If you love nature, camping, and getting back to the basics, then off grid living probably sounds pretty appealing.
It provides you the opportunity to use survival and problem-solving skills in your daily life while also living in the most sustainable way possible.
While off grid living isn’t for everyone, it could certainly be for you.
Read these 12 things you must know before getting started.
1. You need to know what it means to participate in off grid living
Living off the land means you survive only by the resources that can be harvested from the land you own.
So, think food, water, and power.
You’ll be hunting and foraging to ensure that you have the best possible outcome.
It can be a rewarding way to live, but it isn’t always an easy transition if you’ve lived in a traditional neighborhood thus far.
Make sure you read through this entire blog post, so you know whether or not you’re ready for this adventure.
2. You’ll need at least these three basic necessities for off grid living
You can’t go off the grid without the three basic necessities: water, food, and shelter.
We’ll talk a little bit about each one.
When you’re on the grid, you don’t have to worry about finding your own water.
You just turn on the tap, and there you have it!
Public utilities or a well provides water whenever you need it.
When you live off grid, however, you have to know how to bring water to your home.
There are a few options.
Use wind, solar, or other alternative power to pump freshwater to your home (if you are near a water source)
Solar-powered desalination (if you are near saltwater)
Water is a resource that you simply can’t live without.
Finding a way to not only have water when you need it but store it so you can have it on demand is essential.
Next on the list is food.
Just like water, you need food almost every single day.
Although you can survive without it longer, you don’t want that to be the norm.
Living off grid means you’ll turn into a hunter-gather.
You’ll pick up skills like hunting, fishing, gardening, farming, composting, and land management (if you didn’t already have them).
If some of those words have you scratching your head, start doing research now!
The more knowledgeable you are about what’s coming, the better!
What comes to mind when someone says “shelter”?
Is it a tent?
A warm cozy house with a roaring fire?
Everyone has their own idea of what their minimal shelter is, but one thing is certain, you have to stay safe from the elements.
Cold, rain, wind, snow, and extreme heat won’t be kind to you when you’re living off grid.
You have to learn how you can stay alive with the little that you have and that means protecting yourself.
You need to have a reliable roof over your head as well as cold-weather gear, warm-weather gear, fire-starters, and security from intruders and wild animals.
Don’t leave anything to chance!
3. You need to decide where to live
Did you know that some states are better or worse for off grid living?
If you dream of going off grid in your home state, one of the first things you need to know is that it could be illegal.
Many American cities and states have deemed it unlawful for you to entirely remove yourself from the grid.
So, you need to make sure you do research on a specific area before you decide you’re suddenly going off the grid.
To help give you some ideas of where people have gone off grid, however, we’ll list out the top 10 states for off grid living.
Just make sure you read the fine print before you attempt to go yourself!
Alaska is the perfect state for off grid living because the population density is low, and there is an abundance of resources (animals, fish, wood, rainfall).
However, beware of the cold and long winter.
If you’re not a person who loves cold weather, then it may not be for you.
You have to go into off grid living in Alaska prepare for the winter.
The laws in Nevada are fairly relaxed as far as off grid living is concerned.
You’ll be able to find relatively cheap land, and the warm weather takes care of any cold winter concerns.
Although, you will run into problems when it comes to growing crops and finding sufficient water.
Montana has relaxed laws and abundant resources.
You’ll find a low population density with plenty of water.
However, the winters are cold, and the property taxes are higher than average.
Texas is ideal for growing crops due to its long growing season.
It also has some of the most relaxed laws of any states regarding off grid living and gun ownership.
That said, you may find it difficult to find a freshwater source, and you’ll have to invest in a way to store it properly because it can evaporate quite in the arid environment.
Of all the off grid living states, Tennessee is one of the few that sees all four seasons.
You’ll be able to hunt, raise livestock, and grow crops if you choose to call Tennessee home.
While laws are relaxed in regard to off grid living, you can’t legally collect and use your own rainwater.
Fortunately, water is abundant here, so you can find freshwater springs to use instead.
The one thing to be wary of when it comes to Tennessee is the tornados that rip through the area from time to time.
Oregon is friendly with the idea of off grid living.
In fact, there are even off grid communities in Oregon like Three Rivers Recreational Area.
Though the property tax is higher, there is plenty of freshwater and wild game, which makes it an attractive option.
The laws in Idaho regarding off grid living aren’t as relaxed as in some of the other states on this list.
That said, as long as you inform yourself about local water rights and prepare yourself for the climate, you should be just fine.
Idaho also has plenty of fish and wild game, so you’ll always have food.
