This is the story of my experiences living as an ex-pat in Mexico since 2003. It's to culminate in a published book. With your help, I'll be editing, selecting a title, and cover art: a participatory project. Your comments encouraged!
November 28, 2020
Off-Grid Living in Mexico
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Frenando's home: school bus with tarp extensions. Photo by author
During the pandemic, many people are reflecting on their lifestyle and contemplating positive changes. Have you ever thought of simplifying your life? Living off-grid and in closer harmony with nature?
Because of the favorable climate, lower costs, and lax building codes and other regulations, Mexico is an ideal country in which to follow such a dream. In this article I’ll look at how Fernando, a man originally from Spain, has done it.
During this pandemic, most people have more time to contemplate what their lives are about. Every crisis has its opportunities. One I notice is the cleaner skies. What does this say about global warming? I feel it is up to each of us to take climate change seriously and do whatever we can to mitigate it. We need to live more as a part of nature, to connect with it more, and benefit from this.
For the sake of saving life on the planet, and for our own sanity, it makes sense to live our lives differently. Living off-grid is one lifestyle that fulfills these requirements.
Why Mexico? For those of us from the States, it is close by for visiting relatives and friends. I was attracted by the culture--the emphasis on family, community, and fiestas-- over work and money. This has been a more soulful existence for me.
In my experience, the cost of living in Mexico is half that of the US. One can do even better by living a different lifestyle, such as living off-grid, and on the land. When you live in an RV, an old school bus, or something similar, you can save money on rent. Home heating isn't needed. During a couple of the winter months wearing a sweater at night and using extra blankets may be necessary.
Mexico doesn’t have as many building codes as does the US. This lack of restrictions is in your favor if you live off-grid and on the land.
One of Fernando’s current projects is developing a hydrogen gas generator based on electrolysis of water that produces and separates oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen is fuel for cooking and even for transport, given the proper conversion.
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Left: solar hot water heater on bus roof feeds shower, right. Photos by author
This article looks at just one example of living off-grid on the land in Mexico. I’ll post an interview with Fernando after this section where you will learn from him how he does it, and how he can help you do the same.
Fernando bought an old school bus and parked it in an empty field where he pays a very low rent, month to month, without a lease. He has a pipe attached to the neighbor’s water supply. This provides water for drinking and cleaning. A solar heater on the roof of the bus delivers hot water to a shower head.
Grey water is delivered into the ground by a long pipe . A dry toilet provides fertilizer from five gallon plastic pails that sit for a couple of months before addition to the compost.
Vegetables grow in the container gardens. There’s a problem with grubs eating all plant roots growing in the earth. This needs to be worked out.
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Left: dry toilet. Right: compost. Photos by author
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Top left: cilantro and parsley. Top right: Tomatoes. Bottom: Kale. Photos by author
There is a box for drying fruit and vegetables, and he does canning. A refrigerator, running off of the solar electric panels on the bus’ roof, is helpful. A tent extending out from the bus, more than doubles available space. With the warm climate, it’s an ideal place for relaxing or dining.
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Tent extending from the bus gives more living space in this warm climate. Photo by author
Many would find this an ideal way to live. Others might consider it very uncomfortable. Let’s see what Fernando has to say.
Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Hydrogen generator. The heart of this device is the central jar with a yellow cap containing metal plates. The jar is filled with water having a little salt. The water is split into oxygen and hydrogen gases which are filtered through the other jars. Photo by author
Here's a video slideshow I made for you to see the elegant work Fernando accomplished refurbishing the school bus interior to make it into a comfortable living space.
From the Author
I consider this to be my most important blog yet in its three year history for its impact on readers and on our earth. Please share the link with friends and relatives.
Look at the archive page, and sign up to get a complimentary download of "Mexico Travel Tips."
By February, I'll have drafts of my memoir, "Better Living in Mexico," and ebook complication of these blogs, "Letters From Mexico." If interested, I am looking for test readers to make helpful comments, especially those who are published authors. Please contact me.