How to Live off the Grid

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 01:14
If you're looking for absolute freedom, going off the grid may be the lifestyle for you! Living off the grid means living without connections to public utilities like sewer, water, and electrical lines. It also usually means living a...
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If you’re looking for absolute freedom, going off the grid may be the lifestyle for you! Living off the grid means living without connections to public utilities like sewer, water, and electrical lines. It also usually means living a minimalist, efficient, self-reliant lifestyle. While it can be tough to get everything established, with hard work and the right equipment, you can build an entirely self-sufficient homestead. To get you started, we’ve put together a list of tips and strategies so you can get an idea of what it takes to truly live off the grid.

Things You Should Know

  • Build or buy a home away from major cities with access to natural resources like trees and water.
  • Install solar panels to get electricity independently. A secondary power source, like a wind turbine, can also be helpful.
  • Hire a professional to drill a well and put in a septic tank on your property.
  • Grow and preserve your own veggies and fruits. For additional food sources, hunt and forage on your property.

Buy land with resources you can use.

  1. You’ll need a place to establish your homestead.
    Look for a location that you can afford that’s away from major cities that also has access to resources like trees and water so you can use them. Make sure the property has road access so you can get in and out, and read up on local laws regarding living off of the grid. Pay cash for the land or work with a local bank to finance the purchase.[1]
    • Read up on local property taxes and zoning laws as well. You may have to pay an annual tax for the land.
    • Ask if the property has “legal access,” which means it isn’t surrounded by either private or public land that could prevent you from accessing your own property.
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Build or buy an off-grid home.

  1. Disconnecting your current home usually isn’t an option.
    This is especially true if you live in a built-up area with numerous public utility connections. Instead, look into alternatives like the following:[2]
    • Buying a rural home that you can convert to off-grid living. Check property listings online. Contact realtors about homes that pique your interest. Visit a few homes to get an idea of what each one offers and how easy it would be to take it off the grid.
    • Building an off-grid home from scratch. Work with a housing contractor that has lots of experience building tiny homes and other types of off-grid housing. Alternatively, look into building your own off-grid home—but be realistic about the amount of time, energy, effort, and money it’ll take!
    • Building a tiny home. Get in touch with a company that specializes in building tiny homes, which are cheaper than full-size homes but have all of the amenities. Many are also portable so it can be delivered to your property.
    • Living in a camper or RV. Modern RVs have kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms—everything you could need in a home. And you can drive to a new location if you ever want to.
    • Joining an off-grid community. This can be a good choice because it allows you to live off-grid while maintaining connections with other people. There are off-grid communities around the world. Search online to find one in your area.[3]

Install a solar power system.

  1. Off-grid living requires you to develop home energy independence.
    In most cases, the best option is to retrofit your existing home (or fit your new home) with solar panels, which will absorb energy from the sun that you can use in your home. Solar panels need to be installed by a professional so, consult a solar power installation company in your area to get the job done right.[4]
    • Total installation costs of an average solar power system—including solar panels, a battery, a backup generator, and professional installation—averages around $40,000 USD.[5]
    • Solar power systems can also power a hot water heater so you have a supply of hot water for showers and cleaning.
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Install a backup power supply.

  1. Supplement your solar panels with a secondary power source.
    When you have a stretch of cloudy weather or any kind of mechanical problem with your solar panels, a backup really comes in handy! If you live near a creek, you could get a micro hydropower turbine installed as a backup system. Alternatively, you could get a wind turbine installed near your house. Talk to renewable energy companies in your area about your options.[6]
    • A domestic wind turbine costs around $10,000 USD. A small micro hydropower turbine can cost around $7,000 USD, while a larger one can cost over $50,000 USD.[7]

Drill a well for fresh water.

  1. Opt for a professionally-drilled well for water reliability and safety.
    Depending on where you live and the depth of the water table, it may be possible to dig a well yourself with power equipment or even just shovels. However, while dug-out wells and wells made by driving pipe into the ground can only reach down about 10–50 ft (3.0–15.2 m), professionally-drilled wells can go down 1,000 ft (300 m) or more. The deeper your well, the less likely water contamination becomes.[8]
    • Drilling a well typically costs around $30-$60 USD per foot, with a typical total cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $7,000 USD.[9]
    • You can also use drums or barrels to collect rainwater, which can be useful for gardening, toilets, and washing clothes. But you’ll need to filter or purify the water before you drink it.
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Put in a septic tank system.

  1. You need a way to safely treat your sewage in order to live off the grid.
    A septic tank is a watertight chamber that collects sewage in the absence of a sewer system. While solid waste remains inside the tank, liquids exit into a surrounding leaching field. The size of the leaching field means there’s a fairly substantial amount of excavation involved in the installation process. While it’s possible to do the installation yourself in some cases, it’s usually best to have your septic tank system professionally installed.[10]
    • Solid waste in the septic tank will need to be emptied by a vacuum truck periodically.
    • Having a septic tank system installed generally costs around $5,000 USD.[11]

Conserve water with a greywater system.

  1. This isn’t essential for off-grid living, but it’s a great add-on!
    A greywater system treats water used in dishwashing, sinks, showers, and baths so that it can be used in toilets or for irrigation. While it’s less of a necessity than a septic tank or a well, a greywater system can extend the lifetime of your well by allowing you to use water that has already been pumped up to the surface.
    • Recycled greywater is not safe for drinking, cooking, or cleaning.
    • Installing a greywater system typically costs around $1,000-$4,000 USD.[12]
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Learn to grow and preserve your own food.

