How to Live Off Grid Successfully

If you have been wondering how to live off grid – “is it really possible?” and “Can I do it?” the short answer to all of these questions is, “Yes!

Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from John L. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.

If you have been wondering how to live off grid – “is it really possible?” and “Can I do it?” the short answer to all of these questions is, “Yes!”.

Remember: The only sure thing in life is Change itself. There is another important rule of life that is often overlooked:
“Anyone can only teach you what they know.” Learning is a lifelong process. The long answer is still yes, just with a lot more things to take into consideration. Living off grid will take a commitment of time, resources, and determination. You will really need to believe in what you are doing, have a vision for it, and want to make it work despite the obstacles that will plague you.

Living off Grid Takes Practice

Living off grid is not the easiest way to live. Until you do it you don’t even know the things that you are going to have to give up. The big things are easy to figure out: Refrigerators, Heating systems, Television, Kitchen Appliances, and THESE ARE THINGS YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GIVE UP!

There are other things that many people don’t think about until they are actually in the midst of it. Like indebtedness, careers, local churches & schools. Sometimes families and friends.

It still takes money to live

There are probably more Americans living off the grid that are on SSD (Social Security Disability) than any other group. Most of them would tell you they love it, and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Having a small income makes all the rest of it possible, you then can develop an income program that puts the “Icing on the cake” and improves your comfort zone. These parts of your personal economy, are called self employment. This needs to be discussed in a separate letter, but I will say this, it is easier than you think, and very financially rewarding.

There are a myriad of small electronics that people use daily that may not work with your new lifestyle. It isn’t that they are necessary objects, they are conveniences. Yet, for many of us, convenience gives us the foundation of our lives.

If you are still thinking of living off grid then there are a few decisions to be made. What worked for me was the awareness that getting by with less was a way to need less. Finding a comfortable zone to live in meant having money left over, on pay day.

Every time I could find a way to either live without or get for nothing it meant more money in my pocket.

Designing an Off Grid Home, (RV or trailer lifestyle)

Your Off-Grid location can be anywhere you want. Even were you are right now.

Knowing how to live off-grid in different environments will help you to make the choice that is best for you. The point is: Living off Grid, is a collection of small things that you can do, that collectively change your life, to give you more of what you want and less control of your life by an unappreciative society, country or world. If you think having a job, even a good job, is just another form of slavery, then you are a candidate to “live off the grid”. It’s your choice; it’s your life, to live your life the way you want. I suggest that making an ongoing list of small things to change and learning how to prioritize that list, is a good place to start.

Going Off Grid Where You Live Now

You might think that those questions are secondary but they are not. It is entirely possible to go off grid right where you live, if you own your own home or where you rent, In fact you can begin learning how to live off grid today. Become aware of how powerless you are in your present life because it will give you an insight into the changes you can make in your own life NOW!

A suggestion: This is not about Religion, Ask yourself….“In whom do you place your trust?”

Interesting how many organizations and people are living off your pay check, not just your wife and kids, But your local Municipal government, including police dept, fire dept, water & electric dept, tax office, Sewer dept, all depend on you to support them.

Living off the grid starts with a change in attitude

Solar panels can be added. Circuits can be turned off. Water can be discontinued and wells can be dug. Research should be done into alternative forms of energy, appliances, and different ways to run a household when standard energy isn’t being used.

In my case, I want to keep it simple, I rent a place to park, It includes water, sewer and electric. It has worked well for the past 5 years. It is harder to move off grid in a subdivision but it can be done, depending on your homeowner’s association and local policies.

The world is getting smaller, It is getting harder to find privacy.

It’s easier to move off the grid, when you park your motor home in an RV park and plug it in, or park in a spot and turn on your own generator or plug into their electricity.

Moving to a New Location

If you are planning to move then take the time to consider your needs, desires, and the various benefits and negatives of different parts of the country. For example, in Texas where I live the benefit is apparent. The winters are basically mild. While we do get cold snaps they are interspersed with warmer weather. There are a total of three growing seasons. It doesn’t take a whole lot to stay warm in the winter if you can handle 50 to 60 degrees.

