For many people, the idea of going off-grid can be one of the most exciting things they can possibly do. If you have ever felt that your reliance on the grid is a little too strong, then you might have felt a similar pull for yourself. But going off-grid is not the kind of thing that you want to do in a rush. There are certainly disadvantages to this kind of lifestyle, and you will be making some sacrifices.
That being said, few people who do go off-grid ever really regret it, and it can provide you with an interesting, and utterly unique, form of lifestyle. In this article, we are going to take you through many of the most important things you need to consider if you are thinking about moving to an off-grid kind of life.
Are You Ready to Go Off-Grid?
A lot of people talk about being off-grid, but as it turns out, sometimes individuals can define it slightly differently to other people. So it would be useful, first of all, to make sure that we are all on the same page when it comes to being off-grid: what does the term really mean?
In literal terms, to be off-grid means that you are no longer relying on the actual power grid that powers most homes. You get your energy supplied through other means – and you might even sell excess energy back to the grid! In wider terms, however, a lot of people end up using the term ‘off-grid’ to broadly refer to any kind of lifestyle in which you are practising being as self-sufficient as possible.
If you have always dreamed of that kind of lifestyle, then the good news is that there are some amazing plusses to it, and it can be easier to do than you might think. But are there any drawbacks?
As we mentioned above, there are some sacrifices that you might need to make when you go off-grid. At first, some of these might prove to be quite difficult, but over time you will almost certainly find that they are perfectly easy to do away with – especially once you start seeing the real benefits of living in this new way.
Nonetheless, it’s good to be aware of some of these sacrifices early on, so you can be prepared for them. One in particular that you might discover early on is simply not having the usual luxury of everything being easily provided for you. Once you have to start working hard in order to ensure you can eat, wash and sleep, you are going to realise that it really is quite a different way of operating!
Likewise, there can be moments when you feel as though you are missing out – like it would be nice to simply switch on the TV and relax. That being said, this is still something you can often do when you are living off-grid, and it is a myth that you can’t do those kinds of things – you just have to be a bit more careful about how you do it and how often you do it.
So those are the main sacrifices, but these are in service of some pretty amazing benefits, and it’s great to be aware of these as well, as they could inspire you onwards and help to re-motivate you when you are struggling or when you have started to wonder whether all the hard work is really worth it. The off-grid lifestyle is a truly incredible one, if you approach it in the right way.
One of the clearest and most enjoyable benefits is that you can enjoy a simpler lifestyle. If you have been seeking the end of the rat race, then this is it – or the closest you will probably get to it, anyway. With that comes great peace and a feeling of real freedom – something that a lot of people don’t really have much of these days in most kinds of lifestyles.
Living off-grid also encourages you to be prepared, to be handy and learn how to build and make things, and these are useful skills which are going to be worth having no matter who you are.
Generally, the off-grid lifestyle is also cheaper and more affordable, and you will be able to save a lot of money for the future.
Seen in this way, you could consider going off-grid as a temporary measure to improve your finances, thereby giving you the opportunity to save up before going back on-grid at a later time.
A lot of people are taking this kind of approach these days, and it is a pretty sensible one to take. A few years off-grid could allow you to save up enough money for a deposit on a house, for example.
Are You Really Ready?
You will likely want to spend quite a while thoroughly researching the off-grid lifestyle before you actually make any big changes or decisions. You need to make sure that you are really ready for the change – the last thing you want is to find that you regret doing it and have to simply reverse everything you have done.
So how can you make sure that you are truly ready to change your lifestyle in this way? There are certain checks that you might want to make before you do anything else, so let’s look at what some of those might be right now.
First of all: do you have the financial means to get started? Although living off-grid is usually cheaper, you are probably going to need a fair amount of seed money at first, to ensure that you can get started.
Make sure you’ve got a healthy amount in a savings account – and check the exact early expenses of the kind of off-grid living you are thinking of doing. At the same time, make sure that you do not have any debts – these are only going to get in the way ultimately, and hinder your progress.
You should also check in with your personal health. Being physically fit is going to make everything so much easier, particularly if you are going to be doing the proper hardcore homesteading type of living. Of course, you could argue that you are going to get pretty fit anyway, and that’s true – but being physically active to begin with is likely to help make the process even easier for you.
Finally, and probably most obviously: do you think you can go without many of the modern conveniences you have become accustomed to? If you don’t think you can, it might not be the lifestyle for you.
Types of Off-Grid Living
So you think you might be ready to go off-grid. Now you just need to decide one thing: how are you going to do it? There is not only one way to do this, and in fact there are a huge number of methods and types of lifestyle that you might want to consider if you are going to go off-grid. It’s worth considering them all, to ensure that you are doing the one that makes the most sense for you personally.
For example, you might decide to go and live on the canals. This can be a very easy way to go off-grid, but it is only really suitable if you don’t need a huge amount of space. Alternatively, you could move into a van and set that up for living – which, again, is best if you don’t need lots of space, or if you have somewhere to park up frequently and safely.
If you want to go for something bigger, it could mean starting your own self-sufficient farm or homestead. That can be a good choice for a large family, but it requires a lot more work as well.
Of course, the whole point of off-grid living is that you are not plugged into the energy grid, so you are going to need to find your own source of energy as an alternative. This is actually very easy to do, and the kind of method you use is largely going to be determined by your financial resources and the size of your lifestyle and operation.
For instance, for a van or boat, you could simply live off 12-volt leisure batteries which are charged from the engine’s starter battery. You would need an inverter for 240-volt appliances, but that is a simple process. Or you might want to install a Tesla Powerwall, which can link up to solar panels – for a truly green mode of energy.
Finally, you will also have to think about water. Whether you store it in a large tank that you refill from time to time, or even seek out a natural spring and use that, you are definitely going to need it, so this needs to be a very early consideration when you are getting set up.
This can be a very exciting change, so why not think about going off-grid this year?