The Digital Nomad Wandering Life

Off-Grid Living and Trading

Off-grid living is generally defined as living without reliance on, or connection to, public utilities such as electricity, water, and gas, and yes, even sewer. I guess over time I've embraced off-grid living without really recognizing it as that, or even purposefully striving towards it. Yet, looking back on the past twenty years of my life the vast majority of it has been spent living it.

I'm currently in American Samoa, at anchor, creating my own power and drinking water, running a gas stove from a tank, and storing black water for dumping offshore. Not to mention running internet without a local connection. Apart from boat life (this is boat number four for us), we've also spent a lot of time living in VW buses and vintage motorhomes. We couldn't make our own water on land, but we sure could create our own electricity and run our own gas. Someday I figure I'll have a home on land again, and hope that I'll be able to take the off-grid lessons I've learned via boats and motorhomes and translate it there as well.

Sailing to Suwarrow
Pat approaching the uninhabited atoll, Suwarrow, in the Cook Islands of the South Pacific.

I know a lot of our Wanderers are striving for an off-grid lifestyle as well. Whether that be life on a sailboat, a motorhome, or a cabin in the woods, it's more attainable than ever before. Solar prices have plummeted, battery tech improves daily, and YouTube videos are so extensive that even someone who has never done anything more electrical than replace batteries in a flashlight can create a home system of their own.

Making water on a boat is as easy as running a hose into the ocean and plugging in a machine to "squeeze" the salt out. Every year that goes by the developers of these systems make it simpler and more efficient. We currently make 40 gallons of fresh water every hour with our watermaker.

Ultimately, though, the choice to live this way, for many people, will come down to whether or not they can earn a living off-grid, not whether they can hack the actual act of living off-grid. Today, I'd argue that is easier than ever before, as well. Starlink (and hopefully some competitors soon) has made my life easy. Traveling by boat used to mean going days on end without connectivity while out at sea, and purchasing local wireless carrier SIM cards upon arrival in a new place. For years I paid an average of $5 per gig of data, and almost always was only able to buy plans with maybe 5-10gb included at a time. Forget about unlimited plans. They don't seem to exist outside of the U.S., and even there they were never truly unlimited. 

With Starlink on the boat I'm truly living the unlimited high-speed life. Solar panels make the DC power that goes into the batteries, which an inverter converts to AC power, which the Starlink plugs into and within seconds I'm online and trading stocks as if I were sitting in an office on Wall Street. To say that I'm living the dream would probably have to be considered an understatement. I mean, come on, boats, beaches, and b... buy orders. 

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