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Off Grid Planning, Building & Living

Types of Off-Grid Living (this is a rather long article. It demonstrates the MANY things to consider when going off grid)

Living off-grid opens up a world of diverse and fulfilling lifestyles that prioritize self-sufficiency and sustainability.

Let’s explore some of the exciting types of off-grid living. 

 

  • Homesteading: For those seeking a closer connection to the land, homesteading offers the opportunity to live on a self-sufficient farm or rural property. Growing food, raising livestock, and harnessing natural resources become a way of life, fostering a deep sense of fulfillment. There is also urban & suburban homesteading where you maximize growing food and conserving resources with an edible yard, roof gardens, greenhouse, rainwater collection and storage, etc..

  • Tiny Homes: Embracing simplicity and eco-friendliness, tiny homes provide a cozy and sustainable living space. These compact dwellings allow individuals to focus on what truly matters, surrounded by minimalism and eco-conscious design. They are becoming more legally allowed in backyard of an existing house as a means to offer more affordable housing. Building codes vary by location.

  • Sustainable Communities: Joining like-minded individuals in sustainable communities fosters a strong sense of camaraderie and shared responsibility. These intentional communities  and coops pool resources and knowledge to create harmonious and eco-friendly living environments. Proper planning to allow and separate private and shared spaces is critical to ensure harmony. Get to now they property and people involved before committing to this choice long term.

  • Remote Cabins: If solitude and nature are calling, remote cabins provide the perfect off-grid escape. Living in isolated shelters, often nestled in the wilderness, offers a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Though it can get lonely so try this short term before making a long term investment to ensure it suits you. Often a multi-generational family or group of cooperative friend can avoid to much isolation. Measure the pros and cons for what works for you.

  • Van/RV Living: Mobile living in vans or recreational vehicles allows for a life of adventure and exploration. Roaming from one place to another, off-grid enthusiasts discover the beauty of the world while embracing a simpler lifestyle. Again try it short term and see how it fits for you.

  • Earth Homes like: Green roof homes, Earth-sheltered/underground houses, Super-insulated cabins/homes/compounds with passive solar orientations, Earth ships and even new traditional construction and renovations with added insulation and sustainable materials: Sustainable innovation comes alive in these homes constructed with recycled materials and renewable resources. These unique dwellings, when planned carefully, harmonize with nature, utilizing passive solar heating, solar/wind power and rainwater harvesting/filtering/storage.

  • Floating Homes: For those who love the water, floating homes offer an unconventional off-grid experience. Houseboats, sailboats and floating structures blend modern living with aquatic surroundings, promoting a unique water connection around you. Careful consideration on where you want to be located has a deep affect on the costs involved for this options. Without careful planning it can become an option that can become more wasteful and expensive than expected.

 

Before embarking on the journey of off-grid living, it’s crucial to consider some key factors. Self-sufficiency becomes paramount as you’ll likely be relying on your own resources for your daily needs. Adaptability, problem-solving and often manual skills play a significant role in addressing the challenges that may arise along the way. If you do not know how to fix things and have basic skills like construction, cooking, repairing, gardening, fire building, composting, etc. you may find off grid living extra challenging.

 

The importance of self-sufficiency cannot be understated in off-grid living. You’ll need to learn to rely on yourself and your resources for living comfortably. Living off-grid doesn’t mean sacrificing modern amenities, if you can afford to start with the basics like a home with basic amenities, a heating/cooling source, water, a power source, food storage with refrigeration, plumbing, human waste disposal, etc; you can still enjoy the comforts of a regular household. 

 

However, transitioning to an off-grid lifestyle requires determination and commitment to adapt to a different mental state. You must understand the importance of being ready for this lifestyle change. Here is an off-grid readiness checklist and questions to determine if you are ready to embrace this sustainable off grid lifestyle.

Off-Grid Readiness Checklist

 

  • Are you committed to sustainability and environmental conservation?

  • Have you researched and understood the challenges of living off-grid, such as limited access to utilities and potential isolation?

  • Have you considered the financial implications and long-term costs of transitioning to off-grid living?

  • Do you have the necessary problem-solving and manual skills to handle any unforeseen challenges that may arise?

  • Have you explored and chosen a suitable off-grid location that aligns with your lifestyle goals?

