By Laura LaVoie
We talk to a lot of people about simple living and building our tiny house. We encourage those people who are interested but try to emphasize that no one should romanticize living off the grid in the woods.
We can imagine people had it easier back in the day when they didn’t have to worry about all the demands of modern life. Trading in your complicated city lifestyle for a simpler life in the country doesn’t necessarily mean that all your problems vanish.
In fact, what you get are a whole new set of challenges. The choice we all have to make is which challenges are worth it.
For me, leaving the city and working for myself offered me the freedom I was craving. So I traded some, but not all, of the modern conveniences to have that experience.
Photo by Laura LaVoie
So what have I traded in? Here are some things that are quite different about my new life.
- My stable job for self-employment. I had a job that was great. I liked the people I worked with and I enjoyed what I did…most of the time. When I was angry or stressed about my situation I had to recognize that the problem was not external. I simply felt unfulfilled. Moving into a tiny house that we built ourselves offered me the opportunity to quit my job. I have fewer expenses so I have more flexibility as I continue to get more work as a freelance writer.
- Television as entertainment. I love TV. I love it a lot. I love everything about a well-crafted television show from the writing to the acting to the sets and costume design. I no longer have a television. This has been an easier transition than I expected. I am not cut off from culture or the outside world in anyway and I still have access to the internet. I find that I read a lot more, which is certainly never a bad habit. I was watching a lot more television than just my favorite shows. When I was bored I would watch TV to occupy my time, but that didn’t make me any less bored. Now If I am feeling restless I go for a walk or I read or I create something.
- Same chores, different milieu. My chores used to consist of loading and emptying the dish washer, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, laundry, and washing the cat. I still do all of those things, I just do them differently. We don’t have a dishwasher so I try to make sure our preparation uses fewer dishes and pans so I don’t have to wash as much. The house still needs to be cleaned and swept (we even have tiny vacuum) there is just less of it. Laundry happens at the laundry mat. But the laundry mat is a bar so it’s an overall win. Cat still gets dirty. “Before enlightenment – chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment – chop wood, carry water.” (To quote my favorite Zen proverb).
Living in the woods with no running water and only solar power isn’t for everyone. It isn’t even for everyone who also chooses to live in a tiny house. But every time I look out at the woods around me and walk the mountain paths I feel peace and everything is worth it for me.