So you wanna go off grid… now what? How far do you wish to go? There are lots of decisions to be made when you are deciding your future. Are you on your own or do you have a family? Are you at the beginning of your adult life are are you in your twilight years? Do you have lots of money to spend on this or are you wondering how you’ll pay this month’s bills? Do you want to do this on your own or do you want to start or join a like minded group?
From now on, when I say “off grid”, I’m generally referring to independently taking care of all of your utilities, electric, gas, water, sewage and such. There are differing levels of being off grid, one isn’t superior to another.
Each person is different and has different reasons for wanting to go off grid, I’ll not answer every question, but I’ll give you the answers I have now, if you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment, I’ll do my best to answer whatever questions you have.
Everyone has differing skill levels, meaning the ability to do things for yourself, your own plumbing, electric, building and such. I will tell you, from personal experience, the more you can do for yourself, the better off you will be, both for yourself, and to be able to barter with other people for the things you can’t do or for things you need to acquire.
If you are just starting out and wish to go off grid, one of the things I would recommend is learn as much as you can about building, electricity (AC and DC), plumbing (water and gas), small engine repair, as I said, the more you can do for yourself, the fewer things you will need to pay someone else to do. Also, the more privacy you will have, there is nothing like having to call in a plumber or electrician to fix something and have them looking at and wondering about everything you have and are doing. There are plenty of nosy people in this world who would love nothing more than to cause you trouble because of some perceived code or law they think you might be breaking, bending or getting around, especially if they think it’s taking money out of their pocket.
Unless you are independently wealthy, you will need to start saving and working toward getting the things you will need to go off grid. Before we moved off grid, while we were both still working full time jobs, with full time salaries, we began buying up things that we knew we’d need, solar panels, wiring, breaker boxes, pipe… we scoured the paper and the internet looking for used building materials to take with us, windows, dimensional lumber, anything that we thought we could use.
We also purchased food to bring with us, dry foods, dehydrated and canned foods, anything that didn’t require refrigeration. Don’t forget you will need storage for this food, the kind that the critters cannot get into, mouse proof, and if you have bigger critters like bear and such, you will need take that into consideration too. You don’t want to stash some food at your off grid place and come back later only to find someone else has enjoyed your food before you could.
Don’t forget about water, you will need a way to store water if you don’t have a well, we store ours in water tanks, our water is good but since we store it before using it, we choose to filter it with a Berkey Light Water Purifier, it doesn’t require power or water pressure, it’s gravity fed and works great.
You will also need a piece of property. That is the sticky part for most just starting out, that is such an individual thing, what do you like? Mountains? Flat? Desert? Wet? High or low? You will need to learn about the people in the area, restrictions, codes and laws, you don’t want to buy a property only to find out you can’t build what you want on it. Can you hunt there? What about taxes and property values? What is it next to?
All while this is going on, you will have to figure out how you will support yourself once you move off grid. There are lots of ways to support yourself, especially if you live frugally and are creative, again the more skills you have, the better off you will be in this area. The more frugally you live, the more you can be creative about living, the less you will have to work in a regular job, the more hours you have to give to someone else is hours taken away from you being able to build your life, and enjoy your life.
I just asked hubby what the most important skill is to him for living off grid, he gave me several answers, first not injuring himself (being coordinated), being safe, knowing how to use hand tools, how to build things strong (pretty or straight is way less important), how to do things by himself and in pretty short order, and how to make use of things that aren’t standard or perfect (re-purposing and reusing things) think MacGuyver, think outside of the box.
These are the things we did, it might not work for you the same way it did for us, in fact I can guarantee your way will be different from ours, and that’s OK, there are as many different ways of doing things are there are people.
Just don’t wait to do it, if this is something you truly want to do, if this is your dream, then set goals and work toward them, let nothing get between you and your dream, especially yourself. Each day that goes past can either be another day closer to your dream, or another day that went by without your dream coming true. Be flexible, know that you will have to adjust your plans as time goes on, nothing is written in stone, but keep working toward what you want.
Some great resources about living off grid can be found here:
Don’t have much money? That’s OK, that just means you will have to be more creative, save every penny you can, do you really need cable or satellite TV with all of the channels? Do you really need to eat out as often as you do? Can you take a lunch to work? Can you bring your own water or drinks with you? Do you really need that $3.00 cup of fancy coffee, that 6 pack or case of soft drinks, bottled water or beer? How about shopping at thrift stores instead of paying full retail for clothes and such… Cut expenses, cut coupons, cut whatever you can, it’s possible to shave even the tightest of budgets, we did it, so can you.
Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site
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