  • Have you evaluated your energy needs and planned for sustainable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines?

  • Can you adapt to a simpler and more self-sufficient lifestyle, embracing practices like rainwater harvesting and composting?

  • Have you discussed and agreed on this lifestyle choice with your family or significant other of others involved, considering their readiness and support?

  • Are you open to learning new skills, such as gardening, home repair, and DIY projects, to enhance your self-sufficiency?

  • Do you have the health and physical stamina and enthusiasm to work hard to achieve your goals and continually build and upgrade your experience?

  • Have you taken into account any potential legal and regulatory considerations for off-grid living in your chosen location?

Choosing the Right Location

 

When it comes to off-grid living, the significance of location and climate cannot be overstated. The environment in which you decide to establish your off-grid home will directly impact your daily life and overall experience. Consider factors like access to natural resources, weather patterns, and proximity to essential services to ensure a harmonious off-grid lifestyle. Before making any commitments, take the time to thoroughly evaluate and select the perfect off-grid property. Look for a piece of land that aligns with your needs and preferences, such as available sunlight for solar power, access to water sources, and fertile soil for gardening. And of course, find out “who are your neighbors?”. 

 

Finding the ideal off-grid property may seem daunting, but with the right tips, it becomes an exciting adventure. Research local real estate listings, attend land auctions, and engage with off-grid communities to discover potential opportunities. 

What is important is to go and visit the properties in person to get a feel for the surroundings and envision your off-grid dreams coming to life.

 

Off-Grid Systems and Infrastructure

 

Building a sturdy framework of essential systems is key to a thriving off-grid lifestyle. Let’s uncover the 4 vital components that will support your journey toward self-sustainability:

 

Energy: Off-grid energy sources, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and micro-hydro systems, are vital for powering your home and appliances. Embrace renewable energy solutions to harness the power of nature and reduce reliance on traditional utilities.

Water: Developing a reliable water supply is critical. Harvest rainwater, dig wells, or utilize natural springs to ensure a steady water source. Implement water conservation practices to make the most of this precious resource.

Waste Management: Off-grid living demands conscious waste management. Embrace composting and recycling to minimize waste and create nutrient-rich soil for gardening. Properly handle human waste through composting toilets and careful post composting of human, animal, food and plant waste is essential to to ensure eco-friendly sanitation.

Food Production: You will need to usually need to establish permaculture gardens, greenhouses, aquaponics systems, and small-scale livestock farming to foster food self-sufficiency. Or have reliable local sources for quality food close to your location.

Building and Design Considerations

When it comes to building an off-grid home, sustainable materials, and construction techniques play a significant role in minimizing environmental impact.  Opting for eco-friendly materials that are natural such as reclaimed wood, recycled metal, and low-impact concrete helps reduce carbon footprint and promotes a healthier non-toxic living space. Yet this takes careful planning and research since so many, especially present construction materials, are greenwashed and actually have many toxins that can outgas and contaminate your home if not chosen carefully.

Many people make the mistake of not making a master plan that studies how all the building and existing conditions of your land need to work together and the proximity can make a big difference on how you end up spending your day.  You need to consider future stages of your project so you can easily manage them all.

 

If your garden or greenhouse is not close to your kitchen you will likely not fully be aware of when to harvest or when insects may be invading. If you have young children and need to have a more private workspace suited to the work you do; is it possible to arrange these so you can work undisturbed and still see them? Is there a balance of public and private spaces for humans and animals so you thrive and avoid feeling overwhelmed without alone time?

 

Additionally, utilizing passive solar design principles, such as strategic positioning of windows, doors, vents and insulation, allows for natural heating and cooling, further enhancing energy efficiency and comfort.

 

Energy Efficient Principals

Energy-efficient design principles are key to creating a self-sustaining off-grid home.

Incorporating solar panels, wind turbines, or micro-hydro power systems generates renewable energy, promoting a reliable power supply for your off-grid lifestyle. Implementing smart home technology and energy management systems optimizes energy consumption and enhances overall sustainability.

Tips for Maximizing Natural Resources and Passive Heating/Cooling

 

When designing your off-grid home, maximizing natural resources and incorporating passive heating and cooling techniques are crucial for energy efficiency and comfort.

