Checklist For Living Off the Grid: Prepare and Action

With the increasing costs of utility services such as electricity, sewage, water, gas, etc., people are increasingly looking for alternative means. What you will often hear people say is off-grid living, but what is it? Does it mean you cut the link with the external world?

An off-grid living is a perfect way to live a peaceful life without worries connected to monthly utility bills. In this article, we will explore what complete off-grid and partial off-grid living entails.

Are you planning to be utility-dependent? This article also explores the timeframe it will take you to cross the bridge. There is so much information to learn about off-grid living and all you need to achieve it. Keep reading!

Off-Grid But Connected

Some people have misinterpreted an off-grid lifestyle to be cutting the link with people. That is far from the truth. It is a lifestyle where you do not rely on government services but keep connections with people. You still communicate and interact with people you love.

Many people are currently dependent on public utility services. That is what we refer to as a grid-tied lifestyle. There are advantages and disadvantages of grid-connected living, but that is a topic for another day.

If you detach yourself from the public utility services, you adopt an off-grid living. To do that, you will need an alternative source of electricity to power your home. However, you still stay connected to family, friends, and anyone who means something to you.

An off-grid but connected lifestyle refers to being self-reliant (independent of public utility services) but still connected with people. It should not be confused with a lonely or isolated life.

Now, let’s dive into our Checklist For Living Off The Grid.

Checklist For Living Off The Grid
Checklist For Living Off The Grid

Prepare For Off-Grid Living

Now that everyone seems to be making a move towards embracing an off-grid lifestyle, what do they need to do? If you are among them, then we have the answer you are looking for. You cannot just take your life off-grid overnight.

Usually, the switch is a gradual process. You reduce your dependence on utility power day by day until the last minute that you will be independent. You can also choose a partial off-grid lifestyle, where you partly depend on public services and partly rely on yourself.

Whether you are a city dweller or you live in the countryside, off-grid living is for all. You can leap to living off the grid, but you need to prepare for it. The following are the things you need to do before making the bold step of switching your life:

Gather As Much Information About Living Off-The-Grid As Possible

The more you know about an off-grid lifestyle, the less likely you will make mistakes that others have made. There are many resources online you can read to get every information on the lifestyle that awaits you.

You can also consult with your friends and relatives who are currently enjoying living off the grid. Reach out to people with such information and expand your library. It is better to know more than you need than knowing less than will be required.

Find An Appropriate Location

An off-grid living cannot just be realized anywhere. Remember you will be depending on the electricity from the sun. So, the first factor to consider is the sunlight duration. The more exposed your property is to the sun, the better.

It will be unrealistic to think of off-grid living in shady and cloudy areas if you plan to use solar panels for electricity. It is possible, yes, but it is costly. An off-grid living should relieve you from hefty utility bills. If that is not possible, then it will be less meaningful.

The location of your off-grid property should not also introduce other expenses such as commuting costs. You still need the people and work to make ends meet. If your monthly commuting cost equals or exceeds monthly electricity bills, then it is not viable.

Housing Options

Can you turn your current home or commercial property into an off-grid system, or do you have to build new houses and structures? The building cost will add to the overall cost of off-grid living. If you cannot get enough returns from it, think otherwise.

Off-Grid Energy Options

Solar panels and wind turbines are the best options as energy sources. Some people may think of generators, but you will never get clean energy from them. You might be forced to pay fines for impacting the environment.

You have to examine both wind and solar and then settle on the most cost-effective option for your location. Also, do not forget about water if you move away from the city. You might need to drill a well or pump it from the nearby water source. All these add to the total cost.

Food Supply Options

Food is one of the most important in checklist for off grid living
Food is one of the most important things on the checklist for off-grid living

You can depend on nature for food when you go off-grid or still buy processed foods. If you take the former option, you will need to learn basic skills, such as hunting, fishing, agriculture, etc. Get a license for each of these as required by the law.

You need to secure your job to get money to buy foods you cannot produce. Search for a remote job such as freelance writing if you cannot commute to your usual place of work. Special skills such as carpentry can also earn you a living.

Connect With Other Off-Gridders

The first thought that races into people’s minds when they hear about living off the grid is the bushman. It is a similar kind of lifestyle, but you can have a modern version of it. You can only do so when you are in touch with other off-gridder and borrow from them.

Sharing is caring. Visit those who thrive living off the grid and know the secrets. Remember, some areas are remote, making them suitable only for an off-grid lifestyle. In your case, you might want to do it by choice. Therefore, you need to plan well and have everything in place.

Off-Grid Living Checklist

Off-Grid Living Checklist
Off-Grid Living Checklist

The final step is to have your checklist. Ensure you have everything needed to produce energy, supply water, food, and any other thing you will need.

Checklist For Living Off The Grid

An off-grid living can be partial or total. But what is the difference?

Completely Off-Grid

Complete off-the-grid living requires that you eliminate reliance on utility services such as electricity, water, gas, and septic. You have to be independent and still live a comfortable life. However, you need to make many lifestyle changes to suit the new style.

