Polygamous cult or tiny home?
From urban to off-grid. Six options for you, when downshifting your life.
I wonder how many ladies join a polygamous cult to escape the corporate drudgery? This may be a very niche downshifting option; too many wives in the kitchen and all that. Besides, compounds for a family of thirty might not be consistent with your urban living ideals. There are fewer options for men; polygamous cults don’t recruit many men it seems, but here is a roundup of downshifting choices for boys and girls:
Although the downshifting vision may be more synonymous with an off-grid cottage in the boondocks, urban living should not be discounted as an option. If you have already taken the 100-things-challenge and reduced your worldly possessions to the bare minimum, then a smaller place in the city will easily accommodate your needs.
Cleaning must be a breeze with so few things to dust. Just you and your smartphone and enough socks. Awh, the smartphone, that wonderfully multi-tasking gadget, how soon till there is an espresso making app? Must have been tough to get under the 100 item mark pre-smartphone days with a separate torch, calculator, video camera and radio. Granted the selfie stick means one less pair of undies for the 100-item-minimalists. But, rather don’t annoy the hardcore minimalist with questions on how many pairs of underwear they have. Instead, ask them what fun they have with the dusting time they save? Or whether the money saved on trinkets is going into a holiday fund for Phuket.
Your cabin in the woods may be inconveniently far from Heathrow for that trip to Phuket. Nonetheless, there is the joy of space for a vegetable garden and chickens to roam. My favourite thing about my parents’ farm was the night sounds. No traffic noise or raucous parties next door; instead listening to an owl hooting from the Blue gum tree or the sound of a jackal by the dam. Not, Carlos mind you, South Africa is quite far from the Mexican border.
Would Carlos staying in a tunnel qualify as downshifting, though? I guess not, unless he is spending significantly less time in the cartel. He may qualify if he swopped hours in the business for a simpler life of experiences rather than things. His wife is pretty hot after all, who needs stuff when you have a wife like that. Uh-huh?
On the topic of flexibility; Wikipedia defines Yogi or Yogini (female) as those dedicated to yoga or meditation amongst other things. I’m not sure if being a Yogi has been talked of as a downshifting option before. But, in my opinion, all the elements are there.
Firstly, your Yoga dorm room in Mysore comes with a very low cost of living. Secondly, if your yoga school has a curriculum that runs for many months, then you qualify for a long-term visa, making this a lifestyle option rather than just a travel option. Lastly, yoga school comes with inner peace in spades that anxious city dwellers long for in downshifting. Plus, you get to say on your Facebook profile that you are a Yogini, schweet!
All that meditation may cut inconveniently into your TV-series binge watching time. Besides, the thought of homesteading muck and mud ruining that perfect designer sofa may make you cringe. In which case you’ll find your designer kin amongst the tiny house movement. Your kin know stylish surrounding are more achievable on a small scale and downshifting needn’t mean a home full of thrift shop finds. (Like to pop some tags and only have 20 dollars in your pocket? Designer tiny home living may not be for you.) Be the cabin porn envy of Instagram but remember to still aim to be downshifting debt-free.
Less good for the budget is that monster truck you need to tow your tiny home around. Not great for your carbon footprint either. Urban minimalists with their public transit commute certainly have the tiny house folk beat on carbon footprint. Their apartments in the sky don’t have the peaceful surrounds of a home on wheels, though. And they can’t hook up their home to the truck when Tommy gets his electric guitar for Xmas next door.
If you think neighbours are good and a stranger is but a friend etc, then intentional communities may be for you. I should have mentioned before, establishing a cult and getting your followers to set themselves free of their worldly belongings and cash into your PayPal account is a very viable passive income option. Sadly, few of us have the magnetic charm it takes to be the leader of a cult. Instead, joining an established co-op or community could be a downshifting choice for you.
As an economics graduate my preference is for intentional communities that are not after my cash. Guess I will have to forego the free love to be had in a cult and opt for co-housing instead. The cohousing movement originated with the happy Danes. Then cohousing communities were also to be found in countries like The Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Co-housing is great if you are an English speaker who is not inclined to start speaking in the Spanish or Turkish of a cheaper country.
What is it like to stay in co-housing? These intentional communities value sharing and caring. Neighbourhoods are typically based on environmental principles that value open space and gardens. Neighbours collaborate to organize child and elderly care. All this sharing is good for emotional wellbeing and your pocket too.
Seems then there is a downshifting option for everyone. If you aren’t happy with the corporate grind, there is a grind of a different kind happening at a cult near you. If all that exertion is just too much, try peaceful meditation and yoga in Mysore. If the yoga school dorm room hasn’t seen updating since 1980’s, choose a home that’s tiny but stylish. Would you rather have the kids at more of a distance than the tiny home loft? Then leave them in the capable hands of your cohousing child care. Spare a thought for Carlos though; you can downshift at will, but he has tunnel work to wait for, before shifting at all.