Living off the grid means you’re using your own resources to give you what you need such as food, water, shelter, warmth and electricity. You’re don’t rely on the local power company to keep the lights on.
This is important for a variety of SHTF situations, from mild and temporary weather grid closures to major catastrophes we all hope to avoid. Once you’re ready to make the move to so that you can live off the grid, then it’s time to put that daily life into practice on a homestead that can be self-sufficient.
1. Pick the Right Location for Off-Grid Living
Where you plan to live off the grid matters a great deal. You need to have a place that can easily sustain your way of life. That means you’ll need enough land to support livestock if you’re going to raise animals such as chickens, cows, horses, etc.
You don’t have to have a lot of land but if you want to be completely self-sufficient, you might want to find plots that have at least 2-3 acres. You’ll ideally want one with its own water source as well as proper placement so you can use wind or solar energy options.
You also have to consider unexpected things when choosing a location. For example, if you have a family member in ill health, you’ll need faster access to medical care than someone who’s healthy would.
Once you have your location, you’ll need to build a shelter if there isn’t one already on the land. You can have a solar-optimized house built and one that has many green alternative customizations that assist you with off-grid living.
2. Take Waste Removal Into Consideration
When you’re living off the grid, you have to think about two types of waste – household garbage and personal needs. When you’re living on the grid, you can use the bathroom, flush and never think twice about the waste – unless of course there’s a problem with your toilet or sewer system.
But once you’re living off the grid, you have to plan for the waste removal yourself since you won’t be tied into any city services. There are various options you can choose.
One thing that’s popular when homesteading is to use a composting toilet.
You can also install your own septic system. For household garbage, you have to make sure that you don’t have a lot of it. That means recycling and not using plastic. Compost your kitchen food scraps.
This is great for adding rich nutrients to your garden, which will also come in handy in the event that the grid goes down and grocery stores have limited, if any, food sources for consumers.
3. Don’t Rely on One Power Source
If the power grid goes down, people who don’t live off the grid won’t be able to use any of their electrical appliances or gadgets. They’ve relied solely on one power source and when it’s gone, they’re at the mercy of the situation.
Don’t be like that. Some people decide to homestead and then choose a natural power source such as solar power. This is a great energy source, but it’s not infallible. There are factors that can impact the amount of solar power you have.
That’s why you need a backup plan in case that source of power isn’t working for you or you end up having a need for more power use. One of the backup sources that you can use is a wind power system.
This can be used to produce the electric needs for your homestead in addition to solar power. Living off the grid means that you rely on yourself when there’s an issue with power, so you want to make sure you have that covered.
Think about your heat source, too. Many people who live off the grid use a wood furnace to heat their homes. Take a look at your current power usage and figure out alternatives for each one.
It might be a solar cooker, a generator (solar or gas, although that might be limited at any given time), wind or natural irrigation for your garden, and more. It takes a bit of planning, but in the end, you won’t be reliant on an electric company for your survival.
4. Consider Your Communication Methods
When you’re considering communication methods that don’t rely on the grid, you’ll want to look at the cost, how durable the method is and how well it performs. You don’t want to have a situation where you need to communicate with someone on or off your land and not be able to.
Have a satellite phone if you’ve chosen not to use cell phones. You can use walkie-talkies for communicating with family members if you’re spread out across your land. You can also use a ham radio as a communication tool.
You can also use a CB radio for communication needs. If you just need to be able to listen to important survival news, you can use solar or hand crank radios that allow you to do that.
5. Have a Good Water Source
Many people are at the mercy of their electric company to receive water in their homes. But if you want to be independent of that, it might mean that you need to dig a well on your property.
Since pumps need electricity to work, you’ll need a source to power it if you have a pump – or you can use something like a sleeve bucket. You can also draw water from a source such as a stream – or, if you live on land that has mountainous areas with a small waterfall, you can use that.
You just have to make sure you decontaminate the water. Collecting rainwater is another tip you’ll want to stick with when living off the grid. You can collect rainwater in rain barrels or other containers.
This water can be used for watering livestock, watering a garden, bathing, washing clothes, and if decontaminated, it can be used for drinking and cooking. You can easily stockpile products to cleanse the water you need that won’t take up a lot of space.
6. Grow or Produce Your Own Fruits and Vegetable
Shopping at the grocery store is convenient, but it’s also expensive and the quality of the food items that you get are not always the best. Aside from those evergreen issues, if the grid goes down, you’re in very real danger of losing the convenience of grocery store food supplies anyway.