Wyoming has a low cost of living compared to other states, but it has a higher than average property tax.
The semi-arid state has long winters and short summers, which means you could have trouble finding water.
The state has placed restrictions on collecting your own rainwater.
Not only is off grid living legal in Missouri, but there are no laws against collecting rainwater and no requirements for septic systems.
You’ll be able to farm through the short and mild winter and have access to both water and wild animals.
The laws in Ohio are relaxed due to the Amish communities that live in Ohio.
The state has low taxes, cheap land and a long growing season, which means you can be quite successful.
The one thing to look out for is the risk of floods and earthquakes.
Arizona has cheap land and a lot of potential to generate solar power.
The weather can be milder depending on the area you choose to live in.
However, you’ll run into a lack of water and a lack of resources (like wood).
So, you’ll need to figure out how to address those issues before committing to Arizona.
Who wouldn’t want to live off grid in Hawaii?
Hawaii is an incredibly expensive place to live off grid because of the cost of land as well as the living cost.
However, once you’ve adjusted to these the local resources, mild climate, and ability to generate electricity can truly give back to you.
No laws will prevent you from living off grid in Hawaii – just those high taxes!
With a temperature climate and abundant resources, Washington State is ready to welcome you home.
However, if you choose to go with Washington State, you’ll have to adjust to the high population density, strict building codes, expensive land, high taxes, and high cost of living.
Yeah…maybe not the best spot to live off grid after all.
4. Don’t forget about power
While you’ve probably spent a week or two without power while camping, it isn’t just convenient to live without power long-term.
And yes, you’re probably thinking, “No, I can do it!”
And you’re welcome to try.
But it’s downright unsafe to do so.
At a bare minimum, you need an electric system for light, even if you use an alternative system for heating and cooking (such as a wood-burning stove).
You can’t be wondering where your next meal will be coming from.
This results in most people deciding to go with one of three renewable energy routes: solar, hydropower, or wind.
While most people are familiar with solar options that plug into the grid, there are plenty of off grid ones as well.
So using solar panels for off grid living is a popular choice.
Photovoltaic (PV) panels are a great choice because they are clean, noiseless, durable, long-lived, and relatively maintenance-free.
Occasionally, you’ll have to clean out some dirt from the moving parts, but that’s about it.
Plus, solar panels can currently help provide tax credits, which means they’re a great investment.
In 2020, the investment tax credit (ITC), or federal solar tax credit, allows you to deduct 26 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes.
This applies to both residential and commercial systems.
However, once 2021 hits, you’ll only be able to deduct 22 percent.
In 2022 and beyond, it’ll only be 10 percent.
This means it’s advantageous for you to act on this sooner rather than later.
If you have running water on your property (even a small mountain stream), then a microhydropower system can bring power to your off the grid living arrangement.
The U.S. Geological Survey or U.S. Department of Agriculture will have data on your stream’s flow, which can help you evaluate if it’s enough for your needs.
Keep in mind that you’ll need a properly sized generator, battery bank, and ample piping to get from intake to turbine.
You should also contact your state’s energy office to ask how much water you’re allowed to divert from your channel.
To power off grid living with wind, a home typically needs an average minimum annual wind speed of 9 mph and a turbine rated for 5 to 15 kilowatts.
To find the average annual wind speed in your area, you can check the Department of Energy Wind Resource maps for your state.
If possible, you can invest in direct monitoring (wind measurement systems start at $600 to $1,200, or you can build your own).
This will help you get the best idea of what to expect with your local terrain when installing a tower.
A biogas generator is powered by the gas produced by decomposing organic matter.
This means you can use your food and yard waste to generate electricity!
To do so, you will first need to build or buy a digester to produce the biogas.
Then you just need to find a generator that is compatible with the biogas.
On top of this, you can also use this gas to fuel your stove!
5. You’ll want to learn as much as you can about off grid power
Above, we’ve included a brief (and we mean BRIEF) summary about the off grid power options.
While this should get you started, it in no way really prepares you for what you need to know about the power systems for off grid living.
You’ll need to read up on everything from solar panels to inverters to charge panels to batteries and generators.
And don’t stop there!
You’ll need to first calculate your estimated home energy needs and from there build a system that works for your needs.
Be sure you also think about a backup plan for days when your solar system can’t produce enough electricity (generators and wood-burning stoves are common options).
If you’re a “figure it out in the moment” type of person, then we’re here to tell you to do a little bit more planning right now.
Sure, it’s not as fun or care-free, but it can provide a more realistic idea of what off grid living is like.
You want to be prepared in all situations, and you never want to be caught off-guard.
