It is the stated goal of many preppers to get clear of the big cities, to move out of their over-commercialized towns and to get off the “beaten trail”.
Each and every one a euphemism for getting away from society and living life on their own terms in a 100% independent and self-reliant way. Not too awfully long ago this was not called “surviving”, this was just called “life”.
It is a nice idea for some of us, sure, but is it practical? Is it achievable? Heck, is it even realistic!?
We are all victims of the habits we have built up to this point, and if we have lived our lives as a component of society, however small a part we play.
Is it really possible to cut those ties, change those ways and make the move out to the fringes to begin anew? Is it possible to live life with greater authenticity, counting on nobody but yourself and your family or your survival group?
It is certainly possible, in a way, but depending upon your expectations, skills and resources you might only be thinking of living “out in the country”.
Living truly apart from society is something else altogether! In this article I will share with you some concerns, considerations and obstacles you will have to overcome if you want to get out of the rat race, and be left alone in the most literal way possible.
Today, we will talk about escaping society, and becoming 100% independent.
Table of Contents
Pros and Cons in a Nutshell
|✅ You’ll be better prepared for when SHTF
|❌ A homestead is a lot of work
|✅ Costs of solar panels are at all-time lows
|❌ You won’t have electricity except for the one you make yourself
|✅ You’ll be hard to find and reach if someone wants to harm you
|❌ You’ll have to rely on yourself alone for defense
|✅ You won’t have to interact with people if that’s not something you enjoy
|❌You won’t be able to just run to the store to get more food or supplies
|✅ You’ll be in charge of your own fate
|❌ You need to learn how to grow, harvest and preserve crops, plus many other skills
|✅ You’ll be healthier because you’ll live an active lifestyle and eat healthier food
|❌ You’ll, have to fend of non-human predators on your own
|✅ Less bills to pay, as expenses will be very low
|❌ Your location could be vulnerable to natural disasters such as wildfires and floods
|❌ Water could be a problem
|❌ You can’t disappear on paper and become untraceable in most countries
|❌ Access to your secluded property could be problematic if it crosses on someone else’s land.
|❌ Hard to leave your property
What Do You Mean “Escape” Society?
Just so we are clear and this article makes sense in the context of other prepping articles, when I say “escape society” I’m not talking about a bug out or an emergency evacuation.
I’m referring to instead a conscious, voluntary lifestyle change, of moving yourself, your family (if you have one) and all of your affairs way, way outside the bounds of settled civilization.
What does this mean? What does that look like? The answer likely depends on who you ask, as some people think living somewhere in the county outside the city limits qualifies as escaping society. But I’m willing to bet that would not qualify as such for most of us.
When we are talking about escaping society we really mean it. For your average prepper, this usually takes the form of some kind of homestead or even a family settlement for you and your closest kin and kith, with multiple families living and working in tandem.
A real, working homestead ideally lets you produce everything you need assuming you cannot gather it, grow it or otherwise harvest it from the surrounding area. If your homestead is running as it should, you should have food, water, medicine, warmth, and potentially even power.
This is not to say you will never have to leave the confines of your home, as living on a homestead is always a lot of work to make it work, but you will no longer be dependent upon all the trappings, aggravations and responsibilities of modern society.
This will not be easy whatever you do: Everything will change, from what amenities you have available (that you probably take for granted) to where your supper and water comes from and everything else in between.
You won’t just be able to dash out your front door and into town when you require goods or services. Logistics will be more challenging. Electricity might be non-existent unless you set it up yourself and maintain it.
The depth and breadth of skills and knowledge that you’ll have to obtain in order to keep your tiny kingdom up and running is no laughing matter. This is not a lifestyle for everyone. But if you are undaunted so far, then read on!
Before You Go, Determine Your “Why”.
To the wrong kind of person, this probably sounds like an absolute nightmare, something akin to being sentenced to hard labor without the possibility of parole.
To others, this is the dream they are striving toward for one reason or another. But it would not be a good idea to boil the concept of escaping society down to a “for or against”.
Your objectives should drive your decision-making process, not the other way around. Depending upon your “why”, you might be better off pursuing a different option than one as radical as leaving society behind for life on a remote homestead.
Is your decision to escape motivated by a general discontent or contempt for society? Are you tired of the press of people, of traffic, of working for someone else, and being a wage slave?
Do you feel a lack of connection with what you were doing? Do you just hate where you live and where you have always lived, in the city or in the suburbs?