It’s better to make sure that you manage your food supply yourself. You can eat cheaper and healthier by living off the grid and growing or producing your own food. You won’t get all those unnatural ingredients or foods with GMO.
This allows you to be self-sufficient so that in the event the grocery stores can’t keep up with the demand for food, you don’t have to worry about feeding yourself or your family.
Grow things like beans and potatoes, corn, carrots, tomatoes, squash and fruits.
But you’ll also want to grow your herbs for flavoring and health – like parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano and more. If you don’t already know how to can food items or dry herbs so that they last longer, then you’ll want to learn how to do that so you can stock up your pantry.
7. Create a Plan for Winter Food Storage
Obviously, you won’t be able to grow certain foods in your garden during the winter months. But since you still want to make sure that you’re self-sufficient, you’ll need a way to supply food.
The best way to do that is to put aside the food that you’re going to need to eat when you’re unable to grow it. Create a plan for how much food it’s going to take to get through the winter.
You’ll need to count every member of your family and then add a little more in the event that you need something extra. With a grid-down event, you may want some meals that have self-heating elements, such as MREs (meals ready to eat).
Make sure you also have ample supplies to cook and warm up foods you’ve stockpiled – including wood, charcoal, and other cooking measures. Having warm meals will not only satisfy your hunger, but also provide comfort during a SHTF event.
8. Have the Correct Resources for Food Prep
One thing that many people who live off the grid do is they become minimalists. While that’s a good thing not to be weighed down by having so many things, there are some resources you do need to make sure you have.
You can’t prepare or put away the food supply you’re going to need if you don’t have the proper means to do so. You’ll need things to use during the fermentation process. You’ll need to have larger pots than you would use during your normal everyday cooking – preferably cast iron so that you can cook over an open flame.
You need to have a way to freeze dry or can the food items. If you want to make dried food items, then you’ll need a way to dehydrate the foods naturally without an electronic gadget.
It’s not enough to prepare early on before you go off the grid. These are things you have to learn how to do for years to come with an off-grid homestead. You want to be able to prepare food for long-term storage safely and that includes the utensils and cooking elements as well as the packaging to keep it safe from rodents or bacteria.
9. Discover Natural Plant Life
When you’re living off the grid, you need to be able to identify the plants around your homestead. There are many plants growing wild that can be used for food or as herbal remedies for health ailments.
You don’t just want to wing it, though – since many plants have nasty side effects when ingested or can even be deadly. Before you use anything, learn what it is and how it can be used.
There are books, and classes offered that can teach you what you need to know. You can even hire a guide in the area where your homestead will be located and have them teach you what’s edible or what can be used for health purposes.
You can even grow these items on your property under the guise of a survival garden that is camouflaged from prying eyes. To them, it will simply appear to be wild plant life – but you and your family will know it’s a rich source of nutrition and health.
10. Raise Livestock
When you have a garden, you can grow plenty of fruits and vegetables. You can grow some that give you protein, but when it comes to your meat supply, you’re going to want to either hunt meat or raise livestock.
Hunting can be a hit or miss situation. Sometimes, you might be able to bring in the meat – but if you don’t, then you do without if you don’t already have a supply. That’s why it’s a good thing to raise the meat yourself.
You can raise pigs for meat, and you can also raise cows. From cows, you can also get your fresh milk supply. Chickens can be used for their eggs as well as for the meat. If you raise goats, you can get meat or milk.
Turkeys can be raised and used for meat throughout the year and not just on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Some people who live off the grid also raise ducks and sheep or rabbits for meat.
Make sure when raising animals that you educate yourself about how to properly take care of them. They need plenty of room and fresh supplies, and you want to be able to ensure they are healthy.
11. Go Natural with Your Cleaning Supplies
When you’re going off the grid, you want to switch the items that you use every day for more natural items. That means that you shouldn’t buy detergent, dishwashing liquid, and cleaning supplies like you did before you decided to live off the grid.
You want to be self-sustaining, which means you need to be able to produce your own cleaning resources. There are a lot of things that are natural and can be used to clean just as well as the options you can buy at the grocery store.
For example, you can grow and use lemons to clean many different things. This fruit can be used to clean soap scum out of a bathtub. But it can also be used to clean mirrors.
