homesteading in Texas
Flickr/Jonathan Cutrer

4 Places Where You Could Sustainably Live Off the Grid in Texas

Maybe more than anyone else in the United States, Texans are known for their independent spirit. And nothing says true independence like living off the land in a Texas homestead property. What is a homestead? Essentially, if you file a Texas homestead exemption application for your principal residence, property owners will receive homestead protection according to Texas law. In many cases, residents turn to urban or rural residential homestead exemption as a way to help with property tax exemptions. 

According to the Austin Relocation Guide, homeowners will need to move into the home by January 1 of that tax year, otherwise, they'll need to wait until the following year to file an application according to homestead laws. More and more homeowners around the country are moving out of the city and onto off-the-grid rural homesteads, just ask real estate agents. Goodbye, Dallas and San Antonio! If the Lone Star State is where you want to put your roots down and make a new home, here are four places in Texas where off the grid living is sustainable if you're looking to become a modern homesteader on your own acres of land.

4. East Texas Piney Woods

If you're looking to go off the grid, look behind the secluded pine curtain of the East Texas Piney Woods outside of Houston.  The Piney Woods region is a distinct cultural and ecological region in Texas, known for its dense growth of underbrush in areas such as the "Big Thicket." The region is also thought of as being culturally removed from the rest of Texas in some ways, hence the phrase "behind the pine curtain."

3. Canyon, Texas

Canyon, Texas is known for nearby Palo Duro Canyon, a canyon system in the Panhandle known as the Grand Canyon of Texas. Humans have been inhabiting Palo Duro Canyon for about 15,000 years. Native Americans were drawn to the area's close proximity to Prairie Dog Town Fork and the Red River. While you may not be able to take up primary residence in the Palo Duro Canyon State Park, the region offers a sustainable - and gorgeous - area for going off-grid. Talk about the complete opposite of a large condominium in the middle of a busy city. 

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2. Chihuahuan Desert

Living off the grid in West Texas is not for the faint of heart. But those that do prove themselves to be some of the most resilient folks around. If you'd like to give the off-the-grid lifestyle a shot before taking the leap, check out Ten Bits Ranch. Located in the wilds of the Chihuahuan desert, Ten Bits Ranch provides a back-to-basics getaway.

1. Terlingua

Terlingua is known for its free spirits. The Texas ghost town may just be the off-the-grid capital of the U.S. It's that spirit that draws innovators like John Wells to leave behind their lives in the city to start a new life in the unforgiving West Texas climate. Wells is the creator of the Field Lab, a self-sustained 40-acre desert homestead with no electricity or running water. Want to get a taste of off-the-grid living in Terlingua? Check out this off-the-grid adobe dome. Though it's sometimes called a ghost town, there actually is a school district so homesteading could help with any school taxes that might be required.

This article was originally published in 2019.

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