Social Question

KasperPrip's avatar

Is it possible to live in a developed country without money?

Asked by KasperPrip (213points) February 16th, 2010

Well, one of my fellow students said to me the a while ago: “You cannot live without money” i replied, being young and naive, that of course you can, plenty of people do, you just have to lower your living standards.
But i am young and stupid, so my question is. Is it really possible?
If anyone have tried it please post your story!

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32 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Of course it is. Thousands of people in every city live on handouts that don’t include money. They receive food and clothes and sleep under the stars (or bushes) or in public shelters.

Nullo's avatar

Sure it’s possible. You’re not going to have the best things, or even the pretty good things, but it’s doable.

faye's avatar

Depends on the weather!

lilikoi's avatar

@Shae Thanks for posting that link. I enjoyed the story immensely.

KasperPrip's avatar

@Shae yeah that guy is awesome!

faye's avatar

I think the end of that interesting article said it. He can manage to live because other people in his world have money and donate food, clothes, etc even if it’s as garbage.

galileogirl's avatar

By no money I am assuming no financial support, no govt checks, no bed and food from relatives. I am willing to concede crashing with friends because that will end pretty quickly when you have nothing to contribute.

Think about it, Skippy. If you live in a major city in temperate climate there are homeless shelters. OK it might be like sleeping in a noisy gym locker but it is slightly better than sleeping on cement. Some shelters even let you get cleaned up.

There are soup kitchens and feeding stations and yes it is mostly institutional stodge but standing in line occupies a lot of time.

From your profile, you like books. The public ltbrary costs nothing (at least in the US) Remember to get up early at the shelter and use the shower-stink and bugs might get you banned from the library.

I think the only thing you might miss, again from your profile is drugs. Now you might think that your friends will share but the concept of sharing means you have something to offer-which you won’t, The only way you can guarantee a supply is to do something illegal to earn it-Oops, there comes the filthy lucre again!

KasperPrip's avatar

@galileogirl Thanks for the lengthy reply. I think the idea of living without money in an urban area is pretty extreme because of the temptations and the constant reminder of the importance of money, so if I ever grow some balls and decide to do it, it would of course be without drugs and in a rural area, quite like the story @Shae posted i imagine

TheJoker's avatar

It is possible…. alot of it depends on your description of living though. If you mean, still alive, then yes, there’s lots of homeless people on the streets, & while their life expectancy is fairly low they are alive… for now.
Poverty is a very relative thing.

Darwin's avatar

There are also those who do quite well through dumpster-diving and barter.

I once had to live on $7 a week for food. Fortunately I lived in South Florida where there was plenty of fruit during all times of the year (and people who were delighted that I offered to haul it off) and plenty of fish if you were patient and had some string and a hook, so I mostly used my $7 for beer. Later on, I even learned how to make that.

Then there are Freeconomy and off-the-grid folks like this guy.

EgaoNoGenki's avatar

I kinda almost had to, after I studied in Japan for one semester. This was back in Summer 2008.

A $637/month deposit to my bank account was practically not enough to live on in Japan, and I almost couldn’t buy the plane ticket back to America.

If I couldn’t secure the funds for a return flight home, then I guess I would’ve hitchhiked all over Japan, staying at the homes of church members willing to take me in.

And in the way of jobs – I guess some people charitable enough would’ve offered me “under-the-table” jobs to tutor English at homes or student hangouts or wherever.

It would be some steps up better than homelessness and not having any money at all, but it would’ve still felt pretty close enough to it!

Cruiser's avatar

Yes very possible to live off the land…settlers did it. But today even the homeless will work or trade for food and shelter, panhandle, recycle. Money is everywhere and IO unavoidable unless you are in Montana big sky country hunting and gathering and again trading for staples and supplies.

noyesa's avatar

Living without or with little money is more difficult depending on how developed the country you live in is and which country that is.

I happen to think the United States is an extremely difficult place to live in if you’re strapped for cash—many of our large cities lack adequate transportation, funds, and will to provide for the needy. In Europe, things aren’t so bad. Their cities are more compact, pedestrian friendly, and there are more government dollars going into taking care of the infrastructure and providing services to those who can’t afford them.

