Definition of Off Grid Living
Daniel Mark Schwartz
June 09, 2019
Off grid is a term that many people see now below pictures of quaint farm houses and cabins in the woods. But what exactly is off grid?
What is off grid living? Off grid can any one of the following:
- A home or lifestyle that generates all their own electricity on site
- A home or lifestyle that has no connection to public utilities
- A lifestyle that is mostly or entirely self-sufficient, requiring few external inputs
But, this definition, although accurate is not enough to capture the essence of the off grid movement. In reality living off grid is about freedom, personal responsibility, and self-reliance. Read on to find out why an off grid lifestyle might be right for you.
Why Off Grid is So Popular
Off grid, as an independent lifestyle, is growing increasingly popular on social media. This is a reflection more than just the impulse to save on utility bills. How I see it, there are three motivations that drive the rise in the off grid movement.
- Freedom to live a different way apart from the typical “wage slave” existence.
- To learn self-reliance and gain a measure of independence from unstable global industrial food and energy networks.
- Forging ahead with an ecologically sound and contaminant free lifestyle in close relation to nature.
Even the biggest skeptic can admit that it would be nice not have to pay an electricity bill each month. But imagine what effect it could have on your life if you were able to cobble together a debt-free residence with no rent, no (or minimal) utilities bills, and no (or minimal) grocery bill?
What if you had no fear that your family and yourself would be warm, fed, and clothed this month no mater what your boss says or how the economy does?
It may take work, but the immense satisfaction of knowing that you are reliant on your own two hands to survive is almost unbeatable. And how will you think, and how will you act when then?
And for those of us that are worried about pollution, global environmental destruction, and contaminated industrial food production, there is no better way to act than to cut yourself and your loved ones out of the cycle. There is no food purer and more nutritious than the vegetables you grow in your own garden or the wild edibles you harvest off your own lot. Daily interaction with nature will help us break the stress of modern culture and find a sense of deep happiness that seems confined to children and memories of simpler times.
Top 10 Reasons People Go Off Grid
You may be a budding off gridder if you:
- Rather work for yourself than a boss
- Find yourself stressed out all the time
- Long for simpler times
- Enjoy working with your hands
- Want to experiment with a completely different lifestyle
- Love nature
- Care deeply about the environment
- Want to learn valuable skills and pass them on to your children
- Are worried by a potential future economic or social collapse
- Seek a nutritious and wholesome lifestyle
Is Prepping Considered Off Grid?
A closely related subculture to the off grid movement are the preppers. Preppers are people who pursue various means to insulate themselves from a coming potential catastrophe. Such future disasters may include economic or political collapse, large scale warfare, major environmental changes, or even the Christian apocalypse.
Because there are various theories about what the future could hold, preppers tend to take a wide variety of tactics; everything from storing canned goods to building a hidden wilderness stronghold or “redoubt” designed as an emergency residence and homestead. Other preppers can do many things in between.
Some preppers decide to insulate themselves from disaster by decreasing their dependence on the global economic system: growing their own food, generating their own energy, and living in a self reliant manner. These people would be considered off grid preppers.
Is Homesteading Considered Off Grid?
Homesteading reverse to the practice of settlers in North America who were awarded land by the government in exchange for living on and working it for a specified number of years. Because of the remote nature of the land up on offer and the pre-industrial level of development of technology at the time, early homesteaders are were invariably off grid by modern standards. They were largely self sufficient, subsistence farmers that conducted limited trade with the outside world.
Modern homesteading, the recent trend of “back to the land” proponents who seek to emulate homesteaders of time past while maintaining many modern comforts, often find themselves moving in the direction of off grid living. They generally seek to grow a measure of their own food and provide for their needs of their own parcel of land. Some of them may seek to cut their ties with the public utilities, while others may not.
Is It a Good Idea to go Off Grid?
Going off grid is a big decision that has to be made by each individual. If you consider the quality of your food to be important, if you love nature and don’t mind a little hard work, and thrive with independence, then off grid may be the life style for you.
But living off grid is not the best fit for everyone. Off grid living requires that you be willing to learn, to take responsibility for your self, and to be self driven. There will be no boss out on the homestead to make sure are getting things done and that you get up early to finish your chores.
On the other hand, the sense of accomplishment of taking care of yourself and your loved ones, have built something from the ground up, and have made the world a better place by reducing your impact on it is one of the best feelings in the world.
What are Off Grid Communities?
Some people, particularly environmentally conscious individuals seeking a new form of community, have formed off grid intentional communities, communes, villages, coops, or other arrangements.
The rules and lifestyle of each such community vary widely to anything from essentially a off grid focused housing development to a full fledged shared property and shared income type of organization. Such communities form around various founding ethos, but commonly some measure of reduced environmental impact through partial or entire off grid living features as an element.
In some ways, living in an off grid community is more in line with the historical reality of pre-industrial communities that lived off grid due to the very fact that they had no other option given the technology of the age.
Why You Should Go Off Grid
Going off grid means you can be more self reliant, spend less time working for pay, have control over your food and energy supply, decrease stress, and live more in tune with nature.
Can You Live Off Grid in a City?
Maybe. Some cities required that you hook up to city utilities, including water/sewage and electricity, if they are available in your area. There may be other ordinances which may limit your ability to grow food, place solar panels, or conduct other activities.
Can I Go Off Grid with Solar?
In the US, you are legally and practically able to go off grid with solar in man cases. Modern solar systems are able completely replace grid power in some climates at similar rates to grid power, over the life of the system.
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