I have noticed something of a trend among preppers. It seems to me that, the farther along the road to real self-sufficiency that preppers get, the more keenly they feel a gnawing to get out of the rat race of “normal” society entirely.
I’m not sure why this happens, but I do believe it has something to do with waking up to the realization that you don’t need to be a slave in some cubicle, or sell your life away at some job that is meaningless except for the money that it makes your employer and a paltry wage that it makes you.
I would wager a significant fraction of preppers constituting the readers of this site, beginning to understand that a life of freedom and meaning and richness is attainable is beyond tantalizing.
These people start to realize that these skills are not just survival skills, at least they weren’t always called that. They are life skills, and not too many decades ago it was just called “living”, not surviving.
For some, this yearning becomes a dream, and then a powerful thirst. If you are one of them, if you want to get out of the little box that society has been built to keep you in, and live a richer, fuller and freer life, you have come to the right place.
In this article I’m going to make a case for doing exactly that, and give you some tips for getting started on this new journey.
The Life You Have
Let’s talk numbers, figures, since so much of being a “proper” member of society in America and much of Europe is quantified into nice, tidy numbers and rankings. Let’s say you are an adult male.
Let us also say that you work a minimum of eight hours a day, and you do that for a minimum 5 days a week. Regardless of what kind of job you do, you’re spending a considerable amount of your waking hours, and a massive fraction of your life in service of the objectives of someone else.
Here is the bottom line: using those figures above, you are giving up at least one third of your life in the service of someone else’s pursuits. Considering that most men die a little bit younger than women you’re probably giving up closer to 50% of your life to work.
That is a sobering thing to think about. You aren’t living the dream; you are living someone else’s, while you get left with the nightmare.
Well, reader, it is time to wake up. I hate to break this to you but, in all but the rarest, and I mean the most vanishingly rare circumstances, your employer does not give one, single, genuine shit about you. At all. Period.
All of your revenues, all of your benefits, all of your shares, everything is simply an expense on their books. It is the cost of doing business and nothing more. If anything happened to you, or if it was absolutely better for their bottom line to replace you with someone else that, however it occurs, makes them more money you had better believe they would.
Do not delude yourself. Do not kid yourself. It happens to thousands and thousands of people every single day.
Understanding the Cost of Being a “Productive” Member of Society
What is the real, cleverly concealed cost of all of that above? How about reduced quality of life? How about countless hundreds and thousands of hours you don’t have to spend with the people you care about the most; your spouse or significant other, your children, your friends, your parents and your real peers?
How about the crushing realization that every single one of those missing hours, sold in some Faustian bargain to make someone else’s dreams come true, will no longer be available for you to truly grow and expand as a person?
Does it sound like sappy “live your best life now” tripe? I suppose it does, but consider this: you are going to die one day. I’ll repeat it. You are going to die. You will face the darkness, someday, sometime, truly alone. What thoughts will rush up to greet you as the shadows close in?
How much of your memory do you want wallpapered over with countless hundreds of thousands of hours, countless years doing jobs for people that you don’t even like, that don’t care about you, and don’t contribute to your mission and your purpose in any meaningful way, except to sustain your existence so you can keep advancing their objectives?
If all that upsets you and you think I got it all wrong and you want to tell me so, good. I want you to get mad, then wake up and take back control of your life.
Living the Life You Want
Chances are the life you want doesn’t look very much like the life I described above, the life you, like so many others, probably have right now. It is not a life devoid of work, one of endless leisure and little meaning, but it is one that is far richer than you are living right now. A life where your work and your labor furthers your own ends, your own objectives, and your dreams.
Chances are this will involve a paradigm shift. A whole lot of things are going to change in your life, and the lives of your family members. Maybe everything will change.
But what waits on the other side, a life where you really own and have a homestead of your own, is so much sweeter than everything you’ve had to this point, it will certainly be worth it.
A homestead will provide much or even nearly all of the things you need. It can also furnish a lifestyle where family, community and togetherness really mean something. It is a life of less dependency. That, and much more. Below you will find my blueprint for doing just that. It worked for me, and I know it can work for you no matter what your situation is.
