Quitting Your Slave Job & Going Off Grid

What Is It Really Like?

by Zowe Smith Published on June 25, 2023


Growing up in Portlandia, the grid was part of the bedrock of our lives. Baked into every aspect of our lifestyle, yet invisible and overlooked. My parents and grandparents would tell stories of the dark ages, before widely available access to the grid. They made it sound like humans were not very good at providing for themselves. Apparently, Oregon trail pioneers had it pretty rough. None of their offspring wanted to continue to live like that. Even worse, they portrayed nature as the harshest of masters. To them, dependence on the grid meant security and comfort. Stories they told imprinted me with the same sense of dependence. Living off grid meant facing exposure to the elements, disease from unsanitary conditions, and working myself to death. It was only for the destitute that had no other choice.

Later in life, living off grid turned into a fantasy when conservationists promoted it as part of a sustainable lifestyle. It was a fantasy because implementing this lifestyle meant making some extreme changes. Many of them were inaccessible for most or simply ineffective.


The threat of losing power during the Scamdemic of 2020 was becoming evident. People in the UK could not afford power bills in the winter due to extremely inflated cost. People in Colorado had their power cut or restricted by their providers using smart meter technology. Probably the most worrisome trigger was when a simulation organized by Johns Hopkins & CHS resurfaced called Dark Winter. It played out a mass casualty event where all power is cut off at the worst possible time. If Event 201 was any indication, we might be in for a Dark Winter for real. It helps to be prepared.

The situation highlighted our dependence on the grid and the strings that come with it. Suddenly many awoke to the need to provide basic necessities for ourselves. Myself included. It wasn’t just a hippie fantasy anymore. This is about survival now. We are realizing that going from a place of complete dependence to self reliance is no small task. There is no road map or one size fits all way to go about it. Disconnecting from the grid is more difficult than starting off grid from the beginning. Many, like myself, are choosing to try that route.

Going off grid was the last thing I would have expected to do at one point in my life. Yet, with the above knowledge in mind, I set out to immerse myself in off grid living. For many reasons. To challenge myself and see if I could do it. To face my fears of dealing with exposure, lack of cleanliness, and possible starvation. These threats were present in all our lives and the fear it caused in many began to control them. I wanted to stay ahead of it and not fall victim to the fear mindset. One of the best ways to conquer a fear is to face it. So I set out to immerse myself in off grid life. Got a job on a farm and bought myself a tiny home.

On moving day, a lumberjack looking man, saw me packing up and asked where I was going? I’m going to live off grid, I said. He took one look at me. It had been the last week of my office job as a medical coder. My clothes and possessions told him I had lived in a city all my life. He told me how he grew up off grid and how hard it was. He then laughed and proclaimed, “you won’t last a week”!

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If you had told me going off grid meant I had to use an outhouse, I would have called it off. Sure, I learned all about compost toilets as a conservation educator. Even promoted them. My only real concern was the smell. I imagined a compost toilet would smell terribly. Poop sitting in a bucket in a small room? No thank-you! The outhouse didn’t seem much better. Not only did I have to deal with the smell, but I had to leave the comfort of my house to use it! It seemed so primitive and uncivilized.

My tiny house had a compost toilet but I planned to put in a regular flush toilet before I moved in. That idea went out the window very quickly when I realized all the plumbing issues it had. Given the fact I had no idea how to use a compost toilet, the outhouse was the best option. As outhouses go, it was a classy one with all the amenities. There was no smell when it was managed properly. It felt primitive but it was not nearly as bad as I made it out to be in my head. Using the compost toilet (eventually) wasn’t that bad either.

Going without heat would have been unthinkable to my city girl mentality. It was forced on me when my propane heater didn’t work. Snow fell overnight on multiple occasions at the top of the mountain that May. Summer followed quickly after, bringing with it heat waves. I thought I could do without AC because it wasn’t supposed to get hot. I was wrong. Turns out, passive heating and cooling works pretty well simply by opening and closing windows at the right time of day. I could get a ten degree temperature change just by doing that. Occasional discomfort for a few small hours a day was the highest price I paid.

Conservation educators frequently spoke about the need to reduce water use because it is a precious limited resource. Nothing could reduce your water use more than restricting your access to 25 gallons at a time. There were times my water pump didn’t have enough power and there was no running water at all. Water use was restricted and reused as much as possible. No more taking hour long showers. Hand washing was kept short or skipped if hands weren’t very dirty. Using wash rags and wipes helps. I even learned how to bathe with just a bowl of hot water! It didn’t take long until managing the water became a reflex.

The experience seems to have increased my tolerance to both temperature extremes. Now I try passive heating and cooling techniques on grid, before I ever touch a thermostat. Going without power or running water doesn’t phase me anymore. Off grid habits die hard. Now if I go somewhere without running water, I have a few ideas how to deal with that.


Nothing worked in the tiny house I purchased. It had rat damage and water damage. There was a broken doggie door leaving a hole big enough for a bear and I was in bear country. A bear would find my tiny dog and two cats to be either tasty snacks or fun playthings. The propane heater was broken, so it had no heat and there was no air conditioning. No hot water either. I purchased what I thought was a turn key ready home to avoid having to rough it. Yet that’s exactly what ended up happening.

Having to repair a few things on a used tiny house was to be expected but the size of this project was far bigger than I bargained for. There was nothing for it but to get to work fixing things. That’s exactly that I did. I watched video’s on how to repair things I knew I could do alone. Fortunately, I had tools and I knew how to use them. For the work I wasn’t confident doing myself, I reached out to my freedom network first. Between the workers on the farm and my freedom network we got it functioning again.

