Finding a new home? Off-the-grid living is becoming more and more popular as people are looking for ways to live a simpler life. The off the grid lifestyle is not without its challenges, but many people have found that it provides them with happiness they were unable to find elsewhere.
In this article, we will discuss what you need in order to successfully make the transition from modern society into off-grid living.
All off-grid homes have certain things in common, such as solar panels or wind turbines that provide electricity without relying on fossil fuel power plants. Off-Grid Living has many challenges but can also be quite healthy and fulfilling.
Find the right land
To start with, you need land. That property you are looking for shouldn’t be too small. You will need lots of room for building a house if one isn’t present. You will also want space to build a few various workstations as well as saving a plot for farming.
Keep in mind that off-grid living requires some level of self-sufficiency – you will have to be able to grow your own food and produce your own fuel for heating, light, or machinery power in order to survive.
Finding a new home: Location – location – location
Your new home should be away from civilization. (moving too close to a city kind of forces you to be on the grid)
The best spot for electricity is near a stream. The old feed mills harnessed that power, so can you.
Some off-grid homes might not have a water connection, which means that their occupants need to carry all of the drinking and cooking water in buckets from natural sources like springs or creeks. This could be a challenge for those who are disabled or elderly because it requires physical exertion on their behalf.
What else do you need?
The big thing about off-grid living is that it requires some level of self-sufficiency. You will have to be able to grow your own food and produce your own fuel for transportation, heating, light, or machinery power in order to survive!
Finding a new home: Let the Sunshine in…
If you’re looking to live off of solar power, then your home should be in an area with lots of sun exposure (i.e., near the equator). North America has some great spots that are perfect for this purpose and not too far from civilization if you need supplies on occasion.
You can’t live off the grid without a plan for food. If you’re going to grow your own vegetables and fruits, then you need a spot where there’s sufficient sun exposure during all seasons of the year so that they’ll have enough light. You could also use this land as an orchard if that’s more up your alley.
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Look for fertile soil. Since there is a good chance you’ll be living off of mostly your farming, good soil that you can grow plants in is a major help. I could tell you a lot more here, but you have to decide what kind of gardening you want to do – check out Try To Garden for lots of tips and ideas.
Finding a new home: Are there trees?
Make sure that your land has plenty of trees and shade so you have a place to cool off from the sun when it gets too hot.
You will also want to harvest a few of them occasionally for firewood…which brings another challenge.
Time consuming tasks such as cutting firewood by hand which can take up to six hours a day and the knowledge to start a fire could be as challenging as you want it to be.
Gather Your Supplies
You want to make sure you have nothing electric. All of your supplies and items brought along shouldn’t use electricity for proper off-the-grid living.
A tent can be your off-the-grid home while you are building. They are inexpensive and portable, perfect for a temporary shelter that you may need to move from time to time.
Quick tip though: If you plan on living in a tent year round then it will require more insulation such as an army blanket or sleeping bag so you won’t have to freeze during the night.
Quality not Quantity
Bring quality tools. Not to knock Harbor Freight, but they are not exactly built to last. Grandpa’s gems were not all shiny and pretty but worked fantastically and held up incredibly well. You are going to want tools that are going to be able to be used for a long time.
This is especially important when you are going to be living off-grid. The average person will go through a lot of tools in their quest for survival, so don’t skimp on buying cheap ones that end up breaking and needing replacement.
Finding a new home: Roughing it
Hunting and cooking gear are key. You know how to make a fire and possibly work with a solar oven will be extremely valuable.
Buy or find some good cooking gear like pots and pans. You can also fashion them out of clay if needed, but you might want to research that a bit.
Bringing along a rifle with lots of ammo will allow you to take down large game that can feed your family for weeks.
Hunting is a great way to get food, but you have to be careful. If the area where your off-grid home is located has hunting laws that prohibit hunting, then this might not be an option for survival.
