More than half of the 7 billion people who live on this planet have no idea what life would be like without all-too-convenient access to grocery stores, gas stations, and the internet. We’re all tied to the grid. Now, one website is making it easy to get away — far, away — from the trappings of modern life and discover the world’s best, truly off-grid vacation destinations.
FreeHouse is a niche vacation rental booking website whose sole purpose is to connect travelers with only the most disconnected accommodations. The site’s listings are spread mostly throughout North America, with a focus on the United States. The database includes everything from remote beach houses to backcountry huts to luxurious desert canyon homes. The only thing they all have in common is that they’re truly off-grid. According to the site’s founders, this means they’re completely self-sustaining with no connection to the public utility infrastructure.
This doesn’t mean that every house is without modern amenities and essentials, however. Quite the contrary, as most feature running water and electricity. They merely rely on the elements and sustainable means of harvesting them, like solar power, wind turbines, elaborate rain collection systems, and common off-grid “gadgets” like composting toilets.
To help users wrap their mind around the level of “off-grid-ness” of each property, most are ranked according to three scales: the Rustic Scale, Remote Scale, and Unplugged Scale. These are subjective numerical values assigned by the site’s owners to help would-be renters fully appreciate every property.
The most elaborate lodgings feature many of the trappings of home, including flat-screen TVs, radiant heated floors, wood-fired tubs, and fully-stocked kitchens. According to the Rustic Scale, properties typically offer plenty of simple charm but require guests to provide their own amenities by, for example, bringing their own sleeping bags or hand-pumping their daily water from a nearby stream. The Remote Scale is a measure of how accessible or not each property is. Some are only reachable on foot, while others might be situated within an entire off-grid community that one can drive to. Finally, the Unplugged Scale denotes the property’s connection to things like radio, satellite TV, cell service, and Wi-Fi. Many intentionally omit all semblance of connectivity to allow their guests to experience the surrounding landscape and get back to nature.
Founders Jason and Sarah Stillman launched the site in June of 2015 while on vacation themselves. Sarah’s father owned an off-grid vacation home in Baja, while Jason spent considerable time cross-country skiing the Colorado Rockies. They both learned to appreciate the simplicity, confidence, and joy that came with a truly autonomous, self-sustained vacation experience. Their collective experiences got them thinking that a website dedicated entirely to off-grid vacation rentals was a need that was sorely lacking in the travel industry. So, FreeHouse was born.
Properties on FreeHouse are free to book without creating an account. Simply find the off-grid property that piques your interest and submit an online request to book it directly with the owner.
Feature image courtesy of FreeHouse/Facebook.