We disconnected the internet at home and we lived to tell the tale

Guest post by Sariah
No Internet Connection © by noii, used under Creative Commons license.

My partner and I moved into our first solo place together this summer. Before, we’d lived with roommates, but it was time for us to get our own place. Which in turn meant we were the only ones paying the bills. We knew water and electricity and rent were necessities. And then there were daily expenses like groceries and gas. I’m a full-time student and work part-time while the dude works full-time. Clearly, money is tight for everyone these days, AND we’re saving up for our wedding AND for our big move to Chicago after we get married… so there isn’t a lot of extra money to spend.

Phones? Need them. Car? We’re a one-car family so it’s all good. Cable? There’s no way we’re home enough to justify having it. But the internet? Certainly that is necessary for a student and a couple planning a wedding.

Well I’m here to tell you it isn’t, my friends! Dude and I have been living peacefully without the internet for months. Now, there have been challenges when it comes to not having the internet at home, but there are tons of positives!

The unexpected ups

  1. We save money every month. Clearly, that’s a given. But every little bit helps when you’re young and engaged and living in these hard economic times.
  2. We spend more quality time together. I know if we had the internet, I would be completely wrapped up in wedding planning and Pinterest and other blogs that I wouldn’t spend as much time with my partner as I do now. Every night we’re free, we come home and relax. We talk and watch movies and cook and play video games.
  3. We hang out with our friends when they come over. When we had the Internet at our old apartment, I had a bad habit of playing around on the computer instead of enjoying the company of our friends. That was probably me just being rude and having no self-control, but it was so easy to just pick up my computer in a lull in the conversation and spend the next three hours in my own world instead of with the people I was actually with.
  4. There’s free time to read and be crafty! I feel like we’re doing a lot more stuff now that we don’t have the internet.

There are obvious disadvantages to not having the internet at home. Homework can get tricky when there is no internet access. And there’s no possibility of having streaming Netflix. And God forbid I forget to print out a recipe before coming home. But here are some ways to make your transition to internet-free living a little easier.

How to get along without the web

  1. Find places in your community with WiFi. I take my computer to campus to do homework. Public libraries usually have WiFi — and even computers. Coffee shops and restaurants are getting big into the free WiFi game too.
  2. Find something to do with your free time. It’s all too easy to get real bored real quick at home without plans. I heard (and used) the “There’s nothing to do!” phrase too many times when we first started our internet-free home.
  3. Having a smartphone definitely helps for those scary “I didn’t know that I have to write a research paper by tomorrow” moments. My iPhone isn’t enough to be a functional internet replacement, but it’s enough to figure out when the last tornado in Savannah was when I get curious.
  4. Scout out your video rental store. We got a membership a couple months ago and I love it. There’s a crazy awesome variety and you can see old and new movies for very reasonable prices.
  5. Get social! We have friends over almost all the time so the company keeps us busy and laughing instead of trying to figure out what to do.

If you’ve been thinking about ditching your internet service, I’m here to tell you that it’s a possible life choice! Feel free to ask any questions about living without internet. I do have access at work and school, you know.

Comments on We disconnected the internet at home and we lived to tell the tale

  1. If I weren’t a designer, I would totally be avoiding paying for at home internet. It’s so expensive and time-consuming. However, my career has chosen my fate. I’m so glad to hear it worked out for you guys!

    • I know what you mean! I did some design work over summer and not having the Internet for that was awful. Thankfully our careers will be in the acting field once we move to Chicago so the Internet still won’t be a necessity.

  2. I, on the flip side, decided to nix the smart phone and go with internet service. Internet is cheaper for us.

    • I get lost a lot (we travel quite a bit since we live so far away from our families) so I knew it was right for one of us to have a smart phone. That way I could easily be found or find my way back wherever I need to be. I was due for an upgrade and I had enough money saved up (pre-engagement) to afford it then. It’s a little more expensive, but we know it was right for our situation.

    • Yeah, that’s what we’re doing. We just have Go Phones, which cost us hardly anything because we never use them. The internet, however, is essential since I do at-home consulting work.

    • Agreed – smartphones cost a lot more than internet where I live and the last time I tried to use one of my friend’s blackberries I got frightfully confused! The screen is so tiny, I love my giant desktop monitor at home 🙂 and I don’t find it eating up a lot of my time at home, I come online – check my sites and then I’m out of my office.. I spent as little time online as possible! I’m finding the older I get the less time I went to spend on the computer, unless I’m working with my writing, my photography or designs it’s not really productive time and I find myself getting bored really quick!

