We spent a couple of days this summer completely off the “grid”. No power, no running water, no sewer, and no cell service. Our lives are so tied into and around having these “essential” services, that it takes a while to acclimatize to not having power at the flick of a switch or hot water at the turn of a tap.
My sister and her husband built a beautiful “cottage” on a lot overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and invited us to use it. It isn’t really isolated, but when planning turned up protected wetlands, and situating sewage and water proved a problem, they decided to build anyway but go completely “off the grid”.
Water isn’t a real problem, since you can carry it in with you, but carrying out the resulting waste is not a pleasant option, so they quickly found the solution in a composting toilet - better that the traditional outhouse, but still requiring no power or water.
Once you settle into the cottage, life without all the ’essentials’ is actually pretty good. The toilet works great; no smell, and really easy to use and manage. Oil lamps chase away the shadows, and rechargeable lights and battery power work just fine - but there is always the option of just going to bed earlier as the sun goes down, and getting up when it gets light. Once you have no real option, this seems pretty logical. Water for drinking can be carried in, and two big rain barrels provide water for washing and cooking. Probably the biggest issue is with hot water; dishes come cleaner in hot water, and I really don’t enjoy washing in cold water.
There are some advantages too. It is really dark without electricity, and looking to the heavens shows a sky full of stars hidden from our urban neighborhoods, and having to wait to wash the supper dishes until the wash water is hot allows one to relax with another glass of wine while your meal digests. You just have to slow down a bit, and that really isn’t such a bad thing. I will certainly be willing to go back for another visit.