Washington is located in the northwestern part of the country with a population of 7.53 million. There are a lot of people who live off the grid here, as most of the state is untouched wilderness, in fact, the off grid living lifestyle has started being more and more popular over the years. In addition to this Washington also has one of the highest numbers of preppers in the country. Preppers are people who usually prepare for a worst-case scenario and most of them aim to be as self-sufficient as possible, which is more or less the same goal of people living off the grid.
Washington is not a good state for off grid living, although living off the grid is legal but the price of property is simply way too high at 64% more than the national average. On the other hand, if you have the money to invest in a property then this state has everything that you need for off grid living. Washington is a great place for growing crops, hunting, and fishing, although you will have some difficulty living as frugally as possible.
If you want to live off the grid in Washington then you will need a backup generator, especially as the winters tend to get fairly cold, my personal recommendation is to use one that has at least 3000 running watts, has dual-fuel capability, can be easily transported, and most importantly it has a good price to power ratio Click here to check it out on Amazon.com
Most of the northwestern states do not have a lot of big cities, Washington is an exception as it has 8 cities with a population of over 100k people. The biggest cities in Washington are Seattle with 700k, Spokane 215k, Tacoma 210k, Vancouver 180k, Bellevue 145k, Kent 130k, Everett 110k, and Renton with a population of 100k. At first glance you might think that Washington is mostly an urban state, the truth is that except for a few regions where the bigger cities are that most of the state is fairly rural.
There are two things that you will instantly notice when first visiting Washington, the state is one of the most beautiful ones with a lot of forests and wild nature, the second is the almost constant rain. Oftentimes during the morning hours of the day, mist will form in some areas, usually, this mist is so dense that you will hardly see anything on the road, combine this with a lot of wild animals crossing the roads, and you will have a recipe for disaster.
A lot of people say that Washington has one of the worst drivers in the country, the truth is that driving in this state can be fairly dangerous. The roads are not maintained properly, combine this with the constant rain, mist and snowing it will certainly challenge even the best drivers. If you are more interested in states on the east coast then check out my recent article Off grid living in Vermont ( The Green Mountain State ).
Due to its relatively large size, Washington has two types of climates, a continental type climate in most of the state, and in the western parts, the climate is semi-arid. During the summertime, the average temperatures are around 78°F, and during the wintertime, there are around 25°F. Most of the state is fairly humid, mist and fog will form during some of the days, both during the summer and wintertime. If you want to take a look at a state which is hot all year round then check out my recent article Off grid living in Nevada ( Silver State ).
Types of crops grown in Washington
Washington’s climate is ideal for growing crops, in fact, this state is one of the top producers of many types of fruits and vegetables. In addition to fruits and vegetables, there are also a lot of farms growing wheat, peas, spring wheat, lentils, and pulse crops. Washington produces around 80% of the countries hops, 70% of wrinkled seed peas, and around 72% of apples, in fact, there are around 12 different types of fruits and vegetables that are mostly produced by this state. If you want to take a look at the neighboring state then check out my recent article Off grid living in Oregon ( Beaver State ).
Freshwater availability in Washington
As the local climate is mostly humid continental, the state of Washington does not have water shortages, and you can also legally harvest rainwater without any problems. In addition to this, the ground and the above groundwater sources are fairly clean, this is mostly because there are not a lot of animal farms in this state to pollute the groundwater. In most of the state the average yearly rainfall is around 42″, and in the western part where the climate is semi-arid the yearly rainfall is around 7″.
Washington has a diverse wildlife, you can find here mountain goats, cougars, American black bears, coyotes, red foxes, lynx, mule deer, and white-tailed deer. As the state is fairly cold almost all year round, the types of fish that live here are somewhat limited although they are abundant. You will find anything from sturgeons, pikes, salmon, mudminnows, and smelt. On the coast, you will be able to find calico surfperch, white seaperch, walleye surfperch, striped seaperch, and other types of seaperch fish. For fishing licenses always check out the official website https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/fishing.
Generating power off the grid in Washington
- Solar power: In some areas generating power with solar panels is a good idea, in other areas it will be almost impossible due to the constant fog and mist. Washington has a State Renewable Energy System Incentive Program which is also called RESIP, as for how cheaper will it be by applying to RESIP that depends on the county and a couple of factors. On top of RESIP, you can also apply for the federal tax credit which is around 30%.
- Wind power: Setting up a wind power system will be more efficient in the western part, the problem is that all that salt water will damage the wind turbines in only a matter of years. There are some types of wind turbines that can withstand the corrosion of saltwater but these are generally extremely expensive. You can also apply for the federal tax credit for wind power as well.
Washington off grid laws
There are no laws prohibiting you from living off the grid in Washington, in fact, there are plenty of people living off the grid in this state, including a lot of preppers. As long as you respect the building code, notify the authorities, and set up a septic tank, you should not have any problems. Homeschooling in Washington is also fairly popular, the homeschooling laws are not that strict, you will only need to submit some paperwork.
Washington road access
You will have some difficulty with the road access, when it rains in Washington it pours, and the snowfall will also limit your road access. People who live off the grid in this state often use 4×4 wheel drive trucks and during the wintertime snowmobiles in the remote areas.
Price of land in Washington
The price of housing and land in Washington is extremely expensive, you will pay around 64% more in this state than the national average. Although you will be able to find homesteads that are somewhat cheaper but they will still be more expensive than the national average.
Washington property tax
The property tax in Washington is at 1.03%, which is below the national average of 1.08%. Although this might look good at first glance but the problem is that the price of housing and land is well above the national average. The county with the lowest property tax is in King County with 0.93%.
Cost of living in Washington
Generally speaking, Washington is expensive, the cost of living is around 18% more expensive than the national average. The cost of housing is around 64% higher, transportation 13%, and you will also pay 2% more for groceries. On the other hand, you will pay around 17% less for healthcare services and 26% less for utilities.
The unemployment rate in Washington is high, currently, it is at 4.5% and the national average is at 3.6%. Currently, the minimum wage is $12 which is somewhat higher than in the neighboring states. The biggest industries where most of the people work are agriculture, forestry, transportation, communication technology, and tourism.
Washington crime rate
The crime rate is below the national average, currently, it is at 3.11 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is 4 crimes per 1000 people. The areas with the lowest crime rate are around St. John, Lyle, Colton, Palouse, Black Diamond, and Colfax. The areas with the highest crime rate are around Shelton, Spokane, Ritzville, Chehalis, and Tacoma.
Washington natural disasters
Washington has a lot of natural disasters like wildfires, floods, storms, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and even volcanoes. Most of these rarely occur except floods, storms, and floods which can be fairly common in some areas.
Overall I would not recommend Washington for off grid living purposes, the cost of living and the price of housing is way too high in my opinion. You will also have to face the harsh winters and the somewhat unpredictable weather all year round, so if you are not familiar with the local climate then this will definitely be a challenge.