To completely move off-grid, you need to prepare yourself and have everything ready before moving in. Here is a checklist to help you switch your lifestyle

  1. Sort Out Your Finances

First, you need to settle all your debts. Next, you need to devise a saving plan to raise the money required for the transition. You can cut down expenses, find other sources of income, or any other legal thing that will make your finances grow.

Also, you might need to find a remote job that will finance some of your expenses when you finally get off-grid. This is important since you might not produce or get everything you will need.

  1. Learn Some Useful Skills

Before you move off-grid, you need to learn some survival skills that will help you. Remember, you might not have access to technicians or health personnel to help you out. So, make an effort of learning the following skills:

  • Carpentry
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Mechanical
  • Gardening
  • Hunting
  • First aid
  • Food Preservation
  • Cooking
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Foraging, etc.
  1. Find Location

Your off-grid land should be in the right location where you will find everything you need. Decide on the state or area you want to relocate to, and ensure it has access to road, water, and other basic infrastructure.

The best location should:

  • Have no zoning restrictions.
  • Not susceptible to natural disasters.
  • Have south-facing slopes.
  • Does face dangers of urban development. 
  1. Develop a Water Source

You will have no access to a utility water supply. That means you need to find alternatives. If you are lucky, then you can find a permanent stream nearby. Otherwise, you will need to drill a well, harvest rainwater, or depend on water hauling.

  1. Construct an Off-Grid House

Determine the type of shed you would want to live in and build it on the land acquired earlier. The following are the options you have:

  • Log cabin
  • Camper/RV
  • Shed to Cabin Conversion
  • Earthship
  • Sandbag Structure
  • Rammed Earth
  • Yurt
  • School Bus Conversion
  • Cordwood
  1. Set Up Waste and Sewage System

You need to get rid of your wastes, both organic and inorganic. For a complete off-grid, inorganic wastes are usually not very many. Find a way of disposing of both animal and human wastes. Whichever option you take, you have to maintain it.

  1. Heating and Cooling

As weather changes throughout the year, you will need to adapt to it by finding alternative ways. Popular heating sources for completely off-grid living include wood, geothermal, manure, biogas, and electricity. The electricity should be from solar panels, wind turbines, or micro-hydro.

If you need cooling during summer, you can opt for earth cooling, swamp cooler, solar-powered AC, RV propane refrigerator, etc. Determine the passive heating and cooling and the energy required and plan accordingly.

  1. Install Power System

You have the option of installing solar power, wind power, or a micro hydropower system. If finances are ready, then you can install two or more of these for reliability. Again, you will have to calculate the power you will need.

The power system has to be off-grid. A battery bank is needed to store power. Also, outline maintenance procedures to improve its efficiency and lifespan.

  1. Make a Food Plan

Determine the quantity of food you need and see if you can produce it. If not, supplement it with processed foods. You can prepare the land, build an irrigation system, and plan planting and harvesting times.

You can supplement your food sources through hunting and fishing.

  1. Bring in Livestock

Livestock is a source of power and food. Think of rearing bulls, dairy cows, goats, chickens, pigs, etc. Plan their food program and how to manage their wastes and houses.

  1. Food Processing and Storage

You have to prepare for the winter when you can hardly get outdoors. You do this by building a food store and buying all the food processing tools and equipment you will need. Determine how much food you need to store to take you through the winter and get to work.

  1. Build a Community

You are not going to be isolated all by yourself. Establish a community and explain to people who are close to you what you are just about to do. If possible, connect to other off-gridders in your network.

You can also make a room or entertainment venue on your property. Think of events you can host that bring people together.

Partial Off-Grid

A partial off-grid living, as the name suggests, means reliance on two or more public utilities. You can supply your energy and water but still rely on food and from outside or channel your wastewater and wastes to the city’s sewage system.

You can partial off grid in the first months
You can partial off-grid in the first months

Switching to partial off-grid living is not as expensive as going completely off-grid. For it, you need some of the things discussed above. Here is the list, but you do not necessarily need all of them. You will depend on public utility for part of the list.

  • Sort Out Your finances
  • Learn Some Useful Skills
  • Find Location
  • Develop a Water Source
  • Construct an Off-Grid House
  • Set Up Waste and Sewage System
  • Heating and Cooling
  • Install Power System
  • Make a Food Plan
  • Bring in Livestock
  • Food Processing and Storage
  • Build a Community

Can You Start Off-Grid Right Tomorrow?

No. That is impossible. From the checklist provided here, you can see that you need a considerable amount of time to have everything ready. Even if you have your finances sorted, you still need a few weeks to consider other factors.

How Long Does It Take For A Family To Completely Off The Grid?

Leaping to an off-the-grid living is usually a gradual process. The best approach is to start partially and then make a complete switch. The duration is relative, depending on the availability of finances and time dedicated to the process.

If you have the finances ready, then a couple of weeks will be required to complete the entire checklist. Just be patient with the process so as not to make costly mistakes.

Wrapping Up

Many people consider off-grid living peaceful and affordable. You cut your ties from relying on public utilities. You do not pay rent, electricity bills, water bills, and other utility bills if you go off-grid.

It is expensive to switch to an off-grid living, but you can make it. It only requires proper planning and considering all the factors needed to achieve it. Live a cheap, healthy, and peaceful life away from government services.