A lot of what people think living off the grid is, is just some degree of self-sufficiency.
For the purpose of this article, I will class living off the grid as meaning that you live somewhere where you are not hooked up to any public utilities like electricity, gas, water, and sewage.
Technically this could be a campervan or something like that, but I class it as a permanent home for this ultimate guide to living off the grid.
This depends on where you live obviously, so before you embark on your off-grid lifestyle you must thoroughly look into the rules on if and where you can do it.
The rules are not always black and white either. So, you must make sure you are aware of the rules under which your land and home fall under.
Some rules could be very strict and there will be no way round them, for example what sewage system is allowed.
Other rules may be less enforced like in some states in America collecting rainwater is illegal.
You would be unlucky to be pulled up on this, and if you were you could probably take the matter to court and win, but that is an expense, so you are better off living somewhere where there will definitely be no issues.
So always plan what you want from off grid life before you start looking, but a little flexibility will probably be required.
Once you are decided on how you envision your off-grid life then you need to find land to suit your plans.
What are the laws and rules regarding the land is important, there is no point finding the perfect piece of land but not being allowed to do anything on it.
If you are allowed to live off grid then what is the land like, is it suitable for building on, what is the drainage like, what wildlife is there around, is it suitable for animal grazing, plant agriculture or both, what are the weather seasons like and how will this impact living off the grid, and where are you situated, as it is no good if the land is cheap but it gets hit by tornados every year.
If possible, you want to be in a position where you can buy the land outright.
This means you do not have to have a mortgage, not having a mortgage means you do not have to earn a set amount of money per month, this means what money you do earn or have saved can be used for bettering your off-grid lifestyle rather than paying interest to banks every month.
Living off the grid is a very interesting and exciting way to live but it could be utterly miserable if you get the shelter wrong.
The shelter is arguably the most important thing to get right, it is a base requirement for human life. We need to maintain our core body temperature and having a place to help you do that is vital.
What sort of shelter is down to you, and your personal circumstances. For example, if you have a large family, then you are going to need a large shelter or multiple smaller shelters.
However, what you start off with might not be where you intend to end up.
For example, when you first purchase the land you night just live in a tent, then a converted school bus, then a cabin, with the final goal being an earth house or a normal brick house.
Whatever you intend to do make sure it is legal and you have planning permission.
It is not just what you intend to build but the length of time can also be a factor.
In the UK you can buy your own woodland, but you can only stay there for 28 days per year without planning permission even if you are just staying in a tent! This seems crazy to me.
You will have no access to public utilities so you will have no mainstream way of heating your house with electricity or gas.
So, you will need to consider how you will heat and cool your house, as necessary. Solar power and wood burning stoves are obvious methods that come to mind but there are things like hydro and geothermal power.
However, these will be location and budget dependant. For instance, there is no point decking your home out as solar power only, but you live in the far north where it is darkness for most of the winter.
There are many different options, dependant on where you live.
For example, Cody Lundin lives in a hot dry climate and he has designed a earth home that regulates its own temperature so it stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Even with a relatively stripped back lifestyle you will likely have plenty of electrical equipment you will need to power, like laptops, phones, fridges, washing machines etc.
These may not be necessary, but they can be helpful especially if you have kids and home-school.
Again, you will have no water supply provided by a utility company, and water is vital for life. So, you need to know how you are going to obtain it, collect it, purify it if necessary, and store it.
Can you collect rainwater, is there a freshwater stream nearby that will have no agricultural run off in it, does your land have a water well or is it possible to dig one.
These are all things you will need to know. For instance, will you have an underground cistern or a plastic water storage tank above water.
Are you going to grow and raise all your own food, are who going to trade or buy other foods, how far is that trading away, are these places accessible all year round?
Also, you will have no electricity from the grid so is there sufficient supply of energy to run things like fridges and freezers.
Whatever set up you have you will likely need to become experienced in food preservation techniques like fermentation and dehydration.
You are likely going to be living somewhere remote, so not only do you need daily food you will need a food store to help protect you from emergencies or crop failures.