 

Here are some essential tips to achieve this:

 

  • Orientation: Position your home to take advantage of the sun’s path. Optimize south-facing windows for passive solar heating during the winter and minimize direct sun exposure on the north side to keep the interior cool in the summer. Consider plant and tree placements to optimize shading opportunities. When these tree offer edible fruits, nuts or saps they will enhance your food supply.

  • Thermal Mass: Use materials with high thermal mass, such as stone, brick or concrete, to absorb and store heat during the day and release it at night, stabilizing indoor temperatures.

  • Insulation: Properly insulate and seal your home to prevent heat loss during colder months and reduce heat gain during warmer seasons, ensuring a consistent and comfortable environment.

  • Natural Ventilation: Design your home with cross-ventilation in mind to allow cool breezes to flow through during hot weather, providing natural cooling without relying on mechanical systems. Are there windows you can open on both sides of your room? When heat rises can a fan push it down or vent it outside when hot?

  • Sustainable and edible Landscaping: Utilize landscaping features like deciduous tree, shrubs  and edible plants and trees. Strategically place them to provide shade in the summer while allowing sunlight to enter during the winter.

  • Window Treatments: Install insulated curtains, blinds and shutters to regulate the amount of sunlight and heat entering your home, providing additional control over indoor temperatures.

 

 

Off-Grid Living Tips and Best Practices

 

Conserving Energy and Resources 

Embracing off-grid living means adopting a mindful approach to energy usage. Start by replacing conventional light bulbs with warm hued energy-efficient LED ones and using natural light whenever possible. 

 

Unplug electronic devices when not in use and invest in energy-saving appliances. Additionally, optimizing your solar power system and monitoring energy consumption can make a significant difference in resource conservation. Using sine wave inverters with your solar system would help tremendously utilize the best power consumption for your batteries.

 

Car batteries cannot be used to store energy from solar panels. Car batteries aren’t designed for efficient energy storage and discharge like deep cycle batteries, which are tailored for off-grid and renewable energy systems. When you’re living off-grid, it’s vital to invest in proper deep-cycle batteries that can meet the demands of renewable energy systems, providing reliable and long-lasting storage for solar-generated power.

 

Renewable energy sources - Renewable energy is a cornerstone of off-grid living, providing a sustainable and often cost-effective way to generate power. Among so many options, off-grid solar power systems, including solar panels and solar generators, stand out for their accessibility and efficiency.  Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, making them ideal for locations with lots of sunshine. Solar generators, on the other hand, offer a portable solution, perfect for smaller-scale energy needs.

Wind turbines and hydropower systems are also viable options, especially in areas where wind and water flow are consistent. In my opinion, the best approach is a hybrid system that combines multiple renewable sources, ensuring a more reliable energy supply.

 

When considering renewable energy supplies, here are some key items to consider:

  • Solar panels

  • Solar generators

  • Wind turbines

  • Hydropower systems

 

Waste Reduction, Recycling, and Composting 

Living off-grid goes hand in hand with reducing waste and minimizing our environmental impact. You need to understand the importance of recycling paper, plastics, and other materials to minimize landfill contributions. Consider composting organic waste, turning it into nutrient-rich soil for your sustainable garden. If you have a compost toilet this should be integrated. If not all natural food, garden, lawn waste can be composted, but you will need to learn clearly the safest methods, like adding worms, manure, dry leaves, hay, grass clippings, soil, stirring, layering, etc. to accelerate the composting process.

Energy storage solutions

For anyone venturing into off-grid living, having  reliable energy storage solutions  is as crucial as generating renewable energy. The goal is to store excess energy for use when your renewable sources aren’t producing enough, like during cloudy days or calm nights. 

 

The most accessible and widely used option is battery storage. LiFePO4 batteries, known for their safety and longevity, are a great choice for beginners due to their maintenance-free nature and efficiency. Traditional lead-acid batteries are also common due to their lower initial cost, but they require more maintenance and have a shorter lifespan.

 

Here are some beginner-friendly energy storage options to consider:

  • LiFePO4 Batteries: Ideal for their durability and minimal maintenance.

  • Lead-Acid Batteries: More budget-friendly but require regular maintenance.

  • Portable Power Stations: These are compact and great for small-scale energy needs, especially if you’re just starting or have minimal energy requirements.