If dealing with the noise, aggravation and interaction inherent to being a “single cell” of a larger “organism” has you questioning your life choices you might be a good candidate for escaping from society wholesale.
Your own unique personality traits are just as much a standard as any objective complaint you might have.
If you are also getting prepared for the inevitable decline or even total collapse of society, perhaps in the wake of some other catastrophic event, you might save yourself and your loved ones a ton of risk and grief by getting away from population centers before you are forced to in the mad rush that will inevitably follow.
Maybe it is just the call of true solitude we all feel from time to time.
It never fails that when society falls apart population centers become ground zero for suffering. Lack of food, clean water and the attendant loss of law enforcement and government control will see desperate people and criminal elements alike running amok and turning on each other.
Trust me, you don’t want anything to do with that.
Increasingly, the social structures that we have long depended on will fray and then wither. It never fails that when society falls apart population centers become ground zero for suffering.
Lack of food, clean water and the attendant loss of law enforcement and government-assured safety will lead to wholesale civil disobedience, and then an implosion.
You will see desperate people and criminal elements alike running amok and turning on each other. This will perversely happen in proportion with greater state control over things and places that are important to the state, and eventually the rise of totalitarian rule. Trust me, you don’t want anything to do with that.
Lastly, maybe you are just disaffected with the way things are.
Maybe you want your work that you put in, the very sweat off your brow, to contribute directly to your overall well-being and your quality of life, your own and your family’s.
Modernity has a way of seducing people into working more and more to pay for things that they don’t need that won’t make them happy.
Oftentimes it makes you feel worse; people get into this strange spin-cycle where they end up striving to achieve more in order to spend more on even more crap. Talk about a hamster in a wheel!
I could go on but I think you get my point: you need to figure out your “why” for leaving society, and really have a serious heart-to-heart with yourself, a brass-tacks conversation with the face you see in the mirror.
I know more than a few preppers who want to run off into the wild blue yonder and set up a homestead living like their ancestors because they think that is what people expect of someone like that, a prepper.
They might be doing it because people they admire and respect want to do it themselves. Long story short, their reasons might not really be their own.
Gut Check Time!
We are going to move on to the nuts and bolts of this article eminently, but before we do, there is something that I feel obligated to remind readers of, especially those who have a wistful yearning for living life on their own terms way out there, well beyond the influence or reach of society.
There is a romantic notion that is deeply inculcated in our culture, and indeed many cultures around the world, and it is that of the loner, the rugged individualist, the quintessential “mountain man” archetype.
A person who is so skilled, so tough and so determined they don’t need help from anyone else. They surely don’t desire it!
Believe me, I feel the appeal of that notion as strongly as anyone, but there is just one problem: most people who decide to make a go of it all on their own or in a very small group and without support usually fail, and the chances go up without the benefits of modern technology and equipment.
Trying to eke out an existence in the wilderness using austere skills and tools is absolutely back-breaking, a life of near-constant toil. Additionally, the margin for error goes way down when you cannot simply call 911 or, at worst, call your neighbor down the road to come and help you. Complacency will kill you as surely as a bullet.
All you will have is what you have, and if all you have is “you” you had better hope you are up to the task and then some. I cannot impress upon you enough how dangerous and how perilously close to the edge going it alone really is. Isolation is a defense in many ways but it is also a weakness.
People are social critters, and we are generally at our best and strongest in groups and especially when working together. If someone does find you and wants what you have, it will be up to you and no one else to fend them off.
Consider they will be emboldened by a lack of witnesses and police protection, two elements of the ever-present surveillance state that are now a part of living in society, but also effective deterrents to crime at large.
Don’t let your ego write a check your ass cannot cash, as the saying goes.
Nonetheless, I know many of you will be unbowed. In truth, there have been several examples throughout history, and in all eras of roguish individualists defying the odds and flying in flagrant contradiction of “the rules” to live life their way on their terms.
Frankly, I admire them, and if you are one of the people who feel this yearning I will do my best to equip you for the journey ahead in the remainder of this article.
Considerations for Escaping Society
Below you will find a list of various factors that you must account for if you want to live completely beyond the confines of society.
Now, 100% independence might mean different things to different people, but chances are your endeavor will fail before it begins if you fail to account for any one of these. Read on, start getting your affairs in order and start making moves.
How Far Out is Far Enough?
How far away you should move from society is both a personal choice and a tactical decision. For some preppers, if you even know where your nearest neighbor is you aren’t living out there far enough!
