Going off the grid need not be that hard, but it requires lots of planning and preparation. Once you decide to move off the grid, you should draw up a checklist of things to do before making the move.
There are many things you take for granted that need to be sorted out before starting to live off the grid. It is easy to avoid beginner’s mistakes by drawing up a thorough checklist.
What does off the grid living mean to you?
Living off the grid can have different meanings for different people. However, what it means to you is all that matters, the rest is irrelevant. What level of independence do you want with living off the grid?
For many people, going off the grid means living without public utilities such as power, water, waste management, and to some extent food. Are you clear about bank accounts, credit cards, phone, and internet connectivity? There are many more such simple and day-to-day services to take care of. And, for this, you need to have a clear-cut definition of off the grid living.
If you are planning to go the whole nine yards, you need to be better prepared mentally, physically, financially, and skill-wise. You may find these off-grid living ideas helpful.
How to prepare to live off the grid?
Here is a general checklist for living off the grid.
Plan your finances:
Clear your debts and save for the initial expenditure. Form an idea about how you are going to generate income and manage expenses when living off the grid. Drawing up a budget is the most important first step when planning to go off the grid.
Develop your skill set:
When you are planning to go off the grid, your most prized possession is going to be your skill set. The more diverse skills you have, the better skilled you are, the easier it will be. You need to have at least a basic knowledge of construction, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, gardening, woodcutting, and cooking. The more independent you want to be, the more skills you need to have.
Find a suitable land:
Many states in the United States and Canada offer free land in exchange for setting up home. Budget permitting, you can even buy a piece of land to set up your home. While choosing the land, you need to consider its suitability for the kind of self-sufficiency you are aiming for. Water and energy sources are essential to be self-reliant.
Figure out water supply and storage:
This is an important step before moving on to constructing the home. Make a rough estimate of the quantity of water you will need and plan accordingly. In addition to drinking and cooking needs, you have to account for water usage for bathroom needs and irrigation. Rainwater harvesting and water purification are some areas that need your attention.
Construct the house:
Choices are plentiful for off the grid homes – log cabin, cob house, yurt, or abandoned RVs. Stick to your budget and choose one that suits the lifestyle you are aiming for. Having a range of skills will come in handy during the construction to keep the expenses minimal and the independence you want to have.
Set up a waste management system:
Waste management includes handling organic waste, wastewater, and sewage. With ample knowledge, the right skill, and good execution, it is possible to devise a waste management solution that is not just free of cost but provides useful products and services such as compost and biogas.
Develop a heating/cooling solution:
For heating, the easily accessible energy sources are wood, manure, biogas, and electricity generated from on-site renewable energy sources such as solar home heating, wind, or micro-hydro projects. Off the grid cooling ideas are root cellar, swamp coolers, ice house, propane refrigerator, and solar-powered air-conditioner. You may also use the power generated on-site to run a regular refrigerator or air-conditioner.
On-site power generation:
The purpose of moving off the grid is to be independent of public utilities, the most important among this being power. The best sustainable energy options available for off the grid homes are solar, wind, biogas, and geothermal in some cases. Suitability of the land for power generation is the key factor. The initial cost also needs to be taken into account.
Being alternative energy sources, all the choices mentioned above offer clean, green energy to satisfy your desire to be environment-friendly. With the right kind of skill and a can-do mentality, it is feasible to set up your own power generation system.
Grow your own food:
Whether you want to grow your entire food need or partially is entirely your call. Figure out what you want to grow and how much and choose the garden area accordingly. What you can grow and the yield depends on the quality of soil and climate. You may use the homemade compost to enrich the soil. An irrigation system is necessary if the area is too big for manual watering.
Keeping livestock is an important step in self-sufficiency. In addition to fulfilling your protein and fat requirements, livestock helps keep the pest in control and provide manure for composting. Chicken, cow, pig, and goat are the most useful livestock in off the grid homes.
Food preservation and building winter supply:
When you are growing your food, you will find that at times you will end up with more than what you need and at other times insufficient to meet your requirement. To ensure sufficient food year-round, you need to learn food preservation techniques such as sun-drying, salt curing, and fermentation. The excess produce may be preserved for use during the lean winter months.
When living off the grid, it is important to account for emergencies such as medical emergencies and natural calamities. Maintaining contact and good relations with neighbors as part of community building is an essential survival measure.
The first steps to moving off the grid start with planning, followed by preparation and skill development. Going off the grid is not for the feeble-hearted or those who prefer a lazy, laidback lifestyle. Especially in the initial stages, hard work and determination to succeed are needed in ample measures.
Once you have set up the basic infrastructure and have survived winter, it is time to think about upgrading or raising the level. The satisfaction of succeeding in your endeavor is the driving force that keeps you happy, content, young, and invigorated.