Off Grid Living In New York ( The Empire State )

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When you are thinking about off grid living, New York is probably the last state you would think of. Don’t get me wrong New York is a beautiful state, even if the population density is one of the highest in the nation you can still find areas where you can still live off the grid. There are people and even a couple of communities that do live off the grid in this state, although most of them do not live in their homesteads all year round, mostly because of the harsh winters.

New York is a bad off grid living state, taxes are high, the cost of living is high, and the cost of property is around 30% higher than the national average. As the state has one of the highest population densities in the country it will be extremely difficult to find an affordable place for living off the grid or homesteading. In addition to this due to the harsh climate, you will have some difficulty growing crops, so a greenhouse is a must in this state if you want to maximize your yield.

If you want to live off the grid in New York then you will need to keep your firewood away from all the rain, my personal recommendation is to use a firewood rack that doesn’t allow the firewood to come into contact with the ground and absorb water Click here to heck it out on

Currently, the population of New York is around 19.54 million, this makes it one of the states with the highest population density. Even though this is one of the most densely packed states, there are only 5 cities with a population of over 100k people. The biggest city is New York with an 8.6 million population, followed by Buffalo with 252k, Rochester 206k, Yonkers 202k, and Syracuse with 141k population.

Most people when they think of New York they think of the city, and from an off grid living perspective you will not be able to live off the grid anywhere near the city. On the other hand, the north and the northwest areas are much better for off grid living as the population density significantly decreases especially in the northern part. There are two things that will make living off the grid in New York extremely difficult.

The first thing is taxes, New York has one of the highest taxes in the entire country, if your goal is to live off the grid as frugally as possible then you would be better off spending your money in some other state which doesn’t have so high taxes. The second biggest barrier is the climate during the wintertime, New York has one of the highest snowfalls in the entire country. If you are looking for a state with a milder climate then check out my recent article Off grid living in Arkansas ( The Natural State ).

Is Off Grid Living Legal In New York?

Living off-grid is generally permitted in remote or rural areas of New York State, although some regions may have requirements to connect to the municipal sewer system, limiting complete off-grid living. Additionally, the state’s strict building codes can pose challenges and increase costs when pursuing legal off-grid living options.

Off Grid Laws

Living off the grid in New York is legal, as long as you respect the local building code you should not have any problems. A septic system is a must and some counties might be stricter than others when it comes to how and where you can set them up. Homeschooling is also possible in this state although not that many people actually homeschool their children, the homeschooling laws are fairly strict although you shouldn’t have any problems as long as you notify the authorities.

Read more: Best Places To Live Off The Grid In New York ( Top 8 Counties )

Generating Power Off The Grid

  • Solar power: New York offers a 25% income tax credit although this is limited to $5000, in addition to this you can also apply for the federal tax credit which is around 30%. The weather in New York can be fairly unpredictable and the days during the wintertime are fairly short which will limit how much power you can actually generate.
  • Wind power: For setting up a wind turbine you can apply for the federal tax credit and the income tax credit also, the problem is that there is very little information about the wind power incentives for New York online, so you should definitely ask your local authorities.


New York has a humid continental climate, which basically means that the summers are mild and humid and the winters are cold and humid. The average summertime temperatures are around 75°F and during the wintertime, the average temperatures are around 33°F although the temperatures can fluctuate a lot. There is a fairly large difference between the temperatures in the northern and southern parts of the state.

Types Of Crops

New York produces a couple of types of crops like hay, corn, oats, potatoes, soybeans, wheat, and even maple syrup. If you want to grow crops for food then you will have to set up a greenhouse. Most people who live off the grid in this state also have some livestock, the animal feed is fairly cheap and if you have the space for them then I highly recommend it. If you are looking for a state where you can grow a lot of different types of crops then check out my recent article Off grid living in Washington ( The Evergreen State ).

Freshwater Availability

Due to its humid continental type climate, New York doesn’t have a shortage of water, although the water in this state is not the cleanest one. Probably your best and cheapest option for water will be to harvest rainwater, it is legal in New York, and in fact, the state actually encourages people to do so. The average yearly rainfall is around 46″, and the average yearly snowfall is between 150-200″, generally speaking, the closer you get to Lake Erie and Lake Ontario the higher the rainfall and the snowfall is.


When it comes to wildlife you will be able to find, beavers, moose, white-tailed deer, and a couple of types of bats amongst other animals. New York has a lot of lakes, the biggest ones are Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and Lake Champlain, the most common freshwater fish are bass, catfish, salmon, perch, and pikes. One of the most common saltwater fish is the striped bass, black sea bass, bluefish, and red drum amongst others. You will need a different license both for freshwater and saltwater fishing

Road Access

The people who live in New York state are taxed to the roof, and some of this money goes to maintaining the roads, which have a fairly high quality although in not all areas. The closer you get to the cities the better the quality of the roads is, although in the northern part of the state, there will be some problems with road access due to the low population density.

Price Of Land

The price of land and housing in New York is around 30% higher than the national average, this percentage can get a lot higher the closer you get to New York City. On top of the high price of property you are also expected to pay a lot of taxes. If you want to know what are the consequences of building without a permit then check out my recent article Consequences of building without a permit ( Top 6 ).

Property Tax

The average property tax in New York is around 1.68% which is higher than the 1.08% national average. When it comes to property tax there is a massive difference between counties, New York City has a property tax of just 0.90% and Suffolk County has a property tax of 2.346%.

Cost Of Living

The cost of living in New York is around 20% higher than the national average, you will pay around 30% more for housing, 40% more for transportation, 15% more for utilities, 6% more for healthcare services, and around 4% more for groceries. Add on top of this the high taxes and you can probably notice why this is a fairly bad state for off grid living.


The unemployment rate in New York is at 4% which is above the national average of 3.6%. The minimum wage is $15 which is significantly higher than the national average and in the neighboring states. The biggest industries where most people work are the financial, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and education industries.

Crime Rate

The crime rate in New York is below the national average, currently, there are around 3.5 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is at 4 crimes per 1000 people. Although if you only look at New York City then you will notice that the crime rate here is a lot higher. The safest areas are Burdett, Callicoon, Cold Brook, Phoenicia, and Sag Harbor. The areas with the highest crime rate are New York, Monticello, Hudson, Rochester, and Albany.

Natural Disasters

New York has a lot of natural disasters like floods, storms, wildfires, tornadoes, tsunamis, and landslides. The most commonly occurring natural disasters are storms and floods, mostly because this state gets a lot of rainfall and snowfall every year.

Key Takeaways

  • Off-grid living is legal in New York, but it is subject to certain regulations and permits, including compliance with zoning and building codes.
  • Access to resources, such as land availability and renewable energy options, can vary across different regions of New York.
  • It is important to research and understand the specific laws and regulations of the area where you plan to live off-grid in New York to ensure compliance and a smooth off-grid living experience.