Most people who want to live off the grid search for the cheapest land that they can get their hands on, generally speaking, this is a good idea, although there are several factors that will make living off the grid cheaper, and cheap land is just one piece of the bigger puzzle, basically, the cheapest land is not always the best when it comes to off grid living. A lot of people also are looking for free off the grid land and for states and counties which will actually pay you to move there as long as you build a house.
A good plot of land for off grid living has to have some fertile soil and most importantly be either close to a freshwater source or have plenty of yearly rainfall so you can harvest rainwater. No state is perfect for off grid living, we all have to manage with what we got. Although some lands are definitely better than others when it comes to off grid living.
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As you can see you have a couple of things to already think about, the first thing you should think of is making a budget, without a strict budget your expenses will spiral out of control. A lot of people make the big mistake of buying a piece of land just because of the scenery, the problem with these kinds of lands is that they are fairly expensive for homesteading or off grid living. I always tell people who want to move to another state to first check it out for a couple of weeks, as you will get a better idea of what life in that state would be, and while you are there you might as well check several properties.
If you are looking for the perfect state to live off the grid, then you will probably never find it, all states have pros and cons, what makes a good state for off grid living is your ability to limit the cons as much as possible. If you want more information about which states are good and which are bad for off grid living or homesteading then check my recent article Best states for off grid living ( 1-50 Best to Worst ).
Ideal climate for off grid living
The first and most important thing when deciding where to buy land is the local climate. The climate will determine how easy or how hard your off grid living experience will be, in addition to this the local climate will also determine what kind of crops you can grow. So if you want a self-sustaining lifestyle then it is a good idea to buy land in an area where you can actually grow crops. The country has a lot of different types of climates, some are well suited for growing crops while others are better suited for growing livestock.
If you suffer from allergies then you will find it extremely difficult to live in some states, so make sure to spend a week or two in that state to see if your allergies make your life a living hell or if you can handle them. Generally, it is a good idea to pick a state which has hot summers and cold winters, I know that you might think that it would be a lot better to move to an area where the climate is a lot hotter as you would not have problems heating your house during the wintertime and that you could grow crops all year around.
The truth is that states which have a fairly hot climate all year round are not the best places to live off the grid, most of them do have a fairly serious water shortage and you might even find that you can not even harvest rainwater legally for personal use.
Avoid areas with natural disasters for off grid living
Natural disasters can occur in any state, the most common ones are floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and blizzards. Follow common sense, don’t move to an area that is prone to flooding if you do then try to build your homestead on top of a hill. If the area is prone to hurricanes and tornadoes make sure that your new house has a basement. For areas that do have fairly cold winters have a backup plan on top of the backup plan when it comes to heating your home, and when everything fails, have a plan for how you will get to safety.
Off grid land has to have freshwater
The third most important thing to look for in a potential off grid land is freshwater and how available it is. Luckily most of the US has plenty of water, both above and below the ground, the problem is that some of it might be contaminated and in arid areas, these kinds of properties will be extremely expensive. Generally, speaking states which have a coastline tend to have their water polluted in some areas by seawater, and cleaning this up is not an option. One of the best states with the most freshwater is Minnesota, for more information check out my recent article Off grid living in Minnesota ( Land of 10,000 Lakes ).
When it comes to water, you have 3 options:
- Harvesting rainwater: Harvesting rainwater is fairly easy, the problem is that it is not legal in some of the states, and in others, you might need a permit depending on the size of the water cistern you are using. When thinking of harvesting rainwater you probably think of a water barrel, although if you have a family and you plan to also water your crops with this water then you will need a bigger container or a cistern.
- Groundwater: There are a lot of aquifers in the country, most of them are not polluted so it is safe to drink. Groundwater replenishes overtime with rainwater and this is why it is illegal to harvest rainwater in some states. Always test the water source on the lad before purchasing, just go to the nearest well, and ask the owner to let you fill a bottle with water and have it test it. In areas where there are a lot of pig and cattle farms, you will find that the groundwater is probably contaminated.
- Fossil water: Fossil water is ancient water, which has been in the ground for thousands of years, the main difference between groundwater and fossil water is that it takes a long time to replenish fossil water with rainwater, and by a long time I mean around thousands of years.
Types of crops you can grow off the grid
Not all the people who live off the grid grow crops, and if you can manage to live comfortably without growing crops then good for you. In general, most people who are fairly new to off-grid living will start with something as simple as a vegetable garden and start working their way up to grow crops that will feed their families. What kind of crops you can grow in an area will be different from state to state.
My personal recommendation is to simply check the state’s agricultural industry, what is the state producing the most of, and in most cases, the land will be suited for a couple of types of crops. You will find plenty of states which grow corn, just keep in mind that most of this corn is not grown for human consumption but for feeding animals. If you are looking for a state which is great for growing crops then check out my recent article Off grid living in Kansas ( The Sunflower State ).
Local wildlife can make living off the grid easier
You should always diversify your options for feeding yourself and your family. Fishing and hunting should always be an option, especially if you want to live as frugally as possible. The hunting and fishing permits and licenses will differ from one state to another, generally speaking, they are fairly cheap as long as you actually live in that particular state. Just keep in mind that there are different seasons both for hunting and fishing.