I might not have looked like I grew up in the back woods, but living out there came naturally to me. It felt like I knew what to do to all my life. I just never had any practice. Managing power and water quickly became second nature. I never learned how to work an RV and here I was with a far more complicated tiny house to learn. Yet in a few short weeks, I mastered how to run it. To the point I became tired of explaining it to others.


Something strange happened the very first week. In some ways, I would compare it to a week of hell. All my fears of going off grid manifested that first week. In truth, it was my first week of real freedom. It was invigorating despite the mishaps.

My sense of time got completely lost that week. I didn’t even know what day it was because out there, it didn’t matter. There was very limited access to WiFi. No phone calls, texts, or notifications of any kind could get through. There was no TV in sight. As someone who had made a living online, I can honestly say I cannot remember being unplugged like that. Except for childhood because we didn’t have the internet then. My only entertainment out there was books, downloaded music, walking in nature, and hanging out with the other farm worker.

I feel in love with nature all over again. My inner child that loved playing in the dirt returned. The excitement to learn and share with others ignited in me again. Curiosity about all the new plants and animals around me captivated my imagination. All day I was soaking in nature. Hiking in it. Gardening in it. Sometimes just sitting in a field listening to birds and the wind through the aspen trees. I didn’t need any other entertainment. As the world burned around me, I was able to experience serenity thanks to my newfound oneness with nature.

Before I knew it one day blended into the next. I was in the moment all the time now. Days would go by before I would remember to check in with the outside world. They began to worry about me or think I didn’t like them anymore. It was very hard for them to understand how limited my internet access was and how that created a barrier to maintaining constant contact with them. Until I experienced it, I couldn’t have imagined it either. They wondered if I needed more contact with the outside world but I didn’t miss it. Nor did I miss the podcasts that had helped wake me up. All that seemed to matter was my immediate surroundings and my house repair projects.

A calm began to take hold over the perpetual anger I had always felt. It was like I found a magic chill pill. Road rage became a thing of the past. The frustration you feel in a store when someone is taking forever to pay at the store, vanished. When people were in my way, I would wait patiently, rather than mutter under my breath and run to another aisle. Even the need to check the time a billion times a day faded. Worrying about where I had to be or what type of production quota I had to meet that day stopped entirely. Suddenly, I had an inner peace I never knew I had! A tolerance for stressful situations that seemed unfathomable to me before.

People generally go around in a time deficit because our slave jobs demand all our time. Our energy is a debt we work off every day. So we get angry when we feel someone cost us time because we feel offended our energy was stolen. Every little thing that disrupts our schedule can be grounds for an outburst. Until I stopped working my slave job, I thought that was just the way life was. I didn’t know it could be different. How refreshing to be wrong on this one!


Suddenly, the property owner decided to shut down the farm. My co-worker and I were given two weeks to move. Going back to the city life seemed unthinkable now. It wasn’t just anxiety over the possibility of having to go back to my slave job. I did much harder work on the farm than as a medical coder. It was about not wanting to perpetuate all the systems that enslave us by paying into them. It was about wanting to be in a cleaner environment and avoid all the pollution that comes with city life. Being able to fall asleep to the sounds of a forest at night is preferable to city lights and sirens. There was very low radiation levels out there and nobody sprayed weeds at all. Back in a city, I was anticipating long restless nights and insomnia. Also dealing with rage when I see chemical poisons sprayed on or around me. Worst of all was the thought of walking away from yet another garden before harvest time. A crying shame.

I had taken to the country life with such ease. As if it was an instinct that just needed reawakened again. My relationships to money and material goods completely changed. I felt like I was experiencing the world more like my tribal or Oregon trail pioneer ancestors did. They placed value on material goods only if they were tools to help them create products of their own. Bright shiny objects had zero value if they served no purpose. The need to make a certain amount of money seemed ridiculous now. You don’t need that much when you provide for yourself. I was even beginning to understand why the lumberjack man laughed at me when I told him I was going off grid. How wrong he was! Not only did I last more than a week, now it’s the only way I want to live.

When you are off grid, you are the master of your universe. It can be magically abundant or it can be miserable. The choice is yours. Don’t cut wood for a fire in winter? You’re going to deal with the consequences and be cold. If you do, the heat from your very own fire is far more rewarding than paying a power company. Very much the same as it feels so much more rewarding when you grow and harvest your own strawberries than if you pick some up at the store.

Mother nature sets the pace of your day. Not some faceless corporate entity. Hectic schedules and deadlines are non existent. Your busiest day is likely to be when you do a supply run to town but that is also an exciting trip when you don’t leave the property everyday. It’s an event everyone on the farm gets excited about. Driving to town is not a stressful. Usually the roads are clear of other cars and the sights are scenically beautiful. Very different from running to the store in a city where it feels more like running a gauntlet of red lights, traffic, and road rage.

After experiencing that kind of freedom, it is almost unfathomable to go back into the matrix. Being a worker bee no longer appeals because I now see all of the strings that come along with it. I realize now, it’s not about checking my pride by accepting a minimum wage job (now that my collage degree is useless, thanks to mandates). I was a slave at that job same as everyone else. Possibly worse, I was a slave to the debt that came with that collage degree. It was an illusion that making a decent income made me somehow more successful than some of my lesser earning, or lesser educated peers. All that did was make me a house slave as opposed to a field slave. Everyone loses in that situation.

“You can take the girl off the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the girl”

What off grid life means to me is taking responsibility for our own actions. It means ultimate freedom. Being the change I want to see in this world starts with going off grid for me. There are infinite possibilities of a better life from there. Going off grid was like walking through a fire. It strengthened and empowered me. I encourage anyone who is curious to try it for yourself and see!