Living off the land, waking up to uninterrupted sounds of nature, foraging for your own food- it all sounds like a magical way to live, doesn’t it?
If you’re thinking about living off-grid, you’ve probably spent plenty of time daydreaming about what your new, peaceful life would look like.
And perhaps, maybe you’re looking to turn your daydreams into a reality and actually start living off-grid.
However, before you make the move to an off-grid lifestyle, there are some things you should know. While living off-grid comes with its perfects, it’s not all butterflies and roses.
Check out this guide to learn the things no one tells you about living off-grid.
What Is Off-Grid Living?
First things first, what exactly is off-grid living?
Off-grid living means something different for everyone. However, generally speaking, off-grid living means living without public utilities. This means you don’t use public water, public sewer, or public power.
Instead, you get by using solar power, compost systems, wells, natural springs, and septic systems.
People who live off-grid often choose this lifestyle so they can live autonomously, feel more connected with the land, and help the environment.
Is Off-Grid Living Legal?
So, is it legal to live off-grid?
Well, it depends. The truth is, it is becoming more difficult to live off-grid due to government regulations. And in some counties, it’s illegal to have a solar system that isn’t connected to the grid or to collect rainwater.
In addition, some counties have extremely strict building codes that make an off-grid lifestyle very difficult to maintain.
However, this doesn’t mean that living off-grid is completely illegal or impossible. If you decide to live off-grid, make sure to do your research and find somewhere to live that doesn’t have a bunch of strict rules in place.
Self Sufficient vs Off-Grid Living
Many people use the terms self-sufficient living and off-grid living interchangeably. However, while the two do share similarities, they are different.
Just because someone lives off-grid doesn’t necessarily mean they’re self-sufficient. In fact, self-sufficient living takes a lot more work than off-grid living does.
With self-sufficient living, not only do you forgo using public utilities, but you also don’t rely on anyone but yourself for food, shelter, water, protection, and power.
Many people who live off-grid also strive to be as self-sufficient as possible. Typically, it takes a bit of a while to lead a totally self-sufficient lifestyle.
Types of Off-Grid Living
It’s also important to note that there are different degrees of off-grid living.
For example, if you really want to rough it, you can live completely off-grid and build a small, dry cabin. You wouldn’t hook up to the electrical grid, and you’d presumably build an outhouse and start a small garden.
You would use a generator as your source of power, and you’d get light in the evenings by fire or candlelight. You’d also have to haul in water from springs or collect rainwater.
If this is too intense for you or you don’t want to dive into this level of self-sufficiency right away, then you can do more of a half on/half off lifestyle.
People who live a half off-grid lifestyle generally still rely on the grid for electricity.. They also typically have wells and septic systems.
The third option is to live a modern off-grid lifestyle. With this lifestyle, you’ll still have modern conveniences, but you won’t be relying on the grid for anything. You’ll likely have an electric powered well and a septic tank.
You’ll also depend on alternative sources of electricity, such as solar-powered, wind-powered, or hydro-powered electricity.
Advantages of Off-Grid Living
Some people think that living off-grid is a dream lifestyle. Others think it’s crazy and it’d be a huge nuisance. Before you form your opinion about off-grid life, it’s important to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s start with the top advantages of living off-grid:
You’re Completely Self-Sufficient
Being completely self-sufficient means that you won’t be impacted by local power outages or water plant emergencies.
Not to mention, you’ll save a ton of money on monthly appliance bills.
Smaller Environmental Footprint
By living off-grid, you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing everything you can to make the planet a healthier place.
By living off-grid, you’ll consume less energy, have less waste, and recycle regularly.
There’s a lot of personal satisfaction that comes with living an off-grid lifestyle.
Being able to solve problems that will help you meet your basics needs is incredibly rewarding. Working with the soil, making things with your own two hands, learning new foods, canning foods, and curing meat is both rewarding and intellectually invigorating.
Escape the Stresses of the Modern World
One of the biggest reasons people enjoy living off-grid is that it allows them to escape the stresses of the modern world.
Of course, living off-grid means you’ll have a new set of challenges. However, living this lifestyle means you never have to worry about sitting in hours of traffic, paying large utility bills, or working a 9 to 5 job that you hate.
The financial and personal freedom that comes with living off-grid cannot be understated.
Most Americans work sedentary jobs and don’t get enough exercise during the day.
If you live off-grid, you’ll be constantly moving each day to keep things running. And, you’ll be eating healthy, organic meals instead of fast food. This can help lower your risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and heart disease.
Plus, there are many mental benefits to working outside. Research shows that spending time outdoors leads to lower stress levels, increased memory, and an increased attention span. It can also lower your risk of developing anxiety and depression.
It can even reduce inflammation and increase your energy levels.
As we said at the beginning of the article, living off-grid isn’t all fun and games. There are some major challenges that come with this lifestyle that many people aren’t aware of.
Finding a Place
As we mentioned earlier, a lot of counties have strict rules in place that can make it very difficult for you to live off-grid. In fact, more and more laws are popping up, which makes finding a place to live all the more challenging.
Food Is a Huge Responsibility
Living off-grid means you can no longer enjoy the ease of reaching in your cupboard for a bag of potato chips.
Establishing a reliable food-source that’s free of pesticides and antibiotics takes a lot of work.
You’re Constantly Working
If you’re lazy and tend to procrastinate, the off-grid lifestyle is not for you.
Simply put, if you don’t take care of chores when living off-grid, then you won’t be able to survive. Growing and sourcing your own food, emptying your composting toilet, and even cleaning your own clothes all takes a lot of work when living off-grid.
However, many people find this work to be incredibly rewarding, making it feel less like work and more like fun.
A Lot of People Won’t Get You
Many people don’t understand the off-grid lifestyle and can’t imagine why someone would choose to live this way.
While the opinions of others shouldn’t matter, it can get exhausting constantly trying to defend your decision to friends and family members. While some may view your lifestyle with quiet curiosity, others may look at it with complete disdain.
This is something you need to prepare for when living off-grid.
Safety Is a Factor
Living off-grid means you won’t have easy access to hospitals or the police.
This means you need to be prepared to defend yourself in case something dangerous happens. You may want to look into purchasing a gun or some other self-defense device. You can check out Elftmann Tactical to learn about the different firearm parts you’ll need.
Tips for Starting the Off-Grid Lifestyle
If you think the off-grid lifestyle is for you, then here are some things you need to do to get started on your dream:
- Start searching for land
- Get in touch with other off-grid dwellers. Pick their brain about what they recommend in terms of building materials, food sources, septic systems, and more
- Save up: Although living off-grid can save huge amounts of money in the long-run, you’ll need some money upfront to build a house, buy a septic system, and buy solar panels or whatever you need for your energy source
- Transition: If you try to dive straight into a full-on off-grid lifestyle, you’re likely going to fail. Take things slow and focus on accomplishing one thing at a time
Living Off-Grid: Are You Ready for It?
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider before you make the decision to live off-grid.
As we said earlier, living off-grid isn’t for everyone, and there are ways you can incorporate elements of an off-grid lifestyle into your home without fully committing.
If you liked this post, be sure to check back in with our blog for more lifestyle tips and tricks.