Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are virtues we in the US hold truly sacred. Believing this to be true, one thinks one has the right to live as one sees fit, as long as no harm is committed against another. So when we see living off the gird TV programs, many are left with the desire to live a more simplistic lifestyle. However, this pursuit may just be a pipe dream. When you begin to research, investigate and do your due diligence, you begin to realize not every place in the US is friendly to this concept. In some cases, you have to be willing to move to find the best state to live off the grid.
However, it became evident to me, as I did my research, there are many states or areas around the country that limit or outright outlaw the right to live off the beaten path. So just looking at the state level to relocate may not be enough Before you make your decision on which state and city you think are the best places to live of the grid, you may want to consider some extremely important factors before making your choice to where the best off the grid places for you to select.
Defining Off the Grid
According to the Urban Dictionary, Off the grid is living without the use of public or private utility companies for your electricity, water and/or gas needs but instead generating, producing or collecting any one or all of these from your own source or natural production. Legally, many states, counties, and municipalities apply the International Property Maintenance Code to define and legislate the laws and restrictions on off the grid court decisions.
If you bother to review the IPMC, good luck. It is an extensive manual that I am certain with the legalese incorporated into it, any government official can use with relative confidence to defend their position to keep you from becoming grid independent. Nevertheless, it is important that you know from where the government gets its stance and rationale in their response and ruling they might use against you.
Unfriendly Off the Grid States
Through my research, I have concluded that there is truly no one state that is completely Off the Grid friendly. There are however some states that tend to be most restrictive than others when it comes to their acceptance of off the grid homes and communities. From recent legal decisions, the states with some of the most restrictive rulings against the self-sustainer are:
Although these states are stricter than others, it does not necessarily mean that off the grid living is completely banned or outlawed. For instance, one can live self-sufficiently in San Antonio, Texas. According to CamSolar, a leading Texas solar energy company, “Other cities and counties across Texas do not have special restrictions against power usage, but rather enforce other laws that come with off-grid living. Practices like rainwater collection that are also legal in San Antonio might be illegal in many states which make it hard for those trying to live legally off the grid.”
This is why I suggest looking at taking a different approach in making your off the grid plans. Instead, you should investigate the state, county and municipality and their particular set of laws, rules, and/or ordinances regarding the off the grid home. The focus should be made on the following three factors that I believe will make your decision more thorough and complete.
The 3 Factors to Consider
I think it is better to take the time to decide exactly how off the grid you want. This will help you in determining where you want to live and your comfort level. When you start your process you want to think about the following five factors;
- Home/Lot Size
There may be zoning laws that restrict the acceptable minimum square footage allowed for you or family. It may also be to make it difficult for you to sell your home as a permanent dwelling. Most county’s minimum home size is between 500-1000 square feet. There may also be a minimum size required to place your home. In most cities, a minimum of 5000 feet is required. In rural areas, purchasing of acres may be required
- Water/Septic Systems
If you are fortunate, you may have access to your own personal well. However, most may have to connect with the local water provider. However, installing the necessary connects can be an expensive proposition. The only other alternative would be water from gravity (rainwater). Be aware of the restrictions or prohibition imposed by law. When it comes to disposing of waste and bodily fluids, a local ordinance may force you to install a septic system. At the very least, you might want to check if having a composite toilet system is acceptable and setting up a system to release gray water into the ambient environment.
- Power Source (Natural Gas/Electric)
In some instances, municipalities may prohibit one to be disconnected to the main utility provider. Still, the city may allow you the opportunity to connect to a solar cell energy supply while being connected to the power grid. Most likely, the more rural your dwelling, the greater chance to be totally off grid.
There were two further points I left out of this discussion. One, living off the grid by living in an RV. This may be an alternative one has not considered. There are however some limitations. Unless you live in a trailer park, you are usually restricted (especially by HOAs) to having this type of vehicle parked in a driveway. Also most areas around the country will not allow for camping (even on your land) for more than 2 weeks at a time. Still, it may fit one’s lifestyle especially if one is a digital nomad or location independent. Truly, the best state to live off the grid is one of the states that fit your prefenceces personally.
The last point was growing one’s own food. Again there are limitations imposed upon those choosing to live off the grid in a city. There are ordinances in raising livestock. Also, the sale of food may be restricted by health and sanitation agencies. It is, however, something to consider if one truly wants to live independent off any food chain delivery or grid system. All in all, those that chose this path need to do their homework before taking the plunge. It will save you the hassle and the frustration of moving and realizing you face a battle of David and Goliath proportions.