How often have you felt like getting away from this materialistic world and living life on your own terms? Have you considered living off the grid?
What is the meaning of ‘off the grid living’?
The term ‘off the grid’ means independent and not connected to basic services such as electricity and water supply. Off the grid living means independent and self-sufficient living without relying on the government, society, or public for any means of survival.
Off the grid is a general term for an independent house that is capable of generating a sufficient supply of power, water, gas, food, and clothing. In addition to this, there should be provision for services such as waste disposal, medical care, schooling, and entertainment.
Living off the grid with no investment?
To own a house that is truly independent and self-sufficient needs initial investment. You may be able to raise some money by selling off all the possessions that you may not need for your off the grid life. The more money you can spare, the better equipped your home would be.
However, it is possible to go off the grid even without the initial capital. Here are some ideas for going off the grid with no money.
Many remote cities in the United States and Canada offer free or almost free land. All they want from you in exchange is the promise to build a house and live there for a minimum period.
Some of the cities offering places to live off the grid are Buffalo (New York), Lincoln, Osborne, Plainville (Kansas), Beatrice, Curtis, Elwood (Nebraska), and Manilla, Marne (Iowa) in the United States. In Canada Pipestone and Scarth (Manitoba), St-Louis-de-Blandford (Quebec), Mundare (Alberta), and Yukon are offering free land.
Alaska, one the freest of the states, offers cheap land as well as free money. Establishing residency in Alaska makes you eligible for the yearly Permanent Fund Dividend which comes to $1000-2000 per person.
Low cost or no-cost housing
Setting up a home is one of the biggest hurdles to living off the grid. It consumes a big chunk of your savings, especially because of the self-sufficient infrastructure that goes along with it. However, it is possible to build a home with all the facilities without much drain on your resources if you are willing to work hard and live conservatively.
You may be able to find free construction material on Craigslist or nearby construction sites. Most construction sites end up with extra material that is given away for free.
Another option is natural home building methods such as log cabins, cob building, earthbag construction, straw bale construction, and light straw clay construction. Natural buildings are inexpensive to construct, requiring hand tools and raw materials that are available on the site.
Abandoned RVs and Yurts are the other low-cost choices.
Organic gardening is inexpensive by sourcing free seeds and plant cuttings from local farmers and gardeners. You can enhance the fertility of the soil with home composting, manure from livestock, and biogas digester.
Foraging for free food and subsistence hunting, fishing and trapping are some other sources for free food.
If you find digging a well too expensive, filtering and purification of surface water or rainwater using solar power may work well for you. While a sand and charcoal filter can remove the impurities, using small quantities of bleach can help in eliminating biological contamination.
A better method of water disinfection is a UV-based water purification system that runs on solar power. These DIY water purifiers are cheap and easy to build.
It can be better than free. You can use the waste you generate to produce compost for your garden and biogas for your heating and cooking needs. The cheapest and most productive method to handle human waste is the humanure compost system. Similar to an organic compost pile, the humanure compost system can be built into a regular bathroom setup, with no untoward smell.
Small-scale biogas generators are easy to build to handle the organic waste generated. When properly managed, it is possible to eliminate the foul smell completely. In addition to processing organic waste, these units produce methane that can be used for your heating and cooking requirements.
One of the main concerns when deciding to live off the grid is the availability of power supply. The best and cheapest options for generating power are renewable energy sources like solar energy, wind power, micro-hydro, and biogas. You may use a combination of these choices to meet your energy needs.
Installing rooftop solar panels is a simple, cost-effective method to reach energy self-sufficiency. Adding a battery to the setup will ensure that you have an uninterrupted power supply even when the sun is not up. The initial investment in solar panels may be on the higher side, but in the long run, solar energy is a money-saving option as the running expense is minimal and the lifespan of solar panels is long at 20-25 years.
If the wind speed in your location consistently exceeds 9 mph, installing a wind turbine would be a feasible choice. If you have year-round running water like a small stream, a micro hydel power generator is the most affordable of all the choices.
Growing produce for your own use may be expanded to grow more to sell in local markets. Mushroom farming is a less work more pay option worth trying. Poultry is another easy revenue option for those living off the grid. Honey farming, growing herbs, or nursery plants are other income-generating choices.
Working remotely or freelancing offers you the opportunity to continue working in the same field as before.
Living off the grid is not a new concept. Only a couple of centuries back, people were living a self-sustainable life with no connection to the grid because the concept of the grid was non-existent. Now many opt for living off the grid consciously for a variety of reasons – to save money, to get close to nature, or to live an independent life.
Though off the grid living involves hard work, it comes with a lot of benefits like freedom and insulation from local and global upheavals and crises.