Building an Off-Grid Freelancers’ Community: It’s a Whole New World

With the growth of freelancing and the gig economy, there are more online workers than ever. While freelancing is a rewarding career choice, the need to stay online can limit your off-grid lifestyle. In Marblemount’s Cascade River Community Club, an off-grid freelancers’ community is starting to take shape. You get all of the benefits of off-grid living while still being able to work online to earn money.

Creating an Off-Grid Freelancers’ Community

The off-grid freelancers’ community was recently made possible because of T-Mobile. In the last year, they set up a tower near the community of off-grid homes. Before, the community’s freelancers had to drive four miles away to get internet. Now, the same freelancers are able to turn on their electrical generators and connect to the internet for their work.

off-grid freelancers' community

How It Works

The Cascade River Community Club is a collection of about 400 properties. Each property is about 1/3 of an acre, although many residents own more than one property. Even if you own just one property, it feels a lot larger since the community is surrounded by national forests and logging land. The community itself is filled with forests, creeks and rivers.

In the off-grid freelancers’ community, residents are able to connect to the internet using T-Mobile. If you want to download videos without using your data, the Marblemount Community Center offers free wi-fi in their parking lot. Because of the growth in freelancers in the area, there is now a co-working and shared office space in the town of Marblemount. Head to the Shell Station and look for the red caboose next door to it. The Lookout Mountain Caboose Company is a new addition to the freelancing community with wi-fi, printing services and shared office space.

Buying a Property and Getting Set Up

Once you decide to take the leap, the first step is to buy property in the area. The Cascade River Community Club sells empty lots on their website. More options are available on Craigslist, Valleys West Realty and other online sites. Make sure that you can build on the lot and get water before you buy it.

The county has rules about building permits and what you can live in, so the Cascade River Community Club goes by these policies. To live in your off-grid cabin year-round, your home needs to be at least 200 square feet and it needs a septic tank. The county doesn’t allow year-round RV living, so be prepared to buy or build a cabin. Before you build, you also need to submit a drawing of your plans to the Cascade River Community Club for them to approve it and put it on file.

The easiest option is to buy a property that already has a cabin on it. Undeveloped lots can cost $5,000 or more. For a lot with a cabin and septic tank on it, you can expect to pay $20,000 or more.

Once you own the property, you pay a yearly fee that was about $700 in 2018. This fee includes your water and garbage service costs. The community added garbage services about two years ago, which makes off-grid living even more convenient. The community fee also covers the cost of repairing the roads and the on-site caretakers, which ensures a secure, safe environment for all residents.

Working in the Area

Working in this off-grid freelancers’ community is a dream come true. The community was originally designed as vacation cabins and camping spots, and many residents still use their lots for vacations. For freelancers, this means that the 400 properties in the community are mostly empty throughout the year. You get the beauty of the Cascades and the amenities of a shared community without actually having to share it for a lot of the year.

If you decide to work on-grid again, jobs can be a little more difficult to come by. While it is easier to find a job here than in the Alaskan frontier, many jobs are seasonal to match the tourist industry. There are a few restaurant and gas station jobs in Marblemount. About 20 to 30 minutes away, you can find additional jobs in the towns of Concrete or Darrington. The National Park Service hires rangers, and Seattle City Light is just up the road in New Halem.

Right now, the Cascade River Community Club is considering whether to allow Air B&B or not. If they do, renting out a second property can become a viable income source. Even if you don’t have the income to invest in another property, it may eventually be possible to earn a side income by helping an out-of-town owner rent out their unit to guests.

As a freelancer, you are able to determine your career fate. You can work anywhere in the world, but the hard part is finding a natural, secluded environment that still has an internet connection. In Marblemount’s off-grid freelancers’ community, you can finally enjoy the best of both worlds. With a town population of around 200, every additional freelancer quickly transforms the quiet mountain town into a primarily freelance-focused destination.

Interested in off-grid living for freelancers? Leave a comment with any of your questions or comments, and we will quickly get back to you!

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