A couple has gone to extreme lengths to escape city life after feeling overwhelmed by their mundane 9-5 routine.
Yesha, 29, and husband Dmitriy, 35, first packed up their belongings and moved from St. Petersburg, Florida to a remote forest in Maine in 2019, where they pitched up a military tent to function as their new home.
But the couple never expected to have to endure a pandemic in the wild or to live in such extreme living conditions – with no heating, electricity and running water proving difficult, especially in lockdown.
Yesha usually begins her day by making breakfast for her husband, who works in a small town five minutes away from their property, before splitting and stacking up wood for the fire.
Then, she will make a trip to a nearby grocery store to buy food and distilled water for drinking.
She is also currently working part-time for the same company as her husband, albeit in a different building.
The couple still rely on food and supplies from the city but run their home solely on generators, spending around $138 per month on bills.
Although, Yesha is trying to plant vegetables in fields outside their house and has successfully grown tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, carrots, celery and other types of vegetables. She also hopes to start getting farm animals next spring.
What's worse is the harsh winter conditions. After experiencing an exceptionally harsh season in 2019, the couple were forced to insulate their home and prepare for the cold temperatures ahead which often reach as low as –25 degrees Celsius.
Even though they had their stove, space heater and fan running all night, the tent was freezing cold.
Yesha said: “When January came, the temperatures went below -25 degrees outside and I couldn't get out of the blanket.
“We used to fetch water from the streams right by our property with a five gallon bucket on our first month until we had our well.
"It was my first winter and I have never seen snow before. My husband spent his childhood in Ukraine where it also snows but he moved to Florida when he was 11, so he was no longer used to cold temperatures.”
Having learnt their lesson, the couple have now installed thick insulation on the ceiling, walls and deck to keep the cold out of their home.
They have also put in thick windows to keep the cold air out.
The pair say their home now resembles more of a cabin inside and they look forward to being warm in below zero Maine winter in December 2020.
Despite the various challenges that come with off-grid living, Yesha has no regrets about leaving the city for a new life in the wilderness and is thankful that the coronavirus pandemic didn’t affect her and her husband financially.
“We just need to comply with certain rules like wearing masks and face shields,” she said.
"My husband got promoted as a supervisor when the pandemic started, I decided to work during the pandemic and we are loving the experience of being part of the small town community in these tough times.”
She encourages others to “dive in” and trust their instincts, but to make sure they come prepared with a plan.
“My advice is, if they feel stuck with living in a city and it seems like it doesn't work for them anymore, just leave,” she said.
“And trust your instincts. Once you decide to leave, make a plan.
“Sell your property if you have one, sell the things you don't need, look for the cheapest land that suits your needs and budget, you can start with a trailer or a camping tent and aim to be on your chosen land right after winter if the state is four-season.
"Accept every challenge and believe in yourself that you are smart enough to work things out. Be your guide.”
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