Living off the grid is not that easy as some would want you to think, especially if you are not used to working long hours outdoors. Far too many people jump on the bandwagon of living off the grid, but the truth is that a lot of them will simply not adjust to an off-grid living lifestyle. People who are used to being all day long outside and working no matter what the weather conditions are will have a significantly easier time adjusting to the off grid lifestyle.
While most people who want to live off the grid want to do it to reduce their expenses but the main point of living off the grid is to be as self-sufficient as possible. The good news is that there are a couple of tips and tricks which I will give you in order to make your off grid experience a lot better. Even if you are used to hard work you will still have to keep an eye out for a couple of pitfalls, and if you do not plan everything carefully you will just make things harder for yourself.
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For the most part, your finances will determine how easy the transition will be to an off grid lifestyle, and a lot of people tend to forget that it is almost impossible to become self-sufficient in the first year. This means that if you are on a tight budget you still need to find a job, and if you move into a remote area then this will be fairly difficult. The state where you want to live off the grid will also determine what you can do in terms of growing crops, how you will generate power and how will you get water.
There are a lot of people giving advice and tips on how you can live off the grid, although a lot of them are fairly good tips but you have to take into consideration your own circumstances. Everybody’s off grid living experience will be different, and you will learn a lot about yourself and your capabilities in the first couple of months. If you want to know what kind of skills you will need to live off the grid then check out my recent article ( Top 22 ) Skills needed to live off the grid.
1. Choose a good off grid living state
Although you can live off the grid legally in every state but this doesn’t mean that every state is equal when it comes to living off the grid. One of the biggest mistakes which most beginners do is that they look at how the area looks and base their decision upon that. Instead, you should think of a couple of things which will definitely impact you like the availability of freshwater, options for generating crops, how harsh the winters are, what is the cost of living, and how high are the taxes.
You have to think logically and not let your emotions interfere, ideally, you would want to get a good deal when it comes to living off the grid. By a good deal, I mean low cost of living, low property taxes, and having the ability to grow plenty of crops. If you want to know which states are the best for living off the grid then check out my recent article Best states for off grid living ( 1-50 Best to Worst ).
2. Choose a county with low property tax
Before fantasizing about how cool will it be to live off the grid in a state like New Jersey or California you have to think of how much will that actually cost you. In some areas of the country, the property taxes are so high that you are basically renting from the local government. The main problem with the property tax is that it is tied to the value of your property and not to your income. This means that even if you lose your job or become disabled you will still have to pay a set amount of property tax although you do not have an income.
One of the biggest mistakes which you can do is to live off the grid in a county with a high property tax. If you are not able to work remotely or you do not have a lot of money set aside then you have to expect a significant drop in your income while living off the grid. Once you have identified a potential state where you would want to live off the grid you also should check the property tax in every county.
3. Consider a state or county without building codes
Although building codes are essential in most urban areas because if you do not build your house correctly you might endanger the life of others. On the other hand, if you have experience in building houses then the building codes will only make it a lot more difficult for you. The good news is that there are a couple of states and counties which do not have building codes for more information check out my recent article States and counties with no building codes ( Top 8 ).
4. Choose a suitable plot of land for off grid living
When choosing a suitable plot of land you will have to consider a couple of things like water, generating power, security, and what kind of crops you can grow. In addition to this, you also have to consider road access, this is one aspect which a lot of people tend to forget. If you buy a cheap plot of land in a remote area then you might think you have made the deal of your lifetime. Only to double the cost of building your homestead with the transport costs.
5. Have the possibility to generate power off the grid
For the most part, you will have two options when it comes to generating power, either with solar panels or with wind turbines. Although a lot of people will tell you that you do not need to generate power to live comfortably off the grid, but trust me if you are used to using your phone and having lights during the night then you will have an extremely difficult time adjusting without any power.
Not all areas are well suited for generating power, in the northern parts of the country you will have no problem generating power with solar panels during the summer, but during the winter the days tend to be significantly shorter in the north than in the south. This means that it will become dark a lot faster and your solar panels will not be able to charge your batteries.
