Are you tired of spending more on taxes and utility bills while getting less for your money? Do you see high crime rates, bad roads, bad schools, and communities sinking into despair as a sign that you need to live off the grid? If so, you are among a growing number of people that are interested in making this transition without really knowing how. Over 20 years ago, I left the “big life” of corporate management and city living behind to go back to my mountain roots and deeper into off grid living. This article is about the things I found most useful in going from city living to an off grid system.
Build a Reference Library Beyond Your Skill Levels
As a homesteader, you will be constantly expanding your knowledge, skills, and abilities to meet a range of needs. Here are some basic tips for building your library:
- Identify as many areas as possible that will be important to you. Food production, managing electrical repairs, water purification, energy production, defense, managing money, carpentry, building construction, medicine, animal care, and automobile repair are just a few areas that should be in every library.
- Make sure that you have beginner materials and that the information is accurate. For example, if you buy a book on basic auto maintenance, make sure that you actually practice (at least 5 times) doing everything listed in the book. Make notes about your experiences so that you can always refer back to them. Even if you know how to do something at the beginner level, always include basic materials. Stress, years of not practicing your skills, and other issues can cause you to forget the basics or not appreciate them as fully as needed.
- For medium to advanced level materials, try to find instructions that show different ways to achieve the same goal. In my own DIY adventures, I have found many places where videos and written instructions simply didn’t work when I put them to the test. It is much better to keep as many methods on hand as possible so that you can have different avenues to explore. In some cases, you may wind up combining different elements or at least gain enough clues that will help you devise your own methods.
- Always look for new information related to what you have on hand. As you build webs of information, some may intersect, or, you will discover whole new areas that you may not have realized were important.
Choose an Area Where You Will Feel Comfortable Socially
There may be times when you spend weeks or even months without seeing people other than those living on the homestead with you. On the other side of the equation, children must grow up and marry, those who have passed need to be buried, supplies need to be purchased, and times when you will need to join with others to achieve common goals. It does no good whatsoever to live in a place where you cannot get along with the people that you must eventually meet up with and work with. Try to choose an area where the people share a similar religion, work ethic, personal values, and customs. Even if you don’t see them for years on end, having basic foundations in common will make it easier to interact and be successful.
Be Aware of Codes and Code Changes in Your Area
Today, it is getting harder to buy land and also deal with all of the municipal codes that come with increasing populations. No matter where you live in relation to other towns, make sure that you know the following:
- The financial condition of the county, town/city that sets the municipal codes for your land. Even as we speak, counties, cities, and towns across the nation are failing financially and may wind up combining with other towns or cities that have different laws. For example, in your current area, it may be legal to have chickens. However, if the locality changes to a neighboring one, their laws may not allow for chickens. Always be aware of what is going on financially so that you know what is going on and recall politicians before they completely bankrupt the area.
- Be aware of all current and proposed code changes. If there are laws that hinder homesteading, make sure you network with local people to get those laws changed.
Diversify Power Generation Resources
Power for heating, cooling, cooking, and other needs always present a challenge for homesteaders. When it comes to making, storing, and harnessing different fuel types, it is best to diversify as much as possible. If you have solar panels and wind turbines, do not forget to keep a solar cooker on hand in case there is no electricity or alternative fuel available for cooking. Always be on the lookout for new power generation methods involving water, magnetism, and biological activity (example methane production). It is also very important to diversify power and fuel storage methods as much as possible.
Harness Multiple Food Production Sources
Floods, droughts, shifting temperatures, and other problems all indicate that modern homesteading must also include diversifying food production. Some methods you should be able to harness include:
- indoor insect farms (to replace meat)
- indoor container gardens
- sprout gardens in mason jars
Develop Your Own First Aid and Medicinal Resources
Herbal remedies are an essential source of medicine for homesteaders. You should also be able to use natural materials to fashion splints or other items needed to help with regaining or maintaining good health. It is also very important to make sure that your medicinal resources match your specific needs. This includes accounting for the diagnosis and treatment of hereditary diseases. For example, if you are not diabetic, but siblings or parents are, it may help to know which herbs are used to treat different aspects of this disease. Insofar as good information, you will need to utilize several resources to get a complete picture. This includes:
- Herbal studies from credible sources such as the National Institute of Health that reveal how effective each herb is when compared to other treatments.
- Certified and licensed practitioners of Ayurvedic or Chinese medicine.
- Licensed homeopaths that are willing to teach you how to prepare essential oils, teas, poultices, and other medicinal delivery systems.
- Your primary care doctor if he/she has tangible and direct knowledge of herbal and homestead remedies. If your doctor has no specific certification in these fields, his/her advice may not be accurate and is more than likely not informed enough to give you what you need to know.
Have a Source of Monetary Income
Taxes, equipment, and many other items may still require the use of currency. You can choose any number of ways to make money while living in a rural or isolated area. No matter whether you choose web based or locality based options, do not forget to study the needs of people in your target audience and, what it will cost to meet those needs, and what kind of competition you will be dealing with.
Be Able to Live Off the Land
Equipment failure, crop failure, and even building collapses can create a situation where you will be almost wholly dependent on nature for meeting your needs. Being able to live off the land goes well beyond camping and short term options. Along with the basics of water, food, medicine, and shelter, you should also know how to manage:
- Long-term sanitation
- Fire and other emergency management
- How to stay safe around wild animals
- Weather safety
- Travel needs
Create and Pursue Tangible Self and Property Defense Goals
One of the things I loved most about growing up in the mountains was the sense of absolute security and freedom. I never had to worry about leaving doors and windows open, or any of the massive crime, distrust, and distress that comes with city living. As a homesteader, I also loved returning to a safer, less restrictive lifestyle. It is sad to say that in these troubling times, simply being away from people will not confer automatic safety. You may well need to know how to protect your property, home, and self from rioters, looters, and others that will be more inclined to move into your area as they flee a range of disasters in the places they once lived.
Understand How Off Gridding Will Change as You Age
No matter how healthy you are now, attention spans, energy, and strength levels all decline with advancing years. There may come a time when you can’t simply go out and patch the roof or stay up to the small hours of the morning taking care of sick animals. Make sure that you have some ideas about how you will manage the homestead in your later years. Today, there are many different kinds of mobility aids and equipment modifications that can help you meet your needs. Start from now to learn about these aids so that you obtain and use them when the time comes.
There are many rewards to completing the transition to off-grid living, however, you must also be able to meet several challenges. Making the adjustment successfully includes both short-term and long-term planning. From immediate food production needs to making sure you can keep up with homestead needs as you age, never look at transitioning to off-grid living as something that you will do all at once, or one time only. Please feel free to comment on the kinds of things that you encountered as you changed to an off-grid lifestyle. I love hearing from others, as my own adventures revealed to me that the transition is never ending, and there is always something new to work on and think about!