Approximately 1.7 billion people worldwide currently live off the grid, including over 180,000 families in the United States. This number is increasing year by year, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
Have you been thinking about adopting an off-the-grid lifestyle? Are you unsure of where to start or what this type of living entails? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for your ultimate beginner’s guide to living off the grid.
What Is Off-Grid Living?
It can be tricky to nail down a clear definition of what living off the grid means. In general, though, it involves living autonomously without depending on things like municipal water or other public utilities like natural gas or electricity.
It’s generally agreed that people who are off the grid do not use public utilities, but there is some gray area when it comes to things like the internet. To some people, you’re not truly off the grid unless you’re totally disconnected. Others use smartphone hotspots to access the internet and communicate via social media with friends, family, and other off-gridders.
Ultimately, you get to decide what living off the grid means to you, specifically. It’s still good to know what others mean when they use this term, though.
Why Live Off the Grid?
Regardless of how you define it, there are plenty of reasons why people choose to live off the grid. The following are some of the most frequently cited ones:
- Reduced environmental footprint
- Increased personal satisfaction gained from being self-sufficient
- Reduced spending
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved health from spending more time outdoors and in nature
How to Start Living Off the Grid
If these perks sound appealing to you, you might want to start looking into living off the grid. You’re likely wondering how to go about changing your lifestyle, though.
Here are some first steps everyone ought to take when starting to live off the grid:
Do Your Homework
There’s a lot of preparation that goes into off-grid living. You can’t just sell everything, head out into the wilderness, and expect to start thriving immediately. Well, you could, but it probably won’t work out very well for you.
If you’re interested in living off the grid but aren’t 100 percent sure you want to commit, do some research to learn more about what the lifestyle entails. Attend a workshop near you or check out online forums for first-hand accounts from current off-gridders. You can also give off-grid living a trial run (rent a cabin or look for off-the-grid Airbnb options) to see what it’s like before you dive in headfirst.
Start Saving Money
You’ll also need to make financial preparations before you embark on this journey. Living off the grid can help you save money in the long run, but there are a lot of initial investments you’ll need to make for things like land, lodging, and supplies. Start saving up now so you have enough money to fund your adventure and get everything you need to be in it for the long haul.
If you want to successfully live off the grid, you also need to understand basic safety practices. There are potential dangers that you can run into when living this way, from wildlife to human outlaws and people who may try to take advantage of you. Survival skills like basic carpentry, hunting, and first aid are essential to anyone who wants to live off the grid full-time. You don’t need to be Ron Swanson, but you should at least know how to protect yourself and your family.
Find Your Living Space
One of the first steps to successful off-the-grid living is finding a living space that meets you and your family’s basic needs. Start looking for rural land, ideally land that has a river or stream that runs through it for easier water harvesting (more on that in a minute).
As for your living accommodations, if you have a trailer or tent, you can set yourself up there in the beginning. Eventually, though, you’ll likely want to make plans to build a simple cabin. You can also purchase a tiny home if you prefer to skip the building portion and have a place that’s ready for you to move into right away.
After finding your living space, your next priority should be finding and purifying water. If you’re going to be living near a stream or river, this will be fairly easy. Otherwise, you’ll need to drill a well and set up a system that brings water into your house. You can also harvest rainwater if you prefer.
Unless you’re going to be using an outhouse, you’ll want to set up a septic system at this time, too.
Once you’ve figured out your water situation, you’ll need to consider electricity for your home. There are a few ways you can harness electricity, including the following:
- Solar panels
- Wind turbines
- Micro-hydro electricity
Of these three popular options, micro-hydro electricity is one of the most cost-effective and powerful choices. The only catch, though, is that you first need to have a source of running water for it to work.
Grow Your Own Food
You’ll need to figure out a way to feed yourself and your family, too. When you’re living off the grid, you can’t just make a quick run to the grocery store or order takeout whenever you want.
Setting up a garden is your best option for having easy access to food. To do this, you’ll need seeds, fertilizer, mulch, and gardening tools (shovels, rakes, etc.).
You may also want to work toward setting up a small farm with chickens, cows, pigs, and other animals. That way, you’ll have easy access to meat, eggs, and milk.
Begin Your Off-Grid Living Journey Today
As you can see, there’s a lot you need to keep in mind when you’re first researching living off the grid. If you remember these guidelines on how to get started, though, you’ll have a much easier time transitioning to this way of life.
Do you want more advice on off-grid living? If so, check out some of the other content on my blog today for additional tips and resources.