If hunting is off the table, and keeping food off of YOUR table, then look at learning how to make snares and traps!
Let’s Get Cooking
Consider Using a Solar Oven to Cook Food. Building your off-grid home in an area that has plenty of sunlight is critical if using a solar cooker! If all else fails, this could be your last resort for cooking large quantities of food over time. A solar oven can cook food fairly well without using any power or fuel source. That lets you save your wood for heat purposes.
The Basics of Homesteading in America? The Homestead Act of 1862 promised 60 acres of land to families who stayed on the property for five years and farmed it for prosperity. Today, cities and towns are once again resurrecting homestead incentives – but for different reasons.
Instead of populating an area that’s never seen activity before, it’s now because of the need to settle places where homeowners and businesses have gone bankrupt and abandoned the location.
The Basics of Homesteading in America
In just about every state in America, you can find properties and locations that are being given away for free – as long as a few provisions are met. For example, there might be a requirement that you have a contractor within a certain amount of time to begin building on a lot.
Another incentive is the tax break you get from developing one of these properties. Some cities give a generous 70% tax break for a while. Whether it’s a home or commercial development, you might even get a higher tax break.
But not all free property is a suitable property for homesteading. As a prepper who wants to be self-reliant, you can’t just go into any area and take land and consider it worthy of raising a family.
You may want to pay for your property instead – if it has good soil, an ample water supply, and is positioned in a way that enables you to have quick access without being readily found by the masses.
Homesteading was officially repealed as a law in 1976, but you can still look for opportunities that specific places are offering for future developments. Cheap land is abundant, too – but the price isn’t the only qualifying feature.
It would be best if you prioritize your needs. If you want to focus on farming, you need to secure land with rich, fertile soil that will yield a high dose of crops to feed your family. If your primary concern is isolation, then you’ll want more land at a cheaper cost.
Land in the South will typically be less expensive than land up North – and the Southern states will have a longer growing season for those of you who want to farm and grow your crops.
Make sure you understand the tax issues for the property you’re considering purchasing. Every state has different tax requirements, so while the per-acre price might be attractive, it might end up costing more in taxes than in another area where the initial price is higher, but taxes remain low.
Homesteading Acreage Options
When you talk about how many acres are needed to get off the grid and become self-sufficient, the battle begins between those who say you only need 1 acre and those who say you need much, much more.
But you have to consider many things – such as raising a dairy cow. If you want to cut costs for hay, it has to graze in a pasture. If that’s the case, then it needs plenty of room, and an acre (that houses your home, garden, and other elements) wouldn’t be quite enough.
It’s not impossible, though. If you have the means to buy feed and hay instead of allowing grazing, then you could own a dairy cow on a small property like this – but your costs and inconvenience would increase, as would your reliance on the outside world.
Raising a Homesteading Dairy Cow
Many homesteading prepper families decide to invest in a dairy cow for their property. This will provide plenty of milk for your family – and possibly extra for your pigs if you’re raising those.
You can drink the milk or create yogurt, ice cream, and other items from her milk. Each type of cow and size will produce a variable amount of milk, so you may want to find a smaller option (like a goat) if your family doesn’t use much milk.
Or, if you live in a prepper community, you could share the milk with another family – along with the responsibilities of raising it. It would be best if you milked it at the same time every day, so scheduling is essential.
Some people wonder about the safety of drinking raw milk, but you can also buy a pasteurizer for your family to use. They’re not expensive, and it will provide you with the same safety you get off the grocery shelves.
It can get expensive to raise a dairy cow if you have to buy all of your hay, but many prepper families grow their own, so that cuts down on the cost of raising your dairy cow enormously.
You can sometimes go to a dairy farm and ask if they have any lower production cows they want to get rid of. If the volume isn’t enough for a dairy farm, they’ll often sell off the cows to a family that requires a much lower milk volume.
Most families recommend that you get a Jersey dairy cow, but there are many options. You want a gentle one and won’t be hostile to you or your little ones in a farming situation.
