So you’re looking to get off-grid, right? There are obviously pros and cons to making the shift. Some unusual ones too. Ready for them? Let’s jump right in!
Everyone Wants It, but Few Actually Do It. Here’s Why
Living off the grid may cost you close to a decent house budget, but it is cost-effective in the long run.
However, the concept requires adequate planning, knowledge, and technical skills. It takes a lot of research too, which is why this article is necessary for you.
Many still don’t know what it’s like to live off the grid, but I will explain it well here. I’ll also outline its advantages, disadvantages, and the important things you need to know about living off the grid.
What Does It Really Mean to Live Off the Grid?
I will start from scratch to give you a great insight into this unique way of living. The first thing you should know is what it is and how you live off the grid.
Well, to make it simple, as long as you get your electricity from the central power station, then you’re still in the grid. But living off the grid is entirely the opposite, which means that you’re not on the city’s network at all. Hence, you will need to generate your own electrical energy and have a distinct water supply away from the central flow that comes from the city.
What’s more, most people go a long way to produce and process their food to ensure a complete ‘off-grid’ lifestyle.
Above all, it requires much commitment. So are you still willing to go off the grid completely? Then you need to know the upside and downsides of living off the grid.
What Are The Pros and Cons of Living off the Grid?
You should know that living off the grid has its fair share of challenges as well as advantages. Hence, you should evaluate these factors and reasons before making this life-changing decision. Here are some of the pros and cons of living off the grid.
The Pros of Living Off The Grid
1. Eco-friendly Lifestyle
The effect of our everyday living on the ecosystem has become more harmful than beneficial. Also, the increasing need for non-renewable energy raises the release of greenhouse gases. These gases put the earth and its existence in jeopardy.
So, by staying away from the usual way of life and using good energy forms like the sun and wind, you’re helping the environment.
The use of renewable forms of energy is the best eco-friendly practice you can ever indulge in as it reduces the carbon footprint in the atmosphere. Also, investing in recyclable material with improved durability can lessen the quantity of waste in the environment.
2. Budget-Friendly Living
At first, it may seem like an expensive form of living, but in the long run, you’d see it is cost-effective. Building a home that relies on solar energy for electricity and natural water bodies for supply will surely cost a fortune.
However, as time passes, you will save thousands of dollars on water and electricity bills. You can also save money on groceries and veggies by setting up a small farm with less hassle.
3. Makes One Self-Sufficient
One of the advantages of staying away from the societal grid is that it builds you to be self-sufficient. Imagine that you’re not relying on the farmer’s market for your veggies and salads, you’ll have no choice but to grow yours. This practice enhances your ability to produce the needed energy from the natural resources that surround you.
4. Natural Proximity
One other benefit of living away from the bustling and jostling of the city is your ability to enjoy nature. With the appropriate climate, you can sit out and take a long view of the environment amidst the stroking of the cool breeze.
Nature becomes your companion, and you benefit more from it. You can plant, harvest your food, and control the number of harmful preservatives found in your environment.
The Cons of Living Off Grid
Living off the grid also has its downsides which are:
1. First-Time Costs
Although it seems to be cost-effective in the long run, the initial cost of living off the grid is somewhat scary. You may need the fortune to set up a complete off-grid house with the necessary fittings to match the city’s lifestyle. The reason is that constructing a potable water system and power supply sufficient for a comfortable lifestyle will cost you quite a huge amount of money.
2. Periodic Loneliness
If you decide to stay away from the main town where the majority of the populace resides, you also have to prepare to be alone. To live off the grid completely, you should brace the idea of staying secluded for quite some days.
You need to make numerous adjustments when you decide to live off the grid. Since you won’t be close to equipment supplies and grocery stores, you should prepare to live on occasional chops.
Likewise, you also have limited access to essential services like auto repairs, plumbing, and home fixings. So you have to hope your car or shower fitting doesn’t get faulty since you’re in the middle of nowhere.
How Much Does It Cost To Live Off The Grid?
When you want to move to the middle of nowhere, ensure that you have enough money to cater to potential expenses. The reason is that you might need to purchase materials for your new home.
To cut down your spending, look for land that contains a pre-existing house and well. With the remaining cash, you can cover other expenses. Here is what it will cost to go off the grid below.
Rural land comes as the perfect spot for living off the grid. Since you plan on living comfortably, you could look for an area with a stream or river passing through it. If your land does not have any natural water body, you could consider creating a well or rain catchment.
When it comes to basic accommodation, a cabin with simple features fits outdoor life. Typically, a combination of land and the building itself should cost at least $100,000. But if you plan to add off-grid upgrades, prepare to spend an extra $70,000.