Gardening (not my thing)

On the other hand we can go two to three months in the summer without a drop of rain. This means that you will be hand carrying water to your garden. Summers are hot. Living without air conditioning when it is 110 outside is challenging, at least until you get used to it. I prefer a good Wal-Mart for groceries; good Mexican grocers or farmers markets can be good for fruit & Veggies.

If you are going to make a move then you should consider areas where there are not extremes of temperature or of rainfall.

Things to Consider

The other important thing to consider is the locality.

  • Will you continue to work at a job?
  • If so how long will your commute be?
  • How far can you afford to live from the place that you work?
  • Is the location you are looking at economically sound?
  • Will you have access to groceries, church, gasoline, medical care?
  • RVing around the country can be a great way to research these questions, while enjoying your younger years. Remember, we all get old and our needs WILL change.

All of these questions will need to be researched and answered before you begin to look at moving to a new location.

Learning How to Live Off Grid

Now that you have established where you are going off grid the question is how to do it. The best place to start is by analyzing all of your electrical usage for a month. Exactly how much electricity do you use on an average?

Most off grid systems cannot handle the load that modern man puts on them. You will probably need to cut back on your usage. The next thing to do, then, is to figure out how to cut back on your energy use. Will you use a propane stove or refrigerator? Wood stove?

If you choose to use a wood stove or heat will you have access to wood? How will you light your home in the evenings?
What type of solar do you plan to use? Is your home designed in such a way that passive solar can be used?

Types of Off-Grid Energies

There are a number of types of energy for off grid homes.

  • Electric power line
  • Electric Solar
  • Electric Wind
  • Wood heat / cooking
  • Electric Gas Generator (I’m getting ready to do a gas to propane conversion on the Onin Generator out of an old Motor home)
  • Electric / heat / cooking Propane
  • Water (micro-hydro)
  • Geothermal

The biggest need will be for heat and cooking. Once you have those two things decided you are pretty much good to go. Cooking on a wood-stove is difficult for most people to adjust to but it can be done. Many people, once they learn to do it, would not go back to cooking in an electric oven! Conserving energy is one of the best ways to deal with your energy needs. Anyone can do that, no matter where they are.

What Can I Do Today?

Start right where you are. Most people cannot afford to just go off grid one day. It is a process of both investing in the products needed and doing the research to gain the knowledge to do it. The second part is, were all different, and our want, needs & expectations need to be honored.

Tips for Saving Energy Right Now Conserve energy where you are

  • Use solar hot water heaters
  • Use heat exchange units
  • Caulk doors and windows
  • Let your body acclimate to colder than normal or warmer than normal temperatures
  • Get a clothesline and stop using the dryer.
  • Upgrade insulation.
  • If your refrigerator or freezer is over 10 years old, consider buying a new, energy efficient model, or even a propane one.

In other words, see how low you can go. Get rid of the electric clock radio, the power drill, and the microwave. Try to get the electric bill down to the bare minimum.

Evaluate Your Need for Power

Once you get your electric usage under control you will be in a better position to see whether or not you will be comfortable going off grid completely. Even if you decide going off grid completely is not something you want to do you will have learned how to save on your electric bill, and that is a big benefit.

Going off grid is not for everyone. It is really an investment in a much simpler lifestyle. It does not have to cost thousands of dollars. Just do what you can, where you can.

Taking the steps slowly, researching, and learning how to live off grid will help you to make a smooth and successful transition if you decide that going off grid is for you.

Living off the grid has nothing to do with being a environmentalist, It does have to do with living your own life, within your own economical means.

About the Author – John Lindquist soon to be 80. I live in the woods between Austin and Phlugerville, have been practicing living off the grid since 1985. Attached is my E Mail, I can always use a new friend [email protected]

“I do what I have to do, the rest of the time I do what I want to do.”
“Everything in moderation”

  1. The average person could not afford buy property in the area the author of the article lives. Land prices, rental rates etc in the area of Austin and Phlugerville because of the very limited building in Austin due to the environmentalist is unaffordable for the average person. I have a friend that purchased land in
    Phlugerville back in the 80’s for about six thousand an acre, the same land now is selling for thirty thousand and acre.
    Great area to live just out of reach for most people financially.

