What on earth could inspire two city slickers to shun the city life and set out on a new adventure? One that would challenge their knowledge and survival skills on a daily basis? Meet Jesse and Alyssa, who decided to leave behind their comfortable life in the city to start an off-grid homestead completely from scratch, starting with bare land, in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest!
I have a huge interest in homesteading myself, so I was excited to have the chance to ask them a few questions about their adventure. I gleaned a few really great tips I hadn’t considered before. If you haven’t seen their blog yet, be sure to head over to Pure Living for Life to read more about their eco-living homestead. I hope you enjoy their answers as much as I did.
1. What inspired you to live an off-the-grid lifestyle?
A few years back, Jesse and I were living on the fourth floor of a huge apartment complex in suburbia. The majority of my time was spent working a 9-5 desk job while Jesse was trying to run a business in another state, remotely.
We felt extremely stressed on a day-to-day basis, and while life was okay, we wanted more. We had nice toys, nice cars and a nice place to live, but what we ultimately wanted was freedom.
We spent time talking about what our perfect lifestyle would look like, and we had this crazy idea that wanted to have land, live off of our land, be completely self-sufficient, build a home with our bare hands, have few financial needs, be debt-free and spend our days doing what we loved.
Soon after establishing our mutual dream, we made a plan and took action. Exactly two years after establishing our dream, we found ourselves living off-grid on our own piece of paradise nestled on the edge of the Rocky Mountains. We are finally living a life of simplicity and have never been happier.
2. How did you choose the location for your homestead?
After deciding we wanted to develop an off-grid homestead, or the “what,” the next piece of the puzzle to solve was the “where.” We knew that some areas would be better than others for pursuing such a lifestyle, so we sat down and made a list of all criteria important to us. Our full list can be found here, but in short, we wanted:
- to be in an area that had a strong sense of community
- an abundance of resources
- a large presence of other self-sufficient families
- no building codes so that we could build whatever type of home we wanted
After we settled on a specific location, we got to work finding a piece of property that made our hearts sing.
3. What lessons have you learned along the way that might help others looking to move off the grid in search of eco-living?
I think the greatest thing we’ve learned throughout our journey is that every journey starts by taking action.
We come across a lot of folks that are interested in pursuing a similar lifestyle but are stuck in what we call “analysis paralysis,” so much so that it prevents them from taking any actual steps towards achieving their dreams. We learned to make a plan, work the plan and adjust the plan when needed. It’s all about taking baby steps every day in the right direction and being closer to achieving your goals today than you were yesterday.
4. What things do you think many people miss when planning a homestead?
I think the thing most people miss when planning a homestead is understanding the human limits of energy and the magnitude of such a project. When looking on the internet for homestead inspiration, it’s all too easy to think that you can have a flourishing homestead overnight, but this just isn’t so! We’ve found that every project takes a lot of time, not necessarily because the projects are complicated, but because we’re always trying too many things at once while also running our online business and even putting aside time for family and friends.
Again, it goes back to making progress in baby steps and being further in your journey today than you were yesterday.
5. You use a lot of reclaimed materials. What tips do you have for others who want to source reclaimed materials for their eco-living projects?
Yes, so far reclaimed materials have been the bread and butter of our eco-living homestead! Because we’re on a mission to build our home using as little money as possible, we’ve been on a mission to find reclaimed and secondhand building materials, and we definitely have some tips to share.
- Our first tip is to put up a flyer around town with what you’re looking for. There are many people that have leftover materials laying around their properties and homes, but it’s often not worth their time to list them on Craigslist.
However, if they know someone is looking for what they have, they just might give you a call and let them go for pennies. This strategy allowed us to get $15,000 in materials for maybe $1,000 to $2,000.
- Our second tip is to keep an eye on Craigslist. We have alerts set up for things like “lumber,” “windows,” “roofing” and other things we know we’ll need. Sometimes, people are willing to let go of materials at a very low cost for one reason or another (maybe they’re moving?), and if you are available when opportunity knocks, you may find some great deals! Jump on them immediately because they likely won’t be around tomorrow!
With these two tips alone, we were able to build a small cabin on our property for just $300!
For additional tips on finding reclaimed/secondhand building materials, read our blog post here.
6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your journey?
I think the point we’d really like to hammer home is that our eco-living lifestyle is a journey, not a destination. We don’t know where this journey will take us, but for now, we are loving every minute of it! We get to spend our days working outside, tending to our newly established garden, collecting building materials and running our online businesses from our cabin in the woods. Every sacrifice we’ve made has been worth it, and we find ourselves not missing many of the comforts we had in our old lifestyle.
Follow Jesse and Alyssa as they uproot their life in the city to start an off-grid homestead, 100 percent from scratch. They have lots of exciting projects lined up, such as the construction of a timber frame home, a hot tub deck milled from trees on their property, the building of a wood-fired hot tub, the starting of an organic garden and more! You can stay involved with their progress on their blog Pure Living for Life, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channel, where they publish weekly videos of their progress.
Feature image credit: Pure Living for Life