Pay off credit card debt and aim toward cutting up your cards. A good credit rating is worth having for some things but credit card debt is never worth having. If you plan to move house to something smaller or more remote, then plan to move ASAP so you can get free of mortgage debt and start using that repayment money on tangible preparation supplies. If the SHTF, it’s you’ll be worrying about the zombies breathing down your neck, not the debt collectors.
While you’re still plugged into the grid, start shaving your water and power use, your food wastage, and unnecessary monthly purchases. This isn’t about becoming ascetic, it’s about getting smart. You don’t need to buy cheaper things or miss out altogether: just be thoughtful, about what you buy, choose better quality things, and buy them less often. You can start to simplify your material life today by deciding to stop buying useless junk, and to start selling off the unused stuff you already have lying around.
Downsizing possessions can be addictive. Minimalists have a lot in common with preppers: they like to be comfortable with a spartan minimum of material requirements. Anything you don’t use might as well be sold for $$$ to fund your off-grid retrofits and projects. You can also trade your underused belongings for things that are more useful, including non-material stuff like skills training or services from local professionals.
With the savings you make by cutting your energy bill and selling most of your unused stuff, invest in things that will save money in the medium-to-long term. Solar panels, a rainwater system and a bicycle are all good examples of things that can be used as modules with your home as it is now but moved to a better off-grid location if that’s part of your plan. Education is an important investment too: through classes and books you can learn to make and repair many things by yourself, saving you money on new things and service costs.
Buy one, trade for one, repair one or just grab yours from the garage and dust it off. A bicycle is a powerful way to:
How friendly is the climate you plan to live in toward renewable energy, naturally and politically speaking? Is wind, solar, or a combination the most successful model in that area? Are their policy incentives to encourage transition to renewables? Can you apply for subsidies to support your own transition?
Start by researching how much unnecessary power the average home draws, and the common areas where people can easily save on energy costs. Even if you’re renting, there are steps you can take to transition at least part of your energy use to off-grid, bit by bit. Look into which ones could apply to your house or apartment:
The first steps of dietary self-reliance are basic knowledge of nutrition, and learning how to cook for yourself. You can learn off-grid food techniques as well, like growing your own herbs and chilies, foraging for edible weeds, pickling pickles, and brewing cider from the apple tree in your yard. Start cutting highly processed foods out of your diet by replacing them with similar recipes you can make at home. Get some basic knowledge of nutrition, and if you eat animal products, find out what free-range meat, egg and dairy sources exist near your area. As transport costs go up, locally-grown will become vastly more affordable. Start supporting your home-grown producers now so they’re there when you need them.
Volunteering is a great way to pick up practical skills for off-grid living, including solar electronics, alternative building, gardening, DIY autonomous tech, animal husbandry, hunting and community resilience planning.
These will help guide all your information-gathering, skill-improvement and decision-making over the coming weeks, months and years of your journey to off-grid living.
Many preppers start small: with projects such as a bike-powered generator; refitting a van or caravan; or building a tiny house / guest bedroom on wheels. Tiny houses are great because you get to learn about almost every aspect of planning and building home with just a fraction of the size, cost and time required. If you lack enough space to start a practical project, help a friend / community member with theirs, or join your local Makerspace.
You’ll need somewhere to set down your roots. It might be ten acres in the woods, or the corner plot on a friend’s farm, or even a houseboat mooring on a river or harbor. Consider how the space can help you take care of your basic water, food, shelter and power needs, get rid of waste, and cope with whatever temperature fluctuations the regional climate will throw at you. Is there a prepper-friendly community nearby? Would you get the privacy and autonomy you need to do your thing?
Use your free time to brush up on scouting skills and add new skills to your arsenal. The Internet is an inexhaustible font of knowledge, and your local library might be better than you think. Hands-on classes and practice are often best, but start small, wherever and however you can.
Many folks attracted to an autonomous, independent, remote or even nomadic lifestyle find those very same ideals seem incompatible with getting a great education for their children. Not so! Arguably, the best learning happens outside of the schoolroom. Check out this great beginners’ guide to unschooling.
Likeminded friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and mentors will be crucial sources of inspiration, education and support. Through your social network (and we do mean in the real world, too), you will be able to answer questions great and small, find out what skills to want to learn and who can teach you, learn the most common hard-won lessons and discover how to sidestep common pitfalls. Alternative communities –including but not limited to the prepper community- can help minimize each other’s reliance on centralized society by trading goods and services without a lot of middlemen getting in the way.
If your day job doesn’t help you live a resilient, independent life, leave time for you to learn useful survival skills, leave time for you to build a healthy social life, as well as make you tremendously happy and satisfied, consider quitting! Or transferring to a new location, or upskilling, or downskilling, or a lateral occupation change, or at least moving to part time work. Taking one day off a week to garden, take classes, spend extra time in the wilderness or work on practical projects generally pays for itself when you compare the lost salary to the gains in home-grown food, education that could lead to a pay-rise, survival skills or saving money on renovation labor.
If you can’t afford to drop a fifth of your salary, then you can still start devoting your free time more intentionally to your off-grid vision. Start participating in projects that are genuinely, directly rewarding, and get you closer to fulfilling your short-term goals and your long-term off-grid dream.