Living Off the Grid: Is it Right for You?
Living off the grid is something many people are thinking about right now. Imagine living the simple life among the trees and wildlife, being self sufficient, and pretty much no bills to pay. This all sounds like a haven, right?
But, it may not be for everyone. Today, we are going to look at what living off the grid looks like, and how to determine if it’s right for you!
What Does Living Off-Grid Look Like?
Off-grid living is more of a lifestyle choice. It is where you make yourself less dependent on the state for public utilities such as electricity, gas, water, sewage, phone, and internet. Instead, you find your own ways to have all of those things without paying someone a monthly fee for them.
Additionally, not being reliant on the state for your basic needs means that when SHTF, you are not as drastically affected because you already have all your own stuff.
Benefits of Living Off The Grid
There are many benefits to off grid living. It’s a whole way of life. It may be different, but it does have its advantages. Here are just a few:
Living Off the Grid is Eco-Friendly
When you live off the grid, you are helping the environment. For example, a tiny off-grid home consumes much less energy than urban homes. Additionally, you won’t have to rely on fossil fuels, coal, natural gas, or petroleum. This means you reduce your carbon footprint.
You Can Save Money
Instead of giving your money away to the grocery store, electric company, or anything else, you just do things yourself. After your initial investment for land, water, electricity, and food sources, your monthly output will drop significantly.
Living Off-Grid Means Your Food is Healthier
When you live off grid, you will be growing your own food. By raising your own crops and livestock, you will ensure that you are eating fresh, healthy, and quality food each and every day.
You Don’t Rely On Anyone
Being self-sufficient means you don’t have to worry about an economic collapse, a pandemic wiping out food sources, or not being able to pay your bills. You are completely self-sufficient and independent from the state. This is security in yourself.
Living Off-Grid Means You Live a Simple Life
Sometimes, simplicity is best. The hustle and bustle of the city life will be far away from you. This means you can take time to connect with yourself, nature, and with your loved ones.
Related: When the Power Grid Fails
Disadvantages of Living Off-Grid
Although living off-grid has many benefits, that doesn’t mean it is for everyone. In fact, living off-grid does have its disadvantages as well.
Living Off-Grid Requires a Start-up Cost
Many people just don’t have the money lying around to live off-grid. You will need to purchase and install off-grid systems like solar panels, water treatment and wells, and buy your land. This can be pretty pricey, in the beginning.
Maintenance Can Be Expensive
If you don’t know how to fix things yourself, maintenance to keep things going can get pretty expensive. For example, let’s say your well goes dry…do you know how to drill a new well? You have to think about the things you will need to know how to do.
You May Need Back Up Systems
Let’s say you have solar panels, but you don’t get enough sunlight to power everything you need. You will have to plan for backups, like generators.
You Can’t Go to the Store Whenever
Living off-grid means that you can’t just drive down the road to the store and pick up whatever you need. You will need to plan out your trips, write lists, and get everything you need while you are at the store.
You Aren’t Around People
When you live off-grid, there typically is not anyone living close by. You will have to get used to only having yourself or your family to talk to in person. This could be something you would love, but for a “people person,” this could be a major disadvantage.
How Do I Know if It’s Right for Me?
If you have never lived off-grid, I would not suggest just jumping right into it with no experience. Instead, I would suggest trying it out for a week or two. Did you know you could do this?
You can actually rent an off-grid place from Airbnb! Who would have known? Rentals are a great way to see what the off-grid living experience could be like. You can choose to rough it out in an isolated cabin, or you can try a high-tech, solar panel-clad living space in the desert.
Although this won’t give you the full experience, it will give you an idea of what it would be like to live completely off-grid. So, go on an off-grid vacation for a couple of weeks and see how you like it.
How Do I Start Living Off-Grid?
Once you have decided that you want to live off-grid, there are six main steps you need to take to get your new homestead up and running:
#1 Where do you want to live?
The first step is finding out where you want to live. You will want to find a large plot of land with at least a couple of acres and a running water source. When looking at places to live off-grid, be sure to consider the following:
- Weather and climate.
- What plants you will be able to grow.
- How you will get water.
- How far you are from major cities, etc.
#2 Choose Your Shelter
Many people look for places with a house already there. When going completely off-grid, you don’t really have to do that. Instead, you can construct your own cabin, yurt, or tiny home. Additionally, you can look into a pre-built tiny home.
#3 Get Water
What is essential no matter where you live? If you don’t already have a house on the property, you will want to plan on one and do so with a ready water source available. The best way to get water where there is not a prior house is to drill a well. Be sure to check drilling laws for that area.
