The year was 2020, and the Covid-19 pandemic had struck the world. While no one knew where life was heading, one family from Atlanta suddenly went off the grid. Their lives changed forever - and they're finally baring all...
Zani & Yeeno
41-year-old Zani and her husband Yeeno lived blissfully in Atlanta with Zani's son. They had created a life there, and nothing really changed for a while. Except, just like the rest of the world, everything was about to change.
When the news hit the globe that countries were shutting down economically, it took time for them to adjust. That being said, everyone around the world was in the same boat, just in different ways. However, Zani and her family were different, and suburban living clearly wasn't the way they were destined to live.
A New Generation
It had been the first pandemic since 1918 when Influenza had hit, lasting for 25 months. And times had certainly changed. So, as imagined, things looked differently for this generation. Although we were locked up inside our homes, we had the facilities and resources to adapt to change.
People tapped into their creativity and freedom. With technology being highly advanced these days, there were far more opportunities so people could fill their lockdown days with time spent well. It was a time to embrace the gift of the mind - or at least that's how Zani viewed it.
The streets and shops were empty. People had transitioned to working at home while simultaneously dealing with their families. Ultimately, something about the world shutting down gave an odd essence to everything and everywhere. Of course, for starters, the economy during covid was a constant elephant in the room.
Families were racing to HomeGoods or supermarkets to stock up as if we were entering an apocalypse. Although, it wasn't that far off. Items were being cleared from the shelves in just hours, and the next delivery date was days away. This was happening everywhere - and things weren't to change for a while. But Zani felt differently.
Social Distancing Stigma
For Zani, she expressed on her social media pages that social distancing wasn't exactly a be-all and end-all for her. She enjoyed staying indoors and her own company despite having a wonderful family plotted all around Atlanta. So the lockdown wasn't the worse thing to happen to her daily routine.
Of course, when it was time to step outside, it was to run personal errands. She enjoyed the social distancing, and the 5+-feet-apart rule, thankfully, didn't affect her substantially in any way. It just gave her an excuse to stay grounded throughout her own life. But what exactly did her life look like?
Small Girl, Big Dreams
As mentioned through her social media pages, Zani introduced herself to her followers via various posts. She was a registered nurse who was born and raised in Atlanta. She grew up loving to ride horses, and even though she lived in the middle of a city, she benefitted in both regions as she was a part of an equestrian community.
Zani mentioned how she always dreamt of owning a large property, specifically to accommodate her horses. Still, she had a job she needed to prioritize, and there was no working around it. For years, she researched alternative ways to truly live life whilst still getting paid, and gathered heaps of information.
An Escape Plan
As the pandemic continued to sweep across the globe, Zani's mind was in all sorts of places. And at the time, almost everyone imagined their escape plan from this plague-stricken reality. "I was stuck in the grind of day-to-day life," she recalled. If only there was a way out.
...a world with no social distancing, no hefty price tags for essential items, and even no cable or internet to help stimulate our minds and reflect on the abstracts. Zani was highly invested. She was a dreamer and took it in her own stride. Taking advantage of all the spare time on her hands, she did a little more digging.
The idea of off-grid living was ingrained in Zani's mind the moment she came across the idea. After exploring the possibility of creating an entirely different reality, she realized many factors were going to come into place. While Zani was an expert at thriving in the outdoors, her husband was a master in carpentry and mechanics.
Together, they had a combination of valuable skills. While Zani held onto her dream, it didn't take a lot of effort to convince Yeeno to get aboard her grand plan. Now, it was time to turn their aspirations into reality. Though it wasn't going to be easy - that much they knew.
Race Against Time
As days continued to pass by in lockdown, Zani and her husband were reaching their breaking point. Much like the general public, they began to go out of their minds. People were running out of activities, puzzles were being completed, and the stock of necessary items was only more difficult to grab hold of. It was a daunting new reality.
