10 Best Places to Live Off the Grid
People go off the grid for numerous reasons. Some want to test their survival skills and see if they measure up to live without the modern conveniences so many take for granted. Others seek to reduce their living costs by doing much of the labor involved with survival themselves – divorcing themselves from dependence on their employer and the economy’s whims.
Some embrace the ultimate in sustainability by striving to go zero-waste and minimizing their carbon footprint.
This lifestyle offers multiple benefits, such as getting closer to nature and increasing your confidence in your self-sufficiency. However, it isn’t for everyone – and even those prepared for the sacrifices have to find a place to pursue their dreams. Finding an available property that suits your needs can be challenging.
Where should you look if you’re ready to take the dive into a self-sustaining, independent lifestyle? Here are the best places to live off the grid.
Qualifications for Making This List
You’ll find various lists about off-grid living online, and most likely, all of them consider different factors when advising you on where to establish your homestead. Here are the criteria we evaluated when compiling this information:
- Are they tiny-home-friendly? Not everyone who goes off the grid intends to create a multi-acre ranch. You don’t need much space to support enough livestock and produce for one or two people, but you need to maximize what you have – not use it all on a dwelling.
Although building and zoning laws come down to local jurisdictions in many cases, which states are most amenable?
- What are your renewable energy resources? Solar instantly comes to mind. Does the region see sufficient sunlight to keep everything charged?
For those who prefer to supplement with wind power, how often does the breeze blow? How much of a struggle will it be for your production to keep up with demand?
- How challenging is the landscape for agriculture, foraging, and hunting? You have to eat – is the region abundant in resources?
- Are there others like you nearby? Off-grid living encourages a stronger sense of community because you often have to rely on one another when problems arise. States that are friendly to off-grid living often have fairly closely knit – if somewhat sparsely populated – neighborhoods where similar homesteaders set up their plots.
- What are the applicable laws? Believe it or not, some states have laws that de facto ban off-grid living. For example, many locations require you to connect to local sewer, water, and electrical services.
One factor doesn’t matter more than another – the totality of the circumstances counts.
With that, are you ready to seek your independent and sustainable oasis? Here are 10 of the best places to live off-grid.
The 10 Best States for Living Off the Grid
Where should you establish your homestead? Consider these 10 states first.
Georgia’s laws are favorable to those looking to escape society. While some areas require you to hook up to sewer services, more rural locations are amenable to fully off-grid lifestyles.
One issue you’ll have to research carefully is the applicable zoning laws in your desired location. They vary from place to place, even using different codes. If you dream of raising chickens, you don’t want to choose an area zoned for residential use only.
Furthermore, even sites intended for agriculture differ in their building restrictions, with some allowing mobiles or tiny homes and others forbidding them.
Fortunately, you won’t deal with too many days where you’ll freeze without heat. Even those with homes of 1,200 square feet can heat their entire abode with a wood or pellet stove. The latter option is cleaner burning and decreases smoke and silt, making it better for those looking to increase their sustainability quotient.
With roughly 300 days of sunshine, Arizona is the perfect state for solar power aficionados. Better yet, you can find a climate for every taste, from the hot, dry deserts of Yuma to Flagstaff’s aspen and juniper forests.
Your biggest hurdle will be finding water. While you can drill a well, you may have to go down hundreds of feet to access a groundwater source – and that’ll cost a pretty penny. It’s legal to collect rainwater in the state, but some months might leave you with slim pickings.
Zoning and building ordinances vary widely from place to place, but you’ll often find that rural areas are friendly to tiny and manufactured homes. The only caveat is that you might have quite the drive to get to town for supplies – but it’s not an insurmountable issue if you plan for self-sufficiency.
You might not think of California as the ideal location for off-the-grid living at first. While the state ranks number one in population, it’s also one of the nation’s largest, and huge swaths of undeveloped land lie in rural areas.
Here, like in Arizona, water can be a concern, especially in the state’s dry southern and middle regions. You can have a hard time establishing water rights and there’s no guarantee your well won’t run dry. Please do your homework if you find what seems like the ideal parcel, complete with a river running through it.
You may be unable to use the stream for bathing and water collection.
However, you’ll get plenty of sunshine to fuel your solar batteries. Waste management can be an issue, though, if you rely on composting toilets. Many jurisdictions allow them if you use a third-party service to haul away solids.
You’ll need a septic tank for gray water if you don’t hook up to a municipal sewer system.
The best states for living off the grid aren’t all located in tropical or desert regions. If you love the mountains, Idaho offers multiple ranges, including the Rockies, the Smoky Mountains, and the Sawtooth Range. Although Yellowstone National Park mostly lies within its neighbor, Wyoming, parts of this masterpiece spill over into the state.
You can count on spectacular vistas, but you will need to stay warm. Although the summertime highs rarely escape the 80s, the lows regularly dip below freezing from November through April. The relatively low humidity most of the state enjoys means those winter winds cut you all the more deeply – so prepare to bundle up.
