Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Are you considering going off-grid? Are you inspired to disconnect from the structure of the daily grind in favor of a freer, slower-paced life? Are you ready to walk away from the power grid and public amenities for a life of freedom?
Generally, off-grid means leaving the power grid and other public utilities that incur a monthly bill. But often, the idea of going off-grid is also connected to a self-sufficient, homesteading life.
It sounds like a romantic and peaceful idea to live off-grid in the country. And while there are many different ways to go off-grid, leaving the grid requires a genuine transition and a lot of hard work. So what would it take to go completely off-grid?
A Shift in Mind-Set
If you’re used to turning up the heat, turning on the lights, or turning on the microwave with just the push of a button, you’re going to have to change your mindset on how electricity works and how much you can use at once.
If you have a solar-powered system, you might not have enough sunlight on cloudy days to run more than one electrical device at a time. You might need to unplug your fridge if you want to turn on a light, or turn off the hot water heater to charge up your electronic devices.
You’ll need to prioritize what you need the most because you won’t be able to run it all simultaneously. You’ll need to adjust your mindset to fit the realities of the systems you own, such as electricity, water, sewer, food, and heat.
Off-grid equipment can get expensive fast. If you are looking to go off-grid, you’ll need to invest some seed money to get started. You might need items such as solar-powered electric systems, generators, propane-powered refrigerators, and hand-powered equipment to replace electricity-powered items.
It can cost a lot of money to dig a well or set up solar power for the first time. You’ll want to have some money saved up for repairs, as well.
Getting Out of Debt
When you go off-grid, you’ll probably need to live somewhere far out in the country and possibly further away from higher-paying jobs. There might not be any local jobs at all! You’ll need to learn to live cheaply, which means you’ll probably have to get entirely out of debt.
Not having debt will lower your monthly expenses, giving you more freedom to live the way you want to live. If your monthly expenses are lower, you’ll be able to live on less money, which might just free up more funds for necessities.
Learn New Skills
To live without electricity, you’ll need to forgo some modern conveniences, which means you’ll have to learn some new skills. If you are off-grid, this means you won’t be connected to the electric grid, public water, or public sewer.
You probably won’t have trash pickup or easy access to stores and groceries. You’ll need to learn a host of new skills to compensate for these things. You’ll need to know how to do things such as:
- Increase your cooking skills. You’ll probably need to cook on an alternative heat source such as a wood stove, open fire, or camp stove.
- Learn to stay warm. You’re going to need to find alternative means of heating your home such as a wood stove or propane heater. You might need to learn how to make fire, keep the woodstove going through the night, or be safe when using propane heaters.
- Find safe water. A critical off-grid skill is to learn to source your water, such as bringing water in, using a rain barrel, or digging a well. You’ll need to make sure your water is safe to drink, as well.
- Take care of waste. You’ll need to learn to manage your waste products, whether you build an outhouse, use a composting toilet, or bury your trash.
- Grow and preserve food. You’ll need to learn to grow and preserve your food, especially if you don’t have a propane-powered refrigerator or spring house to keep your food cool.
- Manage your power usage. Even if you have a solar power system or generator, you’ll need to learn to balance your wants and needs with how much power you have available to use.
- Be patient. Patience is required when going off-grid. It will take longer to do just about everything, from making a cup of tea to gaining access to drinking water. Your systems might not always run smoothly and efficiently, so you’ll have to learn to be patient when things don’t go your way.
- Take care of livestock. Livestock need care, and when you are off-grid, you might not be able to get to a vet quickly in an emergency. You’ll need to learn to care for and protect the animals you keep on your homestead.
- Home repair and carpentry. There will be lots of home projects that you’ll need to do on your own, from building to repairing your home and systems.
- Take up new hobbies. You might need to learn some new hobbies, especially if your current hobbies heavily depend on lights or electricity.
- Housekeeping. You’ll need to find cleaning and cooking methods that aren’t tied to modern appliances such as vacuums and instapots.
- Change your sleep schedule. You’ll need to learn to live within the rhythms of daily life, wake up with the sun, and go to bed when it gets dark.
- Manage resources. Resource management is an important skill to learn for off-grid life. You’ll need to know to balance the use of electricity, water, and food storage so you don’t run out of something when you need it most.
Give Up Luxuries
It is incredible the small luxuries we take for granted when living on the grid. Picking up the phone to call for a pizza, reheating food in the microwave, or simply turning on a light to use the commode in the middle of the night are luxuries.
Sadly, you might have to forgo pizza and grocery deliveries. If you’re cold, you probably won’t be able just to turn up the heat on your electric heating system; you’ll have to add logs to the fire instead. If it is dark, you’ll need to light a candle or use an oil lamp instead of just flipping on a switch so you can read a book.
Not everyone will understand your passion for going off-grid, and you might find you are making a lot of sacrifices to accomplish your mission. You might lose relationships, give up nights out on the town, or stop watching TV all the time.
You might need to give up television, internet, and handy appliances. You’ll need to give up a lot of free time, as well, because living off-grid takes a lot more time and energy to accomplish than having the conveniences of living on-grid. Hot water is a real luxury; you might need to shorten your showers or take cold ones.
Make a Commitment
It takes commitment to live off-grid. It isn’t a decision most people can make or employ overnight. But many find it rewarding and worth learning new skills and making sacrifices. Some people commit and jump right in, going completely off-grid right away. They invest the time and money and simply make it happen. For others, it is a slower process that occurs gradually.
You can try out living off-grid before making a total commitment by camping, turning off your power for a few days, and slowly becoming more and more self-sufficient. But in the end, if you are going to live off-grid, it takes serious commitment and drive to stay the course.
Have the Right Attitude
The most critical part of going off-grid, in whatever form you desire, is the right attitude. You’ll need a can-do, hard-working, DIY mindset to make it through all of the trials and struggles that go with living off-grid.
You need to be positive and believe in all of the benefits of going off the grid. For some, the peace of mind, security, and joy are worth all of the sacrifices and hard work.