Tag Archives: alternative living

Wilderness Living: Are You Ready to Live in the Woods?

As housing costs continue to skyrocket, more people are warming up to the idea of living in the woods to escape rising rent and mortgage payments. But it’s not just about embracing solitude to cut costs; plenty of Americans want to live in nature because they feel happier and healthier in the great outdoors. While most are likely to live semi-close to civilization, some would rather live alone on a secluded island. If this sounds like you, it may be time to ask yourself – are you ready to live off the grid?

The Move Back to Nature

At some point in history, our ancestors thrived in nature while wearing nothing but loincloths and blanketing themselves with rocks. Okay, so that latter part may not be true, but there are plenty of studies that reveal a direct correlation between nature and happiness.

For instance, researcher Frances Kuo studied housing projects in Illinois with trees versus those without. She found that the housing projects with trees had lower crime rates and levels of aggression. The thinking behind this is that living in an environment with trees encouraged neighbors to spend more time outside socializing with each other, thus forming more meaningful connections.

Another study conducted by psychologists John Zelenski and Elizabeth Nisbet discovered that our emotional connections with nature shaped our attitudes and lifestyle choices. They found that our connection to nature correlated with our well-being, and that it was distinct to other connections in our life such as those with family and friends. More importantly, psychological connections with nature were found to positively influence attitudes toward sustainability, which is essential for preserving the environment.

And it makes sense. Nature gives us the ability to disconnect from the fast-paced technological world we’re used to and connect with our more primal instincts. It also encourages us to take better care of the planet when we’re constantly interacting with the natural world around us. So now that we understand nature makes up happier people, what’s not to love about living off the grid?

The Realities of Isolated Living


Turns out there are some things you may not love about living in an isolated area, one of which being the inconvenience of obtaining supplies.

Gone are the days of walking down the street to Kroger for water and toilet paper. Depending on where you live, getting groceries could turn into a trek and a half. When shopping for supplies, it’s important for residents of remote areas to stock up as much as possible. However, for supplies like firewood and water, some homeowners in the wilderness like to chop their own wood. There are also ways to filter lake water for drinking and cleaning purposes. And if you really get hungry, you can always go fishing or hunting for your next meal. Best part, it’s completely free.

Emergency Care 

The further you are from densely populated areas, the harder it is for first responders to reach you in the case of an emergency. Those living in remote areas are advised to learn first aid and pre-hospital care practices. This way they can assist themselves and others while waiting on emergency care professionals to arrive.

Extreme Weather 

Depending on where you decide to live, you need to know what kind of weather to expect for every season, as well as any natural disasters at risk of occurring. Extreme weather poses a threat to even the most prepared and careful individuals. As a rule of thumb, it’s essential to own an emergency first aid kit, have plenty of water and non-perishable food stored away, heat and light sources, and be aware of any incoming changes in weather. If blizzards often occur in your chosen location, check out this helpful article from Eureka detailing survival tactics in the event of a snowstorm. Otherwise, it’s always a good idea to winterize your home or cabin prior to the winter season.

Could You Abandon City Living? 

Isolated Doesn’t Mean Lonely

It’s often assumed that people who live alone or in isolated areas are lonely, but research shows that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, even some of the most densely populated cities in the world can feel incredibly isolating for residents who see hundreds of people in a day but never interact with them.

The reality is that there’s a clear divide between being isolated and being lonely. Those who are isolated but not lonely often demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • They enjoy their own company and tend to be reserved
  • They either have satisfying relationships with family and friends or have always kept to themselves
  • They usually don’t have children
  • They’re self-sufficient people
  • They spend holidays alone by choice

If you don’t find these characteristics relatable, remote living may not be the right fit for you. This is especially true if you wish for more friends or feel lonely quite a bit. But remember, everyone can feel lonely no matter where they live in the world so it’s essential to find an environment that matches your personality and lifestyle best.

Choosing Your Next Home

So now that you have a broad scope of what to anticipate before moving to a remote or rural area, here are a few additional details to consider.


