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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Living Off the Grid

Photo by Guillaume Briard via Unsplash

At some point in our lives, most of us have had that urge to move off the grid. We wonder what it would be like to live without the complications (and conveniences) of the modern world. For many people, leaving the grid means chasing a life of independence and subsistence. On the surface, it seems simple enough. No electricity, no public water, no existing sanitation system. If we dig a little deeper, though, we find that this lifestyle is more than what meets the eye. Keep reading for the 5 things you didn’t know about living off the grid.

1. It’s more common than you think.

Back in 2018, the Conservation Institute estimated that roughly 1.7 billion people are off the grid worldwide. (Remember: there’s only about 7.7 billion people on Earth to begin with!) Close to 250,000 of these people live in the United States, where the states of Montana, Tennessee, and Maine are popular choices. It is important to keep in mind that this country has a significant homeless population, a large part of which survives without direct access to the grid and its advantages.

Life beyond the grid is also a subject of interest for those of us on the grid, with YouTube Channels like Exploring Alternatives and My Self Reliance each racking up over 1 million subscribers. (If you’re a High School Musical fan, check out Off the Grid w/ Zac Efron for your daily dose of Hollywood and wilderness.)

2. There are a whole lot of rules.

Living off the grid might seem like a life of perfect liberty, but many places have rules and regulations that can restrict this feeling of freedom. For example, homeowners still tend to need building permits in order to construct abodes that comply with building codes. Septic networks are also heavily regulated in numerous places, which means that property in question may need a “percolation test” in order to be deemed legal. Locations close to urban areas might also be more strict about the possession of livestock, depending on how the land has been zoned. 

3. It might help improve your health.

Living off the grid means that you’re responsible for producing your own food, which leads many people to cultivate their own gardens. This shift in diet away from overly processed foods and towards fresh produce typically brings positive side effects. The very act of gardening can also be great for you, as it gets you moving and can consequently help to lessen the risk of heart attack or stroke. Similarly, spending time in nature can work wonders for mental health, oftentimes helping to ward off the risk of depression.

4. You don’t always have to quit your job.

Getting access to the Internet while off the grid is within the realm of possibility for many spots in the United States, such as through satellite, a wireless hub, or cellular data. This opens up several doors regarding job possibilities. You can explore the avenues for continuing your current position virtually, or you might opt for an entirely new role that you can perform from home. If you live close enough to a village or town, employment opportunities might be easier to find.

5. Alternative energy is your best friend.

Solar, wind, and water-generated power are well-loved amongst those who go off the grid. Geothermal energy is another up-and-coming route, where a network of pipes in the ground beneath the home helps to assuage the winter cold or the summer heat. However, some people opt for more traditional ways to heat or cool their homes, do laundry, keep up with personal hygiene, and cook. Wood stoves, oil lamps, and candles, for example, are not out of the question. 

Could you hack it?

You might be a knowledgeable outdoors person, or maybe you’re a wilderness newbie (in that case, take this quiz to find the best way for you to start your nature journey). Do you think you could hack living off the grid? Let us know in the poll below!

Photo by Guillaume Briard via Unsplash

  • How would well would you do off the grid?

    • I would THRIVE
    • It would be tough, but I could do it!
    • I need the grid like I need air


Written by Megan Pontin

Enthusiastic word-collector, avid pancake-consumer, and experienced hammock-lounger. Student at Cornell University.

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