Things to Think About Before Going Off Grid

Things to Think About Before Going Off Grid l Off grid preparedness advice l Homestead Lady.comThinking of going off-grid with your family? Or are you considering adopting certain aspects of off-grid living? Here are some things to think about before going off-grid.

 For further reading on some off-grid considerations, as well as many other homesteading topics for all levels of experience, I hope you’ll enjoy reading our book The Do It Yourself Homestead. From the homestead kitchen to the homestead garden and everything in between, this book has something for every level of experience and every kind of homesteader.  Click below for more information.

Consider the Why of Going Off-Grid

As I’ve interviewed several off-grid homesteaders doing research for my book, The Do It Yourself Homestead, I’ve asked for their advice for those considering taking the off-grid plunge.  They all seem to say the same thing to start with: figure out why you want to go off-grid in the first place.

Just like with involving yourself in farming or homesteading, it’s important to have a lot of conversations ahead of time with your spouse and children. Make sure everyone is on the same page about expectations and desire.

You don’t have to agree on absolutely everything, but having a common “mission statement” for your soon-to-be lifestyle will help keep you focused and cohesive as you work together.

Does Everyone See the “Why”?

If you’re thinking of adopting an off-grid lifestyle, a good first question to kick around is: why?

  • Are you concerned about the financial drain that paying for modern conveniences requires? If that’s your primary concern, installing solar or wind power and reusing gray water may not require that you move to the country and start growing all your own food.
  • Or is “getting away from it all” part of the vision you have for living off-grid?

Off-grid living isn’t an all or nothing venture; there are a lot of different levels and ways of going about it. As Teri of Homestead Honey tell us,

“Nowadays, if you have enough money, it’s possible to turn your off-grid house into a close approximation of an on-grid home. By this I mean, you can install adequate solar power to live as you were, you can create hot water with an on-demand heater, and you can purchase freezers and refrigerators that run on DC power. You can have a home as luxurious, or as rustic as you wish.

“So, I guess my biggest piece of advice, is to really reflect on WHY you wish to go off-grid. And to make lifestyle choices that support your vision.”

So, your “Why” should be defined with specific ideas about how your vision will become your lifestyle. Be aware that what you envision and what your spouse envisions may not turn out to be the same thing. Keep talking because through the talking will come the specifics. Be willing to be flexible in these conversations and able to explore ideas that may seem new to you.

Take it One Step at a Time

Jaimie, from An American Homestead, shares some sage advice with those who would jump in too fast or too far:

“I’ve learned to going off grid is more like a marathon. Things get easier over time. You learn how to do without things. You learn how to do things in other ways. But you also add back conveniences as you can afford them and have time to build up more of your infrastructure. It all takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight!”

Take it One Convenience at a Time

If it isn’t part of your off-grid vision to move to raw land and build a homestead from scratch, start with one convenience you can learn to live without in the home you have now. Kendra’s family has learned to live without a refrigerator, recycle gray water and hang dry their laundry. Kendra says,

“It can definitely be tricky converting a modern home to be off-grid. Many floorplans just aren’t designed to be energy efficient anymore. You just have to do the best you can with what you have.

“To keep your home cooler during the summer months, plant shade trees strategically around your home, build trellises for climbing vines to help absorb some of the heat around your home, install awnings over windows and doors, put up window shades and heavy window treatments to block out hot sunlight during the day, and cook outdoors as much as possible or eat raw foods more often.

“To stay warmer during the cold months, install a wood stove if possible, wear more clothing, keep the blinds open so the sunlight can heat your home, close off unused rooms, and pile more blankets on at night.

“Replace electric appliances with non-electric alternatives. There’s so much that can be done by hand if you just have the patience!

“Again, keep track of your energy usage and make goals to use less electricity.”

On a Budget

Not all conveniences need to be tossed, FYI. Here’s a review from Attainable Sustainable on a book called The Doable Off Grid Homestead.  I have yet to read it, but it looks intriguing!

Get an Attitude Adjustment

Even when we’re deliberate about changing our lifestyle, it can still be hard. New things take time to adjust to and sometimes we are our own worst enemy when it comes to just allowing ourselves a learning curve. We shouldn’t get upset because we don’t do everything perfectly or aren’t simply thrilled to be washing our laundry by hand.

The key is to hold onto our “why” and push forward, especially during the adjustment period. As Jaimie says,

“In your adjustment period, don’t allow yourself to dwell on all the conveniences that you used to have. It’s not productive to be washing dishes and thinking about that dishwasher that you could just load and push the button. I believe the most ‘work’ you have to do in moving off-grid is to forget the conveniences you left behind.

“Different off grid families choose different ways to live. You have to decide what is important to you. But first and most importantly, make sure that you really want to make a lifestyle change and why. Define your reasons for doing so because when things get difficult, it’s easy to forget why you started this off grid thing in the first place. You’ll be tempted to give up and I’ve seen people do that. There is an adjustment period. I would say give yourself at least a year or maybe two. I feel that things start to get easier the 3rd year, but that was my experience.”

