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Not everyone is cut out for off-grid living – take it from someone who spent 2 nights solo at a cabin in the woods

The author was only two hours away from London, but felt worlds away from home.
The author was only two hours away from London, but felt worlds away from home.Maria Noyen/Insider
  • I recently booked a two night stay at a tiny cabin in British national park.

  • Living in isolation teaches you to be more independent, but I discovered that it's not for everyone.

  • Being off-grid requires you to be committed, self-reliant, and, above all, comfortable in solitude.

It's too quiet.

Roughly an hour into my two-night stay at a remote, off-grid cabin hours away from London, located in UK's South Downs National Park, I noticed the silence getting to me.

It's not that I couldn't hear anything at all — birds chirped loudly, wind rustled leaves on surrounding trees, and ever so often, I could hear the familiar hum of a bee. But quickly after my arrival, I was acutely aware of the lack of human voices around me.


Escaping the chaos of modern life, unplugging, and resetting by spending a night or two in a comfortable, quaint, off-grid cabin is an opportunity I know some people, especially those who live in the chaos of huge cities like London and New York City, would jump on.

I was excited by the prospect — I was keen to get back into journaling, finish the Isabel Allende book that had been sitting by my bed for months, and spend time writing creatively. But by the end of my trip, I realized I wasn't cut out for it.

Being off-grid made me feel independent but lonelier than ever

The upside to off-grid living is realizing how much you don't need.

The cabin, which cost roughly $192 per night and is run by Australian-founded company Unyoked, didn't have WiFi, a toilet with running water, or air conditioning.

Though the idea of using a composting toilet, which empties waste into a deep hole covered in wood chips, was terrifying, I quickly got over it and was surprised that there was no smell at all. The lack of AC wasn't ideal, given I'd mistakenly booked the visit during an unseasonably warm week in the UK, but I managed to sleep just fine with a sheet.

But as for the WiFi, although I initially thought I'd be fine without it, I ended up feeling desperate for the human connection it provides.

Noyen's off-grid cabin.
Noyen's off-grid cabin.Maria Noyen/Insider

As much as I tried not to look at the texts I'd received from family and friends or work emails, the thought of being cut off from such huge aspects of my life was not only distracting, but made me feel lonely.

One of the ways I tried to stave off my loneliness was by listening to the radio, a device provided to cabin guests from Unyoked. With Spotify, Apple Music, and podcasts, it'd been years since I'd done so. The voices of news presenters and their interviewees provided a level of comfort.

Still, it wasn't enough.

By the second day, after I'd finished my book, written extensively in my journal, taken a three-hour walk, and practiced yoga, I called it quits on my off-grid experiment. I FaceTimed my mom, checked in with my best friend and work, and responded to texts. Instantly, a feeling of relief washed over me.

There are lessons to be taken from living off-grid — an important one is that you don't have to live life in extremes

Don't get me wrong, being cut off from the world works for some people.

One such person was David Lidstone, a man who was content living off the grid in New Hampshire for nearly three decades.

In 2022, Lidstone told the Associated Press he had to abandon his hermit life because "society" wouldn't allow it. For context, he was ordered to abandon his remote cabin because it was built on someone else's property.

In any case, once Lidstone stepped back into society, he said there was another reason he couldn't go back to a life of solitude: people.

The cabin was hot at night but cool during the day.
The author wrote in her journal and read extensively during the stay.Maria Noyen/Insider

"Maybe the things I've been trying to avoid are the things that I really need in life," he said. "I grew up never being hugged or kissed, or any close contact."

I know that in order to achieve the things I want to do, like read regularly and write creatively, I need to take time away from my phone and find comfort in silence.

But ultimately, I don't have to go to extremes to do either of those things.

Off-grid living isn't for everyone. It deprives you of human connection, something that most of us — myself and Lidstone included — need in order to thrive.

Read the original article on Insider