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6 Steps To Going Off-Grid Without The Culture Shock

Image source: WNCGBC.org [1]

Image source: WNCGBC.org

Living off the grid with a significant degree of self-sufficiency appeals to many of us. I have numerous friends who have successfully left behind a life of mortgage payments, relentless bills and the trappings of materialism. I’ve even renovated a cabin and property that has been in the family for five generations to operate self-sufficiently, although it’s not yet my permanent residence.

What I learned from friends and my own experience made it clear that this is an undertaking that takes time and some “getting used to.” There can be a significant amount of culture shock if someone abruptly moves from an on-the-grid, dependent lifestyle to a life without easily accessible electricity, water and other necessities.  It is a very labor-intensive lifestyle, so the time to learn new skills and to practice these skills is before you go totally self-sufficient.

In many ways, the six steps below are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to living self-sufficiently and off the grid. If you have already made the move or are planning for it, please feel free to offer advice, opinions, tips and your own experience to the comments section.

Before we begin, we need to define self-sufficiency. A self-sufficient lifestyle means you will produce many of the things you need that you customarily buy, use or take for granted.  This includes:

When you consider this as a to-do list, the task can seem a bit daunting. Also, off the grid does not mean you are without electric power. It means you are not dependent on electricity from a power utility and may or may not produce your own power with solar panels or wind generators.  The key is to start simple and try to determine how you can begin your first step toward self-sufficiency if that is a lifestyle you want to pursue. Some of these steps are practical, while others are more philosophical.

Step 1. Practice self-sufficiency

debt self-sufficiency homestead [3]Regardless of where you live or how you currently live, begin to practice self-sufficiency. Here are a few things to consider:

Step 2. Determine how far you can go

Make a determination about how well your current home and property would allow for a fully self-sufficient, off-the-grid lifestyle. If you live in a city or suburb, you may have limits. It could be time to consider moving, or if you can afford it, think about adding a second home in a more effective environment for self-sufficiency that you will someday move into.

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Property size defined by acreage is a key consideration even if there’s not a building currently on that property.   And while you’re thinking about all of that, take the next steps.

Step 3. Learn new skills

grid tie or off grid solar [8]This is a bit of a crossroads for many people. While you can make simple changes to your lifestyle wherever you live, you have to consider your location and property size. If you think you may not be able to move or afford a second home or property for more ambitious steps toward self-sufficiency, this step may be your final one at moving toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. It would include the following:

Other more robust things to learn about include:

If you’re going to take the next steps to a homestead, collect, read and keep books on various subjects that you will continue to use as reference related to:

Step 4. Have a practice run – and expand your skills

This is a major step. If you currently live in a home on sufficient property in an area with good resources related to firewood, water, fishing and hunting, this step is logical.

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If you have acquired or are going to acquire property with a home, you’ll probably have to revisit previous steps with regards to planting fruit trees and outbuildings like a chicken coop or wood storage shed. It’s at this point you would be both expanding past efforts and adding new resource capabilities. This would include:

Step 5. Re-examine what you need

root_cellar [17]At this point, it’s time to get serious. Up to now the previous steps have been about decision points to change the way you think, produce and use resources. Now it’s time to focus on making your production of resources sustainable. Here are some key things to think about:

Step 6. Jump in

Dairy Farmer milking a cow [20]It’s possible your homestead has already been off the grid from the beginning. In that case this step and previous steps are old news. But if you’re ready to take the big step to self-sufficiency for the first time, it’s time to disconnect and consider the following.

There will be no lack of things to do, so make sure you have a routine and a schedule that will allow you to properly manage:

The list, of course, will go on….

If you do get to the sixth step, congratulations. You’ve reached the highest level of self-sufficiency and self-reliance. And remember, too, that living off the grid in a self-sufficient way dos not mean that you have shunned society. In fact, you’ll find that you depend more and more on friends and neighbors for collective help with major projects, borrowing or lending tools or equipment, bartering everything from maple syrup to eggs, and simply sharing time and advice together.

You’ll also appreciate going to the to town from time to time unless you’ve figured out a way to refine gasoline for your chain saw, or have successfully learned how to perform an appendectomy. Regardless, you’ve made a decision to take more control of your life and no matter how far you move toward self-sufficiency, each step should take you closer to a happier and healthier life.

What advice would you give someone who is considering going off grid? Share your advice in the section below:

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