Stay Positive

Tammy has found that having a positive attitude is the best way to ensure success in your off-grid efforts. Tammy’s family lived in a tent on their untamed Idaho homestead the year the moved there. She says she felt like a pioneer and truly enjoyed that time being completely disconnected and free of all modern conveniences.

When she and her family completed their cabin, moved in and eventually set up solar power, she said she was giddy with excitement when she flipped a switch for the first time in a long time and a light went on.

From Tent to Cabin

From those primitive, tent-living days came a time of comparative ease, though Tammy’s family deliberately works hard every day on their off-grid homestead. She says,

“Our kitchen COULD have every modern convenience if we so chose, BUT it was our desire when we decided to embrace an off-grid lifestyle that we did so in a very traditional fashion. We have found the traditional life so much more simple and rewarding. I do own a juicer, food processor, mixer, blender and a grain mill, BUT I also own the antique counterpart as well.

“In being 100% off-grid we operate power appliances when the sun is shining by choice. We could use them whenever we chose, but being that our evening power comes from energy stored in batteries we would quickly utilize all that power. To restore our batteries we would need to run a generator, which requires fuel and this is an expense we try to eliminate. So, by choice again, we only operate power tools while the sun is shining. This includes my husband’s tools and our washing machine. We also use a sun oven to do our cooking and baking when the sun is shining and utilize our wood stove to do a lot of our winter cooking, including breads and desserts.

“However, we do have running water, a shower, a washing machine and plumbing in the house. It really is very cushy accommodations for the wilderness.”

The Nuts and Bolts

Really, the nuts and bolts of going off-grid will work themselves out. As I’ve combed through my interviews with off-grid homesteaders, it is apparent that the hard work of going off-grid is more your mind and your heart. So, figure out your “why” first, then follow that up with taking a measured approach and keeping a positive attitude. The Do It Yourself Homestead Journal l Keep track of homesteading goals l Homestead Lady.com

More Off Grid Information

Edited to add:  Please be sure to read the comments section of this post and look for reader Mary’s words of advice.  She asks some really thought-provoking questions that are worth your time to contemplate.  She will be especially useful to you if you’re interested in going completely off-grid, as opposed to simply adoption green practices in your on-grid home.

Author Advice

Plus, all the ladies quoted above have excellent, practical advice for you as you move forward in building your off-grid homestead or converting the home you’re already have to a more off-grid set up.

To read about Kendra’s journey as she takes her conventionally built house and moves it off-grid, simply visit her blog at New Life on a Homestead.

To read about Jaimie’s adventures as she and her family build an off-grid homestead from scratch, please visit her at An American Homestead.

For your e-book reading pleasure both Teri and Tammy have just the book for you:

How to Embrace and Off Grid Lifestyle, by Tammy Trayer and Creating Your Off Grid Homestead, by Teri Page.  You may not have made your mind up about all this off-grid stuff but these books can give you real life examples of how modern, off-grid families make it work.

How-To-Embrace-An-Off-Grid-Lifestyle-Cover

Creating Your Off-Grid Homestead, by Teri Page of Homestead-Honey.com


DisclaimerInformation offered on the Homestead Lady website is for educational purposes only. Read my full disclaimer HERE.

Cover photo attribution to this Wikipedia Commons user.

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13 thoughts on “Things to Think About Before Going Off Grid

  1. My husband and I lived off grid for 20 years. We just sold our farm the last month. We had a secluded piece of property without electric and slowly over the years added solar and wind and 2 wood stoves. No utility bills and real independence. It was great. Now we’re both having serious health issues and seniors,so had to finally get a small house in town. Adjusting to neighbors and microwaves has been strange. Changed all our bulbs to LEDs. Replacing the toilet for a more efficient one. Very conservative with out water and electric. Will be looking at a small solar system once we see our utility bill. All new construction should be absolutely forced to install alternative energy. Americans are very wasteful creatures and feel entitled to all the power that they want. News flash! Too many people on the planet and we’re destroying it very quickly. Everyone needs to do their share to reduce the strain on the Earth!

    1. Thank you for sharing all that, Mary! I’m sure that’s such a huge adjustment.

      I would love to interview you to learn more about your previous lifestyle and any advice you might have for those just starting the off-grid journey. Care to answer a few emailed questions? If not, no worries! So glad you stopped by!

    2. Hi Mary:
      First, I’m so sorry that you and your husband had to give up your peaceful life of so many years and were forced to mov back into a lifestyle you know is wrong that you both dislike…
      I was happy to have both of you share your insite and feelings on how most Americans live today.
      My wife and I keep praying that this younger generation will wake up and come to realize what their future and that of their children’s will be very bleak if they do not start making changes towards conserving and working at healing the damage that’s already been done to our World…
      It’s obvious that their parents missed that boat and unfortunately, I don’t believe that they will ever catch on to just how dire the situation really is…
      Anyway…
      Thank you again for sharing and would enjoy hearing more about you and your husbands years of experience…!
      Have a blessed day…!

