10 Questions Everyone Should Ask BEFORE Going Off Grid
Have you ever thought about living off grid? Maybe you’re already considering it and just doing some due diligence before taking the plunge? The thought of cutting ties with the city, building a home powered (or not) by the sun and being the commander and chief of your own neck of the woods is plenty appealing. Face it, you’ve thought about it already haven’t you?
If you’re anything like me you’ve thought about it a lot. But ask yourself this, are you truly prepared for the highs and lows that come with living off the grid?
Your comfort, ability to remain off grid, and very survival depend on how well you can answer 10 simple questions. Be honest with yourself and be prepared to face the truth.
1. Do you have enough money/income?
Yes, some people believe that living off grid means “free”. It’s not. There are numerous costs associated with off grid living let alone getting off the grid. Firstly, you’ll need to consider where you plan to live. Will this be land you already own, need to buy or possibly rent? There’s the building of your home, tools/equipment, food, power, maintenance and repairs. Even the best built homes need annual upkeep.
2. How do you plan to power your home?
Off grid means no power supply from big brother. You’re responsible for either producing your own power or living without it. While it’s perfectly fine to go days without using electricity it is nice to be able to flip a switch and have lights/amenities in the off chance you need then, have an emergency, or in climate weather. Solar and wind are great ways to power your home and having a generator is almost a must. I say almost because no matter what there are still have purists that refuse to bend to the lure of electricity and will even build their off grid home without the use of power tools.
3. The wildlife on your doorstep?
The fact is, it’s a zoo out there. Literally! And no matter where in the world you live you’re going to happen across the wildlife at one point or another. When that happens you can certain that it will not always be a baby deer and squeaky squirrels! These animals and many others feed off the land around your home. Know what they are, their seasonal habits, the signs they leave, and be prepared for a worst case scenario.
4. To eat or not to eat?
Along with the wildlife you also have an abundance of stationary food in the way of edible roots, berries, and plant material. Learn what you can and can’t eat. Never guess no matter what. One bite of the wrong mushroom can land you square in the hospital or worse. There are several books that can help you specific to your neck of the woods. Here’s a recommended Edible Wild Plants book to have on hand at your off grid home.
5. Will I have to work for my water?
You may have heard that you can survive a week, two, even three without food. But water is a whole different story. Without access water your dream of living off grid will soon become a nightmare. It begins right when you start to survey your land. One of the top priorities is to confirm you can access water. In fact, if you plan on keeping any kind of vegetable garden then you’ll want to consider giving it a steady supply of water to feed them and/or any animals.
6. Can I drink the water I just poured?
Accessing water is only half the battle. You need to ensure that water is fresh, clean and potable. Even the cleanest looking babbling brook can contain parasites that will put you down as fast as the setting sun and leave you down. We harvest rain water and purify it ourselves which is only one method. Make certain you can drink that water you worked to hard to access.
7. Mineral rights. Do I have them?
When purchasing property you’ll want to know if you have the water and mineral rights to go with it. Mineral rights are very important because they give you the RIGHT to explore, develop, extract and market the resources on your property. Without mineral rights you cannot access material(s) that are on your own property. You’ve bought the land to build on sure, but NOT the ground underneath. That’s where mineral rights come in.
8. Is a tent a home?
A tent does not make for a long term home indeed. At least not here in Nova Scotia. Off grid living comes with planning and that planning almost always includes a permanent home to live in. Whether you build a cabin, cottage, tiny house, chalet or full sized off grid house you’ll need to plan it all out, build it, furnish it and maintain it. The days of building a simple log cabin and living like Dick Proenneke are few and far in between.
9. How proficient is my first aid?
Guess what? Injuries are a real part of life and more so when you’re building a home and living off grid. We talked about being prepared for wildlife, knowing the dangers of local vegetation, and not drinking from unknown water supplies, but what about something as common as a twisted knee, a cut finger, or shortness of breath? Do you need to brush up on your first aid skills? have you considered taking a course in first aid? A good first aid bookis a must but it doesn’t do you a bit of good if you wait until something’s critically wrong before you read it. It can be the difference between living off grid and dying off grid.
I don’t need to tell you to have a first aid kit and have it ready access to it at times. While there are several different first aid kits available this is NOT the place to try and skimp and save a buck or two. In fact we have several different first aid kits. A small first aid kit in the car and on in the ATV and another large first aid kit in the cabin. Everyone in the family knows where they, and the fire extinguishers are.
Our Small first aid kit
Click the image below for full details
Our large first aid kit
Click the image below for full details
10. Am I being Realistic?
Finally, ask yourself and you family/friends “Am I being realistic?” There’s no denying it that living off grid has it’s the powerful allure of freedom, independence and a satisfaction of leaving the crutches of the grid behind. What’s drawn your interest to off grid living?
Why are you seeking that lifestyle. Write out, or say out loud, the top three reasons you want to live off grid. Do they sound like something you’ll repeat when you’re budgeting for it, standing in the rain on your roof with a hammer in your hand, turning the tap and getting air… or nothing at all, watching the snow come down on the road you need to access to get out, waking up at 3am to put another log on the fire?
These are all very real things you need to consider.
Be realistic because after you’ve begun the journey off grid it’s too late to turn back.
Wait... Here's 10 More Things!
Think you’re ready to live off the grid? Well, so was the Fouch family.
We’ve been following this homesteading family for some time now and we really admire their YouTube channel.
Here’s an eye opening and informative video about the things they wish they’d considered before going off grid.
10 Things The Fouch’s Wish They’d Known Before Going Off Grid
- Solar power is easier than you think
- Plants can’t grow without soil
- Water runs downhill
- Carrying water is the worst
- Batteries run out
- Bears like trash
- Firewood is a ton of work
- Yurts are better at cold weather than hot weather
- Temporary is longer than you think
- You can do things you didn’t know you could do
More About The Fouch Family
We stumbled across this energetic and lovable family of 5 living off the grid through their YouTube videos and their book(s).
They are currently living in their homemade yurt while building a beautiful new timber frame home. We love following their off grid adventures and we’re certain you will too.
Be sure and drop into Esther’s BLOG to read about their latest adventures.
Esther has even written her own book titled “What Falls from the Sky: How I Disconnected from the Internet and Reconnected with the God Who Made the Clouds“ which is now available on Amazon!
Esther is the youngest daughter of the back to the land author and educator, Carla Emery.
She wrote a very useful reference book called “The Encyclopedia of Country Living“ which has sold over 800,000 copies. She sadly passed away in 2005.
How We’re Living Our Off Grid
As you know we’ve been busy building our own off the grid cabin and it’s turned into a quite the incredible adventure to say the least. While there are ups and downs along the way, everyday out here is a good day :)
People have really enjoyed following our adventures so far and we LOVE the feedback we’ve gotten.
If you haven’t, SUBSCRIBE and follow along! We’ll take you right back to day one of the build and each week send you the next phase of the build as well as a TON of off grid goodies.
Remember that living off grid isn’t easy. If it were, you’d see more of us doing it and doing it better. A lot of us are paving the way for future off grid living. The solar of today is not the solar of twenty, ten or even two years ago.
It’s true that we have a certain sense of security (albeit misplaced) walking in the front door of a home on the grid, flipping a light, turning up the heat, and plopping down to watch a night of Netflix on the flat screen TV.
So ask yourself… are you really ready, willing, and able to survive a life off grid?
We hope so.
See you at the top!
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