You can clean your entire bathroom with lemon – even your toilet. Lemon juice has antibacterial properties that effectively kill certain germs and inhibit bacterial growth. If you use lemons to clean your kitchen countertops, it can whiten stains.
Baking soda can be used to clean, freshen and whiten clothes. It can also be used to clean the shower, and even your outdoor grill. Plus, baking soda can also be used to brush your teeth.
Many people also employ the use of vinegar for cleaning agents. When living off the grid, you can learn how to use lye to make your own soaps and even scent them with naturally grown plants like lavender.
12. Put Money Aside in Savings
This might sound like a strange tip when it comes to homesteading, but it’s a mistake not to save money when you’re living off the grid. Before you started homesteading, you had expenses for your lifestyle.
Once you move off grid, those expenses can be higher than you think if you have to repair something. For example, repairing a septic system can be very costly. The amount of firewood you may need to use if you rely on a woodstove or wood furnace can be more costly than you realize.
If you’re raising livestock, there will be the cost of veterinarian care – and when it comes time to use the livestock for meat, there will be the cost of the butcher if you don’t do it yourself.
It can cost a few hundred dollars to have a cow prepped for your meat supply. If you’re using equipment such as a tractor and it breaks down, it can be expensive to repair or replace.
So the money you’re saving paying for your electric, water and sewer can go toward saving for these issues instead. Make sure you have multiple reliable contacts for these problems, too so that you’re not stuck during an emergency.
13. Get and Stay Physically Fit
Life off the grid is more physical than life on the grid. You won’t have the same conveniences that you have now. Plus, you’ll have to do chores you’re not used to.
For example, you may be hauling wood in and out of the cabin.
You might be wringing out laundry and hanging it on a line. You might be milking a cow, gathering eggs and tending to pigs. If you’re not physically fit, you run the risk of developing an injury – not to mention being exhausted in the beginning.
For example, people who aren’t physically fit tend to struggle with arm and back strength, both of which are needed for life off the grid. You may want to begin strength training and embracing a lifestyle of regular cardio before you make the final move to an off-grid homestead.
14. Learn Before You Leap
If you don’t know how to do something, learn about it first so that you avoid common mistakes that can be expensive. For example, some people build a chicken coop without knowing how large it should be.
They don’t know how to build it to protect the chickens from predators and end up losing some of their flock. If you’re going to do any project on your homestead, make sure you know what’s involved before you jump into it.
It’s better to spend some time up front learning than trying to fix mistakes afterward. Instead of focusing only on saving money or buying materials quick, make sure you take durability into consideration first and foremost because these items should be lasting you a long time.
15. Knowing First Aid Is Imperative
Living off the grid may put you too far away from medical care. You need to know the basics of first aid training. This means that you should know how to splint a broken bone, how to treat someone for minor injuries as well as injuries.
In the event that there’s a big emergency, you need to know how to handle lifesaving measures such as CPR. You’ll want to be well-stocked with supplies for everything from a minor cut to a major surgical situation.
Spend time learning these procedures for survival situations and invest in books you can learn from and have on hand in case the gird goes down and hospitals and doctors’ offices are unable to see patients.
Make sure your entire family learns these first aid measures for off-grid living. It may be you who is suffering and in need of someone to help, and if you’re out in the field tending to a fence or cow, your teenaged child might be the only one who can help you.
16. Keep the Right Tools on Hand
You’ll want to keep commonly used tools on hand around your homestead. This includes items such as an axe for cutting down small trees or cutting up firewood. You’ll also want to make sure you have shovels, hammers, pliers, a handsaw or two, hoes, a wheelbarrow, a post hole digger, screw drivers, wrenches, a multipurpose knife, and supplies for repairing fencing.
You’ll want to replace any of your electric tools, such as drills – with those that have to be done by hand. Learn how to safely use them, too. Don’t forget things that will help sustain the life of the tools, such as sharpeners or oils to keep them in good shape.
17. Join a Local Homestead Support Group
Having people that you can turn to for answers to questions can an invaluable resource. You might want to know how to get started with a beekeeping project on your homestead and be able to connect with someone who knows exactly how to set it up.
But having a homestead support group can also be a great way to swap – not just ideas and information – but supplies as well. For example, you might not need all the eggs that your hens lay and can trade them for something you need from another homesteader.
Many homesteaders form communities and buy property next door to one another so that there is safety in numbers and resources to rely on. You can also trade knowledge with one another.