In a world dominated by bustling cities and modern conveniences, some individuals choose to step away from the chaos and embrace a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle. Robert Breton, a 35-year-old TikToker, did just that when he left behind his life as a supermarket cashier in Northern California to live in a self-built treehouse nestled in the heart of a Hawaiian jungle.
His journey began in 2011 when he embarked on a cross-country adventure in a van, searching for the perfect location to create his unconventional home.
Driven by a deep desire to preserve nature and disconnect from the trappings of modern society, Robert has been living remotely since 2011.
Using his monthly earnings from TikTok, he was able to purchase a quarter of an acre of land in Hawaii in 2020, along with the necessary building materials, amounting to approximately Rs 24.62 lakh. For the next two years, he dedicated his time and efforts to constructing his dream dwelling – a 200-square-foot treehouse that stands 40 feet above the ground.
Contrary to what one might expect, Robert's treehouse is not a rudimentary structure lacking basic amenities. It is a fully functioning home equipped with a shower, toilet, bedroom, and living area. With hot water, double glazing, and even Wi-Fi, the treehouse offers a comfortable and sustainable living space.
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Robert's ingenuity extends to his food supply as well. He grows and consumes over half of his food in his own greenhouse, fostering a deep connection with the land he now calls home.
Reflecting on his journey, Robert shares glimpses of his unconventional lifestyle on TikTok, where he has amassed an impressive following of over 840,000 followers.
His motive is simple: to inspire others to reconnect with nature and appreciate its beauty. Beyond social media, Robert sustains his livelihood through his online presence and his supplement business, New Earth Organic.
When asked about his unique abode, Robert expresses his contentment, stating, "The treehouse is my living space, and I have a bedroom, kitchen, living room, and bathroom. It's definitely liveable, beautiful, and functional." By collecting rainwater off the roof for drinking and utilizing solar panels for electricity, he has managed to minimize his ecological footprint.
Robert's journey hasn't been without its challenges. Adjusting to his new lifestyle initially posed some difficulties. He recalls not being able to order pizza delivery, arrange trash pick-up, or have mail delivered to his house.
However, these challenges served as reminders of the need for conscious waste management. Robert has embraced composting and strives to generate minimal waste. He believes that individuals have a responsibility to be mindful of their trash, the water they consume, and the food they grow.
With his treehouse as a foundation, Robert envisions continuing this way of life, even with a family. His aspiration is to teach, learn, and live a life of sustainability.
Building his treehouse in compliance with safety regulations, Robert ensured its structural integrity while avoiding the need for a permit due to the location falling within a "non-regulated agricultural zone."
Recalling the construction process, he mentions, "So it was a matter of slowly building the structure, and then getting the foundation and the walls, and then the metal roof took many months. As soon as that was up, I could start living inside, so many meals and nights were spent outside just under the stars and the rain."
Robert cleared the land without resorting to heavy machinery or a bulldozer. The entire project cost him approximately Rs 12.25 lakh.