Living off the grid costs less than staying in an urban area. The reason is that you won’t have to worry about paying the regular utility bills.
Source of Electricity
After setting up your home, you will need electricity to keep some essential electrical appliances running. For people living off the grid, solar panels serve as the most affordable choice for producing energy. If you prefer other options, you could consider a wind turbine or hydroelectric power generator that will be great.
1. Solar Panels
The cost of these panels depends on your location, and some states provide tax credits. For instance, you could spend between $2.71 and $3.57 per watt to set up a solar panel. Before the tax credits, the average gross cost is $18,840. But depending on the building size and tax credits, getting the required solar panel could cost you $11,380 to $14,990.
2. Hydro Powered Electricity
Do you have a stream running where you plan to go off the grid? If yes, you can use a hydroelectric power generator. This form of energy will cost you anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000.
A full Installation could cost you $20,000 to $100,000. However, this figure depends on the source of the water supply and the energy requirement of the building. The distance between the home and the water also determines the cost.
3. Wind Turbines
Before choosing this form of energy, ensure you have a vast area that offers plenty of wind. For your electronics to run smoothly, you have to consider a $30,000 wind turbine.
But if you don’t use much energy, go for a smaller-sized model that goes for $4,000. At this price, this item costs less than using solar power.
Starting a garden requires up to $200 to $500. But you will surely have access to a steady supply of healthy food.
You can also raise poultry or cattle for your protein needs. However, the initial investment depends on the type of animals you want to rear and your household size.
You can provide water to your off-grid home by creating a well. Drilling a water well costs anywhere from $1,500 to $12,000. Usually, the price to get this done depends on the depth of the hole.
After drilling the well, you will have to set up the pipes and an electric pump. To get this done, you will need an additional $2,000 – $3,000 for installation. With this in mind, the average price to get the water running in your off-the-grid home falls within $3,500 to $20,000.
If you decide to have three bedrooms, consider a 1,000-gallon septic tank. Creating this tank will cost you at least $600. But if you plan to buy building replacement materials for future purposes, this requires extra cash.
You can cut the expenses by using a water catchment tank to help gather rainwater.
How Legal Is It to Live Off the Grid in the US?
In all the states in the US, there are no strict laws against living off the grid. You are free to stay off the grid as long as it is not an essential infrastructure. For instance, you cannot decide to operate a hospital off the grid, at least not without notice.
You are free to cultivate plants for food using natural water supplies. Also, you can provide power for your farms as long as you do not interfere with the electricity layout of the state.
But mind you, any unlawful interference with the city infrastructure can lead to fines or jail terms from the state. However, laws that guide off the grid living vary extensively, not just among states but in countries as well. Furthermore, the biggest challenge with setting up an off-grid home is passing the state septic tank regulation.
Variation of Off-Grid Living Within States
Under this section, the laws guiding off-grid living vary in some states. Depending on the restrictions placed by local laws, you might discover large or small differences in each category.
- Smaller urban communities have also set up regulations that guide basic off-grid projects like cutting off from the central electrical power or sewer systems.
- Suburban areas with wealthy residents also feature laws that discourage off-grid living.
- Towns and cities always have the strictest rules that concern off-grid living.
In the countryside, you can set up your home without any trouble. But that’s if the laws in such areas support people that love staying far away from public services. Apart from constructing septic tanks, rural counties do not offer any zoning regulations.
Many North American states do not permit people to live off the grid. However, some areas offer you the chance to try out this unique way of life.
What States Allow Living Off The Grid In the US?
For this reason, it is advisable to research the state law that guides living off the grid. Since local authorities create new regulations, look out for the current ones. By taking this step, you can avoid paying a fine or ending up in jail.
Luckily, some states allow people to live off-grid while others have laws that forbid this idea. Overall, places with a vast expanse of remote land tend to support private individuals living off the grid.
But no state promises the best conditions for off-grid living. The reason is that some places might frustrate you with taxes, while others provide an environment that supports your decision.
States that allow off-grid living include:
However, when choosing a spot for your off-grid living, consider the source of water in the area. You should also check out the distance from your water supply to the building and then find the best way to bring the water to your home.
Food comes as another essential thing to take into account. If you want to live alone, you can handle this part with ease. But if you want to raise a family in an off-grid home, you will have to spend more time and cash providing enough farm produce.
Your Next Step
You’re still reading, so I’m going to guess you want to take this 1 more step. So here’s the deal.
Electricity is the #1 thing that bottlenecks living off the grid: There are a lot of pitfalls that can cost you a lot of money…
Then check out our review of The Smart Solar Box. It’s a very small investment… and it’ll pay off for you tenfold. Just follow it step by step and you’ll have abundant power generation for years to come.