    1. I wrote the article, I got my rig parked in the woods with Water ,sewer & with electricity for $ 265.00 a month. One off the things I want to avoid is owning land or building.
      Been there, Done that!
      Trick to old age is traven light

  2. Superb article,,good info and much food for thought, off grid living is gaining popularity in parts of the UK mainly because mains gas, power , water and sewage services are now getting to stupid expensive now mainly because of taxation.

  3. I’ll admit that I haven’t lived off-grid, but I did live through some extended power failures. On one occasion an Ice Storm knocked out power for two weeks. Because I have a small off-grid solar electric system, I was able to keep a chest freezer running, run a motor to circulate warm air, have lights, radio, kitchen appliances, and so on. Simply put, I was comfortable, while my neighbors were not. No food spoiled, and we had hot meals and cold drinks. I realize things would have been much worse if we didn’t have water and sewer. Most importantly, my solar electric system is sustainable. As long as my equipment, and spare parts hold out, I could go on for a very long time. If I can stay in my home, the solar hot-water heater I built will add to my comfort. For those, like you, who don’t own land, the systems can be portable, and solar panels do not have to be on a roof. As a bonus, you could allow nearby neighbors to share electricity, in exchange for something they have that you need.

  4. I’m not really sure where to start. Had a couple of issues with the article besides the feasibility of it for anyone who does have a job, uh, or a family, or kids, or pets, or responsibilities of any sort….

    1) “Interesting how many organizations and people are living off your pay check, not just your wife and kids…”

    Let’s see… I’m not “living off” my husband’s paycheck for starters. I’m highly educated and until recently, had more degrees than he did. (Now we have the same level of education.) I understand the author grew up in a very different time and place, but most women work now, in case you were unaware of that, plus women are still expected to run the household on top of working. But I can also use power tools, shoot a gun, shoot a crossbow, cook, etc., and am a published researcher, author, and artist.

    Oh, and the other folks supposedly “living off” your paycheck, like the police & fire departments, give you a service in return. Don’t want to have help when your house burns to the ground or when criminals arrive, then I guess your approach is fine and dandy.

    2) As for this quote — “I do what I have to do, the rest of the time I do what I want to do.”

    I assume that was related to your article. Guess what? That described what we ALL do every day, right now. We do what we HAVE to do and then do what we want to do. I’m not quite sure what, if anything, that has to do with your letter/article. Maybe you have more time to “do what [you] want to do,” but you’re also retired and nearly 80-yrs-old, and you probably have Medicare and Social Security and a pension.

    3) As for all these people supposedly on Social Security Disability living off grid… yeah, but I’ll bet you 99% of them are NOT doing what you’re doing and that their versions are NOT fun. They’re stuck in dumpy trailers, trying to make ends meet with their tiny checks… that have to pay for food and medicine and healthcare. Remember, they’re disabled. They aren’t gonna be driving around the country on the taxpayer’s dime or they’ll get caught up in Social Security Disability fraud. Same goes with running a business while on disability… you can earn a very limited amount of outside income before losing your benefits. Because, again, if you can run your own business and earn money, then you are not technically disabled according to the government. Yes, I know many such people, including a few relatives.

    I’m glad that you’ve made this work for YOU. Unfortunately, it isn’t very realistic for someone unless he or she is retired, has savings & a pension & Social Security to live off of, and is single with no obligations of any kind.

    In the early 1980s, my Dad went semi-minimalist and we had no TV for a year, among other things. I didn’t care, even though I was a teenager. (Yes, I was a brainiac, bookworm, tomboy who studied all the time, but so what?) After my Mom died in the early 2010s, Dad went 2 years without A/C, without heat, without TV, and without all sorts of other “conveniences” in south Georgia. He enjoyed himself. He had fun seeing how low he could get his bills to go. He was, and still is, in very good shape. He gardens. He reads books. But he is nearly totally back on the grid now because of his girlfriend, for the most part, who thought he was destitute when she first met him because of his minimalistic choices. Too bad he picked her over the minimalism.

