Off grid living in Michigan ( Great Lake State )

Michigan is located in the northern part of the country and it is bordering Canada, it is also the only state which has contact with 4 out of the 5 great lakes. Michigan is a beautiful state, there is no doubt about it, but due to extremely bad management over the past decades, this state became one of the worst states to live in the country. When most people think of Michigan they tend to think of Detroit or of Flint, although these are probably some of the worst cities to live in the country but things get a lot better in the rest of the state.

Michigan is a fairly good place for off grid living, there are no laws prohibiting you from living off the grid as long as you respect the local laws, mainly the building code and the installation of a septic tank. The main reason why Michigan is a good state for living off the grid is due to the 35% cheaper cost for housing, and the 11% cheaper cost of living, on top of that you will have no problem finding fresh water and the state is great for farming. On the other hand, Michigan does have a higher unemployment rate than the national average and it also has a fairly high crime rate especially near Detroit and Flint.

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Michigan has a lot of water, on average a person no matter where he is in the state is no more than just a couple of miles from a body of water. As the state is so abundant in freshwater you might wonder how could the Flint water situation get so bad, the answer is fairly simple the local authorities wanted to save some money and changed their water source to a very polluted river. On top of that, people who actually stopped paying their water bills as the water from the faucets was toxic and brown, the local authorities have actually started to foreclose some homes due to them not paying their water bills.

Michigan’s population is around 10 million people, which is slowly rising every year, although if you visit some abandoned neighborhoods in Detroit you might think otherwise. Michigan has 7 cities with a population of over 100k people, its biggest city is Detroit with 680k people followed by, Grand Rapids city with 200k, Warren city 135k, Sterling Heights 130k, Ann Arbor city 120k, Lansing city 115k, and Clinton charter township with 100k people. Flint city has around 98k people and the population is slowly rising.

The economic recession has hit hard Michigan, a lot of factories and businesses have closed and simply abandoned. The good news is that during the past couple of years the unemployment rate started falling and new jobs are being created, from an off grid living perspective, this means that this is the right time to buy a homestead or an off grid property, till prices are fairly low. You should also check out one of its neighboring states to compare Michigan with it, for more information check out my recent article Off grid living in Indiana ( The Hoosier State ).

Michigan climate

Michigan has a continental-type climate which means that summers are hot and fairly short and winters are cold, some would say even icy cold, and if you have ever been in this state during the wintertime then you probably know what they mean. The average temperature during the summertime is around 85°F, there are a couple of days that it is hotter than this but these usually last only a couple of days.

During the wintertime, the average temperature is around 35°F and the temperatures will drop even more on some of the days, especially during the nighttime. Generally speaking, you will notice a difference in temperature between the northern and the southern parts of the state, the closer you get to the lakes the colder it gets. If you want to grow your own food then check out my recent article Highest calorie garden crops ( Top 24 ).

Best crops to grow in Michigan

Most of the farms in Michigan produce corn for grain, followed by wheat, soybeans, hay, fruits, and vegetables. You will often see small greenhouses set up at most of the homesteads growing vegetables, they have to use greenhouses if they want to grow crops as summers are short and the temperatures are not that high. When it comes to growing fruits, the local climate is great for growing a wide variety of fruits, in fact, this state is one of the top producers of apples, cherries, and blueberries. My personal recommendation is to also check out Wisconsin, for more information check out my recent article Off grid living in Wisconsin ( America’s Dairyland ).

Freshwater availability in Michigan

Michigan has a lot of fresh water, but as you can see in the case of Flint city is that having plenty of fresh water doesn’t really matter if the local authorities are corrupt. The average yearly rainfall is around 31″, and the average snowfall is between 40″-120″. In the western parts of the state, the annual snowfall can be as high as 150″. Most people who live off the grid in Michigan harvest their own rainwater and store it in water tanks.

Michigan wildlife

Michigan has a diverse wildlife you can find anything from bears, white-tailed deer, cougars, moose, and a lot of birds. As this state has access to 4 out of the 5 big lakes and other smaller lakes and rivers, the fishing can be exceptional here. The most common fish that you will find here are smallmouth bass, Atlantic salmon, brook trout, brown trout, crappie, lake trout, yellow perch, and a lot more. You will need a fishing license to fish legally https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-350-79119_79146_82448—,00.html.

