Off grid living in Nevada ( Silver State )

Nevada is located in the western part of the country, this state is the dryest state in the entire country and one with the highest elevation. The population of Nevada is around 3 million people and there are 5 cities with over 100k population, namely Las Vegas with 670k, Henderson 320k, Reno 260k,  North Las Vegas 255k, and Sparks with around 105k population. Most of the people living in Nevada live in smaller cities and towns scattered all across the state.

Living off the grid in Nevada is legal, although there are no laws prohibiting you to live off the grid but there are some laws which make off grid living almost impossible as harvesting rainwater is actually illegal, and in most of the state you will have a fairly hard time finding groundwater. Overall Nevada is a fairly bad state for off grid living, the price of land is high, there are not a lot of areas where you can grow crops, you cant harvest rainwater and the crime rate is very high.

If you want to live off the grid in Nevada then you will most likely store your water outside, but due to the constant sunshine the water can spoil, in this case, my personal recommendation is to use a large water bladder which you can easily place in the shade where it gets cooler Click here to check it out on Amazon.com

Although the population of Nevada is actually increasing but most people who move to this state either move to Las Vegas or Reno. Nevada is considered to be a fairly large state, the problem is that most of the land is owned by the state and there are a lot of areas where you can not even travel like area 51, 6, 52 and other areas which do not even have an official name. During the cold war, Nevada was a testing site for nuclear bombs, and a lot of areas are radioactive, in fact, Nevada is one of the most radioactive places on earth.

During the hight of the cold war when they made most of these nuclear tests the population of Nevada was around 150k, but since then the population has increased significantly and there is no telling what the long term effects of these radioactive lands might have. Most of Nevada is considered to be a desert which means that you will have limited options both for growing crops and how you will actually water them.

Nevada has one of the worst education systems in the entire country, combine this with the numerous casinos and places to gamble you only end up with a high crime rate and a lot of people who lost everything due to gambling, if you have an addictive personality or you have trouble controlling yourself then Nevada is probably the worst state for you, as besides gambling there is not much to do. If you are looking for a state with a more humid climate then check out my recent article Off grid living in Arkansas ( The Natural State ).

Nevada climate

Nevada has a semi-arid climate which means that summers are hot and dry and the winters are cold. The average elevation in Nevada is around 5500 feet above the sea level, this means that the temperatures will fluctuate a lot during the day and night, no matter if it’s summer or winter. During the summertime, the average temperature is around 100°F, and often the difference between the day and nighttime temperatures are around 40°F.

The winters can be fairly long in Nevada with an average temperature of around 57°F during the day and around 38°F during the night.  Nevada does have occasionally a couple of days with below-freezing temperatures in some years and in the plains the temperatures can drop as low as 15°F. If you want to take a look at one of the neighboring states than check out my recent article Off grid living in California ( The Golden State ),

Best crops to grow in Nevada

Even though most of Nevada is considered arid or semi-arid, there are still plenty of crops that are grown here like wheat, rye, oats, barley, potatoes, alfalfa seed, and hay. In addition to this Nevada also grows a lot of different types of vegetables and even fruits. From an off grid stand of point, you will face a couple of hurdles if you want to grow crops like most of the land not being suitable for growing crops, most of the land in the state is owned by the government and as the state has a semi-arid climate you will have difficulty finding enough water to water your crops. If you are looking for a state which has plenty of fertile lands then check out my recent article Off grid living in Delaware ( The Diamond State ).

Freshwater availability in Nevada

Harvesting rainwater in Nevada is illegal, by far this is one of the biggest obstacles for living off the grid in Nevada. The main problem is that Nevada has only around 7″ of rainfall every year, if you compare it to the states located on the east coast then these have an average of 45″ of rainfall every year. Most of the water in Nevada actually comes from surface water like the Colorado River, although in some areas there is access to groundwater.

Basically, if you are not able to harvest rainwater you will not be able to live off the grid as frugally as possible. People who live off the grid in this state usually have to buy their own water, which is extremely expensive.

