‘if [he] worked a full time job away from the home it would be a challenge to get everything done here that needs to be done’, but it seems possible that commuting might be on the cards if they can’t make the website pay.

This would be a real shame because on their blog they explain how much they love their new life, ‘We love it here. We have a “view to die for.” We are surrounded by National Forests, lakes, pine, fir, tamarack trees, green grass and sagebrush. It is beautiful the year round’ Ed adds that some of the best things about living off grid are ‘the peace and quiet, the wildlife, independence, clean air’ and that ‘one reward worth noting is a certain satisfaction that we are wasting much less than before’. Not only that but they seem really committed to their initial reasons for going off-grid, including trying to be more sustainable, Ed remarks ‘I feel good about what we’ve done because I know we have made improvements and are a lot better off than we were. We are greener, more sustainable and we definitely live off grid. I think those are all good things.’

Finally they give us their biggest tip for anyone out there wanting to try it themselves, which is ‘Learn from others who have gone before you and try to learn from their mistakes and accomplishments’. Simple but very true, and something we can hope to do by understanding their experiences.

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site

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