There are few situations that are as big of a win-win as going off-grid. You save money while saving the planet, as well as a range of other benefits. People have been enjoying many of those perks for some time. Long before it became such an imperative as it is now with the threat of global climate change on our doorstep. If you’re thinking of going off the grid, what is a suitable area to look to set-up?
Finding a location that’s right for you
It is a challenge to live off-grid as we are heavily dependent on technology in a way that the Hippy movement in the 60s wasn’t. That isn’t to say that you have to give up modern comforts, just that if you want to retain some of them while living off-grid you have to do some legwork ahead of time.
All this is to say that you have to choose your area wisely if you want a better chance at success as well as enjoying your lifestyle. In this article, we will go over some of the factors that go into finding the right area to set up your off-grid homestead.
Good infrastructure for going off-grid
It may sound counterintuitive to have an advantage being infrastructure when talking about off-grid living. After all, it is an attempt at being independent and self-sufficient. Well, the fact that the path has already been forged by many before you in that area means that you have a lot of tools at the ready to get started much more easily.
For instance, when you find a popular spot to go off-grid, there are already a lot of companies that can help you get set up or at least provide the materials necessary. An example is this locally-owned solar company in the Portland-area. Having a specialized company in your area is invaluable also for the information they can provide you.
While you may have an idea of what you think is going to work, they can let you know how realistic your plan is. And it is based on first-hand knowledge of your specific area.
There are some states that make it difficult to live off-grid as they want to discourage it. You’ll have to research some areas that you are thinking about to see if this is the case where you had picked out a spot.
Once again, having some boots already on the ground in that area is going to help you avoid trying to set up somewhere that has regulations that may prevent you from being able to flesh out your ideal situation.
Look for a wet area
Water shortages are becoming common in many areas. While you may be tempted to go where the sun shines more to max out your solar power, those areas often experience drought.
Make sure to find a rainy area even if it seems that would make it difficult to get consistent solar power if it is often overcast. There have been a lot of innovations when it comes to solar these days so even with it being overcast for long periods, you can still end up living mostly off of solar.
However, if you have concerns about generating enough from solar, all of that water may give you an alternative if you plan well. For instance, there are a lot of rivers and streams in rainy locations.
If you can manage to buy a property with a stream or river, then you can install a water mill for your electrical needs. This will run 24 hours a day and is not dependent on the weather as much as solar.
Long growing season is ideal when going off the grid
Look for an area that has a microclimate that allows you to have a long growing season, if possible. There are areas where the frost dates finish early and start late which means that you have a rather long growing season. If you stick to lower elevations then try for a hardiness zone that ranges from 6 to 8 or even 9 if you are near a body of water.
The higher elevations are going to mean a much shorter season, and it limits the types of fruits and vegetables that you can grow. However, if you plan correctly, you can enjoy harvests in all seasons.
This is another instance in which all that water comes in handy. During the fall and winter, there is plenty of water so that you rarely have to water your garden. And if you practice good permaculture techniques, you can extend that even into the spring and summer.
This cool weather in the winter is ideal for setting up a cold storage area outside for your fermentations and root vegetables. In some cases, you may even be able to dig one into a hill and enjoy a cool room all year long to keep your preserves and other stored food.
You can still harvest in winter in certain cold areas by using a greenhouse and plant vegetables that tolerate a cold climate. Things like kale love the cold and often benefit from harvesting after it has gotten cold. Likewise, leeks become much sweeter once they have gone through a cold snap.
Lots of outdoors activities
Off-grid living is not all work and no play. Find an area with a lot to do when you have some free time and want to take a break from your chores. If you are an outdoorsy type, then free time spent in nature is going to recharge your batteries and allow you to work more serenely.
On the coast, there is plenty of kayaking opportunities. And you can turn that fun into productive time by combining kayaking and fishing so you can also bring some provisions back home while having fun.
Off-grid life can really be a challenge, so picking the right locale is essential. Just about every state has an area in which it is not as difficult so you are likely already living close to where you need to be. Though, if you don’t have deep roots where you live now, then you may want to transplant yourself someplace that will afford you exactly the off-grid lifestyle you are looking for.