You might say folks like this fall into a hermit-like school of thought regarding escaping society. For other preppers an arbitrary minimum distance away from a population center of a given size could be considered “far enough”.
They just want enough land to be left to their own devices, and the knowledge that anybody who comes calling that isn’t an invitee probably shouldn’t be there.
There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer here, but it is possible to come up with the wrong answer for your personal question of “why” that we addressed above.
If you want enough distance from society that you will be unbothered and untrammeled by expansion and buildup or urban fill-in, or don’t have to worry about the waves of people cascading out of an urban center in the aftermath of a major catastrophe, moving 10 miles down the road outside of the city limits is not going to cut it.
On the other hand, people who at least want the theoretical convenience of being able to reach civilization in a reasonable amount of time may only want to be two to four hours away from a major population center with all of its amenities.
In general, the farther out you are, and the less population density in an area, the less problems you will have from people that don’t specifically come looking for you. Conversely, if you do run into problems and need help it is going to be even harder to extricate yourself from them.
Again, zero in on what you want, and then start looking for property. Plunking yourself down on the first remote lot that you find for sale and can afford is not a recipe for long-term success.
My first time around writing this article I actually considered leaving this section off until some correspondence with friends proved to me that I had definitely better include it!
As it turns out, there are a few preppers out here who believe you can access electricity and even the internet no matter where you go in America. Sounds outrageous, but they are sincere.
This is one of those items I mentioned above that we all take for granted as a given. And while it is true that modern technology and information utilities have spread their webs all over the continent, there are still some places where you will be forced to rely on a specialized or second-tier solution in order to gain access to some utility, if you can gain access to the needed infrastructure at all.
There are some places you might consider living that meet all of your needs but the internet could be a thing of the past, or else you could be forced to rely on comparatively slow and unreliable satellite-based internet or something else altogether.
The same thing goes for electricity: how far are you willing to run power poles to tie into the nearest available branch? If the answer is “I can’t afford it” or “I’m not willing to do it” then you are going to have to generate your own electricity. We’ll get into that in a little bit.
Start figuring out right now what you can and cannot live without. If there is a utility or some modern nicety that you have to have, you had best assume that it will not be as reliable or as efficient as it would be living in or near civilization. You’ll need to make plans for that, too.
How much and what kind of land is required to live on all on your own is one of the most hotly debated factors when it comes to homesteading in general, and leaving society behind in particular.
A quick search on the internet will furnish you with dozens, even hundreds of articles on the subject, with everything from the benefits of the latest and greatest minimalist and ultra-compact homesteading operations to plans for large and sprawling farms for crops or livestock.
Which one is right for you? Well, I guess that’s your decision, though I’ll bet chances are most of us will fall somewhere in the middle.
Generally, being efficient is better, as larger plots of land require more labor, be it man or machine in order to properly cultivate or tend.
On the other hand, if you own forests, orchards or some other feature that bears food in abundance you could make gathering a big part of keeping your pantry stocked with staples.
What kind of food, too, you want to raise or grow will have an impact. Certain species of livestock need an awful lot of land, like pigs and cows, where other species need comparatively little, like chickens.
Crops of all kinds also have requirements they need to grow, most of all the type of soil, what nutrients it contains and how amenable it is to planting and crop rotation.
Also it might be good to have a little extra land in order to expand, sell it off or lease it as a “blue chip” investment or some other purpose.
It is entirely possible to buy a postage stamp-sized piece of land in the middle of nowhere, plop a tiny home, or build a miserly cabin on it, and live out the rest of your days, but that is not the existence that most people want.
Adequate shelter requires enough land for the purpose…
Sure, if you are already independently wealthy you can have a small plot and just truck or chopper in your food and other provisions but chances are that is not an option!
This more than most other factors requires careful consideration and research lest you make a mistake that is difficult to undo!
Yet another factor that is taken for granted, and likely for your entire life. Just how will you get to where you are going? Do marked and paved roads even go to it? Can you receive mail out there?
Is it completely off the grid? If it is, how will you get there? Service road, logging road, cross country? That is another issue entirely: all of that land belongs to someone!
Unless you can get an agreement for use or pay for an easement you will need to make sure your property is accessible via some kind of public road.
Of course, if your parcel is accessible by public road that means other people can easily access it by public road.
If you are far enough away from centers of habitation this is less of an issue but it is something to consider if you think you will be living a secret or semi-secret “Fern Gully” type of existence.