One thing was for sure, Zani was not giving up on her dream. As an activist, although she complied with the rules, she feared it was going to hijack her life for good. She didn't want anything stopping her from achieving her goals. She had a choice to make - and it had to be made fast.
Before she knew it, Yeeno was consumed by the idea of going off-grid. It was now 3 months into the pandemic, and she had reached a tipping point: They were not going to be continuing their life in Atlanta, that much she was sure of. Although, on paper, the news would be hard to break to their son, the proposal went shockingly well. Now what?
It was time to get away from the facade of living under someone else's roof. Instead, they needed their own land to cater to their independent, new way of living. Now it was just about a matter of time. So they put their funds together, began to pack everything up, and wondered where their latest adventure would take them.
The Road Less Traveled
Everything was happening so fast, especially with a child in the mix. Zani would have to figure out how to take her son out of school, as well as distance him from friends. Still, her son did not argue against the proposition. It was a huge risk for everyone at this point - so everyone's positivity was key.
"Within 3 days, we traded in our car for a truck, bought a travel trailer, stocked up for the apocalypse, and hit the road," she later recalled. This was not the end of life in Atlanta, but it definitely was the first step. As they set off, they focused on finding a mass space of land. However, land on the East Coast was pricey. Where to?
Hello New Mexico!
The answer was actually quite simple: Yeeno grew up in New Mexico, the Southwestern state surrounded by beautiful rocky mountains and 360-degree views of nature. So, he soon suggested it as one of their stops to see how much land would cost. And once they arrived, Zani was amazed. It was like nothing she had ever imagined.
"I thought it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen," she proudly recalled. And the prices were just as attractive. So, it didn't take long before they bought 20 acres of land. "People thought we had lost our minds." But their controversial journey was far from over.
Back to Their Roots
After exchanging a few deals, the 20 acres of land were officially theirs! Now, it just came down to what they were going to do with it. In the heat of the moment, they decided to head straight back to Atlanta in their trailer and start brainstorming. Everything was happening so quickly.
To make up for their latest purchase, they ultimately had to sell their house back home. As anyone would be, it was an emotional time. Zani and her family were giving up a lifetime full of memories. But they knew they had many more in store waiting for them. And so, they braced themselves, with no idea what to expect.
The Beginning of The End
In order to secure enough funds, Zani and her husband had to sell 90% of what they owned. And in just a few weeks, they had done just that. Everything, or what was left, had been packed, and they were ready to hit the road again. It was a bittersweet moment, but everything had been planned with precision.
It was unknown how this venture would affect their lives in the long run, but it was something Zani had dreamt of for so long. What could go wrong? It was time to get busy and start their lives all over again, with a few more purchases here and there to get the ball rolling. But what would that call for?
Thankfully, they already got a head start the last time they visited. All of a sudden, this dream of moving out of a covid-centered world had become a reality. They were officially off the grid. And thanks to Zani and Yeeno's official 'Off-Grid' website, they documented the entire process.
She wrote, "We had a well dug, bought a carport, then a larger travel trailer to live in full time. We also had a septic system and solar system installed. All of this was accomplished within 3 months of selling the house." And then she noticed 5 acres of land - advertised on Facebook Marketplace. Their new home was about to expand again...
Expanding the Homestead
Very quickly, 20 acres became 25 acres. However, this was a smart investment, and Zani was planning on growing and improving their land over time. Once everything was installed, it was then time for the nitty-gritty work to be done. It was non-stop from here. Despite the rush of things, everything was going to plan.
With no supermarkets nearby, their favorite clothing stores being a hefty drive away, and not to mention the internet connection often acting up, it was all overlooked by their goal: happiness. Zani, Yeeno, and Zani's son were all feeling hopeful of the situation. But did they have any regrets?
Zani stressed on the official 'Off-Grid' website that they had no regrets about making the move. She expressed, "Everything in our Offgrid journey manifested perfectly and easily. We have been blessed not to have any roadblocks or obstructions. The universe has been working in our favor every step of the way."