Generating power off the grid in Michigan

  • Solar power: Most people do not think that solar panels are effective in this region due to the long winters, the truth is that most people who live off the grid in this state do in fact use solar panels, they do work during the wintertime as well but not as efficiently as during the summertime. You can apply for the Solar Investment Tax Credit, and for the federal tax credit, if you combine both of these then you will get the system around 50% cheaper.
  • Wind power: Michigan is probably one of the best states for generating power with wind turbines, it is almost constantly windy and the state does offer several incentives and rebates. You can apply for the federal tax credit which is 30% and you can also apply for local rebates and incentives.

Michigan off grid laws

There are some articles online which claim that living off the grid in Michigan is illegal, this is completely false, you can live legally off the grid in this state. Most people who have problems are those ones that do not respect the local building code or they want to go off the grid in a city or in the suburbs, this will be extremely difficult in any state not only Michigan. You can also legally harvest and store rainwater, and you will have to set up a septic system, but for this, you will have to get more info from your county officials.

Most people who live off the grid homeschool their children, this way they do not have to commute every day, and the parents in most cases can educate their children better than the state’s education system. The homeschooling laws are fairly simple, notify the authorities that you want to homeschool your children and they will let you know what are the requirements. If you want to know the best places for off grid living in this state then check out my recent article Best places to live off the grid in Michigan ( Top 7 Counties ).

Michigan road access

Michigan doesn’t have the booming economy which it had a couple of decades ago, this means massive budget cuts and road maintenance also suffers. In some areas the quality of the roads is fine but if you go for a drive in Detroit then some roads will look like you are in a 3rd world country. Besides the lack of maintenance, the roads can become a serious hazard during the wintertime due to the high amount of snowfall.

Michigan price of land

When it comes to the price of land Michigan, has more in common with the southern states than with the northern ones. Generally speaking the price of housing and land in Michigan is around 35% less than the national average. Although during recent years the price of property has started to slowly climb, as the local economy is growing so will the price of land and property.

No matter how bad the economic situation of Michigan looks, it will bounce back eventually, and due to its close proximity to the richest states in the country it will have a higher living standard, cost of living, and housing prices, it is only a matter of time.

Michigan property tax

Michigan’s property tax is around 1.64% which is above the 1.08% national average, although states which have such a high property tax also tend to have a higher price of property. The lowest property tax in this state is in Saint Clair County which has a 1.44% property tax.

Cost of living in Michigan

Michigan’s cost of living is well below the national average, generally speaking, you will pay around 10% less for everything in this state. Most notably you will pay around 35% less for housing, 7% less for groceries, and 4% less for healthcare services. On the other hand, you will pay around 15% more for utilities, and this can be even more expensive in some counties where the infrastructure is poorly maintained, all the utility companies’ losses are paid by the users.

Michigan jobs

The unemployment rate in Michigan is at 4.1% which is above the 3.6% national average. The good news is that the unemployment rate is going down every year, back in 2011 the unemployment rate in this state was over 10%. The minimum wage is at $9.45 which is above some of its neighboring states. The industries in which most of the people work in manufacturing, agriculture, automotive, services, and tourism.

Michigan crime rate

Michigan’s crime rate is slightly above the national average, currently, it is at 4.49 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is 4 crimes per 1000 people. The cities with the lowest crime rate are Posen, Forestville, Minden City, Garden, and Twining. The cities with the highest crime rate are Munising, Atlanta, Gaylord, Detroit, Flint, and Mackinaw City. Generally speaking, the safest areas are in the center of the state and in the northwestern parts.

Michigan natural disasters

Michigan has a couple of natural disasters like wildfires, floods, tornadoes, and storms. The most often occurring natural disasters are storms that happen trough the year mostly because of the close proximity of several great lakes. Although tornadoes can also occur in this state, but most of them are fairly small which do not produce any casualties.

In conclusion

Overall Michigan is a good off grid living state, land is cheap and the cost of living is also cheap. The main problem with Michigan is the local climate, winters can be brutal in some years, and if you are not used to them then you will struggle.