  1. Increasing your food self-sufficiency makes off-grid living more viable.
    Even if you can’t grow everything you need in a household garden, aim to supplement your diet with fruits and vegetables raised by your own green thumb. Choose plants suited for your area’s climate and plant them in an area that’s well-drained at gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.[13] It’s equally important to have ways to preserve your food bounty, through methods like freezing and canning.[14]
    • You need somewhere around 4,000 sq ft (370 m2) of growing space to grow enough food to feed one person for a year.[15]
    • It's a good idea to invest in heavy-duty freezers that can keep your food cold for several days if the power goes out.[16]
    • Even if you aren’t planning to go completely off the grid, being able to grow your own food can make you more self-sufficient.

Hunt or gather food from the land.

  1. Supplement your home garden if you’re aiming for food self-sufficiency.
    For many people, living off-grid still means you have to make trips to the grocery store. However, if you’re aiming for maximum self-sufficiency in your off-grid lifestyle, supplement gardening with food gathering methods like the following:
    • Hunting and fishing. Hunting, trapping, and fishing can provide protein for your diet. Make sure to follow all hunting and firearms rules where you live.[17]
    • Gathering food from your environment. Wild berry and fruit trees can offer an abundant source of ready-to-eat food during the summer and fall. Get an illustrated botany book that explains which safe-to-eat fruits, nuts, and berries grow naturally in your locale.[18]
    • Keep in mind that many people who live off the grid still go to the grocery store to pick up supplies, so you don’t have to fully rely on your ability to live off the land.
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Collect enough clothing for every season.

  1. Proper clothing is vital.
    Gather enough clothes to keep yourself warm when it gets cold and to keep yourself cool whenever it’s hot outside. Even if you have a power supply, you never know when it could go out or when you’ll need additional clothing. Keep a solid stockpile handy.[19]
    • If you have other people with you, make sure they have enough clothing as well.
    • You can find affordable clothes at local thrift stores or flea markets.

Get in shape so you’re healthy and strong.

  1. Off-grid living can be hard work.
    You’ll likely be active every day, especially in the wintertime if you’re using wood to burn for fuel and heat. Work on strengthening your core and upper arms so you’re able to pick things up and perform the work it takes to build and establish your off-grid homestead.[20]
    • You can build your core with ab exercises like crunches, planks, and leg raises.
    • Push-ups and curls are great for building arm strength.
    • Even while you’re living off the grid, try exercising for a little bit every day to stay in shape.
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Reduce your electricity usage.

  1. Relatively simple adjustments can greatly reduce your electricity needs.
    Since you’re producing your own electricity instead of getting it from the grid, it’s important to take steps to ensure you don’t use too much power. Start with the simplest steps, like turning off lights when you’re not using them and unplugging items like TVs that draw power even when they’re turned off. Rely on LED bulbs for lighting and choose the most energy-efficient appliances and household items available.[21]
    • Properly insulating your home can help to substantially reduce your power usage for heating and cooling.
    • You can save $100 USD in energy costs per year simply by eliminating “vampire loads”—the electricity used by appliances when they’re turned off!

Cut down on household waste.

  1. Reducing waste increases your self-sufficiency and is better for the planet.
    In addition to the environmental benefits, it makes practical sense to reduce your waste production. After all, you’ll likely be forgoing trash pickup as part of living off the grid. Start small by, for instance, learning how to compost food scraps and yard trimmings, and go from there.[22]
    • Buying less of what you don’t need cuts back on waste. Figure out what your true necessities are and always make a detailed shopping list when buying goods.
    • Sell, donate, or repurpose items you no longer need.
    • Some people aim to live a zero-waste lifestyle. This may be further than you’re willing or able to go, but any reduction in household waste is a net positive!
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Save and earn money creatively.

  1. Going off-grid isn’t cheap, especially at first, and emergencies will happen.
    Your off-grid lifestyle will be more secure if you are able to pay for upgrades, repairs, or other things when you need them. To ensure you’re able to do so, save as much as possible before going off the grid, and continue to save wherever possible after going off the grid.[23]
    • How much should you save up before getting off the grid? There’s no way to say for certain, but a good general rule is to have at least six months’ worth of your current income saved.
    • Eliminate unnecessary expenses. Even if you’ve started out your off-the-grid lifestyle with a large nest egg, work to buy only what you need and save as much money as possible.
    • Use your hobbies to make money. For instance, if you’re a seasoned cross-stitcher, you might want to sell your creations online or at a local farmer’s market.
    • Turn your knowledge of off-grid living into a financial opportunity. Monetize a blog, produce videos, or write a book about your experiences. You might also host others in a kind of off-grid exchange program.[24]

Educate yourself on off-grid living.

  1. Beyond disconnecting from public utilities, defining “off-grid” is up to you.
    You could choose to live within easy reach of stores, hospitals, and family. Or, you might decide to live in a totally self-sufficient home or trailer far from anyone else. Check out resources on off-grid leaving to learn more about your options.[25]
    • Attend workshops on topics like growing your own garden, starting a compost pile, and repairing your home might be useful when you move off-grid. Check out the community events calendar of your local newspaper or library.
    • If you plan on growing a garden, for instance, run a search for how to do so using your search engine of choice. There are countless videos and articles online about how to live off the grid.
    • Renting an isolated cabin provides you with a taste of what you can expect when living off the grid. Spend a week or so in one that most closely approximates the sort of home you plan on living in. If you want to totally disconnect when you go off the grid full-time, see if you can handle going without using your phone, computer, or other communications tech during your stay.
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