One of the classic ways of escaping from mainstream society is to join a commune. A commune is a form of intentional community in which income, property and possessions are shared, and decisions are collaborative.
There are two methods to become a member of a commune - you can join an existing commune, or you could start your own.
To join an existing commune, you'll first need to research which existing communes will fill your needs. The Fellowship for Intentional Community has quite a long list of existing communes (directory.ic.org/records/commu…), but it is by no means complete, and a google search may be a better method of finding nearby places.
After selecting a few places that seem to fit the bill, the next step is to research these places. For starters, you may be able to find more information on the internet - make sure to look at unofficial sources as well as official ones, as unofficial information is more likely to offer a frank opinion on the lifestyle you can expect. After that, you may want to visit the commune and ask questions of the people living there.
Here's a few things to look out for:
* Make sure that commune decisions actually do involve the entire community, and not just a small group - living within a dictatorship is not an ideal lifestyle. A good idea is to ask to sit in on one of the group meetings, ask see how things are done.
* Try to find out as much as you can about the culture, work division, and living arrangements.
* Many communes can be based around strict religious doctrine, or have other ideals that may make the lifestyle difficult - make sure to find out what ideals the commune is founded on.
* See if you can find someone to talk you through an average day at the commune - what tasks need doing, how much leisure time is available, and any other group activities.
* At this stage, be very aware that you don't know the people very well, and don't give away personal information (i.e. date of birth, mothers maiden name, etc), credit card details, drivers licence numbers, or anything else that could be used for identity theft or false loans.
If you find somewhere that seems ideal, the next thing to do is find out about joining requirements. Many communes change a land-sharing fee to join, which can be quite expensive (looking through a sample, the fees can be between $5,000-$20,000 - although there are no set rules, and fees may be much more expensive, much cheaper, or even free).
Finally, if everything seems to be in order, you can decide whether or not to take the final step. Find out first if the group offers a trial membership, and if so, make sure to take full advantage of this by putting off selling property, quitting jobs and tying up other loose ends until you've committed fully to the idea - after a week or two, you may decide the life doesn't suit you after all, and you'll want something to go back to.
The other option is to start your own commune - all this requires is a suitable block of land, enough resources or capital to supply them with basic living supplies (food, clothing, etc) and a group of people with similar lifestyle ideals. The most common idea of a commune is an agricultural community supplying its own food, but this doesn't mean you need to limit yourself to this idea - there is no reason that members of a commune can't run a business, have ordinary jobs, or get supplies by any other method. Simply think of the lifestyle you'd like, how this could be acheived as a group, and go from there - all that's really required is a pooling of resources and a commitment to group decision making.
Like a lot of these options, very few people will actually be interested in doing this - but it's good to know the option is out there...