You have to make sure that your property has room for her to graze and roam around. If you get a Brown Swiss or Dexter cow, you can allow for more grass grazing than hay feed, saving you money in the long run.
Your dairy cow will provide milk twice a day for almost a year. After about ten months, give her a break for a few months and then let her produce another calf to begin milk production again.
Keep in mind that your water supply must be significant to provide for a dairy cow’s needs. They can drink anywhere from 25-40 gallons of water each day. Make sure you have enough water for her and your own family’s needs.
Your dairy cow might produce anywhere from 2-8 gallons of milk per day, so make sure you don’t over-invest in something that’s going to make all of the milk production go to waste.
It also depends on how large your family is and how many people you have to sustain on your property. It’s going to take more of everything to support a family of five than it would a couple.
Back to the Property…
Some people want a large piece of property only for the barrier it offers not to have neighbors bumping right up against your property. This could make a difference in civil unrest or crisis when people are fighting for survival supplies.
You can’t neglect the fact that price will factor into the equation. Unless your pockets have no bottom to them, then you might have to consider how much you’ll be paying per acre – or how much money in taxes the government will require from you each year.
Some families opt to invest in large plots of land so that when their children are grown, the family can expand and build a second, third or fourth home on the property. This is what families use to do in the old days, but now they’re all spread across the country.
Some preppers will tell you that your land’s size is nowhere near as important as the quality of it. If it offers more than one entry to the property, rich soil, and a water source – that’s worth more than a larger plot.
Prepper Homesteading Basics
If you’re going to homestead, you need to know the basics. But the first thing you need to realize about homesteading is that the goal is to become self-reliant. That means you can provide and care for your family entirely with what you can grow or make yourself.
There are some skills involved with homesteading, but it’s not difficult to learn the skills. You’ll want to be prepared with food. You want to prepare with food supplies that can serve you for repeated cycles.
So you would want to plant a garden that can be replanted again and again. You can do this using heirloom seeds. You’ll want to plant what you’ll consume throughout the year and when the growing season is over, you’ll want to make sure that you preserve some of the garden bounty to use during the months that the garden doesn’t grow.
You’ll also want to save and store the seeds from the fruits and vegetables for replanting the following gardening season. It’s also smart to learn how to construct chicken coops so that you can have the eggs that are produced.
You can also raise pigs for meat. You’ll want cows for milk (and/or meat) and goats for producing dairy to use for cheese. Some preppers that homestead also prefer to raise honeybees. Not only is the honey usable, but the bees can help pollinate the fruits and vegetables that you grow.
Water needs to be planned for when homesteading. You can’t survive without access to clean water. You need to set up rain barrels for water that your livestock can drink, and the collected rainwater can also be used to irrigate your garden. The fastest way to collect rainwater is to set a barrel up beneath a downspout.
You should have a way to purify your water and a way that you can store the water. If you bring the water to your homestead site from a creek or pond, then you’ll need a way to transport it.
Protection is paramount when you’re homesteading. You’re going to need weapons to protect yourself if someone decides to rob you or commit other crimes against you. You should be armed with both knives as well as guns. Both of these are great for protection and are handy to have around for hunting or food prep.
If you choose to have firearms, seriously think about storing them safely. I found this $100 off coupon for you though a company I really like:
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Education for children is a necessity when you’re homesteading. You want to make sure you have educational supplies. You can find educational supplies at homeschool stores if you’re going to stock up in advance.
You can also order and store homeschooling supplies in advance. But education can also be taught using just the necessary tools like classic pieces of literature. Teaching things like math can be done using real-life concepts such as measuring items in a recipe or measuring wood for cutting when building something.
Studies have shown that children who are educated using real-life ideas often excel in life.
I know there are a ton of great mini lessons on my kid’s site Sarah Lyn Gay.