Also do not assume that any land or other property belonging to others you might need to cross can be had for free or at any price; plenty of people besides you have the exact same idea when it comes to lifestyle and might not cotton to the idea of having anyone, even their erstwhile neighbor, coming and going across their property for any reason.
Access is more than just property rights and more than just having a path made to your home. Bad weather, seasonal changes and other mishaps can easily make even the best modern roads impassable, and turn primitive dirt roads or cleared paths into outright hazards.
If you will be forced to take a rustic woodland path over the river and across the far range to get to your parcel, consider how much effort will be required to keep it passable in various seasons.
Speaking of dealing with neighbors, having neighbors in the broadest sense might be a flaw or might be a feature depending on your attitude when it comes to escaping society. I freely admit and understand that some people just don’t like other people in general and want to be as far away from them as possible.
If this describes you, having any other house within line-of-sight or even knowing they’re just a few miles down the road might be too much.
On the other hand, having at least one or two other people relatively nearby that know who you are, know you exist, might be an insurance policy that cannot be had any other way.
Small towns and rural communities are oftentimes known for friendliness and a degree of insularity, mostly because people truly have to rely on their neighbors and fellow members of the community to a greater degree than those living in a metropolis.
But this is a two-way street. You cannot expect someone to be there for you and you don’t want to contribute when they are in a jam or need a favor. Generally speaking, I would not consider moving anywhere that meant I could not radio or ride to a neighbor or two if I needed help.
It doesn’t mean these are people you are going to bump into in town since there probably isn’t a town anywhere nearby; nonetheless, these people are your neighbors, and it would be far better for you both to be on good or at least civil terms with each other.
Consider too, depending on where you are heading and the kind of people who typically live there, that your fellow denizens might be amenable, cool, indifferent or absolutely hostile to the idea of a stranger moving into their neck of the woods or part of the mountain.
Don’t count on your neighbors factoring in to your new social life…
Depending on your current lifestyle and means it might be impossible for you to make contact with them prior to your relocation. Make sure you assess this before you roll the dice.
Don’t think you can plant a small garden on your tiny parcel of land and produce enough food reliably to sustain yourself, to say nothing of a family.
This is a number crunching exercise, as you must calculate how many calories each person you are responsible for will need and compare it to how much you are reliably able to raise, grow, gather or otherwise procure.
This is a thinking man’s game and you had better get it right. You will no longer be living in circumstances where you can just run into town and rely on the certain deliveries made possible by modern commerce to get some groceries.
Even if the world hasn’t gone sideways, living as far out as you are might mean bad weather, a rough season or other mishaps and misadventure could preclude you from traveling any distance into a significantly populated area.
Beyond growing or raising the food yourself, processing and preserving food are essential skills that must be performed correctly and quickly, or else your harvest will go to waste, robbing you of calories and making your efforts all for naught.
If you are raising livestock you must know how to butcher them and have the needed infrastructure for preserving the meat, be it freezing, salting, jerking or some other method. If you are growing fruits and vegetables canning will be a mainstay.
The winters will feel very long indeed when you are living that far out and the pantry is getting thin. There are still people in the remote places of the world today that run into problems with procuring food while living in an austere environment.
Even more important than food is a reliable and steady supply of clean water. Most obviously, you will need this for drinking, as pretty much all of us will die in just a few days without water from dehydration, but you will need it for an awful lot more than just drinking.
Watering your crops, giving your animals something to drink, cleaning, bathing, the list goes on.
You pretty much have two choices for where you get water from: a well, or an above ground source. Both have pros and cons, but chances are both will require filtering and/or softening to make sure they are safe to drink and useful.
Note that you will be completely dependent upon a well if there is no trustworthy body of water near your new home. Depending on the type of well you install it could be vulnerable to contamination or even drying out, so this must be accounted for with plenty of surplus water storage for lean times.
Regardless of where you get your water from, the labor and infrastructure you will personally have to invest in in order to supply it will make it far more precious a resource than you are used to while living in suburbia or the city.
Being a “water miser” is oftentimes the sign of a good homesteader and you should make every effort to plus-up your supply whenever you can. Supplementary methods of getting water include distillation and rain catching.
No matter where you are getting your water from and no matter how trusted the sources you must have a plan for what you will do in any conditions when the supply dries up or is unusable and your on-hand supply is low or empty. Failing to do so will mean certain disaster.
If you have been envisioning a pastoral “Little House on the Prairie” type of existence for your get-out-of-society plan, you might want to tap your brakes.
