Yeah i guess *off grid* is relative. Coming out of Singapore just looking forward to unplugging a bit and going back to nature. Eventually would be nice to literally go off grid (as much as possible) in terms of solar and food to some extent water. its not a comment on the hochschwarzwald but just a personal preference.
Not our first go round being an expat. We will do our best to integrate realizing there will be those who are simply not interested in getting to know us not matter how often we go to church or volunteer or visit their shops or groups our kids share experiences in. that is fine. Most will though. I am cautiously optimistic. My experience is that a big part of locals not wanting to form relationships with expats is the expectation of expats leaving in 2-3 years. We don't plan on leaving the area but true we will have to see what the reality of life on the ground is like.
Really at this point establishing a home base in Germany, Europe in general, is for the kids not for me. My time has come and gone and realize the last 30 years or so of my life won't be in a place that is native to me. I will always be the auslander/outsider simply because I spent 40 years as an American. Those are hard habits/biases to break. It's more than just speaking a language. We are basically reversing what our great-grandparents did and going back to Europe. The kids will have a better chance (we feel) at a good quality of life in Europe than America is basically what it comes down to. Doesn't mean I can't enjoy cross country skiing, hiking, biking and local people/customs though while we are there. FWIW our landlord has been incredibly helpful and understanding during our search for an apartment so we will take that as a good sign.
A different conversation but my feeling is that America is on the brink of failing. Socially, politically, economically. Tomorrow, 5 years, 10 years. we had a good run but nothing lasts forever. Add to that climate change and a pandemic, well yeah not so optimistic