6. You’ll want to invest in the best off grid supplies
If you’ve ever been camping without the proper gear, you know this can make or break your experience.
Having the best off grid supplies will help you started on the right foot.
Although part of your motivation for going off grid may be saving money, your gear isn’t somewhere to go cheap.
Here is a list of Essentials for Easy Off-the-Grid Living to help you get an idea.
7. You’ll want to get fit
When you live off grid, you have to be physically active every single day, and this is different than most American’s daily lives.
For those who sit at a desk job from 9 to 5, living off grid can be a challenge.
It requires a certain level of physical strength to hunt, gather, cook, and more.
You’ll want to strengthen your arms, legs, back, and abs as much as you can before you head off the grid.
Any exercise that can help you mimic upcoming chores should help you prevent injury (which is your goal!).
Build that upper body and core strength now and thank yourself later!
8. You need to learn how to live sustainably
Off grid living is incredibly sustainable.
Many people go off grid specifically to reduce their carbon footprint or to eliminate the expense of the fixed utility grid.
Whatever your original reasoning was, now that you’re here, it’s generally not acceptable to be wasteful when you’re relying on nature for everything.
Read this blog for more on the 17 Top Green Products and Green, Eco-Gadgets for Off-Grid Living.
9. You’ll want to follow these off grid living YouTubers
Not ready to jump in yourself yet?
YouTube has become a place where people showcase their off grid lifestyles.
By watching how other people live their daily life, you may become more accustomed to the idea yourself or learn tips and tricks of how you’ll need to adjust.
Here are just some of the off grid or homesteading videos you can watch.
10. You can get ideas from these off grid living magazines
Are you looking for a magazine filled with all the tips and tricks that you can’t find online?
RECOIL OFFGRID is one magazine subscription that you may consider as you prepare to go off grid (not sure how you can keep this up once you’re somewhere mail doesn’t deliver!).
You can take a look at their website here to see if you’d like a subscription.
11. You should learn how to do daily things off grid
Did you think, “Wait, so how do I get my mail off grid if the Post Office won’t come to me?”
This is one of those “daily things” that many don’t consider until they have to put a forwarding address and realize that USPS, FedEx, Amazon, etc. don’t deliver to where they’re going.
It can be startling to say the least.
When you think about living off the grid, you think about all the good stuff.
Getting in touch with nature, being more sustainable, seeing the stars at night.
Perhaps you haven’t thought about any of the lost conveniences.
However, just like those who live in RVs or travel full-time, you’ll need to have a back-up plan.
The mail is just one example, but it’s a great example of the big picture.
Most people will think, “Most of what comes in the mail every day could be an email. I can get everything online.”
And this is true.
But will you have access to the internet?
Will you keep your cell phone service if someone needs to call you?
These are two other things you need to decide!
What about the few and far between items that MUST come in the mail?
What will you do then?
A lot of people living off the grid will either get a P.O. box that they’ll visit periodically, or they’ll work with a family member to forward their most important mail to their address.
This way, you’ll still have access to any must-have items, but you don’t have to worry about receiving daily items.
Don’t forget to think about those small “daily” things that you don’t think are a huge deal.
The first time you need to figure them out in off grid living can feel pretty inconvenient.
Having a plan can make everything a lot smoother.
12. You’ll want to form a community
Most people don’t recognize how lonely homesteading and off grid living can be before they do it.
These ways of life are all about self-sufficiency.
You’re feeding yourself.
You’re sheltering yourself.
If you’re a people person, this can get pretty lonely.
You can plan this lifestyle and be really enthusiastic about it until the loneliness hits.
So, before you take the leap, take a moment to think about how you’ll integrate your community.
Will you have a spouse doing it with you?
Will your family come and visit every few months?
Will you go to them?
Will you have neighbors?
Will you still be involved in some sort of local activities that support your off grid living?
For example, will you part take in a seed swap that helps you grow your garden but still allows you to socialize?
Get creative! You can want to live this lifestyle and not want to be lonely.
People want to live off grid because they love the idea of being self-reliant and living simply.
However, the best way to do this is to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing before you start doing it.
Do your research.
This can’t be emphasized enough.
Living off grid and making mistakes can be both dangerous and costly.
So, don’t be one of those people who doesn’t know what they’re getting into or doesn’t build the proper support network.
Many people jump right into off grid living because it seems exciting.
However, waiting until you’re more knowledgeable will make you more successful and improve your experience.
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Disclaimer: we are not lawyers, accountants or financial advisors and the information in this article is for informational purposes only. This article is based on our own research and experience and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date, but it may contain errors. Please be sure to consult a legal or financial professional before making any investment decisions.
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