Whitney Newkirk and her husband, Trent, reveal that they have created a completely self-sufficient lifestyle
A couple who escaped the rat race to live off the grid in the wilderness of a US national park are now completely self-sufficient – and claim to be recycling their own human waste to power their gas stove.
Whitney Newkirk, 33, and her husband, Trent, 26, moved from Milwaukee. Wisconsin over 2,000 miles to Joshua Tree National Park, California in August 2020.
They now live in a converted yurt on their plot of land, worth a total of about $30,000, and document their off-the-grid lifestyle on social media.
After living in a yurt for two years, Whitney said she “never misses civilization,” claiming, “I like people, but I don’t like big crowds.”
After the couple left the 9-5 life more than two years ago when Trent lost his job due to the pandemic, she traveled through US national parks before settling in California.
Whitney Newkirk, 33, and husband Trent, 26, ran away from the city to live in the desert. A Wisconsin couple has created a self-sufficient life in Joshua Tree National Park
They now live in a converted yurt on their plot of land, worth a total of about $30,000, and document their off-the-grid lifestyle on social media
Whitney and Trent live with their pets in a converted yurt that cost $20,000 and took three months to build.
Joshua Tree National Park consists of two deserts, the Sonoran and the Mojave.
In March 2021, the couple bought a 2.3 acre lot for $8,000 to build a new home.
To get started, they also purchased a custom-designed yurt for $20,000 and invested in a 2,300-gallon water tank.
It took three months to design and plan the yurt. The couple had to drive more than 14 hours to pick up the parts from a company in Cottage Grove, Oregon, before spending another three weeks assembling the structure.
It took another year of renovations to convert the yurt into a living space with a functioning bathroom and kitchen.
Now almost done with their project, Whitney said she feels on top of the world.
The couple uses solar energy to power their yurt and has also implemented a biogas system, using food and even human waste to create gas
The couple had to drive more than 14 hours to pick up the parts from the company in Cottage Grove, Oregon, before spending another three weeks assembling the structure
Whitney and Trent fell in love with Joshua Tree National Park, which consists of two deserts, the Sonoran and the Mojave, and in March 2021 bought a 2.3 acre plot of land for $8,000 to make it their new home
“The best way I can describe the feeling is when we finished, I literally felt like I was standing on top of Mount Everest,” she said.
The duo, who live in the desert, are off-grid and get their electricity from solar panels they installed themselves, with the complete system costing $12,000.
They also have a home biogas system that uses food and even human waste to create gas that they use to cook with a deep fryer and stove.
Whitney said: “I never miss civilisation, I like people but I don’t like big crowds.
“Now we just feel a lot more financially free and closer to nature.”
They say that this trip helped them understand nature much more and was incredibly fulfilling.
“There are still trials and tribulations as we continue to build and transition to bringing the desert ecosystem back out,” Whitney explained.
“But I’ve never been happier to do it. Our good times outweigh the bad times by a million.”
Whitney (pictured) documents the couple’s offline lifestyle on social media. They tell how they repaired their yurt
It took a full year of renovations to convert the yurt into a living space with a functioning bathroom and kitchen
Trent works from home as a design engineer for a new company, while Whitney runs the couple’s social media accounts, where they document their offline lifestyle.
Whitney said they have had to adjust to living with less water – although they are still able to shower and wash dishes every day.
“We are planning to dig a well, but it is expensive and very dangerous to do it yourself,” she explained.
Whitney and Trent have lots of plans for an off-the-grid lifestyle and have toyed with the idea of digging a well
Giving up the 9-5 life more than two years ago when Trent lost his job due to the pandemic, the couple traveled through US national parks before settling in California
The yurt is pictured at night in the desert. It gets very cold at night in the national park, so during the summer heat the couple worked at night
They plan to install hot water in the coming months, as the desert lifestyle means they don’t need it during the summer.
Thanks to the weekly farmers market in the nearby town of Joshua Tree, Whitney and Trent can stock up on fresh and “high quality” produce.
Whitney says there’s a Walmart down the road for any other supplies they might need.
Their hard work has not been without setbacks, but Whitney said there was a time when she thought it would never happen.
“There was a moment when I thought we were crazy,” she said, “mainly because we had a heat wave early in the construction that raised the temperature of the desert to 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
“It’s very dry and you get dehydrated very quickly. Our travel trailer couldn’t keep up with the heat.
“It’s been going on for two months and we thought we’re not going to do it.”
Never giving up, the couple sat in Trent’s truck during the day and built at night when it was cooler.
Whitney and Trent are now focusing on the exterior, planning to build their own greenhouse to begin cultivating and growing, as the national park grounds are “green and full of life.”
They believe their move was a good investment, as the adjacent plot of land is now worth $65,000.