Before you go any farther you have to get really honest with yourself. Honest in a way that you probably haven’t been before, or at least since you were very young.
You need to get rid of the distractions, go get some quiet time in a place where you are most contemplative and at peace. For me that is just in some deep part of the country away from the buzz and hum of society. Then it is time to take stock.
You must ask yourself, and then answer true what you really want out of your life. There is no shame in answering honestly
If you like the lifestyle that the typical middle-class suburban American enjoys, if that’s what you are all about and feel fulfilled doing, then more power to you, that’s terrific! No, really, I am sincerely happy for you.
Most people aren’t truly happy these days, so you beat the odds. But if you aren’t happy in spite of all the things you pay for and buy and finance that society tells you make you happy, then it’s time to dig in and go deeper.
What do you want? It isn’t more stuff, since stuff will not make most people happy. You would probably be content, even truly happy, with a heck of a lot less stuff.
Why do you want a huge house that cost a fortune to build, finance and heat and cool when you only live in a fraction of that house a fraction of the time? It just turns into a giant climate-controlled box with a lid on it for all the crap you own.
If you would rather have more security, more options, less stress, and less expense, it is time to start thinking less. You cannot plaster over a gaping hole in your soul left by a lack of real meaning with material crap that you buy to impress people you don’t like or care about.
All of those things are things that society indicates through advertising, through peer expectation and other insidious conditioning methods that we need to buy so that they may get rich. We check a box, and go to bed emptier than the night before. They sit on an every growing mountain of money. Freedom from that crap.
If the idea of having less stuff, but owning more that is of significant value sounds appealing, then you need to keep reading.
Stop Wasting Money on Stupid Crap
I shudder to think how much money could be saved and put to better use if people would stop wasting money on stupid bullcrap. The aforementioned McMansion is the most grievous example.
Do you see the difference in the size of the houses that a family of four is expected to live in today versus 50 or 60 years ago? Why did that ever change?
Multiple new cars that you’ll be paying off for years are another. It is perhaps acceptable for two adults with two different career tracks to require two vehicles, but even then that is a symptom and not an excuse.
How about a bazillion cable channels that cost you a couple hundred dollars every month even though you only watch four or five of them?
A cup of coffee or tea that wouldn’t cost you a quarter to make at home you pay $4 bucks for at a fancy-schmancy liberal coffee joint is one of the most egregious and sickening examples of this modern blight.
It goes on and on and on. People spending so much money on luxury or semi luxury goods that their pre-packaged and pre-informed identities come pre-loaded with the notion that this is what people like you buy.
Enough already! I like nicely made things too. I like things that are made with skill and care from high quality ingredients or materials.
Lots of well made things are more than worth their price tags because they will last and they are a better value than cheaper things that will break sooner or cannot even do the job that you bought them to do.
But I have identified what is really important, not what some advertising think tank tells me is important…
I’m not advocating that you be a penny miser. If you’ve got the money, way more money than you can possibly need, do with it whatever you want.
I’m talking about people that would sell their right hand for a better way of living that still scratch and scrape and sweat and bleed to buy stupid stuff like the things above.
If you took that money and instead saved it, invested it or put it to work towards your escape plan, you would be shocked how much more money you seemingly have overnight with no real effort.
This will take discipline. It will take an adjustment, especially for spouses and children who are hopelessly inured on the modern milk of society. But it must be done if you want to live the life that you want.
Dropping Out of the Rate Race
The people running the rat race are depending on keeping the rats dependent on racing, if you take my drift. Rats that don’t have a choice in the matter are living payday to payday.
They have no savings. They have no passive income. They have no plan, except to keep running so they can keep running in next week’s race. And then next year’s race. And the race in the year after that.
The reason those rats have to keep running is the reason you have to keep working payday to payday; because you are spending too much money on an awful lot of shit you can’t afford and don’t need (see above).
Your first step is to start packing in expenses. You have to be putting money away every single pay period. If you aren’t growing your reserves, your nest egg or whatever you want to call it, you are never going to have the reactionary capital to fund your personal exodus.
