Off grid living in Texas ( The Lone Star State )

Texas is one of the biggest states in the country and with one of the highest populations. Currently, the population of Texas is at 29 million people and over the past couple of decades, the population of this state has been steadily rising. In the year 2000, the local population was around 20 million, and in only a decade its population has increased to almost 30 million people, and the trend is still going up.

Texas is a good state for off grid living, living off the grid is legal and harvesting rainwater is also legal. In addition to this Texas also has a lower cost of living and cost of property than the national average. When it comes to growing crops you have plenty of options as long as you are able to water them efficiently, the state also offers several programs for wind and solar power systems. On the other hand, the mostly semi-arid climate is not the best for off grid living and due to the high population density, the crime rate is above the national average.

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Due to the high population density Texas has around 40 cities with a population above 100k, the biggest cities are Houston with 2.3 million population, followed by San Antonio at 1.5 million, Dallas at 1.3 million, Austin at 940k, and Fort Worth with 860k residents. Most people think of Texas as a desert state, with lots of oil rigs and cattle ranches. The truth is that Texas is probably one of the greatest states in the nation.

During the past couple of decades, more and more people started moving to this state as the cost of living is low, the climate is mild and the state incentivizes big businesses. From an off grid living perspective, generally speaking, states which have a high population density are not the best option. Although this isn’t true for Texas as in addition to having a high population this state is one of the largest in the nation, and you will have no problem finding suitable land for off grid living.

With that being said Texas is not a perfect state for off grid living, one of its main problems is that it is a border state, and all border states have one thing in common, a high crime rate. As this state has a lot of large cities the crime rate in these areas tends to be well above the national average, although there are plenty of areas that have a fairly low crime rate. If you want to take a look at one of this state’s neighbors then check out my recent article Off grid living in New Mexico ( Land of Enchantment ).

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Texas climate

Due to its large size Texas has different types of climates, generally speaking in the western parts of the states the climate is semi-arid and in the easter parts, the climate is humid subtropical. During the summertime, the average temperatures are around 95°F, and the average wintertime temperatures are around 70°F. In the northern parts of the state, the temperatures can be significantly lower than in the southern parts. If you want to take a look at a state on the east coast then check out my recent article Off grid living in South Carolina ( The Palmetto State ).

Types of crops grown in Texas

Some areas in Texas are excellent for growing crops as you can grow them almost all year round. The main problem with growing crops in Texas is the lack of water in some areas, you will definitely need to irrigate your crops as the average yearly rainfall is fairly low. The main crops grown in Texas are corn, cotton, sorghum, milo, wheat, rice, peanuts, sunflowers, and sugarcane. In fact, Texas is one of the main producers of corn and cotton. If you want to take a look at one of this state’s neighbors, which has plenty of freshwater for growing crops then check out my recent article Off grid living in Oklahoma ( Sooner State ).

Freshwater availability in Texas

Texas has somewhat a problem with freshwater, most of the state is dominated by the semi-arid climate, the average annual rainfall is around 20″ and the average yearly snowfall is around 30″, although most of this snowfall is in the northern parts of the state where the climate is significantly colder. Texas is one of the few states with a semi-arid climate where you can legally harvest rainwater, although this won’t be enough if you want to grow your own food.

Texas wildlife

Texas has a fairly diverse wildlife like white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope, desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, alligators, reptiles, and a lot of venomous snakes. In the local rivers and lakes, you can find bass, crappies, catfish, bulkheads, carp, sunfish, gar, and suckers amongst others. The most common saltwater fish are red drums, spotted sea trout, pompano, flounder, sheepshead, and black drums. You will need a license both for saltwater and freshwater fishing https://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/licenses/fishing-licenses-stamps-tags-packages.

Generating power off the grid in Texas

  • Solar power: The further you go from the bigger cities the more buildings you will start seeing with solar panels on top of them, Texas is probably one of the best places to generate power with solar panels. Texas doesn’t offer any incentives or rebates for the solar power system, although you can still apply for the federal tax credit which is around 26%. In addition to this, some utility companies do offer rebates and incentives although this is not available in all areas.
  • Wind power: There are two different programs for wind power, the Production Tax Credit, and the Investment Tax Credit, which will significantly lower your costs. On top of these programs, you should still be able to apply for the federal tax credit as well.

Texas off grid laws

Living off the grid is legal in Texas although there are some people who claim it is not. Currently, there are no laws in Texas outright making off grid living illegal. The main problem is that some people pick a plot of land and start building their homestead on it, without any permits or without even owning the land. In every state, you will have to abide by the building code no matter where your homestead is.

The truth is that there are a significant number of people living off the grid in remote areas without owning the land and without having any permits, the problem comes when someone notifies the authorities and you might have your homestead destroyed, so always follow the local laws. You can also homeschool your children if you want to just make sure to follow the homeschooling laws. If you want to know where are the best places to live off the grid in Texas then check out my recent article Best Places To Live Off The Grid In Texas ( Top 7 Counties ).

Road access in Texas

The quality of the roads in Texas is fairly high although there are a lot of areas that do not even have a dirt road. Most people who live here drive a 4×4 wheel drive truck or vehicle, especially in remote areas where there is no access to roads. In addition to this, a lot of people who live off the grid here tend to have a bug out bag which contains several days worth of food and water, as some areas where the population density is low might be extremely dangerous if your car breaks down.

Price of land in Texas

Generally speaking, states which have a high population density tend to have higher prices for houses and lands. The truth is that the cost of housing and land in Texas is below the national average and you will pay around 16% less here.

Texas property tax

The property tax in Texas is significantly higher than the national average, currently, the property tax is 1.83% and the national average is 1.08%. The county with the lowest property tax is Travis County with 1.80%

Cost of living in Texas

The cost of living in Texas is lower than the national average, you will pay around 16% less for housing, 5% less for healthcare, 7% less for groceries, and around 1% less for utilities.

Texas jobs

The unemployment rate in Texas is at 3.5% which is just slightly below the national average of 3.6%. The unemployment rate is going down every year but extremely slowly. The minimum wage is $7.25 which is significantly lower than in the neighboring states. The biggest industries where most people work are oil, gas, agriculture, manufacturing, steel, construction, banking, and transportation.

Texas crime rate

The crime rate in Texas is just above the national average, currently, there are 4.11 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is 4 crimes per 1000 people. The areas with the lowest crime rate are around Valentine, Round Top, Mentone, Mullin, and Melvin. The areas with the highest crime rates are around Houston, Bay City, San Antonio, Center, Jasper, Henderson, Bastrop, and Cleveland.

Texas natural disasters

Texas has a lot of natural disasters, mostly due to the local climate and due to the large size of the state. The most common natural disasters are wildfires, floods, hail storms, sinkholes, tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, heatwaves, and flash floods.

In conclusion

Overall Texas is a fairly good state for off grid living, although it has its own limitations, mostly when it comes to freshwater. Although you can legally harvest freshwater the amount you will be able to harvest every year will not be enough to water your crops as the average yearly rainfall in this state is around 20″.