Escaping the rat race

How one man left the consumer obsessed urban rat race to become self-sufficient in the desert.

Escaping the rat race
Photo: Orbitgal (from Flickr)

Many of us feel stuck in the city living an endless rat race. We may have dreams of moving into the wilderness and becoming completely self-sufficient, but very few actually take the plunge. Today the San Francisco Chronicle reports on how one man did it, and how a growing trend may be following:


Carl is taking part in a long-standing American tradition of giving up on the endless drive to earn more money and abandoning a society based on consumption of goods. In the 1840s, there were the transcendentalists and writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, who escaped the rat race in Boston to the quiet quarters of Brook Farm. Henry David Thoreau went to live in the woods by Walden Pond. In the 1970s, over 1 million hippies left cities for rural areas in order to grow their own food and live off the land.

These days — with the price of oil topping $130 a barrel, an ever-weakening dollar and food shortages worldwide, moving toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle suddenly seems like a good idea again.

Although there aren't any hard numbers on people like Carl, anecdotal evidence indicates that there may be a consumer backlash in the making.