A Guide to Living Off the Grid [7 Things You Need to Know]

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Are you ready to leave the hustle and bustle of the city living behind and live a simpler life? If so, you may be wondering how to go about living off the grid. But what does that even mean? Is there more than one way to do it? And what are the essentials for living off-grid successfully? In this article, we’ll explore these questions and more.

What Does it Mean to Live Off the Grid?

The first question you may be asking is: what does living off-grid even mean? In short, living off-grid means living independently from public utilities, which means you’ll need to generate your own power, collect or purify your own water, grow, forage, and preserve food, as well as find your own way to dispose of your waste. Living off-grid gives you absolute freedom in setting your own ways of life, and there’s no right or wrong way to do this—it all depends on your specific needs and circumstances. Many choose to go into the woods and live in the wilderness (where it’s possible to do so) because they’re aware of what’s going on with the planet and have decided that living sustainably is one way to save it.

That being said, there are different levels of going off the grid. You may choose to go completely off-grid and have no connection to public utilities whatsoever. Alternatively, you may choose to be partially off-grid, meaning you’ll still rely on some public utilities, but generate or collect most of your energy, water, and food.

Did You Know: Since the pandemic, many have continued looking for methods to distance themselves from the crowd, considering selling their house and buying a new house off the grid.

Living Off the Grid Essentials

When deciding to go off the grid, you can’t just pack some stuff up and embark on the journey—you first need to get thoroughly informed about everything you’ll need for going off-grid. That’s why we compiled a list of the essentials you’ll need for this lifestyle.

1. Land

One of the most important things you’ll need for living off-grid is a land where you can build your home, grow your own food, and collect your water. The amount of land you’ll need depends on a variety of factors, such as the climate you live in and the size of your family. However, a good rule of thumb is to have at least one acre of land per person.

2. Food

Another essential for off-the-grid living is food, since going off-grid means you won’t be able to visit the grocery or the green market that often, or maybe even ever again. Instead, you’ll grow your own food, which is why keeping a garden is essential unless you plan to forage for food or go hunting or fishing. However, even if you do hunt or fish, it’s still a good idea to have a garden and grow your own vegetables and fruits. After getting an idea of what it’s like to live off-grid, you can also get livestock on your homestead.

3. Water

A third essential you need to think of when you decide to live off the grid is clean water. Unless you live near a body of water that you can use for irrigation, you’ll need to collect or purify your own water. If you don’t have access to a natural water source, you’ll need to install a water system, such as a well or rainwater harvesting system.

4. Shelter

The final essential for living off-grid is shelter, which every human being needs in order to survive. Whether it’s a traditional home or some other type of structure like an Earthship, a tiny cabin, or cob, you’ll need a place to live. Shelters from gathered materials are among the essential items for living off the grid, and they come in different shapes and sizes. However, it’s up to you to decide which shelter type works best for you before moving to the land you’ve bought.

5. Power Generation & Storage

Once you’ve covered the easier part of buying the land and building the shelter, you’ll need the power to run all your appliances: refrigerator, stove, TV, and other devices. This is where the real struggle begins, since you’ll no longer be connected to the local power grid and will have to generate power by yourself. When wondering how to live off the grid, using solar panels or a wind turbine for generating power is very much recommended. Both power generation technologies are a great way to use most of what Mother Nature has to offer. Another thing to keep in mind is how much energy you spend.

Figure out how much power in wattage you’ll need to generate because your power generator won’t produce any energy during the night, especially if there’s no wind.

However, you may be able to use power at night if you set up a storage system, without which even the best places to live off the grid won’t be of much help when it comes to the problem of power at night. The chances you’ll remain without electricity through the night are high, so if you’re planning on watching Instagram reels all night long, you’ll need a storage system. Even though this is a matter of choice, sometimes you can’t rely solely on Mother Nature—you need to store what it has to offer and use it accordingly. With a battery storage system, you won’t have to worry whether the electricity will last for the day.

6. Septic System

Living off the grid for beginners is no easy feat, but once you understand everything you need to make living possible, you’ll be alright. Just like power generators are a must for comfortable living, so is a septic system, which is necessary for waste disposal. For digging a traditional septic system, you’ll need to follow strict local and federal guidelines.

7. Waste Disposal

Although you’re probably less eager to deal with this aspect of how to go off the grid, finding a way to dispose of your garbage and wastewater is something you have to think about. Once you unplug from the real world, you’ll need some sort of disposal waste system. For this, you’ll need to follow the local and federal guidelines on waste disposal systems—although leaving your waste in a hole to later be used as a fertilizer or power source would be an innovative solution, you should know that many federal guidelines don’t allow it.

Did You Know: If you’re looking for off-the-grid living ideas that don’t involve primitive living, you can find inspiration in this charming A-frame.

Key Takeaways

Living off-grid refers to living independently from public utilities.
Buying land is the number one thing you need to do after deciding to live off the grid.
Growing your own garden is essential for you to survive off the grid.
You’ll need to install a water system so you can drink clean water.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Living off the Grid

Going off-grid can turn out to be the best choice you’ve ever made, but it’s far from being easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. Keep in mind that while going off-grid comes with a lot of advantages, there are a lot of disadvantages to it as well.

The Advantages Are

  • Independence: one of the biggest advantages of going off the grid is that it offers you independence from public utilities.
  • Money-saving: another advantage of living off-grid is that it can save you money in the long run, even though it may be very hard at first.
  •  Environmentally friendly: lastly, living off-grid is more environment-friendly than living on the grid because you’re not relying on fossil fuels.
  • You become more self-reliant: by going off-grid, you’ll get to experience a world you didn’t think existed, and become more self-reliant in the process.

The Disadvantages Are

  • The initial cost: as we all know, finding a way how to get off the grid and start the process is always the hardest. One of the biggest disadvantages of living off-grid is the initial cost, as setting up your own power, water, and waste disposal systems can be expensive.
  • Maintenance: another disadvantage of living off-grid is the maintenance of your systems, which needs to be done on a regular basis.

As you can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages to living off-grid, so it’s important to weigh all the factors carefully before making a decision.

Did You Know: There are a lot of living off-the-grid communities. According to the Conservation Institute, there are 1.7 billion people currently living off-grid.

Conclusion

Living off-grid is a great way to become more self-sufficient and independent. However, it does require some planning and preparation. Before making the switch, make sure you have all the essentials covered, and once you do, you’ll be well on your way to living a more sustainable lifestyle.

FAQ

What states allow off grid living?

Not many states allow you to go off the grid. However, Alabama, Texas, Missouri, Georgia, and Tennessee allow off-grid living, and even help those who seek to pursue this lifestyle.

How much money do I need to live off the grid?

As many of us may suspect, going off-grid can be quite expensive. Given the total cost of all the essentials necessary, the average amount of going completely off the grid is $101,087.

Do you have to pay taxes if you live off the grid?

The answer to this question depends on the country you live in. In some countries, you may be exempt from paying taxes if you can prove you’re living off-grid. In other countries, you may be required to pay taxes even when living off-grid. You’ll need to research the tax laws in your country to find out what applies to you.

How do people afford living off the grid?

While there are some people who can afford living off the grid with their lifetime savings, others need some help in this expensive endeavor. There are a number of ways to finance living off-grid, such as through government programs or private organizations, but you’ll need to research your options and find the financing plan that works best for you.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Alex is an IT wizz gone SEO gone fire-juggler. We’re not even joking. When he isn’t researching why one personal loan is better than the other and which piece of hardware you should buy next, he’s rollerblading or selling homes (because he does that, too, the smarty-pants).

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