However, you should have a relatively easy time raising fruits and vegetables. The state is perhaps best known for its potatoes, but lettuce, kale, tomatoes, and peas also thrive. If you’re the hunter-gatherer sort, you’ll find ample game. A single elk can net you over 200 pounds of meat – more than enough to survive the winter. Just be sure to brush up on your hunting skills before you commit to finding your own food.
Colorado is another state that offers mountain views galore and bountiful game. However, you’ll have to go large if you want to call this state your off-grid home.
A 1972 law requires you to purchase at least 35 acres if you’re going to disconnect from services. Furthermore, many properties within the state’s jurisdiction come with codes, covenants, and restrictions written into your deed, intended to preserve the surrounding natural environment.
Water could be a problem, and not only because the state sees an average of 300 sunny days. Because the state considers H2O a public resource, it’s illegal to gather rainwater per the state’s constitution. However, this rule is tough to prosecute because of the difficulty of determining if your use impinges on someone else’s. Nevertheless, you could end up with a legal hassle.
However, Colorado is a fabulous place for solar if you can get around those factors. Those who connect to the grid can earn compensation for the excess energy their property generates. Of course, doing so may defeat the purpose, but it’s nice to have this option in your back pocket if your life circumstances change.
Politically, the state is an eclectic mix of wild west independence, so people of any stripe or belief system are sure to find others who share their perspective.
With five national parks, Utah is a mecca for van life enthusiasts and the RV crowd. It’s also one of the friendliest states in the nation for those wanting to go tiny, although not all regions are equally amenable. For example, Washington County only requires minimum square footage of 300 feet for models placed on permanent foundations – although you need to connect to utilities.
Most locations classify tiny homes on wheels as recreational vehicles. However, Eagle Mountain City allows them in base and tier-one residential zones. You’ll find plenty of builders in the state if your DIY skills aren’t quite up to snuff enough to build one from scratch.
Although the state has a dry climate, it’s also relatively mild, with summertime highs averaging in the high 70s and winter lows just below freezing. The lakes boast several species of game fish for the anglers, and mule deer season runs September 17 through October 15. However, authorities occasionally extend it until the end of November when bucks go into rut and migrate to lower elevations.
Maine is perhaps the best place on the east coast for off-grid living if you don’t like warm climates like Georgia and Florida. The laws here are generally quite favorable to off-grid living, although you will need to pull permits and occasionally submit to inspections to qualify.
However, you’ll need to prepare for long, cold winters, and that means lots of power. Fortunately, the state offers generous incentives for solar and wind technology use. Additionally, you’ll find no shortage of abundant firewood in most locations – use a rack to keep your log supply off the soggy ground.
The state’s laws are also kind to tiny homes and treat manufactured models as single-family dwellings. There’s abundant game for hunters and the nearby Atlantic Ocean offers up the fruits of the sea for your dining pleasure.
Oregon has a reputation for drawing active, outdoorsy adventure types, so it’s perhaps not surprising that it appears on this list of the best places to live off the grid. The state’s relatively low population and expansive area give you plenty of places to set up your homestead. You won’t find the climate too extreme in much of the state, although it can get rainy and cold.
Please be advised that you will have an income-generating requirement if you purchase land zoned for farming. How much you must earn depends on the size of your parcel, but you shouldn’t have too much trouble producing it if you put your plot to good agricultural use.
The state isn’t the friendliest toward tiny homes. Although zoning varies, most rules involve minimum square footage requirements. However, you may be able to set up an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on someone else’s parcel if they’re willing to rent you the land.
Nebraska has miles of open farmland, so it isn’t surprising to see it on this list of the best places to live off the grid. Much of the state prides itself on its agricultural heritage, which by nature entails a hefty dose of self-sufficiency.
The climate here can be harsh, with hot summers and freezing winters. The humidity often facilitates water collection, however. The state is among the best for raising crops – corn, beans, grains, and potatoes all flourish.
The state’s vast expanses and low population mean many homesteaders choose to homeschool their kids. If you have little ones, please rest assured that the laws for doing so are relatively simple, requiring you only to apply for an exemption under Rule 13.
10. New Mexico
Rounding out this list of the best places to live off the grid is the land of enchantment. This state is home to Earthship Biotecture, a self-sustaining, off-grid community where residents use recycled and natural materials to construct their homes. They even offer public tours to teach others how to embrace this lifestyle. “Eve” – the largest structure in the center – is made of repurposed bottles and cans.
Most of New Mexico features a hot desert climate, but the mountains see cold and snow. You’ll have abundant sunshine, but water can be a concern. The government encourages you to harvest rainwater – the city of Santa Fe even requires collection features on new builds.
If you want to live free and easy with nearly unlimited flexibility on land use, look for a region with no zoning ordinances. However, please be advised that even these areas have building codes – so erect a structure without pulling the proper permits at your own risk. Authorities could make you dismantle it, costing you time, money, and heartache.
The Best Places to Live Off the Grid
Are you weary of civilized life? If so, why not look into relocating to one of these best places to live off the grid? While this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, it’s ideal for rugged, independent types who don’t mind working hard when they receive the benefits of the fruits of their labor. However, the axiom that real estate agents hold dear applies when selecting your parcel: Think location, location, location.