But despite their appreciation for how things panned out, there's one question that remained. What truly triggered them to make the move? Was their former life that disappointing? Their entire extended family remained in the Atlanta area, and although they left them behind, this was the perfect excuse to return and visit.
Let's Get Social
There was no way the couple was going to experience the life-transforming decision without documenting it somehow. Their story was too fascinating for people to be unaware of it. Not only did they have a ton of questions to be answered, but who knew, maybe it would inspire people to do the exact same...
With that mindset, Zani and Yeeno said 'why not?,' and created a TikTok and Instagram page: @offgridhomesteadfam, dedicated to their life off-grid on the homestead. They captured videos and images of almost every update and transition they made to their land. And it seemed to be growing remarkably well. It was an isolation like no other.
What Is 'Off-Grid?'
Most people would assume 'off the grid' meant completely going off the radar, out of bounds, to somewhere unreachable. While this was the case, it comes down to more than just separating yourself from a classic suburban neighborhood - perhaps in the countryside. Zani posted a TikTok explaining exactly what it means.
From supplying your own utilities, water, electricity, and septic functions, living off the grid is anything but "primitive living" or "living like a caveman." Fellow users thought she was crazy to take her family out of Atlanta due to the misconception of how this lifestyle was defined. Instead, it's all about being self-sufficient.
Anti-Social & Proud
In another online video, Zani asked herself, "why did I move off the grid?" Well, in simple terms, she confidently described herself as an "anti-social introvert." She proceeded to show visual evidence of the front yard, which displayed a completely empty field that led into oblivion.
Her new home was coming together, and no one was going to rain on her parade. Now it was just about figuring out how to adjust to this new lifestyle. She chose to do this, and now the hard work began. Thankfully, due to her previous and in-depth research, Zani knew the exact tools and navigation system to live the high life off-grid.
How Did the Kids Adjust?
Another intrigued user asked Zani, "quick question, for your son how does schooling work and how does his friendships work? Do you guys have neighbors? I'm just curious." Zani prepared herself for skeptical questions as such, especially if she was going to document it all over social media. Her reply?
Zani responded, "he adjusted very well," and explained that before the move, they did RV pandemic adventures and had an "awesome experience." Her son was now enrolled in a computer-based school and had the best of both worlds, as his birth dad still lived in Atlanta! They had neighbors in the area with children, so, no problem here!
Totalling the Costs
Originally, when she proposed the idea to her husband, she made a very valid point that if anything was to shut down during the pandemic, there was no way out - no cash, no water, no electricity, and very difficult to get food. The idea of self-sufficiency motivated Zani... but it was going to come with a price.
To our surprise, the excursion didn't cost as much as one might think. In a TikTok video, the list included: a TV Size Carport; $9,000, 2 guest trailers $7,500 each, greenhouse $1,000, 350 foot well for $15,000, solar powered energy $13,000, a septic system for $7,500, main trailer $15,000, barn $7,500, and 25 acres of land $22,000.
"Middle of Nowhere"
Although it may seem like a lot, the expenditures at home as well as any other suburban lifestyle do not compare. They had to invest a large amount that would last longer, and also work in their favor. They had to make sure they were living correctly and not taking the wrong route.
Zani explained in a video, "People thought we had lost our minds… We bought 25 acres in the middle of nowhere for $22,000. Why was it so cheap? Because it's in the middle of nowhere. But before you say it, we are surrounded by water, lakes, rivers, we have a 350-foot well. We're about to start our water catchment."
Living Rent Free
Zani proceeded to explain that her family has chickens that live in a chicken coop they hand-built! But the farm family doesn't end there. They are planning on receiving lambs and sheep to raise for meat while working on a walipini, a type of geothermal underground greenhouse so they can "grow fruits and veggies all year round."
