We’ve always dreamed of living off-grid and some of our friends have already made the leap. But we’d heard they’d had a few problems along the way.
So, on a recent visit to their cabin, we asked them what they wished they’d known when they first went off-grid.
And this is what they told us about how they and other off-gridders had gone wrong.
Failing To Know About How To Power Your Life
Look, most of us aren’t electricians and our relationship with electricity has been “I turn on the light switch and light appears.”
You can’t go off-grid like that, unless you want to spend a lot of time in the dark and cold with no mod cons at all.
You need to know whether you’re going with a solar generator, or diesel generator, etc. and how to get it all working.
Giving up your TV doesn’t mean giving up all creature comforts, you need power for your sanity.
Not Having A Reliable Water Source
There’s one thing you need more than power though and that’s water. A human being can’t last much more than 24-48 hours without it.
That means before you take on your land, you want a survey done to make sure that you can either drill a well or purify water from a local river or pond.
You’ll also want to learn to harvest rainwater, just in case.
Not Having Any Gardening Skills
The best time to do this? Right now. While you’re still living in a home with running water and as much electricity as you can use.
You want to start a garden of some sort, anything from a kitchen or apartment garden to a garden in the backyard.
Because if you can’t grow food, you’re going to starve.
You should also learn to compost – use our guide to composting at home to get started.
Not Building Proper Waste Disposal
It ain’t just bears that poop in woods, it’s people who live off-grid too and if you don’t set out your waste disposal system properly?
It’s going to stink to high heaven and you risk making yourself and your family very sick.
You might want to consider composting toilets as a short-term solution, but in the longer-term, you’ll probably want to have a septic tank sunk under your home and you may need to learn to empty it too.
Being Too Weak To Hack It
If you have any fantasies about still being as “strong as an ox” because you played college ball 20 years ago and have spent the years in between then and now, riding a desk? Put them away.
Most modern workers don’t do very much physical labor and this leaves them far too weak to cope with the physical demands of running in a homestead in the woods.
If you want to go off-grid, you need to get down to your local gym and pump iron and do a bunch of cardio work too.
Your aim is to build muscle and stamina. This will stop you from hurting yourself on your homestead.
Not Knowing Your Costs
Off grid living is super cheap, in the long run. But it may not be super cheap in the short-term. You’re going to have a huge number of expenses to cover as you set up your chicken coop, sink that cesspit, build your solar panel network, etc.
You need a plan to cover all these expenses (you can also earn while you live off-grid, we’ve got some cool ways to make money while living off the grid here) and then you need an emergency fund on top.
Too Many Fantasies, Not Enough Reality
Sorry, but this isn’t “Little House on the Prairie” and nobody’s going to be riding up to your door with a tray of hot gingerbread when you move in.
Self-reliance is the name of the game when living off-grid and any fantasies you have about just sitting by the fire while the world tends to itself, aren’t going to help when you get there.
Pick up as many practical skills as you can. And the ones you don’t have? Make sure you can access books or videos on them when you get there.
Living off-grid, if you want it to be comfortable and pleasant, is quite a lot of work, but it’s work that you get to keep all the rewards for.
No Support Network
You’re also not Grizzly Adams and heading off into the wilderness by yourself or as a couple with no support network is a recipe for madness.
You want to either find or build a support network in the location you’re going to be living in, because trust us, you’re going to need it at times.
Final Thoughts On Common Off Grid Living Mistakes
Living off-grid is one of the most challenging (and rewarding) activities a person or family can ever undertake.
But you don’t have to repeat the common mistakes when living off grid, you can use our guide to head those off at the pass.
Then, you’re free to make your own mistakes!