It is entirely possible to utilize electricity on a full-time basis no matter where you are living so long as you have the skills, equipment and technology required to make use of it.
In fact, you should definitely plan on installing your own power grid to help you do things more efficiently and save time and labor. Doing so helps you be in more places at once and get more work done, increasing your margin of failure when things go wrong.
It is no secret anymore that modern solar technology is extremely efficient for what it is (at least in single home applications), and well within the reach of the average homesteader.
While full-size panels, batteries and other necessary systems for harvesting and managing your own power can be a little pricey, there are more affordable than ever, and though you will need specialized skills for the installation, operation and upkeep of these systems, this is something that almost anyone can learn.
Imagine it: you could be running a freezer, countertop appliances and even computers if you choose, relying on a well-sited and properly installed solar farm.
You can recharge battery-powered lawn equipment, tools, devices and so much more. Don’t fall in love with the idea of living by candlelight; this is still the 21st century!
Other options besides solar that work well for homesteads (though not quite as well as solar typically) are windmills and, if you are located next to moving water, hydroelectric power.
Both have advantages and disadvantages, and you might find that you use these on a supplementary basis to compliment your solar farm.
Depending on where you live, it might be entirely possible to have power run out to your property so long as you are willing to pay for it.
This can be exorbitantly expensive, but if you want the assurance of having full-time on demand electricity this may yet be the best option, the one you will have to budget seriously for.
Income and Business
Something else that you must consider when planning to escape society is what you’ll do for income. Frankly, it is almost impossible to live with absolutely no income at all for one reason or another, though maximizing your self-sufficiency means you might be surprised by just how little money you need.
If you are giving up a lifestyle that is more or less dependent upon society to earn a wage, you’ll be living on borrowed time and on your savings, literally.
Do not think that you can set down roots and fire up a profitable homestead farm in short order, something like a couple of weeks or a month. Even if you know exactly what you are doing, everything will take time, from raising animals to growing crops.
Something you might consider is ensuring that you are still able to access the internet where you are, assuming the cost is reasonable to do so.
Unlike any other time in human history, it is entirely possible to start and run all kinds of profitable businesses using nothing more than a computer and an internet connection.
From consulting and content creation to retail arbitrage and much more, staying connected to the digital marketplace is a smart idea, even though it is at odds with the ethics you might be trying to put into practice.
And one needs to look no further than the new class of digital nomads, entrepreneurs that roam the country, or sometimes just the countryside, in converted sleeper vans, RVs and other vehicles selling their services online or even running an online business.
Heck, sometimes even just the documentation of their lifestyle by podcasts, artwork and blog posts can bring in revenue as evidenced by the amount of internet celebrities and influencers on Instagram and other social media sites.
Look, just because you were running away from society to live in the middle of nowhere does not mean you can hammer your sword into a ploughshare.
It might be your utopia but it is not a true Utopia, and you never know when you will need to put up or shut up when it comes to self-defense.
In fact, because you are so isolated it will make any encounter with a hostile human all the more dangerous since there is not likely to be very many witnesses or much in the way of support around to help you. You can’t just call 911 anymore in the aftermath!
And not for nothing the threat might not be human at all.
Many remote places are host to large and dangerous predators like bears, moose, mountain lions and other creatures you might, just might, have to deal with to keep yourself from becoming dinner, or from being made into an important lesson for all the other animals that might trespass in these big critters territory!
It pays to know how to defend yourself with a firearm and other tools as well. Just as important as knowing how to make holes, however, is knowing how to fix them and you should be prepared to act as your own first-responder however you get injured.
Keeping a well-stocked first-aid kit handy wherever you are and whatever you are doing is an important adjustment you should make to your lifestyle when living far from the bonds of society (and within, for that matter!).
Obviously, the kit does you no good if you don’t know what you are doing, so make sure you become proficient in treating trauma, illness and performing such necessary but grisly tasks as suturing and stapling wounds, and splinting broken limbs.
Leaving the norms of society behind for good is sometimes seen as the ultimate long-term solution of a radically self-sufficient lifestyle or the crown-jewel of a serious SHTF survival plan.
But selecting, developing and running a functional, safe and prosperous homestead is a major lifestyle change for almost anyone.
It takes, passion, patience and the perseverance of a saint, all in equal measure. It is entirely possible, but you’ll need to diligently assess all the variables and get your affairs in order to make it happen. For a select few with the guts and elbow grease it is definitely the right decision, though.
Tom Marlowe practically 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, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.