BY: HANNAH WRIGHT
Some people shudder at the thought of living in the woods. For me, it was a gateway to another realm. In a society that bleeds technology, instant gratification, and convenience, many of us are left craving challenge and independence. That’s why moving to a cabin in remote Alaska was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say that they’re fed up with life and want to move to a completely isolated location. With no experience whatsoever, they decide to live completely off the grid—no electricity, running water, nothing. Living in vast wilderness can be simplistic at times, but it comes with its fair share of challenges. Taking small steps helps distinguish what you want from what you need. Here’s how I survived the transition—and how you can, too.
Discover your limits
Before jumping into an endless sea of mystery (and drastically changing your lifestyle), consider experiencing cabin living on a smaller scale first. To start, think about renting a cabin near a well-established town or community with basic luxuries like electricity, running water, and neighbors. There’s nothing to lose, and, if you enjoy it, you can opt for a more secluded residence when the time is right.
When I began my journey in the woods outside of a very small town in Alaska, my first cabin had water and electricty. It was located on a rural street with no mail delivery, no cable, and no natural gas, and it was surrounded by many other houses. At the time, I didn’t have the knowledge or experience to live in a completely isolated area. About a year in, I realized I wanted to live in an even more private, remote location with a few basic amenities and its own well; living in a dry cabin for a lifetime would involve a lot of extra work that I wanted to dedicate to efforts that didn’t involve making sure I had access to water.
Invest in cold-weather gear
Outdoor gear should be at the top of your list of necessary investments. Small mistakes can very quickly turn into disasters in the wilderness. This shouldn’t scare you, but it should make you extra careful and aware of nature’s wrath. I’m all for being frugal, but it’s best to stick with high-quality materials. Carhartts, bunny boots, a reliable winter coat, and an endless supply of layers will serve you well. It’s also wise to keep emergency gear in your car.
Find a flexible job
You don’t need to be a farmer to make a living in a remote area. If you live within reasonable distance from a small town, there will be plenty of job options for you. Check out natural resource and IT jobs, as well as administrative careers. There likely won’t be much competition.
Alternatively, if you want to go full seclusion, consider freelancing or working for a company remotely. It’s no secret that working remotely has become increasingly more acceptable, and a fair amount of companies, especially startups, are open to bringing on work-from-home employees. If you’re a self-starter, the options are virtually endless.
Reliable transportation is a necessity
A reliable car is a definite must, but you don’t necessarily need to splurge on a hefty backwoods truck. Depending on the location, you can probably get by with a sedan. Before renting a cabin, research the area and ask some locals how well the nearby roads are maintained (or if they are maintained at all)—an especially important point when scoping out cabins in the summertime, as roads in spring and summer aren’t always representative of roads in the winter.
So, if you’ve been living in a city but the thought of a scenic cabin possesses you, don’t be afraid to try it out. With the proper knowledge, equipment, and ambition, you can make this vision a reality. There’s only one way to know whether or not it’s really for you.