Off grid living in Wisconsin ( America’s Dairyland )

Wisconsin is located right between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, with a fairly small population of around 5.8 million, the population is steadily growing although fairly slowly. There are not a lot of bad things to say about Wisconsin, in fact, this state is probably one of the best ones to raise a family and to live off the grid. Although the population is over 5.8 million, there are only 3 cities that have more than 100k population like Milwaukee with 570k, Madison with 250k, and Green Bay with around 100k population.

Living off the grid in Wisconsin is legal, although the climate is not the best for growing crops and the temperatures during the wintertime can drop to -30°F. In addition to this, the high property tax might also discourage you to live off the grid in this state. On the other hand, the price of living and the price of land is fairly cheap which is a big plus. Overall the state of Wisconsin is a good state for off grid living.

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Wisconsin is a northern state, which means that the climate will be a lot different than in the southern parts of the country, namely the winters during some years can be brutal. Due to its close proximity to two massive lakes, Wisconsin has somewhat unpredictable weather, and the winds are blowing all year round. If you are not used to high humidity then you will be in for a surprise, as Wisconsin has fairly high humidity all year round.

The constant winds and high humidity might be a problem in some areas, in older buildings, you will see black mold forming on the walls, and in buildings, with basements, the same problem persists. Wisconsin is neighboring the state of Illinois, which is considered to be a fairly bad state for off grid living, although the state of Wisconsin will surprise you as it is probably one of the best states for off grid living, if you want more information about Illinois then check out my recent article Off grid living in Illinois ( High taxes and Crime rate ).

Wisconsin climate

The climate in Wisconsin is humid continental, summers are hot and winters are cold, you will notice a fluctuation of the temperatures between the northern part and the southern part of the state. Generally speaking the summers in the northern parts are not that hot when you compare it to the southern part of the state. Although during the wintertime the temperatures can drop off significantly in the northern part.

The average temperature during the summertime is around 80°F and during the wintertime, the temperature is around -20°F. In the northern part of the state, it is not uncommon to have temperatures around -30°F during the wintertime. People who are used to harsh winters will have no problem living off the grid in Wisconsin’s climate, although if you come from the southern part of the country you will definitely struggle. If you need more information about living off the grid then check out my recent What do I need to live off the grid? ( Top 15 Items ).

Best crops to grow in Wisconsin

The most important crops in Wisconsin are potatoes and cranberries, although you will also find farms growing corn and soybeans as well. Most people who live off the grid in this state will focus on growing potatoes, as these have a fairly long shelf life provided that they are stored correctly and they do not get to stay in below-freezing temperatures. Even during the summertime, the days are somewhat shorter in the northern part of the state than in the southern part, which will impact how fast your crops will grow. If you are planning to grow your own food in this state then you should make your own compost, for more information check out my recent article How to make compost at home step by step ( In 12 Steps ).

Freshwater availability in Wisconsin

Wisconsin does not have a freshwater problem, in addition to having access to Lake Michigan and Lake Superior there are several smaller lakes and plenty of rivers. Groundwater is also fairly abundant in this state although some of the groundwater is contaminated with runoff from animal farms. Overall you shouldn’t stress too much about water in Wisconsin, you have plenty of options from where to get water.

Wisconsin wildlife

The wildlife in Wisconsin is fairly similar to its neighboring states, you can find anything from white-tailed deer, rabbits, foxes, muskrats, groundhogs, and even minks. In the local lakes and rivers, you can find black crappie, bluegill, lake sturgeon, muskellunge, and several types of catfish. Wisconsin attracts a lot of hobby fishermen, and most of the locals who live in areas near rivers and lakes also fish quite frequently. You will need a license both for fishing and hunting as well https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/outreach/FishingLicenses.html.

Generating power off the grid in Wisconsin

  • Solar power: Generally speaking the southern part of the state is better suited for generating power with solar panels as the days tend to be longer both during the summer and wintertime. There is a countrywide federal tax credit of around 30%, on top of this the state of Wisconsin also offers a 12% rebate, although this rebate is only valid up to $2000.
  • Wind power: Due to its unique geographical location the state of Wisconsin is a great place to generate power with wind turbines small and large. The local climate is impacted by the two massive lakes which produce a lot of wind. The federal tax credit also applies to wind power, and in some counties, there are certain incentives and rebates on top of the federal tax credit.

Wisconsin off grid laws

You are allowed to live off the grid legally in Wisconsin, there are no regulations for harvesting rainwater, although there are some restrictions on how you store the rainwater in some counties. The regulations regarding septic tanks are fairly strict, laws regarding homeschooling in some areas are also fairly strict but with some paperwork and by notifying the local authorities you will have no issues homeschooling your children. If you want to know the best places for off grid living in this state then check out my recent article Best Places To Live Off The Grid In Wisconsin ( Top 7 Counties ).

Wisconsin road access

In most of the state, the roads are fine, although you might run into some problems during the wintertime. Due to the high humidity and the constant winds, the roads can get covered with a  thin sheet of ice when the temperatures drop below freezing. People who live in remote areas will often use snowmobiles during the wintertime as in some rural areas it is simply not possible to plow the snow.

Wisconsin price of land

The price of land is a lot cheaper than in the neighboring state of Illinois, and it is even cheaper than in the rest of the country. Generally speaking, the price of property and housing is around 19% cheaper than in the rest of the country, in some areas this can get up to 40% cheaper. As a general rule, the closer you get to the bigger cities the higher the prices will be and the most expensive lands are around Milwaukee.

Wisconsin property tax

The property tax is almost double the national average, currently, the property tax is 1.94% and the national average is only at 1.08%. The county with the highest property tax is Sheboygan at 1.97%. Although the price of property is lower than in the rest of the country but the property tax is way too high in my opinion.

Cost of living in Wisconsin

Generally speaking, the cost of living in Wisconsin is around 10% less than in the rest of the country. You will pay around 19% less for housing, 14% less for transportation, and around 6% less for groceries. On the other hand for utilities and health-related services, you will pay about the same as you would in the rest of the country.

Wisconsin jobs

Currently, the unemployment rate is at 3.3% and it is slowly rising, in 2019 the unemployment rate was only at 2.8%. The minimum wage is $7.25 which is the same as the national average, as Wisconsin is the leading state when it comes to the production of cheese you will see a lot of people working in the agricultural industries, other industries are in the IT field, manufacturing, and even tourism.

Wisconsin crime rate

The crime rate in Wisconsin is a lot lower than the national average, currently, there are around 2.95 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is around 4 crimes per 1000 people. The crime rate is somewhat higher in the biggest cities and the surrounding regions, although this is normal.

Wisconsin natural disasters

Wisconsin has the usual natural disasters which are present in all northern states like floods, tornadoes, storms, blizzards, and even wildfires. The most frequent natural disasters which occur in this state are floods and storms, this is mostly due to the high humidity of the state and the chaotic weather cycle caused by the two lakes.

In conclusion

Not a lot of bad things can be said about Wisconsin when it comes to living off the grid, other than the high property tax and harsh winters. Living off the grid in this state will be a lot of work and preparation, most of it preparing for the winter, so if you are not used to hard manual labor then you might want to pick another state.