Massachusetts has a rich history and the scenery in some areas it is simply breathtaking, although these are not the most important things for which you should look for in a good off grid state. At the first glance, Massachusetts doesn’t seem to be a good off grid living state, and there are a lot of reasons why this is the case. Located on the east coast, Massachusetts has a population of 6.9 million people, although Massachusetts is in the top 10 states from where people are moving out.
You can live off the grid legally in Massachusetts, generally speaking, this is not a good state for off grid living mostly because of the high cost of living, high property taxes, and the 70% higher property costs than the national average. On the other hand, if you have the money then you can easily set up an off grid homestead, but the taxes are gonna start stinging eventually.
If you want to live off the grid in Massachusetts then your biggest issue will be with heating during the wintertime, my personal recommendation is to use an electric space heater as a backup Click here to check it out on Amazon.com
The main reason why so many people are moving out of Massachusetts is because of the high cost of living, on the other hand, people who move to this state do it because of jobs. Massachusetts is ranked the second state with the highest suicide rates in the country, although the vast majority of suicides do happen near and in the bigger cities. The size of the state is fairly small although there are 5 cities with a population of over 100k, the biggest city in Massachusetts is Boston with around 670k people.
The second-largest city is Worcester with 185k followed by Springfield 155k, Lowell 110k, and Cambridge with 110k people. There are a lot of smaller cities that do have between the 50k-90k population, and most of the population lives in one of these cities. Generally speaking in the western part of the state you will find smaller cities and towns than on the coast. There are two big positives in this state, namely, the education and the healthcare systems are top-notch, although somewhat pricy.
One of the main reasons why Massachusetts is not a good state for off grid living is because of its geographical position, it is fairly up north which means the climate will be harsh, especially during the wintertime. As it is located on the coast the humidity is also fairly high and this high humidity level is persistent in the entire state not only on the eastern part of it. If you are looking for a state that has a fairly similar climate but it is a lot cheaper than Massachusetts then check out my recent article Off grid living in North Dakota ( Peace Garden State ).
Massachusetts has a humid continental climate, which means that the humidity will be fairly high both during the summer and during the wintertime. The average temperature during the summertime is around 75°F and during the wintertime, it is around 16 °F. Due to the windchill affect the temperature during the wintertime will feel a lot lower than it actually is. The highest ever recorded temperature in this state was 107°F in 1975 and the lowest one was -35°F in 1981.
If you come from the southern part of the country then the first thing you will notice is the high humidity, although this isn’t a big problem during the summertime but during the wintertime, it can make everyday commute fairly challenging mainly due to the combination of the high humidity combined with the wind chill effect which will create ice on everything like roads and highways to cars. If you want to take a look at one of the neighboring states then check out my recent article Off grid living in New Hampshire ( The Granite State ).
Best crops to grow in Massachusetts
You do not have a lot of options in Massachusetts when it comes to growing crops, due to the harsh climate the most of the field crop is hay and sweet corn. On the other hand, there are a lot of greenhouses in Massachusetts growing anything from vegetables to nursery commodities. In addition to this, there are a lot of farms growing livestock and the state does produce a lot of dairy products. New Jersey has a similar climate to Massachusetts although you have a lot more options when it comes to growing crops, for more information check out my recent article Off grid living in New Jersey ( The Garden State ).
Freshwater availability in Massachusetts
As the state is located in an area where rain is plentiful, there is no problem finding freshwater both below and above ground. In the eastern part of the state, some of the groundwater is contaminated with saltwater, in the western part of the state where most of the dairy farms are located some of the groundwater is also polluted due to the runoff from these farms. Luckily there are no regulations or restrictions regarding rainwater harvesting.
Due to the relatively small size of the state, there are not as many types of animals as some would think. You can find in Massachusetts anything from brown bears, beavers, white-tailed deer, skunks, muskrats, and rabbits among other animals. In the local rivers, lakes, and on the coast you will find plenty of fish like tautog, scup, bluefish, black sea bass, and striped bass among others. You will need licenses both for fishing and hunting and if you are a local resident these will be extremely cheap https://www.mass.gov/how-to/buy-your-freshwater-fishing-license.
