When it comes to living off the grid not a lot of people tend to talk about Virginia, although at the first glance it might look like an excellent off grid state. Virginia is located on the east coast with a population of 8.5 million and the population is slowly rising every year. Virginia has a lot of cities with a population of over 100k people, the biggest city is Virginia Beach with a population of 450k people followed by Norfolk with 245k, Chesapeake 237k, Arlington 230k, Richmond 220k, Newport News 180k, Alexandria 150k, and Hampton with 135k residents.
Virginia is a fairly good state for off grid living, living off the grid is legal, and so is harvesting rainwater. Due to its unique geographical location, the climate is fairly mild which will allow you to grow different types of crops, on top of that the growing period is also fairly long. On the other hand, you will have some difficulty finding suitable land for a homestead, mostly due to the high population density, although you will have a lot easier time finding a good off grid location in the western part of the state.
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The population density in Virginia is fairly high, which will make living off the grid in certain areas extremely expensive although not impossible. Generally speaking in the eastern part of the state the population density is higher and the further you go towards the west the population density tends to get lower. Even though the population density is fairly higher there are still a lot of areas that are considered untouched nature.
A lot of people dismiss Virginia as an off grid state due to the high cost of living, the truth is that the cost of living is right on the level of the national average, although land and housing tend to be somewhat expensive especially in the eastern regions. What makes a lot of people think that Virginia has a high cost of living is the minimum wage of $7.25, which is the lowest on the east coast.
Virginia is not that expensive, in fact, it is one of the cheapest in terms of cost of living and property prices on the east coast, although you will struggle if you make only $7.25 per hour. There are a lot of people living off the grid in this state, and a big percentage of them have moved to this state from one of the northern states. If you want to compare Virginia to West Virginia then check out my recent article Off grid living in West Virginia ( Mountain State ).
The climate in Virginia is humid subtropical, summers are hot and winters are mild. In addition to fairly mild weather, the local climate is also great for growing a lot of different types of crops. The average temperature during the summertime is around 86°F, and the average wintertime temperature is around 35°F. Do note that the summers are fairly humid and if you are not used to this high humidity then you will have some difficulty adjusting. If you want to make your own soap without lye then check out my recent article How to make soap from scratch without lye? ( Fast & Easy ).
Types of crops grown in Virginia
The local climate is great for growing crops, you will see a lot of tobacco fields in addition to wheat, maize, barley, corn, and even peanut farms. Generally speaking, the areas where peanuts are grown have a lot of groundwater as this crop needs a lot of water. In addition to this, you can also grow a lot of different types of vegetables in this state like tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, beans, and sweet corn. If you are looking for a state with an even milder climate then check out my recent article Off grid living in North Carolina ( Old North State ).
Freshwater availability in Virginia
As the local climate is humid subtropical, Virginia doesn’t have a problem with freshwater. The average yearly rainfall is around 43″, and the average yearly snowfall is between 8″ and 35″, generally speaking, the areas on the coastline get more rain and snowfall every year. The groundwater in Virginia is fairly clean in the Western part although the closer you get to the coast the higher the chances are of the groundwater being contaminated.
Due to Virginia’s high population density, you will not find a lot of animals in this state although Virginia is home to American black bears, white-tailed deers, foxes, bobcats, beavers, coyotes, and groundhogs. The most common freshwater fish are largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, pumpkinseed, black crappie, and white crappie. The most common saltwater fish are bluefish, weakfish, red drum, king mackerel, striped bass, spot, and spotted seatrout. You will need a fishing license both for saltwater and freshwater fishing https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/licenses/.
Generating power off the grid in Virginia
- Solar power: Virginia doesn’t have local incentives for solar power, although you can still apply for the federal tax credit which is 26%. People who add solar panels to their homes tend to find out that they will have to pay more for the property tax as the solar power system has increased the value of their property, luckily there is a law in Virginia that exempts solar panels from the total value of the house or property.
- Wind power: There are no local incentives for wind power, but you can still use the federal tax credit. Generally speaking, the best areas to set up wind turbines are right on or near the coast.
Virginia off grid laws
Living off the grid in Virginia is legal, although you will have to respect the local building code no matter where you build. The laws and regulations regarding septic tanks will be different from one county to another so you will have to contact your local authorities for more info on that. If you want to homeschool your children then you can do it fairly easily as the homeschooling laws are not that strict.
Virginia road access
Virginia has a fairly stable economy and for the most part, the quality of the roads are good. In most areas, the roads are well maintained, although in the western part of the state you will come across some roads which are in a bad shape. As Virginia has a mild climate you will not have to worry about snow blocking the roads, except if you live near the mountains, although the yearly snowfall even in the mountainous areas is fairly low when compared to the northern states.
Virginia price of land
The price of land in Virginia is above the national average, more precisely a house or a piece of land will cost you around 11% more than the national average. At the first glance, this 11% higher cost to property and land might seem significant, but the truth is that there is a big difference when it comes to prices between the eastern and the western parts of the state. Generally speaking, the most expensive lands are on the east coast and the cheapest lands and property are in the western parts of the state.
Virginia property tax
The property tax in Virginia is 0.80% which is below the 1.08% national average. The county with the highest property tax is Loudoun County with 1.098%.
Cost of living in Virginia
Virginia’s cost of living is just above the national average, you will pay around 11% more for housing, and 3% more for healthcare services. On the other hand, you will pay around 1% less for utilities, transportation, and groceries.
The unemployment rate in Virginia is lower than the national average, currently, it is at 2.6% and the national average is at 3.6%. The minimum wage is at $7.25, which is as low as you can go, some of Virginia’s neighboring states have a higher minimum wage. The biggest industries where most people work are agriculture, forestry, commercial fishing, manufacturing, and tourism.
Virginia crime rate
Virginia has one of the lowest crime rates on the east coast, currently, there are 2 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is 4 crimes per 1000 people. The areas with the lowest crime rates are around New Castle, Washington, Palmyra, Charles City, and Pocahontas. The areas with the highest crime rates are around Bedford, Norfolk, Fredericksburg, Winchester, and South Boston.
Virginia natural disasters
Virginia has a couple of natural disasters that are typical for the east coast like thunderstorms, hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, floods, flash floods, winter storms, ice storms, heatwaves, and droughts. The most commonly occurring natural disasters are storms and thunderstorms, especially on the coast.
Overall Virginia is a good state for off grid living, the cost of living is right on the national average, the crime rate is low and the local climate is mild. One of the main complaints people giving in this state have is the minimum wage which is only $7.25.