6. Know the winter conditions
This is often overlooked by a lot of people, only to discover how dangerous winters can be while living off the grid. Most people who live in the northern parts of the country where winters tend to be harsh and they also last fairly long will work for most of the year to ensure that they have enough firewood and food for the winter. Although gathering firewood is possible even during the winter but you will have an extremely difficult time doing it, and you just expose yourself to massive risk.
7. Have plenty of firewood
Even if in the area the winters are mild you have to still heat your home. There is a big temperature difference between the temperatures in a city and only a couple of miles away. This is especially true if you live in a remote area, and you will find that even during the summertime once evening comes the temperatures drop off significantly. Always have plenty of firewood, this way you avoid the situation of going outside in the middle of a storm or during the winter to collect firewood.
8. Have several communication devices
Most people who live off the grid want to be left alone and not bothered by anybody, but all of them have several communication devices for emergency situations. You might think that your smartphone will be enough but you will not be able to rely on it as there is no guarantee that you will have a cell phone signal during a storm or otherwise harsh conditions. Ideally, in addition to your smartphone, you should also have a HAM radio or even a satellite phone and solar charger for them.
9. Have the possibility to collect rainwater
For the most part, you can legally collect rainwater in most states, although some areas do have restrictions and regulations when it comes to rainwater harvesting. If you choose a state which has plenty of rainfall all year round then you will have no problem harvesting plenty of rainwater. On the other hand, if you move to an area that is arid or semi-arid then you will not be able to harvest enough rainwater.
In this case, you have to do what most homesteaders do in such areas which is to buy water and store it in large water cisterns.
10. Don’t rely only on your crops for food
One mistake which almost every new off gridder does is to think that they will be able to grow enough food to last them all year round. The truth is that growing crops is not that easy and a lot of things can go wrong. Even if you have plenty of experience of growing crops but you move to a different area you will face other challenges like different diseases and pests. This is especially important if you live in an area where wild hogs or feral pigs live, as these can destroy all your crops in a matter of hours.
11. Don’t raise livestock in the first year off the grid
Diversifying your food options is a good idea, but you should not raise livestock in the first year. Ideally, you should grow crops in the first year and then calculate if your crops can feed livestock as well. The last thing which you would want is to run to the store to get animal feed, especially if you have larger livestock like cows and goats. Only start raising livestock once you are sure that your crops can feed you and your livestock as well.
12. Have DIY skills
If you are not used to using your hands to work then the transition to living off the grid will be fairly painful. Most people who move off the grid tend to build everything themselves, although you can pay somebody else to build your homestead and other things which you might need but you will also have to maintain the homestead and the fence as well. If your roof starts to leak during the wintertime then it will cost you a lot of money to get somebody to repair it so you should learn how to do it yourself.
If you are not a DIY kind of person but you want to learn then there are some classes which you can take, usually most of these are around woodworking so look for such classes in your area.
13. Have a plan for making money off the grid
Although living off the grid will significantly reduce your costs of living but you will still need some money every month, especially for maintenance and fixing things. It is possible to live off by making a profit from your crops and livestock, although if you are new to living off the grid it will take some time until you make a profit. If you are a good handyman than you will have no problem finding a couple of gigs to supplement your income, although if you have a lot of debt then you have to think about how you are going to make enough money both for everyday expenses and for paying off your debt as well.
14. Learn from other off gridders
One of the most important things to have while living off the grid is knowledge. While you are on my website you are learning theory although this is good but you should learn in practice as well. There are a lot of off grid communities all across the country, you should look up a couple of them. These communities will often allow new people to join for a couple of months and in exchange for your work, they will feed and house you.
Trust me even if you spend only a couple of weeks in one of these communities you will learn so much, like how to raise livestock, how to grow crops and how to maintain and repair stuff around your homestead, plus you will make a lot of friends who will always be happy to help you with information and valuable advice.
As you can see there are a couple of tips which you have probably never thought of. One of the most important aspects of off grid living is the financial aspect, if you are in a lot of debt, and you move to an area which has high taxes then it will take you a long time to actually be self-sufficient. Even if you have some debt you should still focus on paying it off as fast as possible before it starts seriously impacting your everyday life.