For a smooth off-grid transition, it’s essential to match your energy storage system with your energy consumption and generation capacity. Investing in a quality battery system pays off in the long run, ensuring consistent power supply and reducing the hassle of frequent replacements or repairs.

How much does it cost to go off the grid with solar panels?

Setting up an off-grid solar system with battery backup typically costs between $35,000 to $65,000 installed. This varies, based on system size, energy needs, and the specific components chosen. The average cost is around $50,000.  It is about a 15 year payback on this investment. Then your power is essentially free. Though you must consider that cleaning and maintenance is required.

 

This offers a sustainable power solution tailored to your unique requirements that can equal the comforts of on grid living. RV and smaller more basic solar systems cost less. 

 

You can use propane for lighting, running appliances, cooking and heating in remote locations, but relying on fossil fuels is a heavier carbon footprint with long term costs that don’t end.

 

Leasing Solar Panels - You can avoid paying high upfront costs by leasing a solar panel system, which essentially means you’re renting it from a solar company. Most leases require you to pay a fixed monthly rate, and maintenance is often included. The downside is that you don’t own the system so you can’t leverage any state and federal incentives.

 

Loans on Solar Panels - Some homeowners choose to take out a loan to pay for solar panel systems. The advantage is that you’ll own the system, so you can leverage incentives and any boosts to your home’s resale value. However, you’ll also need to pay interest on the loan, which can lower your long-term energy savings.

 

Full Purchase - Purchasing the whole solar panel system out of pocket will give you the best long-term energy savings. You’ll also own the system, so you can leverage all state and federal incentives for solar power. However, this is the priciest option in the short term since you’ll need to pay in full when you buy it.

 

How long do solar panels last? They typically last 20 to 40 years. Recent installation have improved their life span. When cleaned and maintained they last the longest. 

 

Do Solar Panels degrade over time? A degradation rate is when a solar panel has reduced its power output and is considered a consistent risk for your solar power system. On average, solar panels’ energy production will decrease by 0.5% annually. However, this is a very slight decrease over the years. For instance, after 20 years, your panels should still work at about 90% of their original output.

 

Refrigerators Off Grid - Due to the heavy energy loads on refrigerators, some people use a propane/110V electricity plug combinations to reduce their solar load. It also allows the refrigerator and freezer to remain on when there is no sun and at night. 

 

The Superior Propane LP Gas Off-Grid Refrigerator -https://www.amazon.com/Superior-Propane-Off-Grid-Refrigerator-2-Way/dp/B076TDDPZJ?crid=1PRCEM0WSD9AU&keywords=Superior+Propane+LP+Gas+Off-Grid+Refrigerator+10+Cu+Ft+2-Way+%28LP%2F110V%29&qid=1683653037&sprefix=superior+propane+lp+gas+off-grid+refrigerator+10+cu+ft+2-way+lp%2F110v+%2Caps%2C429&sr=8-1&ufe=app_do%3Aamzn1.fos.17f26c18-b61b-4ce9-8a28-de351f41cffb&linkCode=ll1&tag=pheinzl0d-20&linkId=0367da224428f5b6322c9e1931211e63&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl   $1500 to $1700 Is a great pick for those looking for an efficient and reliable refrigerator to serve as the main appliance in their off-grid home. Its generous capacity, adjustable shelves, low fuel consumption, and easy operation make it a great choice. Plus, its relatively affordable price point makes it a great value for the features provided. If you’re in the market for an off-grid refrigerator, this one is worth considering. According to customer reviews, the fridge becomes cold within an hour of being connected to propane. For more choices explained and links to less expensive options - go to peterheinzl.com/best-off-grid-refrigerator.

 

Water purification systems

Access to clean and safe drinking water is a fundamental need in off-grid living. With the absence of a centralized water supply, off-grid water systems become just as important.  There are several methods to purify water, each with its own benefits. Filtration systems are widely used for their simple installation and effective removal of contaminants. Distillation, though energy-intensive, ensures water purity by boiling and condensing water, though to some if seems tasteless. Try drinking it before purchasing. 

