How To Live In The Woods For a Season Or Two, Legally

Is this the year you’re going to pitch it all and go live in the forest? Leave the corporate rat race and the city life behind and head for the quiet of the bush?

I hear from people regularly who want to quit their job, sell their house and go live in the woods for the rest of their lives. Move to Maine, or Alaska, or Canada, and live in a wall tent or remote cabin. My response to them is always the same.

First, don’t burn your bridges; before quitting and selling everything, take a leave of absense and a vacation.

Second, go out and try it for a month or a season and see if the reality matches up with the fantasy in your mind.

But how to do this, and more importantly, how to do it legally?

In Maine it’s simple. Get a season camping pass to the North Maine Woods, outfit yourself with some camping gear, canoe, and fishing tackle, get a bunch of dried food and go find a remote lake or stream with a campsite on it. Once you’re there, you can travel using the lakes, rivers and streams as your road system. Spend each day fishing, gathering wild foods, and exploring the country.

This is all very doable, and with a fishing license, legal. And the North Maine Woods is a huge geographic area filled with lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. (NMW map)

If, after experiencing it, you decide you love the woods life and want to live it year-round, then tell that boss a thing or two and start planning your new life. But if it isn’t quite what you expected and maybe you don’t want to live the woods life full time, you’ve still got a life to return to.

The fantasy of outdoor living is often much different than the reality. If you go and try it, you’ll learn very quickly what the reality is. The fantasy is a nice daydream, but that’s all it is. Part of why I’m posting this is to get people to think about and experience the reality before making a life-changing decision based on the fantasy. The other part is so that when I get this question via email, I can forego a lengthy reply and send a link to this post.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tom

    Good article, but maybe I ought plan it out then tell the boss a thing or two. But then again I might not be able to convince her to come with me. I’ll keep you posted.

  • Thanks Tom. To be clear, I meant the boss at work. The boss at home requires a whole different approach, about which I’m completely ignorant based on my track record. If you figure out a system, you should publish a book with your findings. I, and probably several million others, would love to know how to solve that one.

  • Maine’s mosquitoes and black flies are downright ferocious.
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