  3. This is where I’m thankful for a home office. When I want computer time, I have to leave the living room and seclude myself. As a result, when there are people around I won’t hop online.

    We opted to avoid a landline phone and TV service, and instead kept the internet…but we’re both IT people with chronic stomach problems. Being able to remote in when one of us is home sick helps a great deal, and it can mean the difference between staying home in a snowstorm or driving on icy roads with idiots who shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car.

    • I wish we had room in our apartment for a home office! That’s one of the things I’m looking forward to most when we get a house.

      That’s a sweet reason to have internet! He works at the school I go to so we’re either with each other at school or with each other at home. And luckily there aren’t too many ice storms in Savannah.

      • And luckily there aren’t too many ice storms in Savannah.

        haha, VERY TRUE. we don’t get them often, but when we do, well, SNOWMAGEDDON.

      • Did you see the article a while back on converting a closet into an office? I don’t know if that would be an option for you, but I thought it was a fantastic idea for homes without a whole extra room.

        • I did! And I thought about it for a while. But unfortunately we don’t have a dresser or anything like that so our clothes have to be stored in the dresser. We have a little desk built into our living room that came with the apartment that I use. I think it’s sweet. I just wish I had a home office/craft room in its own room. Someday!

  4. My first reaction when I read the title of this was “No internet?!? NOOOOOOOO!!!” I, uh, might be addicted.

    I work from home and I do need a network connection for that but this is a good reminder that I don’t need to be “plugged in” as much as I am. Ariel did a series called “52 Nights Unplugged” a couple of years ago where she spent one night per week not using any type of electronic equipment. I think I should be able to manage that!

    • Cool! I shall have to go to the archives to find this. My husband and I finished our third night of our one night a week of computer-free living (source of t.v., general down-the-rabbit-hole stuff, and little interaction). We’ve been playing board games, reading and being a bit more aware of each other. I love it!

  5. We nixed the cable about 4 years ago…initially it was hard, but now it’s just part of life. Our guests, like family, miss it when they want to flip on the toob really fast to catch the score of a game or something, but its just not important enough for us to justify the cost of it each month. We have hulu plus and netflix and a dinosaur computer hooked up to our TV and that seems to get us through. Like so many of you above, we spend a lot more time together, talking, playing games, (having sex!) and actually being with guests when they come over.

  6. Unfortunately I just moved into an already established apartment and couldn’t very well tell my roomie to get rid of cable and internet. In my previous apartment (in Chicago), however, we did not pay for any cable/internet services. It’s such a waste of money and encourages you to rely too much on time-vampire shenanigans to keep yourself occupied rather than reading, socializing, crafting, etc.

    How did we manage? We used free wifi sources like the public library and cafes when needed. It also felt good to opt out of a system that quite frankly, charges way too much money to ambush the consumer with non-stop advertising. Most of the programming on cable TV sucks, why should I pay for it?

  7. Wi-Fi at coffee shops is NOT free! I was spending $40+ a month on that system when I was virtually homeless. Dropped that to $12 by splitting the Internet bill at a house where I couch surfed a lot (and subsequently moved in).

    • Oh, wow. I’m not sure where you’re at, but here in Savannah every coffee shop and a lot of grocery stores and fast food chains have free WiFi. I’m sorry it was so expensive for you, but I’m glad you’ve found a place where it’s affordable.

  8. We went unplugged at home for years (no Internet, no TV). It was awesome. I attend school online right now, but I would totally entertain going back to it. We checked emails and such at the library computers, and other than that, we talked (not texted) to people on the phone and wrote letters. I got a lot more done during the day, that’s for freaking sure!

  9. I actually miss dial-up Internet because I spent a -lot- less time on it, but my roommate would most likely lose her mind if I even suggested to go without it. I also miss not having cable, but since my fiance pays for it himself, I don’t think it’s fair to complain.

    However, I am going to do the “no-Internet day a week” stint. Maybe I’ll be able to get it down to three days a week!

  10. Kudos to this post! It’s not as scary as it sounds.

    I once went 3 years without internet or cable at home, simply because I could not afford it. This was also in the days before smart phones. I justified it by knowing I was at an office 8 hours a day with it, and with a little advance planning (writing down directions, making sure all emails were taken care of, having a phone book), I was actually very happy. (Living down the street from a Library gave me free movie rentals and emergency internet if I needed it.)

    It’s several years later, and my husband and I have internet… but I can honestly say that, barring using instant Netflix every now and then, I never get online at home. My smartphone is fine.

