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How long could you sustain your life during a catastrophe? This question is no longer a hypothetical concern. Natural disasters have increased significantly over the past decade and are becoming more common, as are supply chain disruption and economic turmoil. This week’s Motivational Mondays guest, Zani Sunshine, packed up her Atlanta, Georgia home in 2020 and relocated to rural New Mexico to turn preparing for the unexpected into a way of life.
Working for years as a registered nurse, Sunshine began to realize that the frenetic pace of urban life, commuting, and working more than full time was not sustainable over the long term. She began to worry that she might not even make it to retirement. Following a decade of intensive research and preparation, the pandemic provided all the impetus she needed to uproot her family’s life and move to a 25-acre ranch for more control over her resources. Now, with her site, Off-Grid Homestead Fam, and her new book, the “Beginner’s Survival & Prepping Manual,” Sunshine shares her wisdom with anyone else looking for a change.
What It Means to Be Off-Grid
Too many people incorrectly associate the “off-grid” lifestyle with being on the run from the government, not paying taxes, or being outside of the law in some way. Others associate it with political or religious movements, or see it as something unattainable for marginalized groups like people of color or lower-income households. But Sunshine is here to show that anyone can be “off-grid,” and that there are many different ways to do it.
She points out that all it means to be off-grid is that someone is “not connected to public or municipal utilities,” particularly water and electricity. However, it’s possible to improve self-sufficiency and become more disaster-proof even without going through the effort and expense of fully unplugging from the grid by generating your own energy, utilizing local water sources, and growing your own food.
Finding Resilience in Disaster
At its core, going off-grid isn’t about escaping society; it’s simply about being resilient in the face of disruption. Many people now in the off-grid community started out as “preppers” who predicted some sort of societal collapse. However, the survival and self-sufficiency skills that come from being off-grid can also help people sustain their lifestyles in the extreme event of a natural disaster, or an everyday crisis such as a layoff or job loss.
“Basically, it’s about having more control over your basic necessities,” explains Sunshine. “And most people are not prepared [because] most people are in denial. They have this ‘That could never happen to me’ mindset — so most don’t even have three or four days worth of food, let alone the week, two weeks, or months you should have. So I just want to get everybody to think about it.” It’s possible to start small and do a little prepping at a time.
Becoming self-sufficient enough to go off-grid requires replacing the actual systems and utilities many people take for granted. Doing so takes careful planning, research, and a lot of time and resources to set things up properly. After all, bare necessities like power, water, sanitation, and food don’t come cheap.
For example, while solar energy actually lowers power bills, the initial cost of installing panels can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The same is true for septic tanks and rainwater collection systems. All of this is incredibly time intensive to set up, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to go off-grid overnight. “A lot of people go into this without doing [research], and they end up creating a hard lifestyle for themselves,” warns Sunshine. But when done the right way, based on the proper research, going off-grid is a way to truly thrive.
This exciting conversation shines a new light on what resilience means in the 2020s, and the important skills everyone should learn, whether they live in cities, suburbs, or the most remote locations imaginable. And for more insight into resilience, listen to our Motivational Mondays episode with Jim Davidson.
Listen to this episode to learn about...
[1:35] How to define “off-grid” living
[4:46] The dangers of failing infrastructure
[7:33] Self-sufficiency in an urban environment
[12:12] Preparing for natural disasters
[15:50] Temporary vs. permanent self-sufficiency
[21:24 ] Why it’s okay to leave behind the 9-to-5 grind
[27:49] How to prioritize spiritual wellness over money and status
Listen to the bonus episode to learn about the power of remaining true to your vision, and why security and abundance can only truly come from within.
Learn about Sunshine’s Off-Grid Homestead Fam at her website.
Read her new book, “Beginner’s Survival & Prepping Manual.”
Read recent news on the off-grid lifestyle.
Listen to other Motivational Mondays episodes.