It started when your neighbor up and moved to a rural plot of land to downsize his lifestyle. Or maybe it was when you flipped through an adventure travel magazine and felt drawn to the eye-popping photos of wilderness vistas. It may have been when you suffered through gridlock during a grueling commute -- for the 36th time. Whenever it was, you began to dream of getting out of the city and trading in bills for bliss, stuff for serenity, chaos for quiet. You imagined what off-grid living would be like and how you would be fully self-sufficient … someday.
That day doesn’t have to be some time in the distant future. More than ever before, technology and resources enable people to work remotely and live wherever they like. If your career supports that, you can make your off-grid living dreams become a reality for you soon. Here is our quick guide.
First, Why Off-Grid Living?
Living off the grid is appealing because it’s all about living simply at a time when life has become rather complicated. There are plenty of other reasons to consider off-grid living, though, including:
- Freedom. There is a sense of liberation in not being connected to municipal utilities and inhabiting a “wild” space. Being fully self-sufficient makes you independent and can even make you feel autonomous.
- The environment. Giving up local utilities usually leads you to use alternative energy sources. These alternatives -- like solar, wind, and geothermal energy -- are better for the environment because they don’t rely on fossil fuels.
- Minimalism. Life with less has been a trend for a while, as people realize they don’t need much to enjoy a fulfilling life. A smaller home with less stuff and less consumption overall makes room for other satisfying aspects of life.
- Cost of Living. Living off-grid tends to save you money in the long run, although you usually have up-front costs to get started. By providing for your own basic necessities, you can live rather economically.
Where Can You Live Off-Grid?
When you think about off-grid living and what your life would be like, you probably already have a location in mind: A beautiful area where you have traveled, perhaps, or maybe a region not far from where you live now.
Before you decide on a place, though, look into any legal restrictions that prohibit off-grid living. Municipal codes about your home’s minimum square footage, lot size, and camping on your land could nix your plans unless you can get a variance. In addition, some areas require homeowners to be connected to city water and/or the power company -- preventing off-grid living. You’ll want to check the zoning ordinances about septic waste, livestock, aquaculture, and any other activities you plan to do on your land.
Some people who live off-grid choose off-grid communal living where they can be around other like-minded people. Living cooperatively on acreage or in a small village can keep you from feeling isolated and give you a sense of community.
Others make a home on property where a family member or friend already lives. You can be near your favorite people, and the rent is usually cheap -- or free.
If you want to buy your own property, consider working with a real estate agent who knows the area well and can help you select a location that fits what you’re looking for.
Choosing an Off-Grid Living Shelter
Your off-grid living vision probably includes an image of what your home would look like. Your dream of having a cabin in the mountains or a tiny home on the prairie is a big part of your plan to be fully self-sufficient. Go for it! There are several things to keep in mind, though, when it comes to choosing the shelter you’ll live in.
Because you’ll be providing your own electricity and water, you will probably choose a home that conserves those resources. For this reason, many off-grid homes tend to be smaller than a typical house, because they don’t require as much power or water.
You don’t necessarily have to live in a bona-fide tiny home (less than 400 square feet), however. You could live in a small house (under 1,000 square feet) or other structure built for off-grid living. Take into consideration:
- How the structure fits into the landscape
- How your home will hold up and provide shelter during extreme weather or natural disasters
- If your dream off-grid home passes local zoning regulations and building codes
- How the structure suits your lifestyle
Look for structures that are well insulated to help keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter to further conserve energy. For example, Glamping Dome Store geodesic domes are excellent for off-grid living because they are energy efficient. Plus, they are all-season, make excellent use of space, are extremely durable and are an easy home to care for.
Living Fully Self-Sufficient
After you’ve chosen a site and a home, you’ll need to figure out how to provide your own power and water. (Some people who live off-grid choose to forgo power altogether, except perhaps for battery-powered tools and appliances.) Popular sources of alternative energy for off-grid living include using solar panels, wind turbines, or micro hydro generators. You can also heat your home and cook food by burning wood. Your choice in supplying your own power will depend on your location and what local zoning laws allow. You might also want to invest in a battery to store your energy, and a backup generator for times when nature just doesn’t provide.
When it comes to an off-grid water source, you can choose from a well, pumping water from a nearby body of water, or collecting rainwater in a cistern. You will also need a way to sanitize and filter the water so it’s safe to use. Think about how you will heat the water for cooking and bathing. Your water system is an important aspect of how you will make off-grid living work. Related, you’ll need to also think about your septic system. Check with your local area to see what is allowed where you want to live.
In addition to power and water, food is another obvious basic necessity you’ll have to consider. Many people who choose to live off-grid also provide their own food, and that is another aspect of the lifestyle. Will you farm? Hunt and fish? Do you plan to sell what you produce to make extra money? Your region may require licenses for these activities. The possibilities to provide for yourself truly are endless, and you can be fully self-sufficient by living off the land.
Providing your own basic necessities is a big jump for people who are used to living in a typical community where those things are easier to get (although at a cost). But if you find yourself Googling homesteading topics and reading about renewable energy, you are ready to make your goal of off-grid living a reality! Cozy up in one of our domes, or contact us to talk about how a dome can be the perfect off-grid living home.