Can you get rid of cars? Can you get rid of that cable? Can you downsize your house or move out into something cheaper and rent your house out? The answers are, of course, yes, yes and yes again.
Finding a way to work from home, one way or another, is an essential first step in building your life worth living. It isn’t as easy as most people think; it takes a ton of discipline to work from home in the face of myriad distractions and temptations.
If there is any way whatsoever you can start working remotely at your current job, you need to do it no matter what it takes. If your job is one that can be done from home or from any other computer aside from the one in your cubicle, make it happen at all costs as fast as you can.
Bam. That is now saving you at least an hour and probably more each and every day, along with gas, wear and tear on your vehicle and more.
This also saves a bunch of time: your commute, after-hours emails, getting ready for the next day and so on and so forth. There goes more hours down the drain.
Your next step is to start saving even more time by eliminating “shadow work”, all the nagging little off-the-clock things that pop up when you aren’t actually on the job. After-hours phone calls, take-home work and emails are the biggest culprits.
Set expectations that communiqués will only be dealt with during business hours and no other time. Then stick to it. Let them call somebody else to deal with the emergencies that they engineered during daylight business hours with their dallying.
Now that you have sharpened your pencil and tightened up your personal work commitment, it is time to start turning your focus to bailing out from it entirely if you want to.
Homesteading to Provide Necessities without Dependency
Chances are starting a homestead will be your first major hurdle on your odyssey to living the life you want to live. You must learn to become completely, radically self-sufficient, or nearly so, when it comes to providing for your own necessities. I mean of course living off-grid.
I’m not talking about the niceties of Modern Life, I’m talking about the real necessities of staying alive and hopefully comfortable: shelter, water, food and security. Everything else is secondary. Nice to have, for sure, but secondary. This is where you start.
A properly set up and run homestead can provide you with shelter, food, water and electricity, along with plenty of commodities that you can sell at the local or even regional level to supplement your income.
You might have visions of an archaic, rural lifestyle dancing in your head, but you would perhaps be surprised to learn that modern homesteads still make use of much of the best technology that humanity has to offer.
Where does one get started in homesteading? Have you considered building your own house? Stop laughing, I’m serious.
If you haven’t, you should start learning how it is not that hard, and stick building your own house yourself insures you will get precisely the house you want using precisely the materials you desire and saving tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.
All of the skills necessary to build a house literally from the ground up are completely within the reach of your average, handy prepper.
If you build your house in a specific way to take advantage of the facing of the sun and also the insulative power of the earth, you can easily keep your home cool in the summertime and warm in the winter time with very little expenditure of heating fuel, and no need for air conditioning, even in hot climates.
Now, if you can build a house yourself that means you can build it anywhere so long as you can get the building materials there or get them delivered to your home site. Where might you build it?
Once you have a parcel of land picked out that you like and is suitable, it is time to do a little research. How will you access or provide utilities, namely electricity, sewage and waste service, and water?
Water is simple enough. First things first, is the area suitable for the digging of a well? Depending on where you want to live, you may have access to city or county water if you are lucky, but perhaps you want to eliminate your connection to that part of life entirely.
If your property doesn’t suit the boring of a well, you can use large-scale rain catchment systems to hold more than enough clean, drinkable water for even a modestly sized family, so long as you don’t use it willy-nilly. You probably want to install one of these systems to supplement even a high-production well.
How about electricity? Even if you’re living way out there off the beaten track, somewhere where it would be fantastically expensive to have power lines run, don’t let that bother you.
Modern solar systems can power an entire home, including a large appliance or two and are more affordable than they have ever been and completely within the reach of a DIY install with a little bit of homework and research.
High-capacity, deep-cycle batteries mean you will have on demand power ready to go even during long spells of cloudy weather if you have the system setup correctly. Add a supplemental generator system for redundancy and emergencies and you will be all set.
Waste disposal is a little more tricky, but not by much. The obvious answer for human waste and sewage is to install and maintain a septic system. Some places though will not support a functional septic tank or perhaps you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of maintaining it.
An alternate option is to use a compost toilet that can help you turn waste into useful fertilizer. Trash and other detritus can be placed in a small landfill or burned if you don’t want to make dump runs.