Generating power off the grid
Some people who live off the grid do not use any electricity whatsoever, I don’t really recommend it for people who are just beginning their off grid journey as it can be extremely difficult and isolating. I see a lot of people buying high powered generators, although these are good under certain circumstances like in an emergency situation but planning to power your entire homestead with a diesel or gas generator all year round will be extremely difficult.
When it comes to generating power in the long run and efficiently you have 3 options
- Solar power: This is by far one of the best ways to generate power, in most areas you will have no problem generating power with solar panels all year round. On the other hand, this might be a challenge in the northern states during the wintertime, as the days can be fairly short, just keep that in mind.
- Wind power: In a lot of states you will be able to generate more power with wind, even if your main way of generating power is with solar panels it is still a good idea to have wind power as a backup option.
- Hydroelectric power: Generating power with the help of water, from streams and rivers. Usually, you will need specialized equipment and special permits to set up a hydroelectric system, and they are extremely expensive.
Off grid tax credits, incentives, and rebates
Currently, there is a federal tax credit of 30% when it comes to solar and wind power generators. In some states, you will find that this federal tax credit can be somewhat lower of around 26%. In addition to this, some states do offer local incentives and rebates on top of the federal tax credit which when put together might save you up to 60% of the total cost. These federal and local tax credits and incentives both apply to wind and solar, and only under certain circumstances for hydroelectric power generators.
Basically, you have to keep in mind that there are 3 levels of tax credits and incentives, the federal tax credit applies for the entire country, statewide incentives apply for the entire state and the local incentives apply for the county. The good news is that you can combine all 3 of them, the bad news is that applying to all 3 levels will take a long time as bureaucracy moves slower than at a snail’s pace, and getting information is fairly hard as most local and state websites either have outdated information or simply don’t work.
My best advice is to hire somebody to do the paperwork for you, oftentimes these people already know the procedure and have connections which means that they can speed up the process.
Off grid laws
If you want to live off the grid then you should know the local laws which would impact your ability to live off the grid. Although you will not find any state which has a specific law making off grid living illegal, but certain laws could make it impossible or extremely difficult to live off the grid.
- Rainwater harvesting: In most states harvesting rainwater is legal, although even if it is legal you might be limited on the amount of rainwater you can harvest and for what you can use it.
- Building codes: This is probably one of the biggest problems for off grid living in some states, some of the requirements to build an off-grid homestead will make the costs of building it will be extremely expensive, and in some cases outright impossible.
- Utilities: If you already own a property that is hooked up to utilities you might find it difficult to get off the grid in certain states.
- Homeschooling: If you have children and you want to homeschool them then you should know that homeschooling laws are different from one state to another and even from one county to another.
Living off the grid should be done in a state with a low property tax
Property tax is something you should keep in mind, although it is not actually as important as you might think. What you should keep in mind that even if a state has a set property tax, this number can fluctuate from county to county quite a lot. The reason why I am saying that the property tax isn’t as important is because the land for off grid living will be fairly cheap, mostly because people do not tend to buy a property that doesn’t have all the utilities connected to it.
Off grid cost of living
The cost of living will depend on your financial situation, although it would be a good idea to move into a state which has a fairly low cost of living. You should think of seasonality if you have to travel to work and to buy groceries during the wintertime then the fuel will cost you a lot more than during the summertime especially if your access to roads is fairly limited.
Price of off grid land
Once you have identified in which state you want to live off the grid, then it is time to look for some properties. Most people will go online and search for some local property listings, the prices online will be a lot higher than in reality. My personal recommendation is to buy some good old fashioned local newspapers, you will see that the listings there are a lot cheaper than online and that the price will be different from one county to another.
Off grid road access
Not a lot of people actually think about road access before buying an off grid property, the problem is that if you want to build an off grid homestead then you will have to think about how all the construction materials will be transported to the location, the more inaccessible and remote the location is the higher the costs will be. In addition to this, it is also a good idea to think how long will you have to travel to and from work every day and make some calculations, you might save a few bucks on the property but if your monthly fuel expenses are sky high then you end up increasing your personal cost of living.
Job availability while living off the grid
The first thing to look for is the local unemployment level, the US average is around 4% so anything above that means that you will have somewhat a harder time finding a job. Most skilled jobs will be in the urban areas and the unskilled jobs will be in more rural communities. Just search for the major industries in the county and you will get an idea where you could find a job easier.
Low off grid crime rate areas
A lot of people are very concerned about the crime rate in some of the states, the problem is that most of the crime rate is due to the local cities, the bigger the cities are the higher the crime rate will be. In this case, my personal recommendation is not to look at the statewide crime rate but look for the crime rate for individual counties. You will find counties with lower crime rates even if the state average crime rate is high.
Living off the grid with health problems
Not a lot of people actually take into consideration their health-related issues when thinking of moving to an off grid property. The older you are the more health-related issues you might have, although there are plenty of seniors living off the grid but sooner or later they will have a medical emergency. If you live in a remote area, and you are at the peak of your masculine evolution, but you break your leg and have to call 911, due to the difficult terrain they will probably send a helicopter.
The helicopter ride will be outsourced to another company as most hospitals do not have helicopters, and guess how much the third party company will charge you, the sky is the limit.
As you can see there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to off grid land, my recommendation is to write a list and start comparing one county to another. Even if some states might not look like a good off grid state at first glance, but you still could find some counties which will be perfect for off grid living. Good luck!