#4 Get Energy
Unless you want to go the Amish way, you will want electricity in your home. Depending on where you will be living off-grid, there are several options for getting electricity to your home:
- Wind energy
- Micro-hydro electricity
- Solar panels
#5 Plan Out Your Waste Disposal
Related: How to Prepare for the Threat of Garbage
We all have garbage we have to get rid of on a daily basis. Your next step is to figure out how you will get rid of your waste. To reduce waste, you can start a composting pile.
For things like paper etc, you can have a burn barrel. You will also want to have a septic tank or an outhouse for your daily trips to the bathroom. My next purchase will be this home incinerator: Plow & Hearth 13900 Incinerator Can I’m feeling an urgency to get one of these ASAP!
#6 Start a Farm and Garden
The key to off-grid living is being self-sufficient. If you are going to the grocery store for your food, you aren’t self-sufficient. Growing and harvesting your own food is key. Here are some crops to start with:
Additionally, you will want some livestock. Chickens are super easy livestock to raise and you can then have eggs and/or meat.
Related: How to Make Whole Wheat Bread Using Solar Power
When it comes to living off-grid, you have to weigh the benefits and disadvantages to figure out what’s right for you. Remember, you can still be prepared without living off-grid.
However, being self-sufficient is great! Do you live off the grid right now or would you like to? Please keep prepping, we must! Linda
Copyright Images: Log Cabin Deposit photos_37085259_s-2019
15 thoughts on “Living Off the Grid: Is it Right for You?”
I wanted to be able to live off grid when we had our house built. But, we didn’t get to. We did get some solar panels, but they are still boxed up. And, we never got a well drilled. We do have a good sized area set aside for a garden, but haven’t had one in the last 3-4 years. At almost 71 and 69, it’s so hard to get it tilled up to start with. But first, it’d have to be mowed. Hubby won’t let me do it, and he’s unable to. Oh, we only live about 5 miles from the store. Me? I could live without meat as long as I had seasonings.
Hopefully I can have a container garden next spring.
Hi Deborah, at our age, we have to let some things go. Could you hire someone to mow it down? And till it under??? I could live without meat as well. Mark not so much. We need seasonings that’s for sure! I hope you can plant a garden next year!!! Linda
Beautiful Morning to you Linda. When I was doing Renaissance Festivals years ago for a living, I did live off grid (sort of). What I mean by that is, on fair sites, for many years, I lived in a 21 foot travel trailer and had no electricity, running water or sewage. But, it was some of the best years of my life. At night, I used a Coleman lantern for lighting which also provided me with heating in the cooler months. I did have to purchase propane for my cooking and frig and I did have to haul water from town, which wasn’t a biggie for me. Of course, on fair sites, you can’t grow gardens or have livestock (this is where the sort of comes in). I went into town, once a week for any and all supplies I needed for either merchandise I made, food and/or water. I loved being off grid and would do it now in a heartbeat if I could. You learn to live without electricity, running water and flush toilets. It wasn’t always easy, but it was such a great learning experience and it also taught some very valuable survival techniques as well. But, as you said, not everyone can do it, but if you can, it’s an awesome experience once you get over the initial shock of doing without things you take for granted like, flushing a toilet, flipping a light switch, turning on the faucet, etc. But, my biggest shock was when I stopped doing festivals and came back into society. Didn’t like it one bit and I still don’t like it today. But, that’s me, lol. Yes, life off grid can be very hard, but the peace and calm you get is invaluable. Have a Great Day!
We ran an experiment of sorts here at home. We did not use any electricity with the exception of the refrigerator because we would have enough solar to have a refrigerator if off grid. We already have chickens & a garden. The great thing about just trying it out is you find out what you are lacking in & what you have to improve upon. I would definitely get more pressure tanks & set the garden up with more gravity fed water because our pump did not get enough from the solar panels we have on it already to keep us filled up. I must admit it was peaceful, but I can see where long term way of life would require more community. The Amish seem to have it figured out but then again they have been doing it forever. Maybe it is time for us to go to one of their communities & see how it is done.
Hi Jay, I love your comment! It’s funny I went to Pennsylvania for a vacation one year just passing through. I fell in love with the Amish people. Now, they wouldn’t necessarily talk to us unless we were buying something, but I loved the community spirit. I doubt they would let us go see one of their communities, I’m not sure but they had signs everywhere, “Please do not take pictures”. I’m sure they work hard, but from a distance, their life looked peaceful. I would love to go back there. Great memories for a day. Linda
There is one that I saw on a youtube I follow, they actually got to go to breakfast with a family & help with the baking etc.. I thought that would be such a great experience.