    Again, this was an interesting letter/article. Sounds like fun to me. Our materialistic, backwards culture truly sucks. Being a salaried employee here is a lot like being enslaved — the corporations think they own you 24/7 due to cell phones and email. Bravo to you for going your own way. I just doubt any of the rest of us can join you until we get a whole lot closer to your age, and that’s assuming we set aside savings for retirement, have a pension, and that Social Security still exists by then. Doesn’t look too promising for most people. Enjoy your travels!

    1. Start young. Pick the things you want in early 20s and work for them over your life. One of these things should be retirement. It is unfortunate but people shouldn’t have waited until they were 50 or 55 to start thinking about retirement. If you want a decent retirement you have to start in your 20s and 30s.

      Fire department, police department and such I think were bad examples as those come out through local taxes. But the thought was valid. When you pay out you pay a person, and you pay their boss, and you contribute to every person they pay and their boss as well.

      The first point, I’m sorry you took offense to it. I don’t think he meant it the way you took it. I think he meant the money is not staying within the family unit and that would be right regardless of the prime breadwinner .

      I defiantly agree on this being of the low percentage. Not many are going out living “off-grid” not by comparison of those “on-grid”.

      A young person can do this. They will be paying for it for years. But a young person can get a loan to buy or build a house, outfit it with solar panels, dig a well, and buy a septic tank.

      Can build a reinforced concrete dome “monolithic dome” they flame proof, bullet proof, tornado, and earthquake proof. FEMA rated for near absolute protection.

      Their are steps you can take to avoid making yourself a victim in your own home.

      My guess thinking right now doesnt matter how strong your walls are. Windows and doors a man (or woman) can break thtough. Windows and doors are only weak points. You can buy a sturdy door, perhaps one made of steel. Windows are optional. The buried dome home has no windows. Or you can put in bullet proof windows, reinforced shutters, or protective (bullet proofing) laminants, and then is the more tacky option of bars. A standard home it doesn’t really matter how thick your door is or how strong your windows. If a person wanted in 5 minutes with a battery powered saw and they be in through the wall. Or a spray of bullets could come through. Read article man was killed while doing dishes when outside bullets came through his WALL and window .

      The domes very efficient to heat and cool. And they air and water tight. Air and water come through where you want them to and no where else. Making them a sinch to bury if your worried to the point someone will drop a bomb (radioactive or otherwise) in your metaphorical back yard.

      The domes also predicted to last hundreds of years with most all things considered. So would have a home can pass down to children and grandchildren and great grandchildren after that.

      Standard home one misplaced cigarette or electrical fire and its gone. Not with these.

      You spend more in materials for a dome, but less in labor. It averages about same as a woodframe home built with same sq footage and furnishings.

      It easier and faster to build self than most homes so some DIY work can greatly reduce the price even more. Just would have to rent the specialty equipment.
      This how they build them.

      As mentioned. Highly efficient, 50-75% less to heat and cool. For those without A/C or heat that means the home retains the coolness from opening windows at night throughout the day in summer 2-4 times better. And the heat of day during night during winter .

  5. Copy…..paste. Repeat. Garbage at best. I cannot believe somebody pays a person to copy and paste other people’s work. Apparently I am in the wrong line of employment. FYI took me like 5 min to edit that. Boom!

  6. most part police and fire (volunteers are the majority of firefighters)
    two problems and i do not begruge decent pay but pensions are sometimes excessive and too many places there not funded and the burden is growing. gov who fund as it goes are fine deferred payment is going to drive citys counties and states into bankruptcies
    the other problem mainly cities the brass overhead is tremendous
    way too many managers to workers then they skimp on manpower on the street or equipment or training

  7. Before deciding to make small solar install REALLY look at how many hours of work/year doing manual labor it will take to make up the difference. In wood chopping, lack of freezer, et al. You MAY find that it is cheaper in the LONG run to spec out a system that supplies all those basic needs. Unless your time is not worth much, the extra money would be worth it.

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