Probably you’re tired of capitalism, the urban lifestyle, and the daily stresses of life. Perhaps you want to be more sustainable or save more money. There’s also a good chance that you want a simpler, more peaceful life. Either way, the idea of living off the grid sounds appealing.
You are not alone in your endeavor as well. In 2017, Home Power Magazine once shared that over 150,000 families lived off the grid in the United States. You can imagine how many do that now as the numbers have been increasing over the years.
Living off the grid, though, isn’t glamorous. Instead, it demands a lot of work, commitment, and even legal know-how. To make sure you’re better prepared for this lifestyle, know the four golden rules:
1. Know the Meaning of the Word
Many seem to confuse the term “off the grid” with “sustainability” and “going green” since all three sound similar or interchangeable. While they can be interrelated, their meanings are vastly different.
- To live off the grid means being significantly less dependent (or 100 percent not dependent) on conventional resources, such as grocery stores, power, Internet services, mobile services, water, and other utilities.
- Sustainability, meanwhile, refers to behaviors and practices that one can maintain over a prolonged period or indefinitely while living on the available resources and not harming the environment or society.
- Going green means adopting behaviors and practices that help conserve the environment.
You, therefore, may live off the grid but not go green. For example, they may use regular fertilizers to grow their food. One can also be green without promoting complete sustainability.
You may also choose to be completely or partially off the grid. You may use a satellite Internet to run a business or sell produce off your land to generate income.
2. Raise Funds
One of the most common—and the biggest—misconceptions about living off the grid is that it’s incredibly cheap to maintain. It’s not, at least in the short-term.
A huge expense is land. Depending on how much off-the-grid living you want, you may need between 1 and 5 acres. This way, you can grow crops, raise livestock, store supplies, and have enough space for the household.
Some may offer free land, but this may be problematic later on. Often, this area may require extensive restoration, care, and maintenance. The owners may have a hidden agenda of using you to improve the land and then demand it back once it’s in better condition.
The better option is to buy it, and it can range between $10,000 and $30,000. You can start gradually, though, and to lower costs, you may apply for a USDA loan, which allows you to buy a property or build a house in rural land.
3. Build Your Skills
You cannot go off the grid without learning any life skills. The transition will be hard, costly, and even dangerous. Before you even consider doing this, take stock of what you can actually do:
- Are you capable of growing your food?
- Can you build a house by yourself, repair, and maintain it?
- Do you hunt? Are you comfortable killing animals for food?
- What are your forage capabilities? Can you spot the difference between an edible and poisonous mushroom?
- Can you cook, sew, and perform other domestic skills?
- Can you raise livestock?
Besides taking an inventory of your life skills, you need to invest in the right tools, equipment, and even clothes.
For foraging and exploring the land, for instance, you might need Lacrosse hunting boots. These types of shoes are designed for rugged environments, so they’re comfortable to wear for hours and durable to last for years.
4. Determine the Laws of the State
Just because you’re living off the grid doesn’t mean you can already ignore the laws of the state. While this lifestyle is not completely illegal in the United States, there may be limitations.
Take water harvesting, for example. In most states, this is highly encouraged, but in others, you need to pay attention to a few caveats. In Alaska, rainwater harvesting is legal. But groundwater collection may need a purchase of water rights.
In Arkansas, your rainwater collection system should pass the Plumbing Code and be designed by a licensed engineer. Moreover, you can use the stored water for non-potable purposes only. Meanwhile, in Colorado, homeowners can own only two rainwater barrels whose combined capacity cannot exceed 110 gallons.
Know the laws. The last thing you want to happen is to let existing regulations derail your plans to live off the grid and, worse, bring you legal headaches.
You can learn to live off the grid while taking calculated risks. Plan ahead, know the challenges, and be physically, mentally, and financially prepared.
Meta title: The Basic Rules to Off-the-Grid Living
Meta desc: Do you want to live off the grid? Before you embrace this lifestyle, know the golden rules that cover finances, equipment, life skills, and legal know-how.