In the US, unless you’re living in New York or Chicago or one of the other primate cities of our culture, getting by without a car is virtually impossible and finding affordable shelter is even more so.

People in other parts of the world live on less. I’m poor (college student) yet in working part time as an intern I make enough to pay my rent, which is about the cheapest in town, and yet I probably spent more on my rent every year than some people in other countries, who live with shelter and food and security, see in a decade. Thousands of dollars for me to keep my rather meager accomodations that would have bought quite a bit more in other parts of the world.

ubersiren's avatar

It depends on where you are and the quality of life you’re after. There are some areas where squatters have a right to live in an unoccupied buildings, so there’s the shelter. You can dive in dumpsters for many of life’s necessities. Here is an interesting article I read that features a woman who went from rags to relative riches by living with little money. But she still does use some money.

You cannot “live off the land” with 0 dollars in the United States. I just wrote about this in another response, so I’m going to be lazy and paste that answer here:

There is no foot of space where you would be allowed to just be. You would have to purchase the land and pay taxes of all kinds in order to so much as sleep on the naked ground, let alone build a home there. You would have to make some sort of income to pay these taxes, and the government won’t accept tomatoes from your garden. So you’d have to get a job. And there begins the cycle of impossibility. You can’t dedicate all your time to joining the workforce and have any time left over to tend to living off the land.

You may be able to get away with not paying taxes, fees, and for permits for a little while, or even forever, but technically and legally speaking, you’re not allowed to do it.

However, if you’re simply speaking of being homeless, there are dozens of charities and programs that you could take advantage of to sustain life. Food drives, shelters, soup kitchens, clothing drives, etc. But you see, that stuff was provided by someone’s money. These programs, especially with shelters, aren’t meant to be used long term. You can’t just free-load. You have only so long to stay there before they need to make room for new residents.

candide's avatar

yes, of course it is! what ind of a question is that? Lots of people do – it just takes ingenuity and intelligence!

trailsillustrated's avatar

what do you mean ‘no money’ ? I have lived with absolutely no money and found it very, very hard. Nothing is really free. Any kind of social services extract their own kind of pennance, street life is often doing things you don’t really want to do, staying with or around people you’d just as soon punch in the face. A really marginalized kind of life. That’s what life is like with “no money” . I don’t know if you meant just ‘poor’ or literally ‘no money’.

john65pennington's avatar

Most people on welfare do this everyday. free food, free housing….what else could one ask for?

fireflys's avatar

As an individual maybe so. A warm climate would help. It would be tough for a family I’d imagine.

galileogirl's avatar

@KasperPrip Sorry but that little fantasy won’t work out either. Whose land are you living off? It all belongs to somebody. How are you going to have guns, ammunition, shelter. clothing, etc. What are you going to kill to eat? Pioneers and Native Americans might have killed buffalo, deer, salmon bear. Today they are protected on govt lands either by rangers or with limited hunting seasons under licensing laws. Killing domestic grazers is theft.

Even settlers going across country brought wagon loads of supplies to survive and Native Americans spent much of ther time gathering and preparing food with knowledge of how and where to find and prepare it. What’s your recipe for pemmican? How do you preserve a trout and whose lake do you poach it from? BTW google Donner Party.

Even if you had the benefit of group support, that has failed miserably in the 60’s and 70’s. There were communes that grew up with the idea of living off the land but they needed money to set up and people to work in town so they don’t starve and they still failed because the work was physically to hard when 9–5 was just down the road. The guys who do take off because they have committed crimes or because they are too anti-social, usually go crazy and rob and/or kill or kidnap some poorr female hiker. Do you see that or death from an accident, disease or exposure in your future?

YARNLADY's avatar

@galileogirl You are mostly correct, but I will nit pik one comment, here in my area there are a lot of streams, rivers and lakes where fishing is legal and mostly free (there is a fee for the license and a limit to the number of fish, but there is a fee waiver for indigent people).

laureth's avatar

@john65pennington – People on welfare aren’t living on “no money at all” – it only seems that way when you’re doing it.

It’s possible to live on very little money, if you already own the land, grow most of your own food and fuel, everything is paid off, and you’re so self sufficient that all you need to buy is the stuff you can’t make yourself and property taxes. Living on that same amount of money in an urban setting, where the vast majority of it goes for food and rent can be hellish.