  11. Sounds good but with school age children, you need the internet readily available. They e-mail their papers in, use the internet to do homework, the school contacts you frequently by e-mail, their progress reports and assignments are online to be checked, you add money to their lunch cards via online too. When our internet has been out due to living in the country, we’ve had to go to town to use it in the early evening hours to try to get on, it was NOT fun.

    • That all happens on computers now?! That’s nuts. I just remember needing to type essays and really only needed the Internet in high school for research papers. I’m sure by the time I have children, they’ll need laptops in elementary school!

      I know there will be a time where the Internet will become a necessity. But for right now, this works for our little family of two!

  12. Phones (cell phone and landline)? Need them, for general communication needs and in case of emergency. Car? Don’t need one, my town has adequate public transit. Cable? Don’t need it, there is not enough on TV currently that I want to watch. Internet? I need it for school and work. I’m a TA and students need to be able to reach me, in addition to needing it for my own work. There are no video stores in my town, so if I want to watch movies or TV shows (without having cable) I need to have internet access.

    • Ah. I can see how it’s a necessity for you. We all need different things. I didn’t want to come across as a “No Internet” elitist. I just wanted people to see that in some situations, it really isn’t too bad to live without.

  13. Ooo, I would have a really hard time living without internet. Personal habits (read: addiction) aside, I need internet for school, but I could live happily without cable or a smartphone (both of which I have at the mo) and did until a few months ago.

  14. having an online business & needing skype to communicate w/ my family on the other side of the planet, it’s not an option. we went w/o it for the first few weeks we moved here, but i went crazy. we save money by not having a tv, cars, & crummy cell phones that look like they are from the 90s. ^_^

    plus, here internet is like $3 a month.

  15. I think it is great if people want to give up the internet at home (I totally wish I could!), and it CAN save you money. But – if you end up going to coffee shops a lot, or renting movies regularly, it can easily wind up being more $ than you would spend on home internet.
    There are plenty of reasons that these choices could be great for your lifestyle, it just might not ultimately save you money, unless you use free resources like the library for all your internet and movie needs.

    • Definitely. There is a Burger King within walking distance of our apartment with free WiFi and I never feel pressured to purchase anything while I’m there. I just hang out and use up their Internet. And we only rent a movie about once a week. They’re only 99 cents a night at our local video rental store!

      But it is easy to let your solutions to saving money turn into alternatives on where your money is going. By only really using the Internet at work and on campus, we’ve saved tons and have money going to things like our wedding.

  16. I can’t be the only one who’s still absolutely terrified by the thought of no internet at home, can I? No car, done, no tv, done, no internet? Aaagh. I’m addicted.

    • No, I’m another one who wouldn’t want to be without the internet. There are a lot of things I can and do go without – I’ve never owned a smart phone or car, only have a house phone because it made the internet cheaper and if it was up to me the TV would only get used for games consoles but the internet is the one thing I wouldn’t want to be without.

      Especially since I’m job hunting currently and so many jobs are only advertised online. There’s even some that only let you apply online. If I didn’t have home internet I’d be restricted to the one hour per day the local library allows or paying a fortune at an internet cafe and both seem counter-productive.

      That said I have gone without the internet for periods up to a few weeks and whilst I was doing different things I don’t think I was really any more productive. I have more than enough ways to waste time offline.

      • Those do seem like counter-productive options. In your case, I’d have the Internet at home too. I graduate in May so I know I’m going to have to start looking for jobs off-campus soon and I’m going to need the internet for that. Luckily our local library doesn’t have time restrictions on Internet access. That’s so weird to me that yours does. Not that I don’t believe you, I just think it’s different.

        • I think it’s something they brought in to stop people taking advantage. It’s free for anyone to use but of course they’re still paying for it. That and there’s only 10 computers in there.

          Between the two it was a big problem when people would be on there all day when they didn’t really need to be. This way if you plan ahead you can get some stuff done (I’ve used it when our internet was down) but you can’t just hang out on Facebook all day stopping other people from using a computer.

    • It was scary, believe me. I didn’t want to do it. But at the time we couldn’t afford a modem or router and I have a lot of issues with Comcast and they’re the only people we’d be able to get Internet service from. So we just went without and never really thought about it after we moved into our new place. Maybe if we had discussed it again after our initial move in, we would have gone for it. But now it’s so easy to go without it for us.

      I understand that not everyone can and it certainly varies based on each person’s individual circumstances. It just worked for us!