HI Jay, oh wow! That would be really fun!!!!! Linda
The Amish aren’t totally what they seem to be. They don’t have electricity in their homes but they DO have it in their businesses (most have propane, tho). They also have phones in their businesses and/or little phone booths “at the end of the lane.” They rent meat lockers, hire drivers, use all the modern conveniences we English have. They just don’t own it. Some are allowed rubber on their tractors/trailers, others are required to have only metal. It all depends on where they live, who their Bishop is and the rules of their individual Ordnung. There are several different orders of Amish-Old Order (very conservative) and Schwartzentrubers (spelling?-extremely conservative), and then New Order and Beachy, etc., all of which are allowed to have cell phones. They are very tight-knit and very nice, friendly and helpful people. I’ve been friends with an Old Order Amish couple for 15 yrs or more and I’ve learned alot. My friend had breast cancer and while they don’t have commercial-bought insurance, they pay into a fund for the Amish and disperse payments like conventional insurance. They totally utilize all modern medical facilities, etc. They live within town limits and therefore were required to hook up to water so they have running water/flush toilets. Others, not so much. (Ick—porta potties gross me out.) They’re an amazing group of people and I admire their way of life.
When I was younger I could totally see myself living off grid. Now, I’m too old and broken. I couldn’t do the necessary physical work required to live off grid. I still love the idea of it and do whatever I can around my home to simplify things and still be prepared for when SHTF, etc. I don’t think a person necessarily has to live in the middle of nowhere to be “off grid” – alot can be accomplished at home, except for those pesky taxes, utilities, etc. :o)
Hi Robbie, oh those pesky taxes and utilities! LOL! I’m too old now to try living off the grid, and the cost is way out of my budget even if the land was free in some cases. You have to cut the lumber, build your home unless you find some land with a home already built. I know a lot of people are going to “run” to the hills if the SHTF, that sounds so perfect BUT not to me. I’m not running anywhere unless an earthquake hits my home. Thank you for the information on the Amish. I like how they work together. Linda
Just out of college, I worked for the Forest Service on Fire Lookouts! 4-5 months of off grid living! of sorts!! I did not have electricity – everything was propane run – fridge, stove, lights. I used an outhouse. I had to carry my own food and water to last for 2 weeks before I was relieved for 2-4 days at a time. I absolutely loved it! Of course, I was 40+ years younger then!!!
I would love to have my own place where I could have a large garden, chickens and be more self-sufficient but at my age (and budget) that is just not going to happen. If I could afford to buy a small place, I would not be off grid, though. I would just be able to grow my own veggies and put them up but I would still be relying on the grid and stores!
Hi Leanne, You have had a wonderful life, my friend! I can almost picture you hauling your food and water for two weeks into your camp! You are amazing. I can’t make a switch in life right now at my age, my kids are all self-reliant and there is no snow here. Life is good! Linda
Much more needs to be said about the need for producing your own food. The nutrition from meat requires at least 25 times as much energy (land and other inputs) as nutrition from plant sources. Therefore a garden is essential, as well as the ability and knowledge to grow food (sprouts & micro-greens) inside the house in the winter.
This garden does not need to be really big, if you know how to maximize the use of that space. For example a 10′ X 18″ bed of indeterminate (climbing) tomatoes can produce 200-300# of tomatoes, whereas a 10′ bed of corn can provide 20-30 ears of corn. And the tomatoes will produce for 3-6 months, depending on the growing season, while the corn comes all at once and is gone.
Potatoes and squash are good because they will store for months, but a garden should include greens, such as kale, Swiss Chard, beets, etc. which provide fresh phytonutrients for many months, and can can be eaten within 4-6 weeks after planting until frost kills them.
Proper feeding and regular watering are also essential for a successful garden. Plants need 16 nutrients, and unless you provide them the plants’ production will suffer substantially, and your own health will also suffer.
With the proper knowledge and application you can produce 1,500# of healthy and delicious produce from 1/50th of an acre! Don’t leave these things to chance, but learn the best systems and procedures, and practice them NOW, so that when (not if) you can’t go to the grocery store for your food, you will be able to not only survive, but thrive.
Dr. Jacob Mittleider devoted his life to helping people learn to feed themselves, and his methods have been documented and are available to the world at grow food dot com.
HI James, I LOVE LOVE LOVE your comment! We all must follow that website because it is not IF it is WHEN we will have to produce our own food. No question, we must be prepared NOW. Practice gardening NOW! Thank you so much! Linda
Thank you Linda. I just wish the messenger was as good at spreading the message as Dr. Mittleider was at creating it! A very wise man, whom I consider was a seer, said “Every family should have a garden”, and he further said that we should know where our food comes from and what is in it – that we should all learn and produce SOMETHING, even those who live in apartments, etc. Such wise counsel today, with GMO foods, and e-coli, salmonella, etc. sickening and even killing people.
Hi Jim, I totally agree people must produce whatever they can in their apartment balcony, backyard (however small or large), and front yards if possible. I can’t buy produce at certain stores in the winter because of the recalls they constantly have. Thanks again, Linda