Nevada wildlife

Even though Nevada is semi-arid there are still plenty of animals although you will not find any big game here. The more common animals are scorpions, rabbits, foxes, snakes, lizards, bobcats, sheep and pronghorns. In the local lakes and rivers, you will find bull trout, rainbow trout, mountain whitefish, and Lahontan cutthroat. You will need licenses both for fishing and hunting http://www.ndow.org/Forms_and_Resources/General_Licenses/.

Generating power off the grid in Nevada

  • Solar power: Nevada is an excellent state for generating power with solar panels, you can also apply for the federal tax credit which is somewhere between 26-30%. The problem is that a couple of years ago Nevada has actually raised the taxes of around 40% for people who use solar panels, and they have also either eliminated or reduced the local solar power incentives, basically the local government is limiting your possibility to live off the grid.
  • Wind power: As the state is on a fairly high elevation this means that the winds will constantly blow. Setting up a wind turbine can be fairly costly although you can still apply for the federal tax credit, as for rebates some counties do offer them but the vast majority do not offer any rebates.

Nevada off grid laws

Currently, there are no laws prohibiting you from living off the grid, but harvesting rainwater is illegal and this alone will hinder your options to live off the grid. Even if you buy water and store it on your property there are some regulations on how much you can store and how you can actually store it. The education system is also fairly bad and you will probably better of homeschooling your children, the homeschooling laws are fairly relaxed although you will need to notify the local authorities.

Nevada road access

Most of the roads in Nevada are in a fairly good shape, the problem is that there are not a lot of roads in some of the areas. Most people who live off the grid or in a semi off the grid way tend to use 4×4 vehicles as these can cross the rugged terrain.

Nevada price of land

You might think that due to the fairly large size of the state, Nevada should have plenty of cheap lands. The truth is that most of the land is owned by the federal government and there is not a lot of land which you can actually buy. Overall the price of land and housing is around 28% more expensive than the national average. Finding land which is relatively cheap and you also have the possibility to raise crops will be extremely hard.

Nevada property tax

The average property tax in Nevada is at 0.69%, and the highest property tax is in Clark County with 0.705%. If you compare Nevada to its neighboring states then you will notice that Nevada has one of the lowest property taxes in the western part of the country.

Cost of living in Nevada

Overall the cost of living in Nevada is around 10% higher than the national average, you will pay around 27% more for housing, and 17% more for transportation. Although the healthcare system is fairly bad in Nevada you will pay around 8% less and for utilities around 3% less than the national average.

Nevada jobs

The unemployment rate in Nevada is at 4.1% which is slightly above the national average of 4%. The main problem with the unemployment rate is that in the past couple of years it has started to grow. The main industries where most of the people work are tourism and the gambling industries, in some areas of the state a lot of people also work in cattle ranching and in the mining industry. The minimum wage in Nevada is $8.25 which is higher than the national average of $7.25.

Nevada crime rate

The crime rate in Nevada is a lot higher than the national average, currently, the crime rate is at 5.41 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is at 4 crimes per 1000 people. The high crime rate is mostly due to the gambling industry and due to drug abuse. The safest areas are around Dyer, Wells, Washoe Valley, Spring Creek, and Round Mountain. The areas with the highest crime rate are around Reno, Las Vegas, Lovelock, West Wendover, Eureka, and North Las Vegas.

Nevada natural disasters

Nevada is prone to have a couple of natural disasters like floods, heatwaves, storms, earthquakes, and wildfires. The most common ones are heatwaves, wildfires, and even floods. Flash floods can also occur during some years although they are not that common. As Nevada has very little rain through the year most of the ground is dry and compacted, which means when a bigger storm comes that the ground isn’t able to absorb much of the water.

In  conclusion

Generally speaking, I can not recommend Nevada for off grid living, the simple fact that you can not legally harvest rainwater will make living off the grid extremely hard. In addition to this, the local government doesn’t really offer any help for people looking to invest in solar or wind power systems.