      1. Our decesion to go off grid was easily made for us. The property was over 1/4 mile from the neareast power pole and it would have cost over $10,000 to run underground line! My husband grew up on a dairy farm in the 40’s. They were extremely poor. He learned at a young age to do without alot. I gtre up in my grandparents city house wirh a large backyard garden. My mothers parents Italian immigrants who worked hard for a good life here. My fathers English and Irish farmers. I was the only out of everyone to go back to this life. I wanted this so badly since I was a kid. My husband has so many skills that beginning this adventure was not that awful. Just alot of hard work. We both had off farm jobs. Lived in a camper the 2nd year while the barn was finished up and a small addition for living quarters was added. We had little money so just did a bit at a time. Kerosene lanterns. Prpane gas stove wood stove. Used a refrigerator as an icebox. It was experimenting and finding off grid products then. Now the internet makes that a breeze. Amish began moving in the area. We bartered with them and neighbors. Added a small silar areay and micro turbibes. Help open hpuses to show others anyone xan do this. We were a featured farm with Cornell University for alternative living. I spoke at numerous workshops,seminars etc.

  2. My husband and I are planning to move out to the country and become homesteaders within this yr. We are both in our late 50’s and in fair heslth….would we be to old, is this to late for us both. I’m somewhat afraid that we’ll invest tjme and money and then decide we cant handle it

    1. This is such a smart question!! I wish more, and yes younger, aspiring homesteaders would honestly evaluate their goals and their abilities BEFORE they began their journey. And, it IS a journey, so you can take it at your speed. I think that, as long as you’re prayerful (or meditative, if prayer isn’t your thing) about each decision and set out to not take on too much at once, you’ll be just fine.

      I suggest you write down your goals – why is it you want to start homesteading? What are you trying to accomplish in the long haul? What about just the next five years? I actually wrote a book to make this process as simple as possible for every level of homesteader, from beginner to experienced. Maybe it will be helpful for you? It’s called The Do It Yourself Homestead and you can find it on Amazon and/or in our shop at https://www.homesteadlady.com/shop. There’s a journal that goes along with the book that is specifically designed to help you set and achieve measurable goals for each phase of your homestead life. If you’d like a sample of the book or have questions, just email me any time at Tessa@homesteadlady.com.

    2. How big will your house be?. How will you power it? How are you financing this? Do you expect others to help?. Are you near shopping,drs. And hospitals? How will you handle an emergency?. Once you get animals they need care 24/7. In all kinds of weather. Lots to think about.

  3. Anyone who thinks they xan somhow get land and just start farming or going off grid is sadly mistaken. You NEED money!!! And knowledge! Basic skills in carpentry and repai. How will you store your food and cook?. Better check the local building codes too. People think because it’s their property tgey can do what they want. What YOU do does affect others. Most just get in a huge financial mess and the property is useless from the mess left behind. If you’re not up to this without asking for help constantly,well this isn’t for you. You MUST have goals and knowledge!. We researched and met others who were doing the same. The downfall of most?. Jumping into a situation you’re not prepared for. Just because you read about it or saw something on tv,doesn’t mean you can do it!. Yup,I’m a downer. Reality sometimes sucks.

  4. By the time my husband and I had to sell we had a nice barn,big garden shed and sap house and house. Our sugarbush was all on pipeline and gas powered. 3 microturbines and a small solar array. All the conveniences and no power bills. We used 2 big back up generators when needed. Would be back there in a minute if it was possible

    1. Thank you, Mary, for all that great advice! You guys really went all out and this is wonderful food for thought for those thinking of living entirely off grid. I’ll be sure to put a note in the post for people to read these comments so they can soak up your wisdom!

  5. This was a good read and I appreciate the book recommendations.
    Mary, who commented above makes good points, despite her uneducated declaration that the world is over populated. Living a more sustainable life doesn’t have to be done out of spite of other people exsisting and ‘using up’ resources. Living more sustainably is a beautiful lifestyle for its own sake and that of passing on valuable skills to further generations (if you stop complaining about the younger generations long enough to share what you’ve been blessed with). The snark isn’t necessary when discussing taking on this lifestyle and the learning curve and maturation that comes with it. Encouragement goes a long way in convincing people that this lifestyle is worth it rather then looking down your nose because you’re just so much more experienced.

    The younger generations actually do ‘get it’. We know that things can’t continue this way forever or that government dependence is a really dumb way to end up hungry and without. We’ve been handed down a significant mess of a consumer society for several generations now, we can’t be expected to know what we’ve been missing out on when we have been raised in it and it has been our normal to grab the cheese whiz than a cheese block and knife. The generations before us need to stop the harping because this what we have been given from them, we didn’t choose this world and we need to make the best of it while learning from scratch skills you were given at the age of 6yo.
    Homesteading relies heavily on community working together to really get the benefits of living more simply. When we make everything about us and them when talking about others trying scale down their lifestyle we just isolate them and us.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Staci! I agree that successful homesteads are built upon healthy communities of cooperation, mentoring and help! Such a good thing to be reminded of continually.

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