What do I need to live off the grid? ( Top 15 Items )

Living off the grid needs a lot of preparation, and in most cases, it will be a financial challenge. The off grid lifestyle is not well suited to everybody and you will have to drop some of the modern-day luxuries. The off grid lifestyle is all about being as frugal as possible, without any unnecessary spendings and with a more or less self-sufficient way of life. Way too many people jump on the first opportunity to live off the grid and they do risk a lot.

There are two extremely important things which you need to live off the grid, a propper off grid land and a detailed plan on how will you live off the grid. The financial aspects of living off the grid are also important, although most people who live off the grid tend to focus on being as self reliant as possible which means that the financial costs of living off the grid will be fairly low in the long run.

The most essential item for living off the grid will be your water filter, my personal recommendation is to use a gravity-fed water filter Click here to check it out on Amazon.com

You will have to plan and budget everything, although an off grid property can be fairly cheap to set up but the small costs like transportation will add up and take a significant amount out of your budget. If you plan to move to a remote area and you have a small car, then odds are that you will have to change it for a 4 wheel drive car. If you have children you will have to take into consideration how will they get to school.

On the other hand, if you are planning to homeschool your children then you have to know everything about the local homeschooling laws. A lot of people think that buying some items like solar panels, water filters, and so on is enough to live off the grid, the truth is that the off grid way of life is a lot of work and improvisation. Tools and items are not enough, you will need at least some basic DIY skills to set everything up.

Setting up a small homestead can be fairly cheap and fast, the problem is that in remote areas making something as simple as a homestead will take a lot of time. My personal recommendation is not to invest all your money in a homestead, as it might not work out. A lot of people will tell you that you need some fancy generators and such, the truth is that most people who live off the grid only use the generators when needed and not all day long as some people might suggest. If you are planning to move into the woods, then check out my recent article How to live off the grid in the woods? ( In 15 Steps ).

Detailed plan before moving off the grid

The first thing that you will need is a detailed plan, remember this is not like buying a house. If you have never lived without modern utilities like water, electricity, gas, and internet then moving to an off grid home will be a massive shock. You almost have to think like a settler who moved to the area hundreds of years ago, if you have the ability to use the local materials to build your homestead then that will save you a lot of money.

Think of the logistics, how you will go to work, how will the kids go to school, and how far is the nearest town. The main problem with people new to off grid living is that they expect everything to happen in an instant, if your water pipe is leaking you can get a handyman in a couple of hours to fix it, but if you live off the grid you might not be able to find somebody who can fix it and is willing to go to your location unless you pay a lot of money.

Know the local off grid laws

Living off the grid is legal, however, there are certain regulations more specifically to harvesting rainwater, homeschooling, and building a house. These laws will differ from one county to another, so make sure that you inform yourself before making any decisions.

Off grid house

Some people choose to build their own off grid home while others simply buy an already established off grid home. By established off grid home I mean that people have been living there more or less off the grid for a couple of years already. Generally speaking, people who have plenty of experience with off grid living will build their own homestead, and people who are fairly new to it will purchase an off grid property.

If you choose to buy an off grid property then look at the local offers with a bit of skepticism and find out why they are actually selling. You might think that you are getting a bargain but the groundwater is contaminated or the property doesn’t actually have all the papers in order. Make sure that the property does abide by the local building codes and it does have all the right paperwork.

Temporary off grid shelter

People who build their own off grid home will often make a small temporary shelter right next to the construction site. This way they can work all day on the house without wasting time commuting to the location every day. You don’t need some fancy shelter for this, simply use a Yurt as it can fit several people fairly comfortably. Yurts are cool during the summer and they will trap the heat during the wintertime.

Word of caution: Most people who set up a temporary shelter tend to stay a lot longer in it as they had planned to, I personally know a couple of families who planned to live in the shelter for 3 months till they build their cabin and more than one year later they are still in the temporary shelter.

What are your options when it comes to food while living off the grid

Most people will tell you that you should grow your own food, which is true but you will definitely not be able to do it in the first year. People who live off the grid will prepare for the wintertime during the summer, growing crops, fishing, and gathering firewood. When you first move to your off grid home you will need food for a couple of months, my personal recommendation is to buy rice, pasta, and corn, basically, food items that do not need refrigeration and only need water to be edible.

Just watch out what kind of corn you buy as most corn is actually grown as animal feed. You can also add some canned foods just to spice things up if you plan to move to a remote area then you will have to take everything with you as going to the store every day will not be an option. Also do not forget coffee, sugar, salt, and spices. If you want to know how you can make compost for your garden then check out my recent article How to make compost at home step by step ( In 12 Steps ).

Off grid water supply

Once you find your ideal property or land then you have to find a way to get water. If you are planning to buy an off grid home then find out how they get water and make sure to test the water. If there are pig or cattle farms nearby then odds are that the groundwater is contaminated. Your easiest options to get water will be either from a local stream or from harvesting rainwater. If you plan on harvesting rainwater then make sure to check how much precipitation the area gets.

In addition to this, you should also check the local regulations if there are any regarding rainwater harvesting, some states will limit the amount of water you can harvest. Generally speaking, states which have an arid climate will have regulations for rainwater harvesting. Once you have figured out from where you will get the water then you have to think about how you can filter and purify the water. There are plenty of gravity-fed water filters that work fine, but for purifying the water your best option will be to boil it. If you need more information about harvesting water then check out my recent article Best ways to collect rainwater ( Top 11 Ways ).

