“Off-the-grid” refers to living in homes that are autonomous, meaning they do not rely on municipal water supply, sewer, natural gas, the electrical power grid, or similar utility services. A true off-grid house is able to operate completely independently of all traditional public utility services. It takes a lot of planning, prepping, and work to make the move off grid. And once you’re off grid, the maintenance and upkeep of your homestead can take a lot of work. I will highlight some of the basic things to consider when deciding if off the grid living is right for you and some tips to help you get there.
Getting off the grid is going to in most cases be very expensive. Acquiring land, solar panels, materials to build with, is going to be a burden on most people's finances. Here are some suggestions to help you get more money for your off the grid starter fund.
- REDUCE YOUR EXPENSES: Cut out the bills you don’t need. You can cut your cable off temporarily to help you save money. If an antenna is an option where you live, you could purchase one and set it up. Not only would you save money each month but you would have TV available when you are off grid. Wouldn’t you rather put that $50-$150 or more per month toward your off grid fund? Any unnecessary bills can be cut is money for your fund.
- SAVE MONEY: You can save money by not eating out often, and that includes frivolous purchases of small items which add up over the course of a month. Coffee at your local coffee shop, candy bars, snacks, fast food, drinks, and sodas. Not only are they bad for you, they cost you money. You could save $100 or more per month.
- SELL YOUR OLD STUFF: You can sell your old stuff sitting in the garage, attic, and basement. You know that shed out back that’s full of junk you never use, or that back room that you just throw stuff when you’re not using it? It’s likely that if you haven’t used in a year or more, you probably don’t need it. Wouldn’t you rather put that money to good use.? That’s money sitting there collecting dust. Even if it’s only $5. Don't let your old stuff sit there and take up space. Use it for getting yourself off the grid. Sell it, and put that money in the bank!
- RECLAIM AND RECYCLE BUILDING MATERIALS: You can start reclaiming scrap materials like pallets, lumber, sheet metal, pipe, fencing, and other necessities that you will use on your off-grid homestead.Basic Requirements
You are going to need a few basic things before you can live off grid. Land is something you are going to absolutely need. You can't just go off and live in the woods behind people's house or on government land. You will need your own space to setup you living arrangments.
- BUY A SMALL PIECE OF LAND: This seems obvious but and technically speaking you don’t actually need a vacant piece of land, but to go off grid you do need a parcel of land that lends itself to your new lifestyle choice and that means a parcel of land that is usually in a remote area in the middle of nowhere far enough from building codes and permitting regulations. Land in these areas are less expensive, property taxes are less, and you can get more acreage for your money. Also, consider a water source when looking for an off the grid dwelling. Water is one thing that can make or break a good piece of land for off the grid living.
- BE WILLING TO RELOCATE: If you want to live off the grid, you will probably have to relocate to cut your expenses. The land you buy will most likely be further away from the city and not exactly convenient to getting into town at a moments notice, but you will have more freedom of movement, and more room to move and expand your homestead. You need room to grow your own food and raise livestock and build a nice home for you and your family.
- BUILD OR BUY A LOG CABIN OR TINY HOUSE: You can either buy or build your own dwelling in the woods for your living. Consider the costs to build or the cost to buy and have it built for you. Building a full-size house and going off the grid can be quite expensive. If you are planning on doing this with just one or two people look into tiny houses. You could always just get a small log cabin.Other Things To Consider
- LEARN HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN FOOD: Read up on how to start growing your own food in your own backyard now. There are lots of methods and it’s a good idea to learn as many as possible BEFORE you make the move to go off grid. One of your most important sources of food will be food you grow and harvest yourself. If you don't have a yard start with a few plants in your kitchen.
- HAVE A POWER GENERATING SYSTEM: This is where the actual off grid part comes in. Unless you don't need or want electricity you are going to need a source for power. Since you will not be connected to the power grid, you will need to be able to generate electricity yourself. This means having a power generating system with backups that can provide you with all the electricity you will need to run all of your appliances, stove, refrigerator, washing machine, tv, computer, and charge your cell phone and other mobile devices. A few 250 Watt solar panels and a good 250-500 Watt wind turbine will probably suffice for most homes depending on how much power you use at once. Keep in mind the wind turbine is a good backup for the solar panels. When the sun is not shining there’s usually some kind of wind, but when the wind is not blowing you’ll need the solar panels. Using both power generation technologies will supplement your electricity production and they compliment one another. There are many other sources for electricity but consider which one will suit you and the costs before you decide to go off-grid.
- Waste Disposal & Septic System: No one likes talking about it, but it’s a fact of life. You’re going to have to deal with waste disposal. You’ll have to have some sort of composting waste disposal system, or you’ll dig a traditional septic system. Either way, you will have to follow local and federal guidelines on waste disposal. Besides the law, it’s just not sanitary to dump your waste into a hole and hope for the best. This is not to say that this is wrong, just don’t do it near your water source or your animal’s water source if you raise livestock. Build a proper septic system. If you’re into using your own waste as fertilizer, then more power to you. Just know that the city, county, federal guidelines probably won’t allow it or there may be restrictions.
Don’t be afraid to take the leap. You will always wonder what it could have been like if you don’t at least try. Set a goal for living off grid, for at least one year and do a total assessment after this time. You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy a simple, yet fruitful and fulfilling life can actually be.
- PV SYSTEMS: Off-grid solar PV systems are expensive, so find any means you can to reduce the energy requirements. Most off-grid houses use a wide range of energy resources, in sharp contrast to the typical all-electric suburban home. Solar hot water heaters are always good candidates because they’re cheaper per kilowatt-hour than an off-grid photovoltaic system, and solar lighting systems are also a good choice This variety can be an advantage in that you aren’t completely disabled by power blackouts. In fact, you’ll be completely impervious to power outages, and even if one of your resources goes down, the majority of your lifestyle will still be intact. Off-grid solar electrical systems all use the same basic components, with other elements added according to need.