Even your food, at least a significant portion of it, can be produced completely on your own. A modest garden plot will crank out fruits and veggies in such abundance that even a hungry family will be hard-pressed to eat them all.
Raising various kinds of livestock can furnish all the dairy and meat products you have grown accustomed to, and of quality you are likely unaccustomed to in the grocery store!
Is gardening, animal husbandry and butchering difficult work that requires significant knowledge and know-how? Of course it is!
But wouldn’t you rather invest your effort, time and attention into a real, sustainable source of top quality food for your family, out in the sunshine and open-air with the birds and bugs chirping and buzzing around you?
Or, would you rather spend it under the grey-blue dissonant hum of fluorescent lights, webbed in by some cubicle so you can earn the privilege of pushing your cart through a store while vintage pop hits play softly in the background?
The net result of all of this self-sufficiency is a heck of a lot less money going out the door to pay utility companies, home mortgages and city taxes. That means you can save more or work less, your call.
Do Meaningful Work
Depending on your job and what it entails you may still be able to do it from your new homestead for the foreseeable future, only far from the B.S. and trouble that plagues those living close to or in modern societies. But maybe not.
Chances are if you’re like most people your job is only a means to an end. It doesn’t speak to your soul and doesn’t put any meaning back out into the world. You should change that.
This will be your final major hurdle. What do you really want to do, and how can you do it in this new lifestyle that you are developing? The internet, miracle that it is, makes an awful lot of things possible for solopreneurs that would have been laughable pipedreams not four decades ago.
Everything from online classes, consulting and teaching to self-publishing books is possible with nothing more than a computer and an internet connection. An internet connection that, I will remind readers, is completely sustainable in most remote places so long as you can get by with lower speeds than you are used to in the city.
But maybe you want to leave that digital life behind and go analog. That is totally okay, too. If you have any real, hard skills that you can put to work in your new community, on commission or in some other way you may find them more than capable of funding your new lifestyle all on their own.
If that is not the case, chances are you can work part-time on something else and make your primary, dream job your side hustle until things take off.
Unless you are single and just plain tired of trying to get along with all the people we are trying to avoid above, chances are you are doing this to have more time to spend with the people that are most important with you.
I cannot, in this article or in any amount of words, express how precious a gift it is to have so much more time to spend with the people that you love.
What new memories will you create? What will you see and learn about them? How much wiser will they become thanks to your greater presence?
This even extends to your friends, and friends are really just the family that you get to pick if we are being honest. What adventures will you get up to?
How much more will you learn and how much more growing will you do together since you aren’t wasting away strapped into some chair in some cubicle.
Perhaps most important of all, if you have kids, you will be even more of a primary influence. The hours that you are away will not be filled by some other influencer, be they teachers pushing the institutional line of the day on your kids, paid caretakers we’re just friends that may not be the best influences.
There is absolutely no downside to being more present in your children’s lives, especially in the vital, young formative years.
This presence can extend beyond your own family and your own friends. You’ll be more available for your neighbors. You’ll be more available for the family of friends if they need help. This means you will have a more active presence in your community.
And we come to it at last, reader: Community. Real community, where the bonds are strong and run deep is far and away the single most vital determining factor in groups of people surviving serious and long-term hardships.
It is perhaps the single most difficult prep of all to obtain and hang onto. But if you really care about surviving the collapse of society, you’ll need to find a community, become part of it and strengthen it.
Living the life you want on your terms is still possible even in this increasingly wild, intrusive and seemingly crazy world. Escaping the doldrums of day-to-day reality in society is possible, but it is going to take work. It will definitely take sacrifice.
It’ll take a lot of sweat, doubt, blood and more than a few tears. But I can promise you, personally, it is more than worth it. If you feel a fire in the belly after reading this article, the time for action is now, right now.
Use what I’ve shared with you, make a plan and then execute. And in just a few short years you may look back on the life you used to have and wonder how you ever put up with it at all.
P.S. I complied a short PDF checklist of all the things you can do to escape society – which you can get here.
Tom Marlowe grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, He has the experience in helping civilian shooters figure out what firearms work best for them.