Choosing the Unconventional Path to Live Sustainably: Our Move from Suburbia to an Eco-Village

by: Christina Lovdal Gil

I am forty one and I recently started over.  

Choosing the unconventional path to live sustainably: Our move from suburbia to an eco-village

We lived fairly mainstream lives.  Our kids went to the local public school.  My daughter took Taekwondo.  My husband and I loved Crossfit.  On the weekends, we mowed the lawn and played outside and visited with grandparents.  We had two cars and a mortgage and a dog.  My husband and I had been in the same lines of work for over thirteen years.   We liked our jobs and we were good at them.   We had found a house that seemed perfect; we lived in a beautiful town fifteen minutes from the ocean; we had family and friends nearby; we had a routine and things seemed like they were as good as they could get.

But sometime last year, I decided that I wanted out.  I realized that living in mainstream society, I would never find solutions to the problems that I faced.  It hit me that all the little nagging problems and stresses of our lives were never going to go away. There were things that could not be changed as long as we stayed in mainstream society:

DEBT & MONEY ISSUES | We always felt like we could never catch up, never be completely on top of things.  As soon as we would get all of our bills payed off, we would need to do a major repair on the car or we would have to fix the boiler.  And when I think about how much money we spent just getting to work—gas, car payments, car repairs—it seems like such a ridiculous vicious circle that I can’t believe we did it for so long.

CAR CULTURE | Unless you move to a pretty major city, it is almost impossible to live in this country without a car—and if you have kids and two working parents, forget it.  Obviously, this is a problem for the environment.  And I felt that every day that I got in my thousand-plus pound car by myself and drove 30 minutes to work.  But for me, there is also the emotional and physical toll—sitting in the car so that I could go sit at work and then sit in the car on the way home.  And driving is exhausting in a way that other things are not.

"—sitting in the car so that I could go sit at work and then sit in the car on the way home.  And driving is exhausting in a way that other things are not."

DEMANDING WORK | I loved my job.  I thought my job was important and I was making a difference.  But I also felt like I spent all of my time either working or getting ready for work the next day.  No time or energy left for my family.  It was all spent at work.

LACK OF REAL COMMUNITY |  Yes, we had friends and family near by, but when we really needed help, it was often impossible to find.  I think the main reason wasn’t because we only knew selfish people, but it was because everyone else we knew was so stressed dealing with the above three issues that they didn’t have any leftover energy either.

I’m sure that there are people who have found ways to solve these problems without checking out of the mainstream, but for me, that was impossible.  Life as we were living it was not sustainable, and if I wanted to find a life that was sustainable—for me, our family, and our planet—we would have to radically alter the way that we live. I started reading and researching and googling and eventually I stumbled upon Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.  

Choosing the unconventional path to live sustainably: Our move from suburbia to an eco-village

So now, after visiting twice last year, applying for residency, renting our house and selling, giving away, or packing all of our stuff, we have moved halfway across the country.  We are living in a 400-square-foot house with no running water; we have an outhouse, and a makeshift kitchen on the porch.  We wash our dishes and shower in the common house.  

We hope we have found an alternative for three of the four issues at least.  (We still haven’t figured out how to make a living out here, but the cost of living is low enough that we are spending about one third what we were before.)  We are spending more time together, walking and biking when we need to get most places, and using our energy to garden, homeschool, get together with other people in the village, and play outside.

We aren’t yet sure how all of this will work, but we know that we can no longer go back to the old life.

Christina and her family recently left behind their mainstream lives in seacoast New Hampshire to move to an ecovillage in northeast Missouri.  She's a former teacher turned homeschooling and homesteading mom who writes about their journey toward sustainable living on their website Sustainable Family Living and on Instagram @sustainable_family.