How far do you actually want to be from civilization? While some outdoorsy folks would be thrilled to live a secluded existence in the forest, others might find themselves on the fence. Are you willing to drive an hour, maybe two hours to your nearest grocery store, mechanic or hospital? These are all factors to think about prior to picking out your plot of land. The cheap cost of living in a remote area may be exciting, but just make sure it’s not the primary consideration in your decision.


How comforting is it to live in isolation? Does the thought of being alone for hours, days, and weeks on end seem like a perfect living situation or a prison sentence? Depending on how self-reliant you are, you may find that you have no trouble adjusting to a life in the great outdoors. And while you may love using a composting toilet or bathing in the lake, it’s not a necessity for everyone living in remote areas. You can install modern plumbing or heating sources in remote structures, but it’s recommended that you hire a professional in case of complications. Keep in mind you could end up paying more to cover the travel costs for your handyman. Nevertheless, it’s better to know your comfort level rather than try to adapt to a lifestyle you’re not completely on board with.


Those who enjoy the small comforts of modern technology, like a computer with Wi-Fi or smart phone, might find themselves restless without the ability to easily connect with others on the Internet. If this is the case, you’ll want to ensure you have internet access set up in your new residence. Luckily, you still have plenty of access to modern conveniences, including solar panels, that make remote living feel less primitive.

And after all this, if you find yourself desiring a level of modern comfort while still feeling eager to get away, you may want to consider cabin living as a great middle ground. The choice is yours!

Does Alternative Housing Suit Your Lifestyle?

In recent years, the demand for affordable, eco-friendly housing options has led many prospective homebuyers to start considering unconventional alternatives to traditional homes. While some may cringe at the thought of living in an upgraded tent out in the woods, for others it offers a unique opportunity to bypass record high housing prices and curb their carbon footprint. And as more Americans continue to spend over half their incomes on rent or home mortgage payments, it’s easy to see why these alternatives are more popular than ever, especially with millennials. Here’s a glimpse at some of the trendiest options on the market and what you’ll want to consider before signing on the dotted line.

Why are People Pursuing Alternative Housing?

Our current housing market is one of the most competitive markets in recorded history, according to Realtor.com chief economist Danielle Hale. While millennials are planning to buy their first home, baby boomers are looking to downsize as they get closer to retirement. As these generations fight for smaller, more affordable homes, it seems there are far more buyers than there are sellers willing to part with their residences. Thus the prospect of downsizing comes with the added headache of competing for a limited pool of options. Those who are able to downsize can reap many benefits including decreased burdens on their wallets and natural resources. This is where alternative housing comes in. It offers a solution to the competitive nature of our current market by giving millennials and soon-to-be retirees a chance to own property that’s affordable, eco-friendly, and meets all their basic needs.

Alternative Housing Ideas

Tiny Homes

Unless you’re claustrophobic, tiny homes can be a great alternative to conventional housing options. According to Vice, a tiny home can cost anywhere between $23,000 and $60,000, depending on whether you construct it yourself or hire a professional builder. Though comparable to studio apartments in size, minimalist homeowners seem to really love them. It’s even grown so popular that HGTV introduced the “Tiny House Hunters” series and the state of Georgia recently approved construction for a tiny house neighborhood in Clarkston.

While the obvious benefits that come with owning a tiny home include reduced energy usage, housing costs, and environmental impact, the lack of personal space and cramped living quarters are frequent issues amongst owners. Standard tiny homes typically offer less than 400 sq. ft., meaning it’s probably comfortable for one or two people to live in at a time.

Reader’s Digest also warns of hidden costs associated with owning a tiny home, including inflated building fees and resale value. Every city has different zoning, building, inspection, and land use laws, so it’s important to research the zoning codes and regulations for your municipality ahead of time. However, if your tiny home is registered as an RV and you plan to travel with it, you won’t have to stress over strict regulations – you’ll just need to know where to park it.

Another aspect to consider is the resale value of a tiny home. If a home is permanently affixed to a foundation or otherwise in a highly desirable location, it will likely have a better resale value than a tiny home on wheels. While it may be more costly to live in a popular location, it’s worth considering if you plan on moving one day or having kids. For more information on tiny house zoning regulations, Curbed provides a comprehensive breakdown of everything you’ll need to know prior to building.