 

Solar stills offer an eco-friendly option, using the sun’s energy to evaporate and condense water. When choosing a purification method, consider the water sources available to you and your daily consumption needs. Here are a few options to explore:

  • Sand, charcoal, carbon filters attached to your water plumbing intake

  • Gravity-fed water filters

  • Hand pump filters

Essential Off-Grid Living Supplies and Equipment:

 

Sustainable Gardening and Food Preservation

Cultivating your off-grid garden allows you to enjoy fresh, organic produce right at your doorstep. Adopt permaculture and companion planting to foster a self-sustaining ecosystem for years to come. To extend the shelf life of homegrown harvests, explore food preservation techniques like canning, fermenting, smoking and drying. Having a well-stocked pantry of preserved goodies ensures you’re prepared for the long haul while having food that you know does not have pesticide, additives and sugar or cheap oils and sugars that are dangerous to your health. Explore how a root cellar can offer various methods for preserving your vegetables, fruits and meats.

 

Engaging in sustainable food production is a key component of off-grid living, offering fresh, organic produce right from your backyard. Whether you opt for raised beds, aquaponics, or permaculture, having the right tools can make the process smoother and more productive.

 

For those starting with raised bed gardening, consider these important tools:

  • Garden Trowel: Perfect for planting and moving small plants and herbs.

  • Spade and Shovel: Ideal for digging, especially when setting up new beds or for larger plantings.

  • Garden Fork and Hoe and Rake: Useful for breaking up soil, weeding, and mixing in compost.

  • Pruning Shears: Necessary for cutting and shaping plants, as well as harvesting.f

  • Watering Can and Hose: For watering plants, choose based on the size of your garden.

  • Wheelbarrow: Helpful for moving soil, compost, and harvests around your property.

 

For aquaponics enthusiasts, focusing on water management and fish care is crucial. Minimal study the best practices recommended for this and watch some videos. Also consider what you plan to feed them. Avoid commercial fish food or you will get bad tasting fish. Making your own is best to insure taste and quality. Basic items include:

  • Aquaponic Fish Tank: Where your fish and crayfish will live.

  • Water Pump and Tubing: To circulate water between the fish tank and plant beds.

  • Ample water supply with water filters to avoid contaminated water.

  • pH Test Kits: To maintain proper water conditions for fish and plants.

 

In permaculture, the tools required may vary based on your specific design, ranging from basic gardening implements to specialized equipment for shaping land and managing water.

Starting with a manageable set of tools is a practical approach to off-grid gardening, allowing you to expand your toolkit as your garden grows and your skills develop.

 

Tools and equipment

When setting up your off-grid homestead, having the right tools and equipment is crucial for both construction and maintenance. Here’s a streamlined toolkit tailored to the practical needs of off-grid living:

 

  • Battery-Powered cordless Drills: Opt for a set with a variety of drill bits. These are versatile for numerous projects and can be charged using your solar generator. A few brands to consider are Craftsman, Black+Decker, DuWalt, AVID POWER and DEKO PRO. Best to get one brand so Batteries and Chargers are interchangeable.

  • Handsaw and Japanese Handsaw: Essential for precision cutting, particularly in areas where power tools aren’t feasible.

  • Table Saw: A must-have for efficiently cutting large pieces of wood, invaluable in many off-grid home design projects.

  • Multitool: Compact and convenient for a quick fix or minor task.

  • Basic Hand Tool Set

    • Hammers: Various sizes for different construction needs.

    • Wrench Set: Adjustable for a range of nuts and bolts.

    • Screwdriver Set: Assorted sizes and head types.

    • Pliers: Including standard and needle-nose for gripping and bending.

    • Tape Measure: For accurate measurements.

    • Level: To ensure even and accurate installation.

    • Utility Knife: Versatile for cutting a variety of materials.

  • Repair Kit Essentials

    • Duct Tape: For temporary fixes and patchwork.

    • Assorted Screws and Nails: For various applications.

    • Sealants and Adhesives: Useful for repairs and ensuring waterproof connections.

    • Safety Gear: Always include gloves, goggles, and hearing protection.

This toolkit provides a foundational set for off-grid home design and upkeep. From building structures to everyday repairs, these tools will help you create and maintain your off-grid home effectively.

 

Off-Grid Lifestyle: Health and Wellness

Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is key in off-grid living. It’s extremely important to look after your health to fully enjoy this lifestyle. 

