Why working online is fabulous when you live off the grid

This one’s for all of you who want to live off the grid… but are not sure how to make it work financially. 

Why work online when you live off the grid? Sunny Simple Living at www.simplelivingspain.com

How much does it cost to live off the grid? 

I get questions about it on social media all of the time; it seems to certainly be the greatest concern for most families… “How much money does it cost to live off the grid?” “If I have 800£ per month, is that enough to sustain my family?” “I calculated I’d need 12k a year to live, is that correct?” 

First of all, the real answer is “it depends”. 

It depends on your initial investment, on the material and skills you’re taking with you, on the amount of “stuff” you need, how big your house will be and how much of your food you’d grow even in the worst year. 
I talked about all of that in a video recently - click here to go watch it. 

My second answer would be “get a job”. 

And I don’t necessarily mean get an office job in the closest town, or a seasonal job picking grapes and harvesting olives; I strongly believe that if you have enough self-discipline (or a partner who keeps you on your toes), most people who could move and start a new life off the grid, could also start their own off-grid business. Part-time or full time, outdoors or from your computer, finding a way to get a reliable income and not just rely on "spending less" is your way to ensure you're not totally reliant on an outside job. 

Why do you need money if you aim to be self-sufficient? 

The elephant in the room, of course, is this - if you aim to be self-sufficient, shouldn’t you renounce all money and live off love and fresh water? We do know several people with rather radical views on these - from ranting about people who want to make some money by renting out yurts (“an eco-camping is not really eco!”) to claiming people shouldn’t make money off permaculture (because when you spent years of your life and all your savings gathering skills and knowledge, of course you should be sharing that with others for free and find some other way to survive). 

You can certainly spend (a lot) less money when you live off the grid. You spend less because you’re not getting harassed by ads and shopping prompts all of the time; if you’ve got some like-minded people near you, there’s a lot you can do with bartering and just helping each other out for free; but at the end of the day, you still need money. 

There’s taxes to be paid, parts and materials to be bought, things that will break down and need replacing; the nearest shop might be an hour away (and gas money isn’t cheap), you need dog food, or maybe new working shoes, just now and then. And what happens if your car breaks down or
I did a video on this as well (click here for more about the myth of living without money). 

We do know them, the people who choose to not make (much) money and live on the fringe (as I call it); they’ll have a good and happy life, grown their own food, help out others where they can and get even more in return. Until things go wrong - relationship trouble, a problem with the house they live in, car breakdown,… 
Sure, the community will pitch in and help them out. For a few days, a few weeks, even a few months. 

So… how can I make money when I live off the grid? 

Yes, I did write about it already. I discerned 6 ways to make money when you live off the grid: 

  • Working online
  • Market gardening (growing crops) 
  • Farming with animals
  • Creating home-made products
  • Tourism
  • Working away from home - for somebody else

For more details on each of these, do check out the other article

We’ve tried a bit of everything - small scale, just because we could. 
Growing fruits & veggies to barter (check), selling eggs (check), baking bread and cakes (check), a bed & breakfast (check), and even helping other farmers with their olive harvest (check). And, of course, my main job - which is working online. 

All of these are pretty viable options - especially at a larger scale - and if planned out well. Not everything worked out well for us or fitted our current lifestyle; I’m planning to do a video on that part as well, some time soon (and probably for a smaller group of people, so keep an eye on our newsletter if you’d like access to that). 

We've also seen things go wrong: vegetable gardeners whose crops were decimated by a freak hail storm in summer, B&B owners who had to go and get another job in fall, as they didn't have enough winter bookings to make it until spring; a fox eating all the chickens (bye bye income from selling fresh eggs) or a disease decimating all meat rabbits, etcetera. 

Why I think working online is the best way to make money off the grid 

Why work online when you live off the grid? Sunny Simple Living at www.simplelivingspain.com

To me, the big winner is the virtual work. Working online gave us the freedom to make the move to our off-grid olive farm in the first place; working online is what gave me grounding when things got crazy, and working online is now what helps us pay off the loans. 

Working online offers flexibility

What I love most about working online, is the flexibility it offers me. When we go on a trip, I just have to make sure I've got no meetings planned while we travel through the mountains with no 4G available - apart from that, I can work from anywhere. 

I was even able to continue working when we lived in our Maset for a few months, with no internet connection; I'd work offline most of the day, reply to e-mails through my mobile internet connection once or twice a day, and visit a bar with good internet (or a good friend) a few times a week to upload everything that needed uploading - and check on my social media, of course. 

To this day, I'm able to drop everything if necessary. When a friend needs help, when I'm not feeling well or when the alpacas escaped to find greener grass on the other side - unless I've got an important meeting planned (which I can usually work around) or an important deadline (which I have learned to make ahead of time), I can decide to just not do any work on that day or part of the day. Which doesn't mean I do it often - every time I need to skip a working day, that just means I have to catch up later!   

Virtual jobs can be incredibly diverse 

The beauty of working online is that there are so many options. I started out as a virtual assistant: helping people with their admin, simple translations, setting up presentations and writing content, booking their travels and scheduling their meetings. As more people were asking me to manage their social media, I decided to specialise and am now a certified Facebook strategist and coach... but still expanding on my services, as I'd like to help more coaches and online teachers set up courses, memberships, and e-learning systems. 

I have many friends who work online (probably not a coincidence). Their occupations vary - from web design or graphic design, to web development and SEO, to doing translations and admin work, to coaching (1:1) or teaching (with courses or memberships), to writing, blogging, selling physical products,... And I'm sure I'm forgetting quite a few here. 

If you have an online business or are considering starting your own virtual company - what is it you do? Let us know in the comments! 

Some type of online job guarantee recurring income

The life of a self-employed entrepreneur is never easy, especially at first. However, there are way to ensure a regular income: working with monthly retainers (where people pay you a certain amount per month, and in exchange get to give you work for a certain amount of hours or a particular job), with a maintenance contract (for instance for web development), setting up a membership (where you provide certain content in exchange for monthly or yearly payment),... 

Not putting all your eggs in one basket

That is the most important part: working online allows me to do other things as well. Managing our "farm stay" guest accommodations; baking bread and cakes and pies on demand; working in the garden, with the alpacas or chickens; olive and almond harvest or processing quinces;... 

Not only does an online job allow you to work around all that needs to happen on the farm, but it also allows you to not put all your eggs in one basket - or business. When things are slow in your B&B in winter, that's when you can take on a few more clients (or get a bit more work done) - and make sure you can still make enough to pay the bills. 

So what kind of jobs could I do online? 

I am writing an article about this for a new project I’m a part of - The Farmish Collective. We’re a group of online entrepreneurs who live a bit of an “alternative” lifestyle (on a farm, a homestead, off the grid or off the beaten path) and who want to help others achieve what we have - and more. 
The Farmish Collective will offer practical support to grow your business: setting up your business, using tools and systems to make it work for you; online marketing support and courses (social media, e-mail marketing, SEO, advertising); branding and webdesign; product development - and much more. 

Follow the Farmish Collective, as we’re launching the website in May 2018: 
Facebook - Pinterest - Twitter - Join the Facebook group


What if the internet collapses? 

Yes, that is a real question we get all of the time.

We don’t believe the internet will be going any time soon, but just in case some catastrophe happens and there is no longer an internet to make money off… then I’m pretty sure we could go back to working offline. Back to the local community, to our own garden - and to making sure our bare necessities are filled, before we go looking for more. No more big travel plans - but then again, there’s no internet to buy the tickets on. 

If you have an online business or are considering starting your own virtual company - what is it you do? Let us know in the comments!