If you’re planning to go off grid and build your own homestead, you have probably spent a lot of time planning and thinking about this decision. Living the self sustainable lifestyle is a big leap from what most people are accustomed to, and it’s not a decision you should make lightly. If you’re new to the idea, you may not know where to start planning your new venture. There are so many factors to consider when making the jump to an off-grid lifestyle, and one of the first ones to decide on is where you will actually go. Few of us live in a place where we could stay put and make our current property “off the grid,” so here are some suggestions to help you find your perfect location.
First, you will need to find some land that you’re interested in using as your survival property. Once you do, there are some questions to answer:
- Who owns the land? Are they willing to sell it outright to you (if it’s not already for sale)?
- Does the property come with the rights to the water and any minerals on site? If not – can you buy those, too? If the answer is no – you may want to choose another property.
- Does it get plenty of sun and wind? These are things you’ll need for solar power and wind power.
- Is there a water source on site? This could be a creek, pond, or even a well. If not, will local laws prevent you from digging one?
- Is it close enough to major hospitals, stores, or schools? For some people, being far out may not be an issue, but if you have kids, or someone in the home with a health condition, this could be a deal breaker.
When considering a land purchase, you also need to know what local ordinances are regarding zoning, the types of buildings that can be put on a piece of land, even power and water requirements. In most cases, the further out from “civilization” you go to be off the grid, the fewer ordinances and requirements you have to contend with.
Another important feature of a survival property is water, as mentioned above. If your intended property has an existing water source, that’s awesome. If not, you’ll need to think about putting one in, as you will need water for survival. If you don’t plan to put one in, think about how you will haul water in – chance are that will get old really fast, and you’ll soon be digging your own!
Next, think about what kind of shelter you will live in. You’re going to need a place to stay, and there are lots of options out there. Sometimes you can luck up on a piece of property with an existing home or barn, but most of the time you have to start from scratch. Some homesteaders start small – living in an RV or single wide trailer while they build a larger, more energy efficient, sturdier home. Others build before moving on site. Pole barn homes, log cabins, or renovated barns can make wonderful dwellings for living off-grid. If you really want to go small, you can convert large shipping containers or buses into “tiny houses.”
When you think about housing, you also will need to consider what you’ll do about sewer and septic needs. Not pleasant to dwell on, but it’s a part of life. Many homesteaders are installing the composting toilet, but this is one of those legalities you need to check on before installation. Another option is a putting in a septic system like what you’d use in a camper. You could also build and install your own waste disposal system piece by piece – but that could be very costly.
Power is another important part of going off grid. Think for a minute about things you use daily that will still need electric power even if you’re self sustaining – battery chargers, any electronic devices you may own, even power tools would fall into this category. You might not be tied to the local power or gas company, but you’re still going to need some type of power source for your appliances, and to run your lights. Solar power or wind power is something to consider. A 1000 watt solar and wind power setup could cost you several thousand to install, but will last you up to 10 years. And, there are tax breaks you may qualify for by using this type of power. You might also look into gas powered generators, a wood stove for heating the house, and cooking outdoors over a fire as alternatives to using electricity for certain jobs.
Finally, but not least importantly, you need to think about food. Many homesteaders and those who go off grid do so knowing that they are going to have to make or grow most or all of what they will eat – all the time. So, this will take planning, and preparation – ahead of, during, and after the move. See what types of areas your property has for a large garden, and if possible, maybe a greenhouse, or at least a potential spot for one, so you could grow year round or get an early start on seedlings. Which brings me to another point – don’t’ forget to bring plenty of seeds or seedlings to get in the ground ASAP. Since these won’t be fruit bearing just yet – you will need to take supplies to last the first three months or so – even if you have a garden, you may not start bringing in a harvest for 60-90 days.
If you decide to have your own livestock, like cows, they will need plenty of room to graze, and you will need provide some type of shelter for them as well. The same goes for chickens. They need a large fenced off area to graze, as well as a hen house for your layers. Consider a portable chicken tractor that can be rotated to different spots on the property – it’s good for the chickens, and good for your land! You could also stock your on-site pond with fish as an additional food source. Other great livestock to consider are pigs, turkeys, and ducks. Having your own beehives would also be a great benefit to your homestead – not just for the honey, but also for the other wonderful benefits bees can provide for your garden, and other vegetation nearby. If the property you’re considering doesn’t have room for all of these things, or they aren’t allowed due to ordinances, you will want to consider another place.
It’s important to understand that converting to an off-grid lifestyle may be gradual, and it will take a lot of hard work on your part. Think about the big picture- imagine a future where you are growing your own food, working your own land, and living a self sustaining lifestyle. Knowing that you’d be able to take care of and provide for your family all from your land would be a huge payoff. It’s a lifestyle change that would make all the sacrifices and effort worth it when you see your family living off the land. By choosing your survival property wisely, you’ve already gotten a great start on the off grid life!