Generating power off the grid in Massachusetts
- Solar power: Although a lot of people who live off the grid do use solar power but generally speaking Massachusetts doesn’t have the best conditions for it. During the summertime, you will have no problem with getting plenty of sunlight for your solar panels but during the wintertime, the days are way too short to have your solar panels work at maximum efficiency. You can apply for a federal solar credit which is 25% and a residential renewable energy income credit which is also around 25%, some counties offer other incentives on top of these two.
- Wind power: As the state is on the east coast you will have a fairly easy time generating power with wind turbines, you can apply for the federal tax credit which is around 30% and on top of this you can also apply for local incentives and rebates, these will be different in every county.
Massachusetts off grid laws
Currently, there are no laws in Massachusetts that prohibit you from living off the grid, harvesting rainwater is also legal and in most areas, there are no regulations on how much you can harvest. The homeschooling laws are nothing out of the ordinary although due to the high standard of education in this state you will find that there is a lot of material that you have to teach. Although you can easily homeschool your children, but not a lot of people are actually homeschooling as the education system is extremely good.
Massachusetts road access
The roads around the major cities in Massachusetts are in fairly good shape, as the state is fairly small the local authorities have no problem maintaining the roads, although the quality of roads will be different from one county to another. In the eastern part of the state, you will find a mixed bag when it comes to roads, some are maintained well while others are filled with potholes and this is mostly due to the saltwater damaging the roads.
Price of land in Massachusetts
The price of land in Massachusetts is extremely expensive, you will pay around 70% more than in the rest of the country. The most expensive land is on the coast, and as further, you go towards the west you will see a significant drop in the price of land. There are some counties where the land is almost the same as the national average although they are still a bit pricy for building a homestead.
Massachusetts property tax
The property tax in Massachusetts is around 1.22% which is significantly higher than the national average which is at 1.08%. The 1.22% tax is only in some counties and in the wast majority of them the property taxes are much higher, the county with the highest property tax is, Hampden with a 1.68% property tax. Although the property tax is fairly high in Massachusetts but the biggest problem is the high price of housing when you combine expensive housing and high property tax you will end up paying an arm and a leg every year.
Massachusetts cost of living
Generally speaking, the cost of living in Massachusetts is around 27% higher than in the rest of the country. The most notable differences are the 70% higher housing prices, and the 12% higher utility costs, although you will also pay more for transportation and groceries with around 8%. The only thing cheaper in this state is the health care system which is around 17% cheaper than the national average.
The unemployment rate in Massachusetts is at 2.9% which is below the national average which is 4%. Due to this low unemployment rate, a lot of people move here to find a better paying job. The minimum wage is at $12 which is a lot higher than the $7.25 national average, although in the neighboring states the minimum wage can be as high as $15. The industries in which most of the people work are finance, research and development, pharmaceutical, commercial fishing, government, and tourism industries.
Massachusetts crime rate
The crime rate is somewhat lower than the national average, the local crime rate is at 3.38 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is at 4 crimes per 1000 people. The safest counties are Wayland, Huntington, Chesterfield, and Westhampton. The counties with the highest crime rate are Wareham, Pittsfield, Boston, and Springfield.
Massachusetts natural disasters
When it comes to natural disasters in Massachusetts you will find anything from tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, to blizzards and winter storms. As Massachusetts is in the northern part of the state the temperatures during the wintertime will be fairly low, and as the state is located on the coast the snowfall in some years can be fairly high.
Massachusetts is not a good state for off grid living, due to its geographical position you are limited on what kind of crops you can grow unless you invest in a greenhouse. Massachusetts, in my opinion, is simply too expensive to make off grid living as frugal as possible, I am not saying that there are no people living off the grid in this state but you will be better off spending your money in almost any other state.