The concept of off-the-grid living has become so popular that a whole new realm of real estate is developing. Real estate agents typically refer to the evolving genre as sustainable communities, off-grid colonies, or intentional communities. Regardless of what they are called, catering to the needs of preppers and survivalists is becoming big business.
Finding the perfect spot of land to use for off-the-grid living or homesteading can be a challenging yet exciting task. Those preppers and survivalists who do not mind being lumped in with other prospective buyers can browse the attributes of such properties during an “open land” tour.
Just as communes began dotting the landscape during the late 1960s and early 1970s, off-the-grid communities are beginning to emerge in North and South America today. The Citadel is just one such community garnering headlines recently. Real estate agents in rural areas are used to keeping boots in the back of their SUVs to show large tracts or farmland and Amish homesteads, but the off-grid colonies take the concept of “hiking” while showing property to an entirely new level.
While some off-the-grid folks prefer to live in solitude and keep their primary or bug-out location quite private, others are embracing the idea of a sustainable community and resource sharing concept. The level of “roughing it” varies widely in each off grid community. Most all largely rely on solar power to accomplish at least some of their career and homesteading tasks.
A 2006 USA Today report noted that 180,000 American households were living off the grid. Although more recent comprehensive statistics are not readily available, the tens of thousands of dollars being spent on acquiring land and advertising off-grid colonies indicates that the number has grown significantly.
Documentary filmmaker Nick Rosen interviewed some off grid colony inhabitants when gathering research for his book, Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America. Rosen discovered what most of us already knew: some off-grid folks are preppers seeking to enhance self-sufficiency skills in case of a man-made or natural disaster; other off-the-grid homesteading families are environmentalists looking for a more sustainable way of life. Of course, there can easily be some crossover between the two groups; a love and respect for the land is not a mutually exclusive concept.
The Earthaven off-the-grid community consists of about sixty people and thirty-five buildings. The Black Mountain, North Carolina colony garners energy by both hydropower and solar panels. The hydropower is generated via the micro-hydro system that was set up in Rose Branch Creek. Roof water is used for crop irrigation. The 320-acre sustainable community reportedly hopes to ultimately include fifty-six homes sites and 150 people.
Breitenbush is an off-grid colony in Detroit, Oregon – not Michigan. The 154-acre property includes the Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center. The idea of running a business and inviting the public to roam about probably won’t appeal to most survivalists and preppers, but the strictly environmental off-grid fans might enjoy the sixty-person community. Geothermal wells are used to generate heat, and a hydropower plant offers electricity.
The Dancing Rabbit community in northeastern Missouri is deemed an eco-village and is part of a land trust. All of the adult residents are self-employed and work in the local community or telecommute. The sustainable community residents include midwives, teachers, builders, gardeners, and even massage therapists.
Posts about starting off grid communities are growing more and more frequent on social networks and online survival and prepper forums. Although there might not be such a community established in all fifty states yet, they could change relatively quickly. Do you like the idea of being part of an off-grid community, or do you prefer remaining on your own land and inviting on a select few to join you if disaster strikes?