Living off the Grid has become a trending way of life. The notion of trading the hustle and bustle for the serenity of simpler living is a romance most of us have considered at least once. But before you dive head first into that isolated homestead without even the hint of wi-fi, check out the 5 Most Common Mistakes to Living Off the Grid and How to Avoid Them:
Mistake #1: Not understanding alternative power sources
Day living without electricity? No problem. Night living without electricity? Now that’s a different story. It may seem easy to trade your T.V. for a book and your dryer for a clothesline, but what about when it’s 15 degrees at night with no lights and worse, no heat? Understanding how to catch the sun’s solar power during the day to provide you with power at night is key to surviving off the grid.
Avoid it: Learn the basics before you unplug.
Learn the basics on solar panels, inverters, charge panels, battery banks, and generators. Determine which one you’ll be using and how to use it effectively. Depending on how off the grid you go, you may not have this fancy internet device to look up How-to’s anymore, so know before you go. To get you started, check out Off-grid Solar for Dummies: Beginner Basics.
Mistake #2: Not knowing basic garden knowledge.
This may seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised at how difficult growing fruits and vegetables are. Don’t let your local farmer’s market fool you. They don’t shoot out of the ground polished and ready for consumption. Tending a garden is hard. And seeds can be as finicky as children. Too much or not enough sunlight, the wrong soil, too much water, it all matters depending on the seed.
Avoid it: Plant a garden in your current yard first.
You can read and research all you want, but the best way to become a gardening ninja is the good old fashioned learn by doing approach. Locate a plot in your yard and try your hand at it for a few seasons. This way any mistakes you make along the way won’t mean feast or famine when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. Research what each seed needs, then use trial and error to perfect it. Get started with Vegetable Gardening for Beginners.
Mistake #3: Not setting up a proper waste disposal system.
Does a bear poop in the woods? Well, when you go off the grid, so will you. And not setting up a proper waste disposal system can turn your middle of nowhere paradise into a toxic nightmare. This can lead to contaminates in your food supply, your drinking water and ultimately leave you sick with disease.
Avoid it: Research which method is right for you.
There are plenty of options out there for waste disposal. With the right amount of research you can find which throne you’re most comfortable spending your days on. Your choice will depend mostly on just how off-grid you’re willing to go. Will you use a pit latrine or a DIY septic tank? There are even composting toilets that help turn your human waste into usable manure. Talk about a food chain. To learn the basics, check out this Off-Grid Sewage Guide.
Mistake #4: Not being physically prepared.
Throw out your Little House on the Prairie dream life and roll up your sleeves, because off the grid living is manual labor on steroids. Gone are the days of turning on the heat, washing machines, dishwashers, or any other amenities that you take for granted now. Off the grid living requires grit. Are you in the kind of physical shape to go chop firewood at five in the morning? Or how about chase the chickens that got loose in the middle of the night?
Avoid it: Start working out now.
This isn’t for your bikini body, this is literally to save your life. Build your upper and lower body so you can withstand the physical demands of off the grid chores. This simple daily tip will increase your odds of survival and decrease your odds of throwing your back out or seriously injuring yourself in that first year off-grid.
Mistake #5: Not understanding the expense.
It’s true. Off the grid living will save you money in the long run. But getting to that point could take years. The cost to get a home equipped with everything you need to live simply and comfortably can be overwhelming. Sure, you’ll save money no longer paying bills like electricity and cable, but with solar panels, waste disposal supplies, gardening supplies, livestock (if you plan on eating beyond your garden), firewood, etc., you’ll see how quickly the expenses add up. Did we mention your homeowners insurance will increase dramatically in an off the grid home?
Avoid it: Build slow and grow an emergency fund.
Research ways to cut costs on materials and acquire them slowly, while you’re still living in the rat race. At the same time, start growing your savings account to turn into your emergency fund to cover any unexpected expenses once you make the off the grid transition. Trust us, there will be plenty. Also, come up with a plan to make money while living off-grid. While you may romanticize about never needing money again, the reality is, emergencies happen. Make sure you can pay for them.
So there you have it. The 5 Most Common Mistakes to Living Off the Grid and How to Avoid Them. In a nutshell, practice living self-sufficient beforehand. Here’s a convenient checklist to get you started:
- Plant a garden
- Become a repairman
- Learn how to preserve your own food.
- Practice living frugally
- Learn how to care for chickens and livestock
- Start collecting rainwater
- Purify your own water
- Learn how to woodwork
- Learn how to kit
- Learn basic first aid