off grid cottage in the middle of the woods during winter

Off the Grid Living

        What exactly is “the grid”? When people refer to “the grid” they tend to be referring to an electrical grid that is an electrical network that transfers electricity from electrical suppliers to people who need electricity. The grid is made up of generators that make electrical power that is then transmitted through very high-voltage power lines that will in turn carry electricity to demand centers and power lines that are connected to homes and businesses. “Off the grid” basically means to be disconnected from the government and all utilities it offers its citizens, making off the grid living a self-sufficient lifestyle where people are very much reliant on the resources provided to them in their immediate area.


Is Off the Grid Living Illegal?

        No, but yes. Though legal in most states it tends to be a touchy subject in some. Many states in the United States have laws pertaining to off the grid living; states like Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania have laws restricting certain structures and even fining people and taking their property. Most states in the United States maintain the same regulations and laws as one another, some of these are; condemning of the property as being unsafe, child endangerment, being fined for untreated waste on the property, building without a permit, stealing electricity and other resources (i.e. water), animal cruelty, (if there is the selling of goods) operating a business without a business license and improper disposal of hazardous materials.


off grid house with solar panels on roof        In Florida off-grid living is illegal to live off the grid, it is considered a violation of the International Property Maintenance code, this is because those living off the grid collect rain, solar, wind and other resources to maintain their homes; the state government deems these methods of harnessing and using resources as “not adequate”.  Another state that maintains regulations for off the grid living is North Carolina. In North Carolina it is deemed unlawful to build a structure without the proper permits and meeting the states safety regulations, as the structure must be ensured not a danger.

        Pennsylvania’s state government is much more lenient with their laws when it comes to off the grid living. Pennsylvania requires an individual looking to build “off the grid” to contact the local government agencies to verify city ordinances as well as the feasibility and engineering cost analysis. The state government requires a renewable source of energy that is approved by the local government in which the individual wishes to build their home, this is due to wind turbine regulations in the area.


How to Get Started

        Deciding on the proper living space is the very first step in living off the grid. If you don’t have a place to build your home you can’t build it, right? When finding a place to build an off the grid home it is important to contact local authorities and the state government to find out where exactly it is legal to build a home “off the grid”. After contacting the state government and local government of the area in which your projected build site is, it is the necessary to research exact laws and get whatever licensing that is applicable to your build.


        The next huge step in living off the grid is finding a water source that you could somehow harness for your home, though not all off the gridders believe it water to be a necessity. Harnessing water can either be the easiest task or the hardest based on location, lots of off the gridders tend to build near a water source such as a river, lake, waterfall or pond; living in these areas promote easy plumbing set up for those looking to have running water or maybe even to harness energy through water.


        Growing your own food when living off the grid is dire, next to running water and finding a place to build. This is a fun task if you make it and an excellent way for a green thumb to enjoy their living situation, while making them feel good about what they are eating. When growing your own food off the grid it is very important to attempt to avoid the use of pesticides, when living in a forested or desert area you never want to interrupt the flow of the eco-system more than you must. Instead of traditional pesticides things like a mixture of soap and water can help or extremely diluted isopropyl alcohol and water, these options prevent and kill pests on the spot but have minimal impact on the surrounding environment.


        The last two steps in living off the grid are gathering your own tools and materials for your home and for your life there; these are all things that an off the gridder can decide on their own. Installing alternative energy is the last step in living off the grid, though this a completely optional. Alternative energy is solar, wind or water ran energy, these protect the environment from an extensive impact from any kind of energy pollutant.


How to Make Money Off the Grid

off grid red barn house in middle of farm        When living off the grid having money could either be a dire necessity or there will be no need for it at all. There are many different avenues to making money while living off the grid, such as, growing nursery crops, work freelance or “work remotely”, rent some of your land, sell timber and firewood and sell foraged products such as mushrooms and berries.


        In terms of selling crops and self-cultivated goods medicinal and culinary herbs are great go to’s; making and cultivating maple syrup, harvesting honey, hatching eggs and having livestock and foraging for mushrooms are all great ways to make money while living off the grid. When one goes out of there way to cultivate their own crops and goods trade becomes possible as well as exchange for money. Though money is not necessary for most off the griders, some find it to be a need for things such as food expenses, gas cost, etc.


        As mentioned above, renting or leasing part of your property is an excellent way to make money whilst living off the grid. Living off the grid becomes lonely at times so for some this may be a key way of making money as well as having a hand on their land when it comes to crop and good cultivation as well as foraging (if these are applicable of course).


        Selling timber and firewood is another way of receiving funds when living off the grid, though this may not always pay so well if the land in which your property is on does not have the greatest number of trees.