Top five lessons from my first month living off-grid

Well it’s been just over a month since I left the big smoke for the rural life, and my ‘sea-change’ (or ‘tree-change’ as I’ve come to call it) has me living with my sweetie in a 1979 Franklin caravan on 5 acres of rolling pastoral lands.

It’s early days and as expected, things are still pretty rough – but how amazing is it that I am now living off the sun and the rain?!! (plus some LPG, a generator for backup (and of course, wifi for work)).

As you can imagine on such a steep learning curve, it’s been jam-packed with lessons, but I’ve managed to organise it into my top five lessons learned in this first month off-grid:

1. A little bit of daily self-care goes a long way
Given that most of the basics are just barely setup, life at the moment is a lot rougher than it will be in the near future – and certainly once we have built a primary residence (though it will still be off-grid). For instance, we are currently sleeping on the floor of the caravan while we renovate around ourselves. A cup of tea in bed, a favourite face serum, a quiet walk together at sunset – taking an extra few minutes each day for some self-care takes it up a notch and balances out all the little discomforts and challenges.

2. All creatures will choose a way out if the path is open
From flies and mosquitoes to skinks, mice and other critters – no matter what the environment, weather or time of day I have quickly learned that all creatures instinctively want to be free. If I give them an open door, window or obvious escape route ahead – in almost every case they will choose it.

3. Even paradise needs a break once a week
With the combination of my sweetie working full-time with a one hour commute each way, and myself working here remotely as a web designer, I am generally on my own 12+ hours a day. Much of the time it’s peaceful and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but nonetheless once a week I head into town to take a break and ‘feel normal’. On that day I work out of a co-working space where I get to dress up, eat out and interact with a variety of interesting entrepreneurial types – it’s been a definite sanity saver.

4. My fear of magpies is leaving me
Before I moved out to the land I had a typical Sydneysider fear of magpies – known for being aggressive swoopers, I would say there’s not too many Aussies out there who haven’t either been swooped – or witnessed a swooping. A fairly large bird with a big, long, sharp beak and smart beady eyes, it’s no wonder that I’ve had a fear of magpies since childhood.

However, since moving here I have come to know our resident family of four who wake us up in the morning with their pre-dawn calls, sing to each other throughout the day and are often out together at sunset ‘listening’ for grubs. They truly are amazing birds that live up to 20 years and even recognise faces – which means making friends with a magpie, means making a friend for life.

5. Sometimes the most humane choice is to do it quickly
Well we’ve had our first mouse, who I must admit was having a grand old time but leaving me one eye opened all night trying to catch some sleep (see point #1: sleeping on the floor). After announcing to said-mouse a number of times that I wasn’t going to be sharing our small 9m2 caravan, and being unable to catch and release the little fella, in the end we had to resort to mouse traps. It took a couple of days, but it was quick when he did eventually meet his untimely death, and I was somewhat consoled that he went to mouse heaven with a tummy full of peanut butter and rockmelon.