There are a lot of conspiracy theories, some that are closer to the truth than others on why governments seem to make it hard for people to live off the land.
One of the legitimate and sensible reasons rules are in place is to prevent you dumping humans waste, black water, and grey water into rivers, streams, and waterways, which would be a health and safety risk.
You will need to be aware of the laws with waste as it will be checked, in some areas you will be allowed compost toilets and some areas you will not. So, you will have to plan around that.
There are many reasons why living off grid could be a good option for you, over 200,000 Americas chose to do so:
It is a way to get back to a more basic living your ancestors would have lived, learning how to live off the land.
You will become more in tune with nature, you will become more a part of its cycles. Too many humans are too far removed from nature nowadays. I think it is wise to try to get back to it.
You will learn to just use what you need; you will not just consume mindlessly.
The harder you must work for things, the more you will appreciate them. By building, making, and trading products you will have a better appreciation for them which you can never have from just buying something from amazon.
You will be far healthier than someone living in a city. You will be exposed to less pollution; you will also live more closely to your bodies circadian rhythm as you will rise with the sun and go to bed when it is dark.
You will grow and raise a lot of your food, so you will know where it has come from, how it was treated, which is far better for your health than eating junk food made in factories.
Living off the grid is rewarding but it is hard work too, you will have to do a lot of manual labour and because of this you will build a lot of functional strength and endurance.
The more comfortable you are living in towns and cities the more at the whim of governments you are. By allowing governments to look after you, you are giving yourself a false sense of security.
I believe it is far better to own your own land, own your own home, run your own utilities, and grow your own food. This means you and your families wellbeing is in your hands rather than someone else’s.
Can anyone choose to live off the grid, or do you need a certain skill level?
The best thing about living off the grid is that anyone can do it, but the less time you have sent outside in nature, or the more time you have spent living in cities the steeper your learning curve will be.
However, do not let that put you off. Even the most experienced survivalist, homesteader, and prepper will have to learn to adapt, be flexible, and learn new skills. So, the main skill you need is the desire to learn.
However, it would be handy if you had, could learn, or knew people with the following skills:
Depending on the size of your land or the climate you chose to live in could mean that you cannot always grow or raise all the food that you are your family needs.
Or there could be a crop failure, or a disease might sweep through your cattle, in these circumstances it is useful to be able to go out and catch wild animals as a backup or a supplement to what you can get from your own land.
It is an extra layer of protection, so that you can be truly self-sufficient.
In a similar way to hunting it is a useful skill to be able to go out into nature at certain times of the year and know what you could source for food. This seems like it would be a lot easier than hunting and, in a way, it is, but you also have to be a lot more careful.
You can kill pretty much any animal and eat it, if you have the skill to track, trap, and shoot it but with plants it can be a life-or-death decision.
For example, some wild mushrooms are very nutritious and safe to eat, some might send you on a trip you don’t want, and there are a surprising number of wild mushrooms that can actually kill you.
Some level of construction experience or knowledge would be helpful, you don’t have to be able to build a multistorey house by yourself, but it will be a good idea to be able to fix and repair things.
If you are in a remote area, you don’t want to be calling out a professional every time there is a dripping tap.
In a similar way to construction, I am not expecting you to be able to build a tractor or a heating system. It is often easier and safer to get things like that done professionally.
However, it will be useful if you can maintain and repair cars, tractors, water systems, sewage systems, and heating systems yourself. Especially if you live in a really remote area where professionals may not be able to get to you quickly.
Again, I am not suggesting you should have to make your own clothes from scratch, but you should be able to repair them or repurpose them, so you might have to become handy with a sewing machine.
As a homesteader if you have a t-shirt that no longer fits, has a stain on it, or a hole on it then you don’t just throw it out.
You would repurpose it, for example you could turn it into cloths, or even nappies and a replacement for toilet paper.
There are no hard and fast rules on how you should live off grid, and it will mean different things to different people.
My biggest piece of advice is to follow the rules and regulations set by the state, councils, and governments… not because you believe they are correct but because if you do you will be more likely to be left alone.