They do not pay rent or mortgage as they bought the land with cash, no electricity bill due to their built-in solar system, no water bill thanks to the well, and an endless supply of eggs! She asks her followers, "So, crazy? I think not." After all, back in Atlanta, costs looked very differently.
Leaving the Matrix
Zani bravely shared that she used to experience anxiety on a daily basis. She did not disclose what caused the anxiety. However, it was impossible for her not to express how the transition caused a drastic change in her mindset and energy as we watched her walk around her land of serenity.
Zani explained her anxiety vanished when "we left the matrix and moved to the middle of nowhere and started a homestead." While moving to the middle of nowhere was a setup for controversial opinions, moving off-grid "is a big deal and should not be taken lightly." It was a 5-10 year goal, featuring an exit plan.
Word of Advice
Her TikTok page is full of prepping techniques, top tips, as well as guidelines if anyone was ever considering going off-grid. If her money-saving ideas haven't inspired us enough, she is consistent with her posts about what to expect when it comes to this highly alternative lifestyle. The key is growing and maintaining everything by yourself.
This lifestyle is definitely a commitment and is a world of independence. When it comes down to food, Zani suggests 2 months minimum of food and water, plus starting a personal garden for fruits, vegetables, and even herbs. More importantly, while living off-grid is open to preference, Zani couldn't help but gush over the positives.
While her TikTok feed is mainly educational, the Instagram feed is where the fun is at. She's documented all sorts of off-grid adventures, from riding ATVs in the hills, relaxing in hammocks in the forest, hiking along rivers and lakes, riding horses, jumping on the trampoline - all of which take full advantage of the outdoors.
Whether it is raining, snowing, or the sun is shining, they have activities planned for all sorts of weather conditions. Not to mention, her Instagram posts are full of homestead transformations and updates - including their greenhouse growth and exciting tours inside the RV.
Work Hard, Play Hard
While Zani left her job as a nurse to move off-grid, this doesn't mean she is constantly off the clock. The family prepared for this lifestyle, so it doesn't necessarily mean they can relax when the work is done. It is a constant process and must be maintained to live efficiently and safely.
Zani stressed that living off-grid is a full-time job. She informed her followers she works at least four hours a day to maintain the running systems. With an array of projects that require daily focus, such as taking care of the septic system to her family itself, they collectively ensure there is food, water, and electricity.
The Off-Grid Kid
All family members work hard to conserve their lifestyle. Still, we can only wonder how Zani's son still manages to live his youth days to the fullest. Although her kids' lifestyle might seem highly outrageous from the outside, or as she calls it, the "matrix world," he is living a life of full freedom now that they're off the grid.
As a matter of fact, her son's lifestyle is far more advanced than any other 9-year-old. He has embraced the outdoors and seems to be enjoying it. With no one around to disturb the process, he has learned how to drive, use electric appliances, greenhouse care, and all other "skills and experiences to survive and thrive."
With social media filled with keyboard warriors, the family was bound to receive some sort of backlash following their updates. "People seem to think that it means not using technology, having phones or internet. That we are hiding from government, don't pay property taxes, don't need money, and live without any modern amenities," Zani revealed.
But others were more willing to spread positivity. One supporter proudly wrote, "You guys have the best life." Another wrote, "My husband always talks about wanting to live off the grid. Your page is awesome!" However, others take the time to blame them for "deforestation" and depriving their son of living a normal childhood.
While Zani and Yeeno continue to share their off-grid experiences with followers, their TikTok page has now reached 258+K followers and 151+K followers on Instagram. Clearly, users are highly fascinated by their lives and the courage it must have taken to embark on such a spontaneous journey.
As they continue to grow their homestead and increase their quality of life day by day, Zani and Yeeno are committed to helping others who aim to pursue the same dream. With a whole brand created, offgridhomesteadfam, they've turned their lifelong dream into an unfathomable way of living. And we can't wait to see what comes next!