5 Tips for Getting Started Living Off-Grid
Off-grid living is something that has happened for generations, but in the current economic climate, more people are considering getting back to basics to try and live a more sustainable life, without having to rely on power, food, and water provided by the system.
For some, off-grid living is a way to get away from ‘the man,’ living a more primitive lifestyle as something that is like a political protest. Others are all about being ‘prepared’ for living in some type of apocalyptic future, whether that is through an environmental disaster or some form of political upheaval.
When it comes to off-grid living, however, most people are getting into the life to reduce their reliance on resources, and even producing more resources than they are using. Generating their own power, rearing livestock, and growing food to be more sustainable, reducing their footprint on the ecosystem.
If living off-grid sounds like it could be the future for you and your family, there are a few things you should think about.
Location, Location, Location
The US is vast expanse, with climates that vary from arid deserts to snowy mountains and everything in between, so choosing where you want your homestead should be one of the first considerations.
According to HomeAdvisor, the most popular place for off-grid living in the Instagram fraternity is California, but other places might be more suitable.
Whichever state you choose, you will have to ensure that you meet the local conditions and bear in mind things like licenses, property taxes and zoning laws.
Your homestead should have easy access to resources like running water, fertile soil, and trees. You will want to be able to access it by road freely too, and while you might want to get away from civilization it is prudent to be sure that you are not too far away from necessary resources like a hospital and a grocery store at least.
You are not likely to be able to create a self-sufficient home in a suburb or a city, so you will want to look at rural areas.
You could try:
- Farmhouses and cabins already built; just need retrofitting with solar panels etc.
- Self-build, with the help of an experienced off-grid contractor or DIY.
- Prefabricated buildings (such as Quonset hut kits)
- On-the-road living in an RV or campervan
- Joining an established off-grid community (like Earthship Biotecture in New Mexico)
Power, Water, Waste
The easiest way to generate power is through solar panels. You will want to hook up some kind of backup power source, perhaps using a wind turbine or making use of running water nearby with a mini hydropower turbine.
Get a professionally drilled well for the most reliable and safe water, use drums and barrels to collect rainwater for gardening, washing clothes and in toilets. You can also get Premium Legionella Services to check your water systems for legionella bacteria.
A septic tank installation will collect toilet waste but remember that it will periodically need residential septic tank pumping services. On average, a properly installed and well-maintained septic tank can last 20 to 30 years. Concrete septic tanks, the most common tank type found today, can last quite a long time. Generally speaking, concrete tank owners don’t need to think about septic tank replacement hassles for about 20 to 30 years. That being said, issues could still arise, which is why you should call septic tank services and have them do a thorough check up, maintenance and cleaning every so often. This will prevent you from running into issues, in some cases without much warning.
You’ll want to create a kitchen garden to grow your own vegetables and herbs. You might have the space to raise livestock, or you may be able to hunt, trap and fish for your protein needs. Research the wild food you will be able to gather to be sure that it is safe to eat.
It is perfectly normal for an off-grid family to supplement their self-sufficiency with a trip to the grocery store.
Even off-grid living needs some money – specially to start with – so be sure to have a nice nest egg saved up so you can afford the cash to get started and keep going.
Off-grid neighbors might exchange and barter goods for services but try to ensure that you have between six months and a year’s worth of your annual salary available just in case something goes wrong.
You can get creative with ways to make money – why not sell handmade goods, or write a book about your experiences?
Off-grid living can be a gamechanger for some people, as long as you do your research and know what you need to do to be successful.