Delaware is the second smallest state in the country, with a population of around 970k people and this number is slowly rising. Delaware is one of those states which many people who want to live off the grid overlook, mostly because the states on the east coast are not good for off grid living, mainly due to high taxes and the fairly expensive cost of living. Delaware stands out of the crowd with a cost of living and taxes similar to the southern states.
Living off the grid in Delaware is legal, this state is probably one of the best off grid living states located on the east coast. Although the cost of housing and land is right on the national average, but on the other hand the low property tax, no sales tax, and the overall low tax rates make Delaware a good off grid state. The main problems with this state are the aging population and the somewhat high crime rate in some of the areas.
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Delaware is leading when it comes to the quality of water on its shores, beaches are clean and not that overcrowded, although this state is not famous for its beaches for some reason, but trust me if you come from California than your jaw will drop at the sight of the clean beaches. Delaware is a great state for people who have retired, the taxes are fairly low, and there is no sales tax, this is why so many people choose this state to retire.
Delaware is one of the most fiscally stable states in the country, even though they do not raise a lot of money from the taxes, the local authorities manage with what they have. Now I know this doesn’t mean a lot to you, but a lot of states which are not fiscally stable spend more than they make, and this only ends up with less money in your pocket as the taxes will always increase. Although the local education system is not the best in Delaware, but this state has one of the best healthcare systems in the country, and a lot of people do work in the health care industry.
In some areas of the state the low taxes take a negative turn, some government agencies are fairly underfunded and you will see plenty of police vehicles that were made in the ’90s. Some might argue that due to the low taxes the crime is high, as the local authorities have a hard time handling everything with such a limited budget, on the other hand, the opioid crisis plays also a big part in the relatively high crime rate in this state. If you want to take a look at another state which is even smaller and located on the east coast then check out my recent article Off grid living in Rhode Island ( Size does matter! ).
The climate in Delaware is a typical one for the eastern coast which is humid subtropical, this basically means that summers tend to be fairly hot and the winters mild to cold. Delaware has a fairly high humidity all year round due to its close proximity to the ocean, due to this the weather tends to be unpredictable some of the time. The average summer temperatures are around 80°F and the average winter temperature is around 25°F. If you are looking for a state which has a milder climate then check out my recent article Off grid living in Alabama ( Heart of Dixie ).
Best crops to grow in Delaware
The most predominant crop grown in Delaware is corn, followed by wheat and soybeans. You will also see a lot of chicken farms in this state as this is one of the most valuable products they grow, in addition to this Delaware is also famous for its apples and cider, both of which you should try if you visit this state. Although you have some good options for growing crops in this state, but the main problem that you will face is finding cheap land which is suitable for growing crops, mostly due to the small size of the state. If you are not a big fan of the east coast climate then check out my recent article Off grid living in Florida ( The Sunshine State ).
Freshwater availability in Delaware
Delaware gets around 46″ of rainfall every year, this is typical for states located on the east coast. Freshwater is fairly abundant in this state and the best thing about it is that Delaware has one of the cleanest waters, both on the coast and inland. People who live off the grid in Delaware tend to use a well or simply harvest rainwater from their roofs.
Due to Delaware’s small size, there is only one type of animal which can be categorized as large, namely the white-tailed deer. You can also find raccoon, fox, mink, otter, and beavers in this state. The types of fish that you can find in this state are largemouth bass, panfish, shad, and red drum. The saltwater fish are black sea bass, snowy grouper, warsaw grouper, rock hind, and so on. Always check the local government website for both fishing and hunting licenses http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/fisheries/pages/newfishinglicense.aspx.
Generating power off the grid in Delaware
- Solar power: Delaware can be a great state to generate power with solar panels, as long as you are not too near the coast as the saltwater will corrode some of the solar panels. To get the solar system cheaper you can apply for a federal tax credit which is 30%, and you can also use the rebates that some of the counties offer. Unfortunately, currently, there are no statewide incentives for solar power.
- Wind power: As the state is on the coast the wind will be blowing almost constantly, to get the wind turbine setup cheaper you can apply for the federal tax credit and for the Green Grant Delaware but only if you are a Delmarva Power customer.
Delaware off grid laws
You can live off the grid legally in Delaware, although not a lot of people actually live off the grid in this state. Harvesting rainwater is also legal as long as you do not store massive quantities of water. As Delaware doesn’t have the best education system you will probably be better off homeschooling your children if you want to live off the grid in this state, the homeschooling laws are fairly relaxed and there are not so many requirements for the children.
Delaware road access
Due to its small size, Delaware has plenty of roads, although you will notice that the roads get significantly worse the closer you get to the coast, this is mostly because the saltwater corrodes the asphalt after long periods of time.
The unemployment rate in Delaware is around 3.7% and it is slowly growing, back in 2019 it was at around 3.2%, although this percentage is still below the national average of 4%. The minimum wage is at $8.75 which is above the national average of $7.25. The biggest industries where most of the people work in the healthcare, mining, agriculture, commercial fishing, and manufacturing industries. Do note that if you work in the IT field it is going to be fairly hard to find a job in this sector as Delaware doesn’t have any incentives for the IT industry.
Price of land in Delaware
The price of land is right on the national level, in general, the median house cost is around $230k both for the national average and for Delaware. When you compare Delaware to the other states on the east coast you will notice that most of the states on the east coast have around 40-70% higher prices for housing. Generally speaking, the cheapest lands are in the western part of the state and the highest prices are on the coast.
Delaware property tax
The property tax in Delaware is well below the national average, currently, the property tax is at 0.56% and the national average is at 1.08%. The county with the highest property tax is New Castle with 0.72% property tax. The property tax is well below the average of the east coast states, as some of them like Rhode Island have a fairly high property tax rate at around 1.66%.
Delaware cost of living
The cost of living in Delaware is just above the national average, you will pay for health care services with around 15% more and around 6% more for groceries and utilities than the national average. The only thing cheaper in Delaware is transportation for which you will pay around 5% less than the national average.
Delaware crime rate
Although the crime rate is somewhat higher than the national average there are some counties that drag this statistic down. The statewide crime rate is at 4.25 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is at around 4 crimes per 1000 people. The safest areas are around Hartly, Hockessin, Townsend, Houston, and Fenwick Island. The areas with the highest crime rate are Wilmington, New Castle, Milford, Seaford, Dover, and Rehoboth Beach.
Delaware natural disasters
The natural disasters in Delaware are tornadoes, storms, hurricanes, thunderstorms, winter storms, and floods. The natural disasters which occur quite frequently are winter storms and thunderstorms, this is due to the close proximity of the ocean which can make the weather fairly unstable sometimes.
Overall Delaware is a good off grid state, excellent healthcare system, low taxes although with a fairly high crime rate. If you love nature you will love Delaware, and the beaches are some of the cleanest in the entire country.