When you decide to go off the grid and build a family property that allows you to be self-sufficient and safe in the event of a crisis or disaster, you need to make sure it meets several requirements in addition to food and water.
A good piece of property is first and foremost on the checklist. It should be away from the city, but not too far that it becomes an inconvenience to access whenever you need to replenish your supplies.
It would be best if you had a spot that’s easy to access but is hidden from public view. You want to know where it is but not have it visible from the roadway where others might approach if there’s a disaster and they’re scouting for supplies.
A good water supply source would be a great addition if you can find one. If it’s a flowing river or stream that would offer you freshwater, you can’t beat that since water is necessary for you to survive.
Plenty of room for gardening and grazing animals is a perk. You need to figure out what kind of crops and animals you plan to raise since some will require more space than others.
Good soil goes along with that last perk. If you’re gardening, you don’t want to be reliant on a store to sell you bags of fertilizer to enrich the soil. You want to land that’s already rich in nutrients and will help your plants thrive. How to Make Effective Garden Compost is a good article to read.
A method for generating your own electricity – hydro, solar, or wind would help your family survive. The running water with a drop in elevation would be good for hydroelectricity. Plenty of sun for solar, and winds of at least 9-10 mph for wind-generated electricity.
Formidable building supplies should be brought onto the property. Concrete is a good building supply for protection from the elements. A safe room built into the property is wise for all kinds of events. You want it to withstand weather and prevent easy entry by unwanted guests.
Ample storage facilities are necessary. You need storage for items that can’t tolerate temperature swings, like your food stores and water supplies. Outdoor storage for tools, equipment, and other items are also needed.
Protection from harm needs to be on your mind. Gates built around the property will help somewhat. Locks that come with doors and fences are often flimsy, so you may want to shore those up with something stronger.
Firearms and a security system with rechargeable batteries can help protect you. Fire-resistant roofing material will help prevent your home from burning down if you’re in a wildfire situation.
Concrete homes built right into the side of a mountain offer the best form of protection for the actual shelter itself. Then the property it overlooks could meet the rest of the requirements.
Movable Micro Homesteads? The cost of living has continued to rise and the size and prices of homes grow right along with the cost of living. Huge homes are located in almost every neighborhood in both cities and small towns.
The accumulation of things to fill these homes is unprecedented. While this might seem like the good life, part of the American dream, there’s a downside and it’s not pretty.
You can become trapped by your home surrounded by material things that – instead of making you happy, instead of making life easier – are causing you to work harder just to keep up.
And if you decide that you’d like to relocate, you could be out of luck because selling your home all depends on the housing market. There is a better option for a life that gives you a taste of what it can truly mean to live happy and free from the rat race.
A Guide to Movable Micro Homesteads
It’s also a great option for those who want to build a survival home in the event of an emergency, so whatever your reasons are, movable micro homesteads could be the answer for you.
What Are Micro Homesteads?
Think small, manageable, and efficient when you think about micro homesteads. Think about freedom from stress and the assurance of knowing that you can provide all that you need for yourself.
Micro homesteads are all about self-sufficiency. These are homesteads that really cut all of the excess material possessions out. People who choose micro homesteading have homes that are very small.
Many of these homes are complete at no bigger than the size of a tiny bedroom like you’d find in a regular home. You get all of the rooms in one living space. The bedroom, kitchen, dining room, and a small space for a bathroom.
What’s great about this kind of living is that – not only does it free you up from being owned by your possessions – but these homes are very affordable. The ability to own one of these homes can be as cheap as the cost of just a down payment on a big home.
And best of all with these micro homes is that you’re not stuck anywhere. Not ever. These homes are portable – so when you want to go live somewhere else, you simply make sure any breakables in the home are secure, and off you go.
You aren’t tied to the grid in any way. You’re completely self-sufficient because your home – and your way of life – are self-sustaining. When you use a tiny home, you can create a micro homestead.