Here are some practical tips for natural remedies, first-aid preparedness, and emergency planning, ensuring you’re well-prepared for any situation. 

 

Natural Remedies

Embrace the power of nature by learning about herbal remedies and essential oils. Keep a well-stocked medicinal herb garden and educate yourself on its uses. Aloe vera  and honey is great for treating burns and skin irritations, while lavender oil can help with relaxation and sleep.

 

First-Aid Preparedness

Create a comprehensive first-aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptics, pain relievers, and other essential medical supplies. Additionally, take a first-aid course to learn how to handle common injuries and emergencies effectively.

 

Emergency Planning

Prioritize emergencies by having a detailed plan for various scenarios. Develop evacuation plans and establish communication protocols with nearby neighbors or off-grid communities. Store ample food, water, and other necessities to sustain yourself during emergencies. Consider layers of security in how your home and homestead are designed so it is difficult for intruders to enter and move around your property. If security is a real concerns build in a hidden sanctuary supplied with necessary essentials including a emergency toilet with sealed lid storage 5 gallon buckets.

 

Being prepared for emergencies is an integral part of off-grid living. This involves planning for scenarios like power outages, medical emergencies, or natural disasters. 

A basic emergency preparedness kit should contain:

  • First aid kit

  • Non-perishable food supplies

  • Water storage containers

  • Solar generator or backup batteries

  • Candles

  • Off-grid living resources can also be invaluable in emergency situations, providing guidance and practical tips on handling unexpected challenges.

 

Tips for Off-Grid Living Success

  • Embarking on an off-grid lifestyle is both exhilarating and challenging. To navigate this journey successfully, here are some practical tips:​

    •  Conduct Thorough Research - Before diving in, it’s crucial to understand the landscape. Researching your intended location, available resources, and local regulations is key. This groundwork lays the foundation for a smooth transition. Understanding what to expect and preparing accordingly can make a huge difference.

  • Start Small and Scale Gradually

    • Off-grid living can be daunting at first. I recommend beginning with a manageable setup. Start with basic off-grid living supplies and simple projects. As you gain confidence and skills, gradually expand your setup. This approach reduces overwhelm and allows you to learn from each step.
  • Develop Essential Skills 

    • Off-grid life requires a diverse skill set. Carpentry, gardening, and maintaining renewable energy systems are just a few examples. Invest time in learning these skills. They not only equip you for the practical aspects of off-grid living but also enhance your self-reliance.
  • Build a Supportive Community

    • Off-grid living isn’t a solo journey. Connecting with others who are on the same path can be incredibly beneficial. Whether it’s for practical support, sharing knowledge, or camaraderie, a supportive community makes the off-grid lifestyle more enriching and feasible.

With Clear planning, intention and hard work you can create a deep connection with nature and the ability to rely on yourself in off-grid living can greatly improve your overall well-being, leading to a more enriching and balanced lifestyle. 

 

And absolutely do not forget to include designated spaces that provide opportunities for creativity, meditation/reflection and research/study. When you don’t have a studio, workshop, library or bathroom where you can find some solitude time to focus on these life balancing practices, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and negative towards others around you. Especially woman tend to forget this important “room of her own”. No place to relax in a hot bath, read a book, journal or paint a canvas without interruptions. Think about what you need to live a creative and inspiring life and give yourself the space to do it.

 

To be well-prepared for your off-grid adventure make your own comprehensive checklist, covering everything you need to have and know before embarking on your journey. Take the first steps now towards embracing self-sufficiency and sustainable living as you guide yourself through the process of transitioning to an off-grid lifestyle.

One myth is that off-grid living is too challenging and uncomfortable. The reality is that with proper planning and adaptation, it can be a fulfilling and comfortable lifestyle. Another myth is that off-grid living means complete isolation. While it can involve more remote locations, you can still maintain connections with neighbors and the broader community, both online and offline.

 

How to live off the grid cheaply?

Living off the grid on a budget involves creative solutions like work exchanges, joining off-grid communities, or finding low-cost land. Building a modest cabin or tiny house, growing your own food, responsible fishing, foraging, and efficient water collection and filtration are key strategies to reduce costs. Yet this is a harder more basic approach that can require a lot of work and discomfort. It is always easier and more comfortable to live when you have some cash resources that you can use to get you started.

