Professional cyclist Dan Timmerman always wanted direct access to nature. Sitting around observing it from a distance was never enough. He wanted to be in nature.
Five years ago, Timmerman and his wife, Sam, bought a 10-acre property in rural New York and moved into a cabin. They have lived there ever since.
While the couple hasn’t totally rejected modern life — they have no TV, but do own cellphones, laptops, and cars — they lead an unconventional lifestyle that is simple and enlightening. They own their property outright, have no debt, and live on solar power.
By living in their cabin off the grid, Timmerman and his wife, who is a caterer, have saved a good deal of money.
“We’re on the reduce-your-expenses method,” he told Business Insider. “This is an off-the-grid cabin that we bought pretty cheaply, and living this way is cheap. We don’t have many expenses, if any, basically just a cellphone bill.
“We have plenty of money in the savings, and I’m able to work as a professional racer mainly because of the way that we live. If I had to pay rent in town it would be a different story.”
“Off the grid” can have a lot of meanings. For Timmerman, it means their cabin isn’t connected to the electrical grid at all.
“We have our solar power, which is stored in batteries. A lot of people assume that means you’re also disconnected, but that’s not true in our case. We are connected. We talk on the phone. We have the internet.”
Though Timmerman and his wife live in the woods, that doesn’t mean they aren’t connected to the world. They have cellphones and laptops, using mobile data to go online. While they don’t stream movies, they occasionally watch DVDs. He uses the internet to keep up with the bike-racing community and do research for all his projects.
“We’re pretty content,” he says. “Living in the city or in town, you have the social aspects and the conveniences, but you’re surrounded by concrete and motors, you know? For us it’s more worth it to be out here, to have access to the natural world, have our place, and do all the projects we want to do.”
Timmerman says living off the grid does have drawbacks.
“We end up driving more because my wife works in Ithaca, and we’re 18 miles outside of town. And certain times of the year, like winter, you tend to feel a bit isolated. But it’s not like we live in the middle of a mountain with nobody around us. We have a pretty hoppin’ village eight miles away, and we go in, and we have friends down the hill.”