Using just a small portion of land where you’ve placed your home, you can plant crops that can serve all of your food needs. By using nutrient density planting, you can plan not only food for yourself, but even have some leftover if you want to share it or sell it.
Some micro homesteads also raise chickens for the use of eggs. Micro homesteads allow those who live this way to live from what the earth can provide. They can plant crops and harvest them, then use them in canning and other healthy ways of eating.
How to Design or Build a Micro Homestead
When it comes to designing or building a micro homestead, you can have virtually anything that you want. If you’re handy with creating things, you can build one yourself by plans that you find online, or through using planning books you can borrow or buy.
The cost of the plans will vary in price, depending on where you get the plans. If you’re not that good at handling a hammer and nails or knowing how to fit things together to create a micro homestead, then you can hire someone to build it for you.
The cost of the endeavor will depend on what you want – such as the style of home you choose and what you want in it. Remember that when you design or buy the home, you want it made so that space is used in a way that’s functional and makes the most of every square foot.
If you look at today’s traditional homes, you’ll notice a lot of wasted space. Taking advantage of space is one of the reasons that micro homes are so efficient.
There are some pre-made micro homes from some designers that aren’t that expensive. When you add some custom touches, you can expect to pay somewhere in the area of between 15K to 20K.
While that might take some people aback at shelling out that much money upfront, all you have to do is compare that to what it costs to live in a traditional home that’s going to take between 15 and 30 years of your life to pay for.
The trailer-designed micro homesteads are some of the most popular versions. These can be designed to fit with or without a porch, with dormer windows, and in a variety of outer wall materials and colors.
They can have some pretty amazing amenities, too for such a small living space. You build a trailer home or have one made that features beautiful hardwood flooring, propane fireplaces, and plenty of storage.
It’s the way that every available inch is designed to maximize space that can make these homes feel larger and comfortable. Some of the tricks of the trade with this style micro home include not closing in the area under a set of stairs that lead to loft bedrooms, but rather leaving it open to use as a closet for clothing and shoes.
Using things like a composting toilet can save money as well as make this kind of home self-sufficient. These homes vary in size, but can easily be moved from one parcel of land to the next by simply pulling the home with a truck.
Log cabin micro homesteads are also very popular. These homes can vary in wall thickness. To make sure that your living space stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer, you’ll want to build or have one made that allows insulation to be placed in the walls.
Insulation is not a given in any micro-home, so you’ll have to make sure you cover that yourself or make it a stipulation when it’s built. These can be built with single or double loft bedrooms and can be built from a kit.
But, these can also be built using logs from your land. You can choose to use an area where the growth needs thinning. Once you choose the logs, you’ll have to strip off the bark for the logs to be viable as walls for your structure.
After you gather your materials, you’re ready to draw up your plans or have them designed for you. Building a log cabin micro home is probably one of the cheaper routes to go because by using materials from nature, you can keep the cost down. A log cabin micro home can be built for between $500 to $1,000 if you keep the design simple.
Shipping containers can also be used for micro homesteading. You can purchase these from the shipping company at reasonable rates. When a container gets dinged in shipping, it can be perfectly usable for homesteading, but not fit the qualifications most shipping companies have in place. So you can get a bargain.
It’s feasible to build a comfortable home with just over 100 square feet of space. Shipping containers have some height to them, which can you use to add touches like a loft bedroom or even a skylight.
Drywall can be added to the container home along with carpet or hardwood flooring. Levels can be created inside the home with small portable steps that lead from one level to the next.
Any of these types of homes listed can have electricity or can be powered by solar panels for a complete living-off-the-grid lifestyle.
The Pros of Movable Micro Homesteads
You’ll find that there is an abundance of pros when it comes to living on a micro homestead. First, you’ll end up with more space to use for gardening so that you can grow food that enables you to live off the land.
No more having to worry about getting to the grocery store and paying those expensive prices. You’ll be able to grow the food that you need not only for your current use, but you’ll be able to can and set aside food for the months that your garden isn’t growing.
