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How to Live Off-grid Paperback – 25 Mar 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (25 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553818198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553818192
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"With his book, [Nick Rosen] has caught the Zeitgeist" (Anna Shepard The Times)

"This is a timely and highly readable examination of what it really means to live and travel 'off-grid'" (Sunday Telegraph)

"An inspiring, entertaining and irreverent read" (Jillian Bolger Sunday Tribune)

Book Description

Haven't you ever wanted to buck the system, escape the rat race? Whether for the weekend or for a lifetime, Nick Rosen explores off-grid living combining irreverent travellogue with 'how-to' essentials.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Williams on 4 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
There are lots of ways of living off the grid. The most familiar ones are narrow boats on our urban canals, caravans, and traveller or gypsy communities, and of course remote farms. Less well known are the communes, the renewable energy pioneers, the backwoodsmen and hermits. In his own off-grid converted bus, Nick Rosen travels the country to interview these various types. He meets a man with seventeen children, an armed survivalist community in an old manor house, gypsies, horse breeders, millionaires and subsistence farmers. Most of the book details this adventure. In fact, over half the book is one long chapter called 'meet the people'.

The diversity is fascinating, and there are different things to learn from each. Unfortunately, the author gives more or less equal amounts of time to each project. I found myself skimming ahead over more hippies in the woods, and wishing there was more on some of the more practical social experiments. A little editing wouldn't have gone amiss, choosing the best cases from the thirty or so here and exploring them in more depth. The book could stand to lose some of the travel detail too - some sections narrate little anecdotes, like how Nick got his van stuck in a ditch on the way to see someone, leaving only a paragraph at the end to talk about the project itself when he finally gets there.

After meeting the people, the rest of the book deals with more specific issues. There are chapters on generating your own electricity, sections on water, toilets, and buying land, and some good advice on planning permission. There are asides too, into foraging, the pros and cons of living in a commune, and histories of the grid.

If you're after a practical manual for off-grid living, this isn't it, despite the title. This is more of a source book of ideas, an inspiration for off-grid living. For the detail, see Rosen's extensive website,
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Neil on 29 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
In How to Live Off-Grid, Nick Rosen investigates the possibilities and difficulties of living an off-grid lifestyle (no mains water and no mains power) in the UK.

This is not a typical "How To" guide to off-gridding although the book is packed with useful information. Instead the main focus of the book is on real people living an off-grid life - their motivations, their struggles, their problems, and their solutions.

In the 120 page Chapter 4: Meet the People, Nick Rosen tells the story of his own journey around the UK in his newly purchased camper van meeting off-gridders from all walks of life who are living off-grid with varying levels of success and for a range of different reasons.

These short stories give a fascinating look into the often difficult world of the off-gridder: seemingly a constant struggle against council planners, neighbours, and the elements. Living an off-grid existence is rarely easy, but is shown to be hugely fulfilling.

The rest of the book comprises chapters on generating power, obtaining water, and building shelter. In addition a chapter entitled We Were All Off Grid Once tells the story of how we ended up on-grid in the first place and looks into the main motivations for people to move off-grid today: environmentalism, post-consumerism, rising energy prices, water shortages, rising house prices, fear, and the availability of new technology.

How to Live Off-Grid is information packed and very easy and entertaining to read. The real world practicalities of living off-grid in the UK today are well covered in this unique and well researched book.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By vapidness on 15 July 2011
Format: Paperback
To be honest I found the author's description of his little place in rural Europe, which he escaped to when his frantic privileged urban life got too much, a bit of a turn off from the start.
There are introductions to various practical aspects of housing and looking after yourself that would be useful as a start, but I'd advise doing a bit more research before setting off. The author describes being met with hostility in some places, and I have to say I'm not surprised since a lot of the folk (and/or people they know) he asks for help have had very bad experiences with journalists, and he doesn't offer a lot in return. It's to the huge credit of people who did speak to him and provide advice that they are still strong enough and have the energy to be able to do that. He does seem to have gained some appreciation of the effort involved from the people who have helped and advised him- near the end he asks folk to do their research and seek out other people and places if they're setting out as newbies, as the 'famous' people and places get a lot of queries and people dropping by uninvited- pity he didn't have the benefit of this hindsight when he started out.
For shelter, see 'Ideal Homes' if you can get hold of a copy- there are plenty of other books, zines and resources on how to make good shelters, benders, huts, etc out there. There are also loads of resources on wild food, bushcraft, low tech sustainable energy generation, water purification, dealing with waste, growing and harvesting, etc by people who know more about what they're talking about than Nick Rosen does- do some research, check bibliographies, see who people keep referring to for good, reliable information.
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