Oregon’s Real-Life Hobbit Has Been Living Under a Hill for Over Two Decades

Dan Price, a former photojournalist from Kentucky, gave up his successful career to live in a dugout on the side of a hill in rural Oregon. He’s been living there for over 20 years and has no interest in going back to his old life.

Once a successful but stressed out photojournalist and family man, Dan Price got tired of the never-ending rat-race in 1990, after reading a 1974 book called Payne Hallow, about the rejection of modernity in favor of a primitive, more simple lifestyle. Up to that point he had considered waking up and going to work just to pay the bills a normal life, but after reading Harlan Hubbard’s book, he realized he wanted more, or rather, less. So he just quit his job, left his family behind and returned to his home state of Oregon to live by himself, in a meadow.

Photo: Nicolas Boullosa/Flickr

“I don’t believe in houses or mortgages,” Price said in a 2015 interview. “Who in their right mind would spend their lifetime paying for a building they never get to spend time in because they are always working?”

At first, he lived in a tepee, then he built himself a small dome and lived in it for a few years. Then he spent a few years sleeping mountain tents, before upgrading to a small birch hut, and finally moving to his hobbit-like hole in the ground dug into the side of a hill overlooking a peaceful meadow. He’s been living there for well over two decades now.

Price’s wood-lined, carpeted 8-foot hobbit dwelling apparently has everything he needs, from a rolling sleeping cushion, to a hot plate for cooking and ceramic heater, in case the winter becomes too cold to bear. He claims living underground allows him to spare a small fortune on heating in the cold season and air-conditioning in the summer, as the temperature tends to stay constant. That in turn allows him to stick to a self-imposed $5000 a year budget.

$5000 doesn’t sound like a lot of money, considering what people usually pay on rent, but Dan Price pays just $100 a year on his hole in the ground, so that leaves plenty to spend on electricity, gadgets like an iPad and a MacBook Air, and even a $53 cellphone plan.

“I like being able to do what I want to do,” Price says. “When you get rid of things and you’re willing to have less, you’re given a gift of more.”