By living on movable micro homesteads, you can live a life that’s sustainable by your own efforts. If you created a balance between what you can grow and what you can’t by having animals such as chickens or other small animals, you can create a cycle of homesteading that will meet your needs.
Micro homesteading allows you to have more land room so that you can practice crop rotation. This lets you have unused areas so that you can continually produce good food crops.
When you homestead, look for land that gives you access to freshwater off the grid or allows you to have the room to set up a rainwater collection system. This system will provide you with the water you need to take care of the crops, your own water needs, as well as any animals that you might have, yet still keep you off the grid.
With movable micro homesteads, you can work the land that you live on to make it produce for you. But you don’t have to have this option. You can also work on rented land.
There are many instances where people own land and need it farmed by someone else. By setting up on rented land, you can use your portion of the crops to feed your needs without having the high cost of buying land.
Living on rented land gives you the choice to move on if you’d like to live in another state. Homesteading this way gives you a comfortable place to stay. Plus, it’s an inexpensive lifestyle.
You won’t be burdened with utility bills or all of the other cost of living bills that hang on to other people. Micro homesteading is minimalist living that, instead of chasing a life allows you to actually live one.
The Cons of Movable Micro Homesteads
Minimalistic living isn’t for everyone, regardless of how much they might want the lifestyle. Larger families can find this type of living very difficult and trying on their relationships because there’s simply not enough room for everyone to have a space to have some privacy.
But it can also be rough on smaller families that just don’t like the kind of lifestyle that calls for letting go of some material possessions. Living in a micro-home can require some adjusting of living space layout.
For example, if your kitchen area has a fold-away table and you need the space to double as an office, then shifting things around can get trying during those times when you’re in a hurry or tired.
You won’t be able to keep the number of things you once had that you feel made your life easier. There won’t be room to keep all the cooking utensils or a variety of other kitchen items that you may have been used to.
Some people can go through a short period of adjustment and they end up liking the micro living. Others can’t take feeling more confined once they downsize. Not having room for entertaining or room for guests to sleepover can be a problem for some people.
Also, extended family members might oppose micro living and if they’re vocal about it, this can lead to family tensions. Depending on the location where you place your micro home, you may end up feeling that you live too far away from amenities that you’re used to.
While micro homesteading can be a peaceful, self-sustaining way of living, it’s simply not a good fit for everyone.
Why Use a Micro Homestead
The world is poised for a financial breakdown. And for a food shortage. Water shortages are already going on right now in various states. There are rolling blackouts in some states because the electric grid can’t keep up with the demand.
These are all warning signs that the collapse of the kind of life everyone is used to living isn’t far off. For people who rely on the grid to make it through their day-to-day lives, a collapse is going to throw them into a tailspin of incredible stress.
But for people who use movable micro homesteads, regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen in any other state or all over the world, life will still continue to go on peacefully.
And if they don’t like the condition of the state that they’re living in, they can simply move to another area. Because they’re already used to providing for their own needs, they’ll be able to continue to grow and harvest their own food.
They’ll continue to be able to eat even when the nation’s food supplies dwindle. When the electric grids begin to crash one by one without any timeline of when or even if they may be back up and operational, people who live in a micro homestead won’t have that same worry.
Because they use self-sustaining means to take care of their electric needs, they’ll be able to keep on doing what they need to do. When water supplies become dysfunctional, this won’t impact those who practice micro homesteading.
It won’t impact them because they’re already used to fending for themselves with the water supply. They have rain barrels set up to take care of their water needs. Or they use a fresh supply of water from the land.
As sewer systems fail and garbage can’t be hauled away, those who live on the grid will find that life has become not only unpleasant and also very unsanitary.
Those who have a micro homesteading lifestyle won’t even feel the ripple from that. They’ll be able to go to bed and sleep without worry, then rise the next morning and do what they’ve been used to doing. Enjoying life.