  17. Oh man, the thought of this makes my palms break out in a cold sweat. But I can see the merits. I’d love to do it at home, but right when we make plans to have the big unplug, something comes up, like forgetting where we put that cheesecake recipe, or sending grandma pictures of the baby, or reading the news, and then of course we can’t justify turning off the internet just yet. But it bothers me when my husband jumps online (for hours!) when I pause a movie for a few minutes to use the bathroom, or when I’m running late to work because I was browsing Pinterest. So I try to make a choice to unplug. The voluntary part keeps the shakes and anxious tummy at bay.

    • Certainly don’t feel like you NEED to give it up. I just wanted people to know that it is possible. And it’s interesting for us to live unplugged like this while everyone else we know is plugged in 24/7. Things like your examples happen and it’s different things for different circumstances. We all have necessities and they all vary from family to family. 🙂

  18. I think the cool thing to note from this article is, it’s a great idea to re-evaluate those ‘necessities’ periodically with a really critical eye. While some people can make it without the Internet, some can’t, but are good without TV or cars, etc. It’s all about the situation.

    And it’s important to remember that circumstances change! 🙂

  19. And see, the lovely and I were just celebrating finally being able to afford internet, because we’ve really been struggling without it. It means we spend less time together, because she has to stay on campus late to do all the homework that requires internet, and it means that I’ve been falling behind in all my work with church because I have so little time and moving ability to get to internet-places to do things like write emails and create Facebook events and reminders.

    We save our money by going without the car (part of why it was so hard to get to internet-places: the closest was a 20-minute walk away), and by careful apartment shopping – yes, we’re a 35 minute walk from campus, but we both have good healthy legs, and we’re right on the bus route for bad weather, even though the timing of the route isn’t great for things like classes. And being that far away means an economical apartment that’s actually in good clean condition instead of a dripping rathole.

    I applaud your determination, though. We tried to keep that spirit through the past few months when money was super-tight and the Big Internet Companies were jerking us around, but in the end this will be so much better.

  20. I haven’t had internet or cable (or its equivalent) ever since my divorce over 4 years ago. I miss TV a little and I miss the Internet a lot, but it’s saved me a ton of money since I’ve been living on my own. I don’t have a laptop so I can’t take my computer to places that have free wi-fi, but I do have an iPhone with an unlimited data plan, and I have internet access at work. Fortunately, my boss is totally cool with me staying after work to do Internet stuff. It’s a pain sometimes, but until I start making more money the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

    There was a period of time when my car had broken down and I broke my phone by dropping it. Living by myself for a couple months with no car (and useless public transit), no phone, and no internet was SO LONELY. Not to mention the fact that it was Autumn and I have a touch of seasonal affective disorder.

  21. Awesomely timed post. We are gearing up to get rid of our internet. Our local library has free wifi, as do a couple of cafes. We don’t have a TV (thus no cable) and have smartphones (no land line) and are tired of- 1) Coming home and just going auto pilot internet time and, 2) Paying the bill when we think the money can be more useful elsewhere. I’d been wondering if other folks had done it and lived to tell the tale. Thanks for the reassuring post:)

  22. I have not paid for Internet for the last five years. I’ve just never been able to afford it. And forget about cable.

    I am one of those bad people who steal wireless when I can. Let that be a warning to all of you with unprotected wireless. There are people like me who will not hesitate to steal.

    What we have now is stolen semi reliable wireless. We don’t use it to download or stream any music, and we don’t stream any TV because usually a couple of times each night the Internet freezes up and stops working.

    But to just be able to check email/Facebook/bank account info every day or so, it’s fine. Mr. Baditude and I both have Internet at work, so if we need something, we just do it there. No big deal.

  23. I lived cable and internet from from April 2008 until May 2010. The library is your entertainment, my friends, with the ability to rent movies, books, music, and even order it and get a call when it comes in!

  24. I think this is fantastic. Since my husband works from home (his company also pays for our internet) we wont be unplugging but it really has made me think about the amount of time I waste online. I should set myself a specific amount of time a day and then shut my lap top the rest of the time. I think the point more being to reduce my dependency. How much more would I get done??

  25. This post popped up because someone commented on it, and I’m kinda curious as to how old it is. Has the cost of home internet come down in the US? In the UK, it’s far more expensive to rely on mobile internet rather than wifi – my home internet bill is currently around £5 a month (on top of landline fees, but we do use the old relic occasionally!) whereas when it wasn’t working I was racking up £30+ a month on mobile internet, and that’s avoiding high data activities like streaming video. Equally, free wifi in cafes etc isn’t the norm here, and most places that do offer it will only give you the password if you buy something (and tut if you stop buying things, which is the British equivalent of throwing you out!).

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