There’s a myth that homeless people and the poor have it free and easy and sit around reading mystery novels and eating bonbons from the food pantry. I wish it were like that. However, even in the best of times, you really have to game that system to get much of anything. And in these times, when people can hardly afford to donate anymore, I hear that the food banks are going empty.

galileogirl's avatar

@YARNLADY Then that would be a very boring diet because I don’t suppose they allow the indigent to cook over open campfires. Yum fish skewered on a stick without seasoning every day and no catch/no meal today. What do you wash dinner down with? What I was trying to get across was he would be better off giving up his “pipe dreams” and prepare for real life.

YARNLADY's avatar

@galileogirl I have got to assume you are not aware that starving people will eat raw, unwashed fish, but the indigent population around here seems to have all the cooking fires they need. They also eat food out of dumpsters, after brushing off the gunk, and possible mold they find. Many food providers now fence and lock their dumpsters to prevent this, because they don’t want to be sued for allowing access to spoiled food.

As I stated before, there are thousands of people in every city, and thousands more in the “wilds” of many western states that do not use money, but rather live off handouts and the wild food they can obtain. This applies to hunting, fishing, and picking berries, and edible foods that grow wild, and living under the bushes.

The full extent of people living without money is largely overlooked in the daily media.

Darwin's avatar

@galileogirl – I have indeed lived on such food as I mentioned above, but add a bit of fruit juice or salvaged/home-grown veg and you can produce quite a tasty and moderately varied diet. OTOH, I knew graduate students that for variety in protein used to harvest fresh road kills. While considered a form of poaching to take game animals, there is no such caveat on dogs, cats, raccoons or frogs. It may not be McDonald’s but it is a serviceable and not too bad diet.

john65pennington's avatar

Laureth. the vast majority of people on welfare have something going on the side. not all, but most. whether its gambling, illegal drugs or prostitution. i worked in the projects for many years and watched this go down for a long period of time. why did i not arrest these people? i did arrest the drug dealers and the one that did the drive by shootings. i did not have time for the prostitutes and gambling. most people in the projects always have a pocket full of money.

laureth's avatar

@john65pennington – I agree that in many urban cases, you have to have something on the side just to have enough money to live. (You surely can’t give out enough aid to live on because of voters who already think it’s a free ride of luxury for the poor. It’s that problem that drives recipients to need to do more on the side.) However, I also suspect that your time in the cop uniform might artificially select the worst ones for you to interact with.

At the grocery store, I dealt with customers all day. It was hard to not extrapolate from jerky customers to the idea that all people are jerks. I imagine that as a cop, you deal with cheats, criminals, and scum all day long. It must be even harder to not imagine that all people (or at least all aid recipients, or illegals, etc.) are cheats, criminals, and scum, but it’s important to realize it.

KasperPrip's avatar

the world really is more complicated than i thought. :)

it reminds me about the story mice and men every time you guys say “live of the land”, seems like the american dream to me :)

galileogirl's avatar

I was responding to @ Cruiser’s idea of living off the land

“Yes very possible to live off the land…settlers did it. But today even the homeless will work or trade for food and shelter, panhandle, recycle. Money is everywhere and IO unavoidable unless you are in Montana big sky country hunting and gathering and again trading for staples and supplies”

Dumpster diving has nothing to do with living off the land in Big Sky country like early settlers. I pointed out there is no free land today and if you help yourself in the wide open spaces, you are actually poaching another’s property.

What it all comes down to is that nobody can survive on their own without somebody putting money into the equation today At some point whether you are in NYC or ND, you can’t live without money, just by your wits and labor.

MasterAir16's avatar

Have you ever heard Amish before?

SmartAZ's avatar

Family of Russian Old Believers
Dersu is a small village on the Russian Pacific coast. It consists mainly of Russian old believers. They are people of strict religious beliefs which prohibits them from using modern day technologies, wearing modern clothes and so on. Let’s see how they live there – thanks to an awesome blogger Alex H. who published these photos! has dozens of stories about basic living, families living alone in wilderness, homeless children, and hermits. Russia is big, and mostly unpopulated. Pakistan has more population than Russia.

The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit This was in Maine.

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