Filtering and purifying water off the grid

A lot of people only filter the water as they think that filtering it is the same as purifying it. The water filter will filter out bacteria, heavy metals, and parasites, but it can not filter out viruses and chemicals from the water. So to kill the viruses in the water you will need to boil it, removing the chemicals might be extremely difficult, this is why you should test the water in the area before you buy land or property.

The main reason why water filters do not filter out viruses is that the holes in the filters are way too big and the viruses simply go through it. Even though the best water filters have a 0.2-micron filter, they are still too big and will let viruses through.

Storing water off the grid

When you first move to your off grid location then the odds are that you will have to carry water to the location. In this case, your best option will be to use stackable water bricks, just be careful as not all water bricks are stackable, and with the added weight they will start to leak. Once you set up the system with which you get water then it is time to think of how you store it, for this you can either use water barrels or water cisterns.

My recommendation is to use water barrels in the beginning and after a couple of months upgrade to a water cistern, make sure to check the local regulations regarding the size of the water cistern. On the other hand, if you want to be sneaky with your water storage then you could always place a water bladder tank beneath your house or temporary shelter.

Off grid indoor heating options

During the summertime, you will have no problem with heating your home or your temporary shelter. The problem comes during the wintertime, generally speaking, the winters can be fairly cold in the northern parts of the country. Your best option will be to use a wood stove to heat your home, although it is a good idea to have a backup system like a propane heater, just in case. It is always a good idea to stock up on firewood during the summertime and make sure you store them correctly in a dry location like a small shed.

Off grid tools

You will need tools both for gardening, construction, and maintenance. You will improvise a lot while you live off the grid, so it is always a good idea to have some useful tools laying around like a power drill, saw, hatchet, paracord, tarps, and so on. If you are using power tools then make sure to get ones that are battery-powered, as you probably won’t be able to generate enough power for them with solar panels.

Generating power off the grid

There are a lot of different generators on the market, but your best option is either generating power with solar panels or with a small wind turbine. As for which will work the best for you that entirely depends on the location. Keep in mind that solar panels do need direct sunlight to function at maximum efficiency and in the case of wind turbines these need to be in an open area where the local vegetation doesn’t obstruct the wind.

Keep in mind that during the wintertime the days are a lot shorter, especially in the northern part of the country so you will not be able to generate as much power with solar panels. The good news about wind turbines and solar panels is that there is a federal tax credit of around 30% for them, and in some states, you can combine these with local incentives and tax rebates. Once you have decided what you are going to use for generating power, then it is time to think about storing power.

You can find batteries that work fine for storing power, the latest models of these batteries will always be more efficient but they will also cost a lot more. You will have to do some math on how much power you are using every day and figure out how can you store enough power for at least a couple of days. Generally speaking, you will need power for your lights, charging your mobile devices, and powering some tools.

Off grid personal hygiene plan

When it comes to personal hygiene you can forget about long baths and even hot water for a while. Most people who recently moved to an off grid location will either make an improvised shower or they will get an outdoor shower, both do the job. The problem comes during the wintertime as most of the “plumbing” will be located outdoors and the water will simply freeze, at this point your only option will be to bathe in a bucket

You could invest in a water heating system that only needs sunlight to work, these are similar to solar panels but instead of the solar cells they have long tubes with water in them, this is then connected to your indoor shower or water system. The good thing about this is that they work great even during the wintertime and they will provide you with hot water as long as the sun is shining.

Off grid first aid kit

As off grid living is a lot of work you will sooner or later have your palms and fingers covered in blisters, bruises, and cuts, even if you are using work gloves. Most first aid kits have a lot of stuff in them and they are relatively high quality. A small untreated cut can complicate your life, especially if you live in the middle of nowhere. My personal recommendation is to get a first aid kit which also comes with an illustrated guide book.

Off grid waste disposal

Not a lot of people actually think about how they will dispose of their waste, and in the long run, this will be a massive problem. Not disposing of your waste correctly will attract pests like mice and rodents, with these the local predators will also come. When it comes to waste disposal you have a couple of options, latrine, septic tank, or a green toilet, the truth is that all of them have the same function and they all need periodic cleaning and maintenance.

A septic tank can last you around 20-40 years, the truth is that you will most likely just dig a ditch and use a latrine in the beginning. The problem with septic tanks is that they need to be emptied after a while, and this will not be an option for most people who live off the grid due to road access. So you will have to come up with a solution, which most likely will be to empty the septic tank yourself.

Recycling off the grid

After a couple of months of living off the grid, you will become a recycling master. You can recycle anything from the water for flushing the toilet and watering your crops, to the scraps of food which you will use to make your own compost. If any of your equipment breaks down then you will have to improvise and fix it, so odds are that you will not throw away any of your tools and devices.

In conclusion

As you can see you will need some basic items to live off the grid, but by far the most important thing that you need is a good plan without it you will end up spending a lot more money and time than you should. Some people will actually skip generating power and they still have a fairly comfortable although isolated lifestyle, if you are new to living off the grid then I highly recommend you to generate your own power.