What originally began as a portable dwelling primarily used by nomadic cultures in Central Asia is now one of the most popular forms of resort-style camping, otherwise known as “glamping”. While Airbnb might be quick to advertise them as short-term rentals, some consider yurts their full-time residence.

Yurts are best suitable for those who prefer the wilderness to city life, especially if the idea of camping forever sounds like a dream. They resemble a dome-like tent from the outside, but are often customized to feel luxurious inside. Yurts tend to cost $2,000 to $6,000 to purchase as a kit and take about two days to assemble, which makes them highly-desirable for frugal outdoor enthusiasts.  Not all outdoorsy folks are ready to rough it on a regular basis though.

Those who enjoy the convenience of an in-house bathroom and shower, central air conditioning, and separate rooms should seek other alternatives. For starters, permanent yurt dwellers typically use outhouses with a composting toilet to keep odors and flies away from the structure. However, there are ways to build a bathroom in a yurt, it’s just a less common practice. If you plan on showering regularly, you can rig a tree with a bucket and use solar power to heat the water or otherwise bathe in a lake nearby. Those sweltering hot summers and freezing cold winters will also be a challenge, considering your air conditioning and heating comes from natural energy sources such as an outdoor fire or a nice cool breeze unless you’re using solar energy. And lastly, you can forget having fights if you live with someone else, considering a yurt is anywhere from 115 to 700 sq. ft. in size with no interior walls.

If you’re still convinced yurt living is ideal for you and want to know more, you can visit Pacific Yurts for additional information on yurt dwellings.

Mobile & Manufactured Homes

About 17.7 million Americans live in manufactured homes, according to Apartment List. They’re the largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing in the U.S., with one in ten households living below the poverty line. This makes them one of the best options for those struggling to meet sky-high payments for a site-built home or apartment. As with any upside, here’s one major downside to manufactured homes you might want to consider.

Owning a manufactured home is a lot like owning a car in the sense that their value depreciates over time. Homebuyers dazzled by the idea of paying $292,600 less on average than a site-built home should first consider the land on which their manufactured home is placed. Some homeowners will try buying the land their home sits on, hoping the property will appreciate even if the structure doesn’t. Others will take on interior renovations or build a permanent foundation to raise the overall value. Many opt for placing their manufactured home in a mobile home park, which means they have to rent the land. By the time they’re ready to move, they either won’t own the property or the home won’t have much value. Even worse, if they can’t sell the home, they may need to pay someone as much as $1,000 to $2,000 to move it to the landfill.

Otherwise, mobile homes can be excellent alternatives for those looking to live luxuriously while on a budget. A buyer with a $300,000 budget can purchase a lavish manufactured home equipped with upgrades like a soaking tub and granite countertops or extra square footage. Additionally, if you choose to settle in a different location or buy land elsewhere, it’s possible to relocate your home.

Fun fact: There’s no major difference between manufactured and mobile homes, but people are often stumped as to why these identical properties are classified as manufactured and other as mobile. The only factor that separates them is that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development deemed mobile homes to be any home built prior to June 15, 1976 and manufactured homes are those built after June 15, 1976.

Pre-Constructed Homes 

Just as homebuyers are confused by the difference between manufactured and mobile homes, the same can be said of modular and manufactured homes. According to The Balance, modular homes are built in sections at a factory, then transported to the building site where they’re joined together by local contractors on a permanent foundation. Manufactured homes are built entirely in a factory. They’re also constructed on a non-removable steel chassis and transported to the building site on their own wheels.

Manufactured homes can be tough to re-finance, considering they’re not always built on a permanent foundation. While manufacturing homes sometimes decrease in value, well-made modular homes can increase in value over time much like a site-built home. They’re also said to have the same longevity as their site-built counterparts.

Modular homes can be a rewarding investment. They usually cost 10 to 20 percent less than a stick-built home and take about two months to put together on the building site. However, modular homes are typically not custom built and therefore don’t offer the same variety as stick-built homes. With pre-constructed homes, it’s important to note that you don’t always have to do everything from the ground up. You can add to existing structures, including garages and barn apartments, to accommodate more people or just add space.