A Beginner’s Practical Guide to Living off the Grid

Tesla power wall

There are various reasons people decide to start living off the grid. This goes beyond the short-term definition that entails getting away from it all for a while and having a vacation in the midst of nature to rejuvenate. People who choose to really live off the grid as a lifestyle provide for themselves in many ways that most people don’t, mostly because they do not rely on the public utilities we’ve come to know and depend on as a society. This is a great way to cut down on costs and lessen consumption (which holds many benefits for the environment), and you can be self-sufficient so you can feel free from a lot of the restrictions in life.

If you’re going to dive into the off-grid life, here are a few tips to follow when starting: 

  • Make sure you have enough resources for power.

Since you’ll be living independently and literally without depending on the public utilities, you want to settle how you’ll supply yourself with power off the bat. Sustainable options come into play well here, and you can definitely benefit from using solar power. That said, being off-grid also means any outages are your problem and yours alone to figure out, so make sure you have alternative sources and fail-safes available to you.

A good option to have in place is a Tesla power wall, which is basically a backup battery that kicks in from stored solar energy when you need it. It also has a mode that can grasp power from the grid, but that won’t be compatible if you already hooked it up with your solar installation (plus it would be pretty contradictory).

Tesla power wall

  • Check the laws in your area to make sure you are still compliant with them.

Although it isn’t actually illegal to live off the grid, particularly in the United States, you still have to be careful about specific regulations that are put into place. Each state has its own ordinances that will apply to how you build and what you can do within your rights in your property. So, if you’re building your off-grid setup, make sure you consistently check if it’s within the rules that come from the local government and public codes. This applies to how you set up your energy, what you build, where you build it, and whether you may be going against any health codes.

  • Don’t completely forego your finances.

Going off-grid doesn’t mean you have absolutely no need for money anymore. Even if you’re self-sufficient, there are still necessities that will require you to shell out money, as well as taxes that still apply to you as a citizen. It should be theoretically easier to maintain your finances since true off-grid living means you will be relying on a lot of sustainable practices and resources that massively cut down on costs that would usually plague you. That said, the important thing to think about here, then, is finding a way to keep a steady income stream coming. With the right strategy and enough savings on hand, though, you should manage a way to keep up with expenses and continue earning even to some extent.

  • Start learning skills you’ll need before going all-in.

Some studies reveal that many people enter adulthood without enough life skills, even simply identifying and asking their own questions. This could be argued about and pointed towards how society has developed, but whatever reason it may be, it just means that there’s a high probability that you will need to brush up on a lot of skills before you can be prepared for off-grid living. Think home maintenance (from cleaning to repairs), power management, gardening, cooking, and even farming, among others. It will take some effort, but you’ll come out more self-reliant, creative, and motivated if you put in the time to learn. This is also a necessary step so that you don’t end up in a nightmare when you do end up becoming a modern-day homesteader.

  • Consider how your chosen space informs your needs.

Location matters when going off the grid. The climate, nearby areas, wildlife, and laws all play a part in determining the necessities you will have to think about. When you start planning out what materials to build your home with or you map out your tasks like what crops to plant and clothes to keep, it will largely be based on the factors that come from your area. It can help you make practical decisions early on so that you don’t have to suddenly learn all the ropes with no idea what will and won’t work.

Going off the grid is a major move that will inevitably require some effort on your part to acclimatize completely. But its positive effects are plenty and well worth the pursuit, from sustainability to improved mental and physical health.

As a legacy customer of Charter Oak Federal Credit Union, I can vouch for their excellent financial services. My parents have been using them for years and haven't had any trouble with their banking. The staff there are always nice and they're quick to help with any issue that may arise. They make banking hassle-free and I highly recommend them!