Starting a homestead has its fair share of challenges, and starting an off grid homestead is even more difficult. Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of off grid homesteaders and for the most part, they do manage to live fairly comfortably. Homesteading is mostly about growing your own food with some self-reliance, on the other hand off grid homesteading is about self-reliance in terms of food, water, power, and waste disposal.
You can start an off grid homestead by finding suitable land for growing crops and where you have the possibility to harvest rainwater and generate power relatively easily. You should definitely start a small homestead, rather than a large one as a small off grid homestead will cost you a lot less money and you will have a far easier time maintaining it. Once you have set up the homestead you should start growing crops as fast as possible because it will take some time until you figure out what grows well in your area.
An off grid homestead needs a backup generator, as it can be a lifesaver one day, my personal recommendation is to use one that has at least 3000 running watts, has dual-fuel capability, can be easily transported, and most importantly it has a good price to power ratio Click here to check it out on Amazon.com
Most people confuse the two terms, homesteading and off grid living, these are not interchangeable terms, although they tend to be fairly similar but they do have differences. People who are homesteading do not necessarily live off the grid, although a lot of them do it eventually. On the other hand, people who live off the grid on a homestead will mostly rely on their own power, water, waste treatment, and other things that a lot of people take for granted.
A lot of people who start an off grid homestead simply do not have the option to live connected to the grid, mostly because a lot of homesteads are in rural or in remote areas where access to the power grid is fairly limited. There are some homesteaders who do live in close proximity to the power grid, but they choose to live off the grid as it saves them a lot of money in the long run. No matter what kind of homestead you want to start, either off or on grid you will need to make some sacrifices and some investments.
The good news is that starting an off grid homestead is mostly about hard work and not about a massive financial investment. Although you will need to invest in some things, like solar panels, rainwater harvesting system, composting toilet, and in the actual homestead. If you have no money to invest in your homestead then you should probably check out my recent article How to start a homestead with no money ( In 9 Steps ).
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Find suitable land for off grid homesteading
Not all land is suitable for off grid homesteading, as there are a lot of things which you have to consider. Far too many people choose a plot of land based on how the scenery looks or how cheap it is, and in the long, this will be a massive mistake. Living off the grid in a homestead is hard work and you should want to make everyday life as easy for yourself as possible. There is no point in choosing a beautiful plot of land if in the area the yearly rainfall is fairly low and the closest water source is a couple of miles away.
First and foremost you should think of the local climate, this will dictate what kind of shelter you can make and what crops you can grow. Remember that in areas with harsh winter conditions you will use firewood for heating and you should have the possibility to get the firewood from your own lands. In addition to this, you have to take a look at the fertility of the soil, the more fertile the lands are the easier will it be to grow crops.
The land should also have at least some kind of road access, usually off grid homesteads will have either a dirt road or a path. If you want to generate your own power with solar panels then you have to calculate how much power your family uses per day, then calculate how long the sun shines every day, and depending on the type of solar panel you want to use you can also calculate how many solar panels you need to generate a set amount of wattage. If you want to know more about what kind of land is good for off grid living thence check out my recent article What land is good for off grid living? ( Top 15 Qualities ).
Water for the off grid homestead
Your main priority should be to have water, either from a local stream or from harvesting rainwater. Although this will mostly depend on the land which you want to use to homestead. This is why I put the finding suitable land part on the top of this list. For the most part, most people who live in an off grid homestead will harvest rainwater, and this is by far the easiest way of getting water, although how much rainwater you can harvest will depend on the local climate and the local laws.
For the most part, you are able to harvest rainwater in most states although in some of them there are certain restrictions and regulations both on how much rainwater you can harvest and how you actually use it. These restrictions are mostly in areas where the climate is fairly arid, so if you live in the northern parts of the country then you shouldn’t have any problems.
Building the off grid homestead
When it comes to building the off grid homestead you have plenty of options, my personal recommendation is to start as small as possible. The smaller the homestead is the easier it will be to maintain, the faster it will be to build, and most importantly it will cost a lot less money. A lot of homesteaders start with a smaller shelter which they expand in the future or they simply build a new and bigger homestead somewhere else on the same plot of land.
Future-proofing is a good thing, but with a homestead you have to be as efficient as possible, there is simply no point in building a large homestead for 3-5 people when only two people live in it currently. When making the house make sure to build the roof in such a way that you can use it to collect rainwater, and find a designated area where you will place the solar panels, either on the roof or on the ground. One of the cheapest ways to build a house is by using a prefab house, for more information check out my recent article Top 12 Prefab off grid homes ( With Prices ).
Generating power off the grid for the homestead
Generating power is optional, some homesteaders do generate their own power while others simply do not bother with it. It really depends on you if you want to generate power or not, some people manage to have a fairly comfortable life even without having any power, on the other hand for some people living without power can be challenging to say the least. If you decide to generate your own power then you only have two real options, using solar panels or a wind turbine.
Generally speaking in the southern parts of the country solar panels work the best, the days are long and the sun shines almoust all day long. On the other hand in the other parts of the country, the days during the wintertime are fairly short and this could mean a reduction of around -50% of wattage. People who live in the northern areas either use a small wind turbine or a combination of wind turbine and solar panels.
Off grid homestead farming
Ideally, you should start to grow your own crops as soon as possible, if you are new to off grid homesteading then odds are that you will have some difficulties growing crops in the first year. This is normal as it takes time until you learn how to grow crops on your own land. Although growing crops is not rocket science but every place is different both in terms of climate and soil fertility, in some areas you will need to make compost to grow anything.
The good news is that making compost is fairly easy, while in some areas you will be able to grow crops without using compost but if you live in an area close to a forest then you definitely need to use compost. Even homesteaders who live in the middle of the woods can grow crops fairly successfully in a forest clearing with some high-quality compost.
Preserving food off the grid
Once you are able to grow some crops or raise some livestock you have to think about how will you preserve the food. The problem with living off the grid is that you most likely will not be able to generate enough power to run a large freezer, and even if you do if something goes wrong with the batteries or the solar panels for a couple of days all the contents of the freezer will go bad. Ideally, you should focus on ways to preserve food that do not need electricity such as canning, curing, salting, and smoking.
One of the most useful skills which you should learn is to can food, this will save you a lot of money in the long run and I promise you that you will actually enjoy canning after a while. The best part about canning food is that you only need a couple of utensils, and space to store the canned foods at a stable temperature, and the canned foods will last for years once they are stored correctly.
As you can see setting up an off grid homestead is not that difficult, the main difference between a traditional homestead and an off grid one is that the off grid homestead has to be self-sufficient in terms of water, generating power, disposing of waste, and growing crops. Setting up a homestead takes a long time, so do not hurry, remember life is a marathon and not a race.