 

What is the first step to living off the grid?

The initial step is finding the right location. Choosing an appropriate piece of land is critical for sustainable off-grid living. Look for a spot that’s away from unwanted stressors, with access to fertile soil, water sources, ample space, and natural resources like trees and natural views.

What states offer better opportunities for off grid living?

Some popular choices include Alabama for its hospitable environment, California for its diversity and solar incentives, Alaska for its remote wilderness, and Tennessee for its balance of nature and accessibility. Other states include Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Kansas, Wyoming, Washington, Oklahoma, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Montana. 

 

Factors like resources, affordability, climate, accessibility and safety are issues to consider. Most of these state boasts more relaxed zoning and building rules, allowing residents to easily embrace a more self-sufficient lifestyle. For families considering homeschooling, check to see if the red tape is minimum. 

 

Regulations vary significantly across regions and states. Researching these varied climates, regulations and land costs means you can find the right spot for your homestead that will meet your goals. Most of these state’s have budget-friendly land prices. They also have charming small towns that come alive with local farmers’ markets and vibrant music scenes, ensuring you will find like-minded neighbors, quality schools and materials and resources that you will find supportive to your project.

 

Key considerations to help you make an informed decision on your location choice-

Can’t stress enough the importance of your land choice. As land prices vary, especially in rural areas, it’s essential to prioritize your requirements. 

 

  • Water Accessibility: With the unpredictable nature of natural disasters affecting water sources, you want to ensure that the land has a reliable water source, be it a stream, well, or potential for rainwater harvesting.

  • Soil Fertility: If you plan to grow your own food, checking the soil quality is crucial. It can take years to upgrade poor soil and remove pesticides. Abundant natural resources in the soil can significantly impact your crop yield. It also need to be well trained with plentiful below ground water tables to insure good croups and adequate water over time.

  • Sunlight Exposure: For those relying on renewable energy, particularly solar, a spot with good sun exposure is essential. Some areas are  known for their abundant sunlight, making them ideal for renewable energy sources. Look carefully how the sun falls on your land and for how long. If a mountain is stopping the sun from reaching your land for more than 8 hours it probably won’t grow food well.

  • Local Regulations: Some states or counties, like New Mexico, have stringent building codes or restrictions on off-grid living. Additionally, you’ll want to research property taxes and sales tax rates in your chosen location. These taxes can significantly impact your overall cost of living. Always check with local authorities on land use regulations. Some areas may have restrictions on the types of structures you can build, the size of your dwelling, or even if certain off-grid utilities like compost toilets are allowed. Being informed can save you from potential legal issues down the road.

  • Accessibility: Consider how easy it is to access the land and get to the outside resources your will need. Will you need access to a town, city or airport for outside income? Do you need internet access? Is there a town nearby to purchase needed materials or send your children to school? Are the schools any good? Where are school buses available? If not, how much driving time will it take to get them there and back? Will your children feel too isolated and depressed without access to their peers? For serious emergencies, where is the nearest hospital? How much are your neighbors and the local community important to you? Whether it’s sharing tools, knowledge, or just sharing a cup of coffee, surrounding yourself with a supportive community can enhance in your life quality. Too much isolation can become a mental health challenge. Most humans need other human contact, even introverts.

Conclusion

 

Embarking on an off-grid journey is more than just changing your address; it’s a commitment to a unique way of life. It involves your whole family and the others who plan to join you. Talk to all of them about their priorities, expectations and level of commitment.  With abundant natural resources at your disposal, the sense of freedom and connection to nature can become more pronounced. But, make sure everyone involved wants to embrace this lifestyle, and welcomes this adventure. If a child or significant other is going to be miserable, they will likely get resentful and make your experience miserable, too. When you understand everyone’s priorities you can better choose a location that meets everyone’s priorities and comfort levels.

 

Starting your off-grid journey is about making small, practical changes to the way you live. Start with a taste to see if it feels like a fit for everyone involved. Find an off grid homestead community that already is establish and stay for a week or two to get into the lifestyle and chore schedule. Whether it’s learning to grow food, cleaning out the barn or preserving food, everyone needs to realize the time and commitment involved to live on a homestead. Each step can be a chance to learn and improve.  

