How to Live Off the Grid: A Guide for Dreamers

A rustic remote cabin.

Do you spend your days at your 9 to 5, dreaming about moving to a beautiful, remote location and building the perfect off-grid homestead? Do you wonder what it would be like to leave the hustle and bustle of city life and be free from bumper-to-bumper traffic and escalating utility bills? Off-the-grid living is hard work, but it’s certainly possible. And for many who choose to leave the daily grind and opt for off the grid living, it more than pays off in the end.

We put together a survival guide for off-the-grid daydreamers. The tips below will help you get started planning to go off grid.

Learn to Save Energy

Going off-grid in the truest sense of the phrase means to live autonomous – living without municipal water supply, sewer, natural gas and electricity. Going without public utilities means you’ll have to generate on-site electrical power through renewable energy sources, such as solar power.

The video below gives an in-depth guide on how to install solar panels on your off-grid homestead.

Other sources of renewable energy include wind turbines, which convert the wind’s kinetic energy into electrical energy.

When you’re preparing to go off the municipal electrical grid and source your own power supply, it’s a good idea to start drastically cutting back on your own energy usage. Reducing your carbon foot print and embracing a minimalist lifestyle will help you prepare for off-grid living.

In addition to electricity, you’ll also need a reliable water source. To do this, you’ll need to drill a well on your property. Be sure to stay a minimum of 50 feet away from any septic tanks and field lines.

You may also want to look into installing a greywater system, which treats water that’s been used in sinks, showers and baths and allows it to be used again, pro-longing the life of your well. To dispose of sewage, you can install a septic tank. However, many off-gridders opt to use dry toilets and composting toilets.

Curb Your Spending

After a lifetime of having everything at our fingertips, giving up modern conveniences is not without its challenges. But cutting out unnecessary purchases and services will help you save for homestead necessities and prepare you for a minimalist lifestyle. While going off grid will save tons of money in the long run, making the switch can be costly. Start working towards eliminating credit card debt and any other outstanding debts. Consider signing up for financial savings tools such as LearnVest or Mint or setting up a savings account just for your off-grid plans.

Attend a Workshop

Many towns host community workshops that aim to teach folks necessary survival skills for off-grid living.

Consider Living Small

Zillow

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of having a sprawling off-grid compound. But in the interest of minimalist living, many off-gridders think small. In many ways, the tiny house movement goes hand in hand with living off grid. Tiny homes make for smaller utility bills and easier upkeep. Companies such as Colorado’s Tumbleweed Houses help you design the tiny home of your dreams.

Do Some Traveling

No matter how much planning you do, you can’t build a livable off-grid homestead without finding land that works for your wants and needs. Hit the road to scope out some of the best places to live off the grid. North Carolina, Maine, Florida and California offer some of the best land to live off the grid in the United States.

Do a ‘Trial Run’

Flickr/Eoin McNamee

Consider renting a cabin in the woods for a week or even a month to test out off-grid living before taking the leap. Companies such as FreeHouse offer off-the-grid remote and rugged cabin rentals. You can also search for off-grid options on Airbnb.

Learn How to Supply Your Own Food

Living off the grid means supplying your own food. Research what grows best in the area you’re planning to move and start planning a sustainable garden. If possible, plant a garden in your current yard to practice growing sustainable food.

Consider taking a hunter education and safety course through your local parks department or Wildlife Conservation department.

Find a Community

Going off the grid doesn’t mean you have to do everything on your own. Finding a community of like-minded off-gridders can be an invaluable source in your quest to unplug from modern society.

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