Living, Money

Lifestyles: Could You Live ‘Off-Grid’ in Mexico?

'Off-grid' living is a viable option—for some. One couple living simply shares insights about their experiences of living off the grid in Mexico

Eva and Fernando Off Grid Living

In related articles about Simple Living in Mexico, we’ve discussed how some people who come here to live or retire may use the move as an opportunity to reevaluate their priorities, consider their true needs, and reimagine their lifestyles in an effort to bring about a simpler, less complicated —and often less expensive— lifestyle.

For one couple, the desire to simplify their lifestyle led them to create a situation that facilitated an entirely ‘off-grid’ living experience in Mexico, reducing their material possessions to only what they need and becoming enthusiastic conservationists.

Letting-go of complex lifestyles

Fernando and Eva (pictured above) grew up and lived in modern European cities.  They both developed successful careers there: Fernando as an advertising executive, and Eva as a body therapist specializing in acupuncture.  They arrived in Mexico separately, although each of them felt a calling to find abundance and fulfillment without the trappings of the complex lifestyles they had created in Europe.

Fernando bought a sailboat and spent several years navigating the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and South Pacific—eventually making landfall in Mexico where he has lived for over 25 years, mostly off-grid.  Eva arrived in Mexico more recently, seeking an alternative lifestyle and found that Mexico provided an environment for her to experience a meaningful transformation in her life situations.  When Fernando and Eva met, they discovered a shared desire to live their lives simply and set-out together to realize this endeavor.

Practical aspects of off-grid living

Fernando’s experience of living on the high seas for an extended time, as well as traveling across Mexico and living off-grid, taught him a lot about the practical aspects of living independently from many of the services and utilities we all tend to take for granted living day-to-day, including electricity, gas, water, municipal drainage, and telephone services.

Land and accommodations

Fernando and Eva found a small field in the Mexican countryside about an hour south of Mexico City, and through a local arrangement pay a minimal monthly rent to the landowner.  The field rent includes the dispensation of fresh drinkable water from the landlord’s neighboring property. They converted an old school bus into a simple and comfortable living quarters that includes a kitchenette, a shower, and a bedroom.  Canopies provide extended outdoor living spaces, an ideal arrangement given the year-round temperate climate they live in.

Utilities, cooking, and dealing with waste

They often cook their meals outdoors under one of the canopies using a stove that is fired using a small gas cylinder.  (They’re working on a project to create their own hydrogen gas using solar power.)  All their lighting, electricity, and hot water is sourced from solar panels—the abundance of sunlight in Mexico is an ideal place for using solar.  The drainage system is also off-grid: their outdoor toilet works like an eco-decomposer that recycles waste back into the ground; that, and their food compost, breaks down to become natural fertilizer for the vegetables they grow on-site.

Keeping in contact

They don’t have a telephone line but use their mobile phones for communication.  They hand-wash clothes and don’t need a dryer as the warm climate air-dries them in short order.  To get around they use local public transportation, and drive their old VW Beetle ‘bug’ car when they need the carry space.  Over the years they have become as independent from the grid as they can, without cutting themselves off from their local friends and community, nor from their friends and family abroad.

You can learn more about how Fernando and Eva are living their off-grid lifestyle by reading this article

Is ‘off-grid’ living right for you?

Choosing to live off-grid intentionally requires considered thought, and detailed planning.  Through years of living off-grid Fernando and Eva have accumulated direct experience and intricate knowledge of the very practical day-to-day advantages and challenges of living this way.

Key questions you should ask yourself

These are some of the key questions to contemplate when you’re considering an ‘off-grid’ lifestyle in Mexico:

  • Is off-grid living a workable option for you, given your personal circumstances?
  • Is Mexico the right country for you, and what locations in Mexico make good off-grid living locations?
  • Will you choose to live off-grid on the land in a camper, RV or bus, or on a boat—and what are the implications with each of those choices?
  • Should you buy land or rent? What are the pros and cons, and what do you need to know about buying rural land in Mexico?
  • Do you build a comfortable ‘brick-and-mortar’ house that is completely off-grid or live more rustically in a bus or RV?
  • What are the practicalities of living on a boat moored in Mexico, or inside a bus or camper/RV?
  • How do you deal with everyday practical issues like drinking water, sanitation, food storage and preparation, transport, and communications?
  • How do you plan for routine healthcare matters, and medical emergencies?
  • What are the key advantages of living simply this way—and what adjustments will you have to make if you choose to adopt this type of lifestyle?

Living off-grid is not a good choice for everyone and those who are contemplating an off-grid lifestyle should take time to evaluate their intentions and assess their current circumstances.

If you have experience of living off-grid, in Mexico or elsewhere, you can use the comments section below to share your own experiences.