Living Off The Grid – The People Who Sold Everything


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Last night, Britain’s Channel 4 aired Escape To The Wild, a documentary series where presenter Jimmy Doherty finds Brits who have sold up all their property in the UK and moved out to remote parts of the world to live a life that is free from the urban pressures of everyday life. Last night he met a young couple called Simon and Sophie, who purchased a remote beach along with 11 acres of land on a tiny island in Indonesia.

During their time on their own tropical paradise, Simon and Sophie have built a number of small wooden huts along the shore to act as living and eating areas for themselves and their family; they already have a young son and Sophie is pregnant with their second. Despite a rudimentary plumbing system, limited electricity and virtually no other amenities on the island, the young family is happy with their new life.

After Jimmy asks Simon what prompted the couple to so dramatically change their living circumstances, he reveals that a brush with death prompted him to re-evaluate his priorities. A motorcycle accident left him in hospital for an extended period of time and he’s lucky to be alive at all. This shock to the system is enough to make anyone want to make sure that they live life to the fullest and say ‘yes’ to as many opportunities as possible, and you might just end up with your own island paradise.

Simon and Sophie aren’t the only people to have made such a dramatic change to the way that they have chosen to live their lives. All across the web, people are telling their stories about dropping everything that they once held as a priority, and reverting to a simpler way of living. YouTube channels like Primitive Technology have become popular as people have gained an interest in seeing how easy it is to live off the land and very little else.

Beyond documentaries, we are increasingly seeing these stories being developed into mainstream media. 2007’s Into The Wild tells the true story of a young man who opted to live in a camper van in the remotest corners of Alaska, like most of the other stories we’ve read, try to escape the mundane of everyday life. From the popularity of these films, programmes and YouTube channels, it’s clear that there is a trend towards minimalist living.

Just a few days ago The Plaid Zebra reported the story of an Alaskan woman who has created free-to-use plans for a small, sustainable home, which gives an idea of how inclusive the idea is of finding your own space to live a remote life is. People are willing to share the knowledge that allowed them to make the leap in the first place.

In the coming years, we might expect to see this rather obscure way of life becoming increasingly prevalent as more and more people decide that they have had enough of spending their life in a busy urban centre. We can predict this change looking at the vast amount of information across the web designed to spread the know-how of making remote living work. Websites dedicated to this spread hints and tips, while banks use loan calculators that can help with the financial side of things.

As our cities continue to develop, we may see populations move from urban centres in the coming years. Thanks to the trailblazers of today, like Simon and Sophie, the process of making such a large change will be easier for more of us to undertake.