10 life lessons you’ll learn when you ditch the city and go off-grid

We gain valuable experience as we age and go through the ups and downs of life. 

But the lessons you learn when you ditch the city and go off-grid are next level: these are life lessons which apply to every area of your well-being and will help you in every regard. 

Learning to live off the land and be self-sufficient is becoming increasingly rare, but it’s never been more admirable or valuable. 

Let’s take a look at what you learn when you go off-grid. 

1) The world is much bigger than you imagined 

Going off-grid shows you that the world isn’t just limited to Los Angeles and Chicago, Shanghai or Toronto, Berlin or Buenos Aires. 

There are so many more places out there than the major metropolitan areas where the mass of humanity resides. 

Generally, when you go off-grid, you travel far from the concrete arteries of the urban leviathan and choose to make a home in nature.

No matter what country and province or state you live in, there are so many more locations and places that are barely on the map and harder to access.

You’ll realize that the limits of the known world were mostly in your mind: there’s more out there, and with enough dedication those places can be within your reach. 

2) Preparation and foresight go a long way 

Going off-grid makes it crystal clear how important it is to prepare and have foresight. 

Those who “wing it” and just try to head somewhere without doing much research, often end up giving up early or suffering even worse fates. 

The horrible outcome of young Christopher McCandless comes to mind:

McCandless who was made famous through Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild and the later film, tragically perished in the summer of 1992 at age 24 after heading to Alaska without sufficient supplies or foreknowledge of the region. 

When you go off-grid, you need to know what you’re doing. Talk to others who’ve done it, research more than you think necessary. Do advance trips to scout potential sites for your RV or shelter. 

Going off-grid shows you the crucial need to think ahead!

3) Always expect the unexpected  

Increasingly unpredictable and severe weather across the world shows the ravages of global pollution and climate change:

But most people living in developed nations feel confident that emergency services and forecasting will warn them ahead of time and come to the rescue. 

When you’re off grid, you don’t have that certainty. 

You may be in such a remote area that it takes many hours to reach you or that search and rescue is unable to rapidly muster a response force. 

You quickly learn to focus on what’s in your control and expect the unexpected. 

There’s never a guarantee of salvation from the outside, and you’re much better off having plans for what to do if (and when) the sh*t hits the fan. 

4) We all have some taste for adventure in our blood 

When you go off-grid you are sure to have some epic adventures: survival is the greatest challenge of all once you remove many of modern society’s comforts. 

Going off-grid awakens you to your own taste for adventure

Even if you’ve always thought of yourself as a fairly quiet, bookish person who just wanted to play it safe, taking a chance like unplugging from “life as usual” is a big turning point. 

You get a taste of the fire in the belly felt by early pioneers, nomadic tribes and those who’ve lived off the land since time immemorial. 

We’re all a little more capable than we realize, which brings me to the next point… 

5) You have a greater capacity for self-sufficiency than you realized

Necessity is the mother of invention, and it’s also the greatest teacher. 

You can have all the interest you want in becoming self-sufficient, learning a language or picking up a new skill:

But often it takes necessity to really see it through. 

Going off-grid shows you how much more capacity for self-sufficiency you have than you realized. 

From finding renewable power sources like solar and wind to sourcing clean water and orienting your living space to maximize sun and shade, you realize that you are a capable being. 

These skills and abilities have been lying dormant for years, but like many things in life, when we put ourselves to the challenge we often do far better than we expect. 

6) Choose friends and partners wisely, because your life (and sanity) could depend on them 

signs youre ready to embrace off grid living and leave the chaos behind 1 10 life lessons you'll learn when you ditch the city and go off-grid

If you go off-grid with a romantic partner, family member or friend, you quickly learn that who we associate with is an extremely crucial decision. 

Grabbing a drink with a buddy or meeting a girlfriend for lunch is one thing:

Those we let into our inner circle is something else entirely, and in a high-pressure or dangerous situation, having the wrong folks around you can cost you your life (or your sanity). 

The importance of character quickly becomes obvious in a high-stakes situation. 

Even if you’re off-gridding with someone (or a group) that doesn’t have a lot of knowledge, if they’re honest and reliable it speaks volumes. 

Being joined up with an individual who’s jealous and erratic, by contrast, can eventually lead to massive frustration and endless problems in setting up a successful homestead. 

Life is the same: who you allow into your inner circle defines a huge amount about who you will become yourself and the level of excellence you will reach.

7) Just because you were born somewhere doesn’t mean you need to die there

Going off-grid teaches you that you do have the power to change where you live and that you have the power to change your circumstances. 

Not everyone has freedom of movement due to the nation they’re in, finances or their life situation:

If you can dream it, you can begin taking steps to make it a reality. 

8) You can only truly grow by taking risks and testing yourself

Preparation and forethought are key to everything in life, but the rubber meets the road when you take action. 

Some risk is always involved when you take new steps in life. 

But you have to get the ball rolling if you want to score any goals. 

You grow in your discomfort zone, not your comfort zone, and being off-grid teaches you this in a real way

All of us seek to balance out our desire for safety and comfort with seeking out new shores and fresh opportunities. 

We grow when we take risks and embrace new opportunities, learning what we’re fully capable of as we take on new challenges. 

9) You’ll realize how many of your beliefs and assumptions are the result of conditioning

Getting off-grid is about more than just the physical act: it’s a state of mind. 

When you leave behind the rat race to some extent and find a way to work remotely and live off the land, you also unplug, to an extent, from the usual sources of information and messaging that bombard those in regular society. 

This can provide real moments of clarity in which you realize how much of us are conditioned in many ways. 

For example: 

  • By technology and the many ways it influences our choices and values
  • By popular media and its influence on what we value, love, hate and care about
  • By the news media and its narratives, ideas and priorities that surround us on every side
  • By consumerism, materialism and the siren’s song of purchase power, or, as the Manic Street Preacher put it in 1992: “From feudal serf to spender, this wonderful world of purchase power.”

You’re off-grid now, looking at things from a new vantage point. Life can be different. It doesn’t have to be the way we’re living it.

10) We must all take ownership of our choices for better or for worse 

When you’re off-grid, you learn that blaming other people does no good at all. 

You must own your own mistakes, and if you’re off-grid with a partner or a group you need to discuss what’s gone wrong and how to fix it.

Emotional blame and finger-pointing doesn’t do good: focusing on solutions does do good and does lead to progress

This is a life lesson worth taking to heart. 

Everybody experiences disappointments and setbacks, but it’s what you do next that counts.

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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