Tennessee is located in the southeastern part of the country, most people put this state in the same bucket as the other southern states like Alabama and Mississippi, although from an off grid living perspective Tennessee is somewhat better than most of the southern states. Tennessee’s population is at 6.77 million, although a lot of people are moving out, the population is in fact slowly increasing.
Living off the grid is legal in Tennessee, generally speaking, this is a fairly good state for off grid living as it has low taxes, cheap cost of property, and plenty of lands suited for growing crops. The biggest problem with Tennessee is that it has a fairly high crime rate, although there are plenty of areas that have a lower crime rate than the national average.
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Tennessee has six cities that have a population of over 100k, and most of its neighboring states only have 2-3 cities with a population over 100k. The biggest cities in Tennessee are Nashville 690k, Memphis 650k, Knoxville 185k, Chattanooga 180k, Clarksville 150k, and Murfreesboro with a 130k population. The smallest city is Cottage Grove with a population of around 79 people. Tennessee has everything that a good off grid living state needs, although you have to take all the stats with a grain of salt.
Tennessee doesn’t have an income tax, which is good news for everybody, the truth is that states which do not have some specific tax will make that up with another tax. As Tennessee doesn’t have an income tax, they have to make up for it with the sales tax. The sales tax is at 7% but, different counties have different percentages of sales tax and oftentimes they do add on top of the 7%, so you will end up paying almost 10% more for everything.
The price of housing and property in Tennessee is also fairly cheap, not as cheap as in the neighboring southern states but fairly close. The prices will go higher the closer you get to the bigger cities and if you are looking to buy a house or a homestead near Nashville then you will see that the prices in this area are more than double than in the rest of the state. If you want to check out a state which is almost in the center of the country then check out my recent article Off grid living in Oklahoma ( Sooner State ).
The climate in Tennessee is humid subtropical, summers are hot and winters are cold, and in the southern part of the state, the winters are a lot milder than in the northern parts. The average temperatures during summertime are around 90°F, and due to the high humidity, this can drop during nighttime to around 70°F. During the wintertime, the average temperatures are around 27°F. If you want to live off the grid and also make some money then check out my recent article Best careers for living off the grid ( Top 18 ).
Best crops to grow in Tennessee
Due to its unique geographical position Tennessee is great for growing lots of types of crops. Although most people think that Tennessee is a big producer of corn, but the truth is that their main field crop is actually soybeans, followed by corn for grain, tobacco, wheat, sorghum grain, and hay. Tennessee is also great for growing fruits and vegetables although most farmers focus on field crops, but if you are planning to make a small vegetable garden near your homestead then you will have an easy time growing a lot of types of vegetables. If you are looking for an off grid state than my personal recommendation is to check out my recent article Off grid living in North Dakota ( Peace Garden State ).
Freshwater availability in Tennessee
As Tennessee’s climate is humid subtropical, the state doesn’t have any shortages when it comes to freshwater. Although one thing which most of the states in this area have are a lot of animal farms which easily can contaminate groundwater. The yearly average rainfall in this state is around 50″, which is a lot, so instead of investing in a well, your best option will probably be to harvest rainwater which is legal in Tennessee.
Tennessee has a fairly diverse wildlife, although most of them are smaller animals, in fact, there are only two animals which are considered large, the American black bear and the white-tailed deer. Other animals are foxes, bobcats, raccoons, and numerous bird and bat species. If you like fishing then you have plenty of options in this state as you will find anything from channel catfish, largemouth bass, spotted gar, longear sunfish, paddlefish, and black crappies. For hunting and fishing licenses visit the official governmental website https://www.tn.gov/twra/license-sales/fishing-licenses.html.
Generating power off the grid in Tennessee
- Solar power: Tennessee doesn’t really offer any incentives for solar power systems although some counties do offer rebates. If you want to set up your solar system as cheaply as possible then you can apply for the federal tax credit which is 30%.
- Wind power: There are some rebates and incentives for wind power although none of them are statewide, so your best bet will be to use the federal tax credit and try to apply for the local incentives and rebates if there are any.
Tennessee off grid laws
You can live legally off the grid in Tennessee, if you want to purchase a homestead then you will have an easier time with all the permits and the paperwork. On the other hand, if you want to set up some kind of temporary housing till you build your homestead then make sure to check the local laws and regulations as every county has different laws regarding temporary housing. If you want to homeschool your children then make sure to inform yourself about the homeschooling laws on a county level. If you want to know what are the best places for off grid living in this state then check out my recent article Best Places To Live Off The Grid In Tennessee ( Top 7 Counties ).
Tennessee road access
In some areas, there is simply no road access, although the price of land in these areas is extremely cheap but building a homestead here will be expensive. Some areas are fairly prone to flooding as well, so you will probably want to take a look at the local maps before making any purchases. If you will work in a nearby city then you will have to commute, the best way is with your own personal car as public transportation is not the best, although prepare yourself for a lot of traffic during peak hours.
Price of land in Tennessee
The price of land in Tennessee is around 28% lower than the national average, although if you want to buy land or property in any of the top 6 cities than you will pay a higher price than the national average. Generally speaking, the cheapest lands are in the southern and in the western parts of the state, just don’t get too close to Memphis.
Tennessee property tax
The property tax in Tennessee is around 0.74%, which is very similar to the neighboring states, the highest property tax is in Robertson County with 0.754%.
Cost of living in Tennessee
Generally speaking, the cost of living in Tennessee is around 13% less than the national average, you will pay around 28% less for housing, 10% less for transportation, 5% less for groceries, and 4% less for utilities. On the other hand, you will pay around 2% more for healthcare services.
The minimum wage in Tennessee is at $7.25 although some of the authorities are fighting to have a $15 minimum wage. I am all for increasing the minimum wage if the economy is booming and if it is done incrementally if you double the minimum wage overnight then everything will cost double at the minimum. The unemployment rate is around 3.4% which is almost the same as the country average.
The major industries where most of the population works are agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, poultry, and cattle farming.
Tennessee crime rate
The crime rate in Tennessee is well above the national average, currently, there are 6.24 violent crimes recorded per 1000 people and the national average is 4 out of 1000 people. The safest areas are around Cross Plains, Pittman Center, Wartrace, St. Joseph, Tusculum, and Kingston Springs. The areas with the highest crime rate are Cleveland, Chattanooga, Memphis, Knoxville, and Newport.
Tennessee natural disasters
Tennessee has a couple of natural disasters like floods, storms, tornadoes, wildfires, landslides, tropical storms, and even earthquakes. The most common natural disasters are storms and floods, mostly because the local climate is extremely humid and Tennessee gets a lot of rainfall every year.
Overall Tennessee is a good off grid living state, the cost of living is fairly low and the taxes are what you would expect from a southern state. If you are not accustomed to living in an area with high humidity then you will struggle in Tennessee, especially if you have some respiratory illness.