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Home Forums General Discussion Going off Grid – cold turkey or by gradual steps

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    Most discussions on the subject seem to revolve on how to prepare for going off grid in one step. Certainly the prospect looks attractive “ off grid – Free yourself” but when you get right down to the fine details it can be a daunting prospect.

    Adventuresome people see it as an exciting challenge but just as many or more people are deterred by the numerous apparent obstacles. Urban dwellers in particular ask “ how do we go about going off grid?” To them doing without power is almost unthinkable.

    I suggest an alternative. Rent a rural home or maybe someplace in a very small town. Many small towns and rural areas are experiencing a exodus of people moving to the big city in search of what they perceive is a better future for them.

    Many areas have seen a decline in employment for several reasons. Some people retire and move closer to family or perhaps medical facilities and better community amenities.

    They often cannot find any buyer for their property and would be willing to rent for a low reasonable rate.

    Such a rental place is removed from the big city but would still have power and water, sewage disposal ( septic system or maybe a municipal system)

    Quite often they also have back up heating wood stoves. This would give someone a chance to experiment with alternatives before making a non reversible move that could prove to be a big expensive mistake if you guessed wrong or planned for the wrong thing.

    Some people find out too late that remote living far from urban amenities is not to their liking. He loves it, she hates it and pretty soon they go their separate ways.


    A long time back someone on Land Buddy asked me how to go off-grid when living in an apartment.

    Admittedly this is a real challenge. I have been mulling over a good answer to this ever since. Some things you simply cannot change by yourself. And in some cases it does not make sense.

    Sewers and clean potable water is something requiring substantial civil infra-structure. Nor does it have a huge adverse effect on the environment to provide it. Quite the contrary! Lack of sewers and clean water is a significant health hazard. Use of this in an apartment is essential. Use of electrical power on the other hand can be regulated and a reduction of electrical power is a benefit overall.

    Window and balcony gardening is by now an established practice and there are even books published on the subject.

    All too often going off-grid is portrayed as requiring purchase of land, setting up a completely self supporting farmstead, with your own source of food and energy.

    This may be a utopian goal but many people will not be able to do so. Lack of financial resources will limit them and the reality is, all the good farm land has already been acquired. If you want some you have to pay a premium. All the cheap land or free land for homesteading is comparably poorer for food production and located in remote regions with associated disadvantages.

    I am suggesting an interim step for urban dwellers. If ou need to retain some form of employment to maintain a cash flow you need to remain closer to where there is employment opportunities..

    Right now with unemployment being so high, this poses a difficult situation.

    However living further from urban centers usually means lower rent, often lower cost for some essentials and it definitely means a change in lifestyle. ( usually an improvement)

    Consider the cost reduction in going from $1500 monthly rental to $800 or even lower.

    If you can rent a rural or suburban property you now have the opportunity to grow some of your own food. While renting is not ideal, it does offer an opportunity to practice some of the skills needed when living off-grid. Should it prove not to your liking, you can give notice and move without having tied up your capital or committed to a huge mortgage. More and more rural areas are coming within reach of internet access. This opens up possibilities for income generation never before possible.

    Exurbia or rural living introduces you to a very different lifestyle. If you have an open mind there is much you can learn about doing things for less.

    If you rent a property that is already serviced for power, you have the luxury of gradually developing your off-grid skills and knowledge. You can make the transition gradually instead of all at once.

    Garage and yard sales, farmers markets and farm gate sales will replace going to the mall and offer substantial savings.

    We are moving for health reasons. Living 50 miles from nearest doctor or hospital is not wise after three strokes. So we are going to rent a mobile in a very small town of 600 population. Hospital is 10 minutes away but our backyard is a nature reserve with a black bear being the only known resident. Although the property is fully serviced I am free to develop my own off-grid solutions. But why would I spend $30,000 to drill my own well or provide my own sewage treatment system.

    I will concentrate on reducing my electrical needs to near zero. The place already has a wood stove.

    We plan on traveling to a larger community once every couple of months to get things we cannot obtain locally or buy food staples in bulk to save money. We could not survive in a bigger city on the meager pension I get but we stand a good chance of doing so in this remote community.


    I had a place to live in CoSpgs 38 miles away. I had been studying living off grid for 4 years. I had to get a loan then build after work and on weekends after the initial paperwork and fees. It took a year to get the initial cabin done, maxing out credit cards, then getting a half value mortgage to pay off everything. Then moving up here and selling the place there was a 6 month ordeal. Then I got a job up here and began the addition with tire walls ‘Y’ing off to the future Earthship, more re-used and recycled materials. A good sized garage, den/bedroom, large closet and 3/4 bath with laundry. Took another year in spare time with family help again. Then the Earthship took another year of weekends and after work work.

    So the off-grid Earthship dream took many steps, a lot of hard work, pain, and sacrifice, help from family and God. Then financial discipline, but the place was mortgage free 9 years after the initial down payment on the land. Having the initial low mortgage and no power bills made it possible, along with all the sweat equity and savings on groceries from the Earthship gardens, and outside seasonal gardens, and big savings from using re-used and recycled materials.

    Still, there are taxes, insurance, and maintenance along with propane bills. These add up to a long term average of $160 per month, plus , now, 45 in gasoline and 300 in groceries/necessities. It never gets down to free. Even the old mountain men had to work hard and plan well to live off the land, keep their hair, get their furs down to rendezvous for fixin’s for the next year and a jug or two for the once a year party. I skip the jugs and tobacky, and save even more.

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