Off Grid Home Forums Re: No idea what I’m doing, Help me please


Are you single, married, kids? How big of a home do you feel you (or your family) will be willing to live in? How off-grid do you plan to live? Tons of information needed. I see small, but is that the long term goal or only short term?

Housing: (caverdude has good info) I’ll expand on it just a bit. There are 4 person families that live in conversion vans and are perfectly happy. It doesn’t have to be big, if your family is willing to make the adjustments needed to do so, it’s actually proven that living in a much smaller dwelling promotes family togetherness and ability to work together to solve problems. If you don’t have family, you can choose to do anything from building a small cabin, container home, small earthship, camper, etc. None of these options are expensive if you are patient. With a couple thousand dollars you could have shelter, an older camper that needs some work can be bought as little as $500 to $600. A small solar cabin can run you as little as a couple thousand dollars, a small earthship could be built collecting up unwanted tires, pallets, etc, and can be VERY cheap to build if you do most work yourself. Earth bag dwellings can be exceptionally inexpensive to build. Just have an open mind and don’t be afraid to ask questions and do some good research. There are people living down the road from me that have been living in a 30′ camper for about the last 15 years, they’ve actually tied it down now to a block foundation and built a real roof over it with nice sized porches.

As to land, there are too many dependencies to even think about state by state, county by county, city by city, Where is a good place? Well that depends on the climate you desire, how far you are willing to move from your current location, etc. I like Alabama, the Alabama Government is VERY pro property rights, and most Alabama counties have absolutely 0 codes for building dwellings on your properties if you are outside the reach of city governments who are influenced by the wealthy people worried about their property values. In other words as long as you aren’t in a self governed (associated) community with their own requirements, or within a city limits you can pretty much build and do as you please. Septic and well requirements are the only things they will be concerned with. Otherwise they could care less if you live in your car. As to the amount, a well cared for, planned and managed 2 acres can be enough to sustain a small family. But it’s not remotely as easy as building on a 5+ acre plot.

There are people living in communities with as little as a half acre land that converted their pool into an aquaponics system and raise very nice and productive gardens, fish, have a chicken coop with a couple laying hens and some breeder rabbits to provide their food, a methane digester taking care of their organic waste and producing gas to use for cooking and heating the greenhouse at night during the winter months. The up front costs were a little pricey (really not that bad when it’s all said and done and the work is done by the owner. They work well and are very productive. There is a gentleman about an hour away from my home that does this and outwardly it just looks like he has a covered pool in the backyard, his neighbors are none the wiser, and his food production is pretty impressive year round. Now he’s working toward a grid tied solar system. He’s highly unlikely to be able to break free from grid water, but saves quite a chunk by diverting his rainwater from his roofs to cisterns for storage. The land requirement is all about your desires. I like big open spaces around my home, that’s why I have 24 acres. If you don’t mind smaller spaces, there really isn’t much limit as long as you are creative with it.

The ability to have access to life sustaining water is one of the most important elements possible, there are only a few options here. Wells, collection and transport, or grid water. If you want to be off-grid, wells or collection/transport is all you have. If you have to have a 300′ well dug, that’s a huge up front cost. you can collect rain water, etc, but with a small dwelling and such, you are VERY unlikely to be able to keep enough water. That brings us to transport, you can buy a couple of hundred+ gallon cisterns that’ll fit in the back of your vehicle, stop by a reservoir of some type with at least decently clean water, fill the one in the vehicle up, drive home and empty it out into the one connected to your dwelling and do what you do. This is not a convenient option at all, it will need filtering, purifying, etc. But when I was a kid there were many years that in drout teims we’d go down to the creek and fill up barrels and buckets to bring back to the house. It is an option.

That’s what I can give you for now, lemme know if there is anything else you’d like to know.