Many people dream of leaving their dreary city jobs and go off the grid, starting their lives over in the wilderness. But for most, this remains a dream. What would it look like to actually try? Meet Jesse and Alyssa, a young couple who for the past seven months have left behind their comfortable lives to build their own off-grid homestead in the mountains of Idaho. How did they do it? Read on; this is their story.
This is our new property in Idaho – five acres nestled in the wilderness of the Rockies, cut off from all public utilities, with an incredible view to wake us up every morning. Since our initial move in September, a lot of changes have happened to us, and we have successfully made it through our first winter in a cold climate. Every day brings new challenges but we are so grateful for starting this journey that has taken us on this new way of life.
Our journey towards a more simple life began several years ago when both of us reached a
point where we were tired of the corporate, sterile lifestyle we were living in the city. Job
relocations, layoffs and lack of exciting challenges in our daily lives had really taken a toll on our passion for the work we were doing.
By many standards, we were living the “dream” and we had the toys and lifestyle to prove it. But we were unfulfilled. Even though we supposedly “had it all,” our corporate lifestyle made us feel trapped and like we could never do enough to get ahead.
Jesse had a business in Oregon, and I moved to Colorado for my career, but when I was laid off I became very uncertain about whether or not I should have even moved there in the first place.
We had some long conversations together before I chose to relocate to Oregon to be with Jesse so that we could begin making goals for what we really wanted from our lives. To us, that meant living in an area that would keep us connected with nature, allow us to live simply and keep our expenses low, and provide for our own needs in every way we could. With that vision, we began our search for a property to build a homestead from the ground up.
Looking to the Future
Since September of 2015, we have been living on our property in a 19’ trailer. The travel trailer gives us a place to live while we gather materials and learn the necessary skills for building a more permanent home. Both of us are pleasantly surprised with how much we enjoy living in such a compact space and it really takes the pressure off building our long term home immediately.
Though we plan to live in the travel trailer for the foreseeable future, we have dreams of
completing a timber frame barn in the next few years using trees from our property. This barn will provide a place for us to live while we build our home, and will also provide us a garage, storage space and a place to work on projects while being protected from the weather. Though the trailer works for now, in a few years I’m sure we will be ready for some more space!
We have plenty of other projects lined up including building a wood-fired hot tub for our
newly built deck and using lumber we milled ourselves with an Alaskan chainsaw mill. We also plan to hone some of our homesteading skills by starting an organic garden, setting up a rain catchment system, and many other projects that will allow us to increase our self sufficiency.
One of our main motivators for adopting this new lifestyle has been the allure of using time instead of money to provide for ourselves. Don’t get us wrong; we aren’t against spending money. For this scale of project we often have to spend lots of it. But in many cases we feel that having patience and choosing to do much of the work ourselves can really get us ahead. And that’s always going to be cheaper than hiring contractors or buying a completely finished property.
We started to prove that our time over money theory was going to work for us when we were able to build a tiny cabin on our property almost entirely from materials we salvaged ourselves in a demolition opportunity found on Craigslist. All at once we salvaged loads of metal roofing, old lumber and even insulation that we managed to turn into a 10×12 cabin. And that was only the beginning. Since arriving on our property, we’ve salvaged about $15,000 in building materials for practically nothing but our time and by being available when opportunity knocked.
These early successes make us optimistic that we can build our home and barn for an
Following Our Passions Turned a Slightly Crazy Idea Into Reality
Our journey is only just beginning, but we have already come to realize that when we make a plan and take action, amazing things can happen. Even when we feel overwhelmed, we remind ourselves that every task can be broken down into small, manageable steps. We have high hopes for this adventure, but we know that our plans are going to change and that lots of things won’t work out how we expect. And that’s ok.
No matter what happens during this journey, every day brings us closer to achieving our goals. The learning curve can be brutal, but we expect to learn more from our failures than our successes. And even though the transition from the city to living on bare land is never simple or without challenges, we’ve never felt more stable, more self sustainable,
more alive or more passionate about the way we are living.
Wish to follow their path and take the leap to go off the grid? Follow Alyssa and Jesse on their blog , Facebook , Instagram and YouTube as they develop their property and transition to an off-the-grid lifestyle.