 

After trying the homestead experience together, start to focus on the basics. Good first steps are to explore your best land location (including testing the soil and getting an experienced professional to review for unexpected cost traps). Try to stay on the land or in a nearby location for at least a few days to get the feel of the place. The longer the better.

 

Start developing your preferred home and homestead design, planning, permitting and construction choices early so you can better understand your priorities. It is wise to develop a preliminary plan even before your land purchase so you can compare your master plan details to the land that you want to purchase. Are the resources available at this location to build what you want? Always consider and test your soil, water and energy quality and access. What solar/wind/etc. options are available for your home at this location and how much will they cost to get the services you need?

 

Develop a master plan for all the phase you eventually want in your project. Getting experienced professional advise early can save tens of thousands of dollars and a lot of time. Designers, architects and engineers with sustainable architecture and off grid experience can be especially helpful. They usually offer their advise on an hour basis before you need to commit to extensive planning. By making a list of your priorities and a list of questions and arranging to pay for few hours of their time you will quickly feel more inform about what things you should consider and whether they feel like a fit for developing and visualizing your plans further. You can also have them review your land or land you are considering buying and flag any concerns you should check out before purchasing.

 

Yes, ideas and priorities can evolve over time, but having a well conceived overall master plan simplifies, clarifies and unites your overall intentions and priorities. It helps you pick your preferred location with a confidence that you can avoid unknown cost traps and unpleasant experiences later. Developing this overall vision of what you all want to achieve makes a big difference in how you, your family and participating friends will live and manage the resources you have available.

 

You should compare bare land and local new construction prices to land that has existing structures or power, water and septic hookups already in place. This varies a lot by region. Some places, where demand is high or construction labor is limited, it can cost more or less for an old house on land than new construction on bare land. Most new construction costs will include the additional expense of drilling a well, installing a septic system, if compost toilets are not accepted, and installing a power source if there is no power lines to the property. After learning more about you chosen location you can decide what works best for you. Sometime an old place with good bones can be converted and renovated to be great while in other cases starting new is the better option. Again getting some professional advise is helpful. Local realtors can advise, though alway consider that their advice is often influenced by the size of their sales commission. Your own online research comparing houses and property in a particular location can inform you how the wind blows.

 

Developing a master plan and list of your goals will help you budget how much money you will need to achieve your goals. An experienced professional can also quote you some ball park costs to start. This can range from $30,000 for a small and basic homestead start to $800,000+ for a fully functional and comfortable homestead with all the on grid type of amenities. Depending on your goals, the land and the house and other buildings that you choose will vary. Remember, off-grid living is a gradual process, and every small success brings you closer to a simpler and creative life more connected to Nature.

 

It can sound complicated, but the appeal of living off the grid has grown tremendously in recent years. With the rising costs of living in urban settings and the allure of natural resources in more rural areas, many are looking for a lower cost way to reconnect with nature and live more sustainably even when the initial setup cost are more. You can also transition an on grid location to a more off grid project over time.

 

Venturing into the off-grid more sustainable world can feel like diving into the unknown, but with some expert tips under your belt and experienced professional support, you’re bound to feel more at ease.

 

 

 

This Eco-Planning and Building team at Custom Earth Sheltered specializes in designing, engineering, permitting and building sustainable, green projects  including homesteads and of and on grid projects that are both functional and beautiful. Both off grid and on. With their expertise in earth-sheltered, underground and traditional building systems, they are your go-to provider for all your planning and building needs. They understand the importance of sustainability and work to ensure that your projects are both eco-friendly and fire-resistant and resilient.

 

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Planning, Engineering, Permitting & Construction Services: From the first stroke of inspiration to the final brushstroke, they embrace a holistic approach on your more sustainable projects that encapsulates design, development, and meticulous planning, extending to encompass construction documentation, permitting, structural engineering and construction services in all 50 states. Providing whatever you need to build your dream project in your unique style.

 

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This, difficult to find, regenerative eco-habitat planning team, is a group of planning, architectural, engineering & construction professionals going beyond typical construction standards. Your custom underground or more traditional above ground building plans are designed & built to be energy efficient, comfortable, sustainable and regenerative. Enhance your life quality & Nature connections.  

 

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