There has been a recent increase in individuals that are breaking away from the stress and hazards that accompany civilization. Off-grid living, an alternative mode of existence that involves staying away from cities, has picked up popularity over the years.
Is it illegal to live off the grid? While it is legal to live off the grid in most states, some states have tighter regulations and are more expensive than others. Before selecting a location for off-grid living, you should investigate the laws that govern that area.
Nick Rosen is an expert at living off the grid, and he describes the whole experience as “taking power over your own power.”
What States Allow Off-Grid Living?
Some of the states that allow you to live off-grid in the US include Alabama, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas, among others.
It is completely legal to live off the grid and several states allow it. These states not only allow people to live off the grid but also provide a good standard of living for those who want to. This lifestyle is dreamy and fascinating. You have your family moving to a remote area away from too much human contact to enjoy nature and the beauty of a new peaceful environment.
The states mentioned above are affordable with good living conditions that vary based on the environment. On the other hand, most of the states that are not mentioned do not necessarily see living off the grid as illegal – they are just more difficult to live in. Some of these states have extreme weather conditions that make them prone to natural disasters like tornadoes and floods.
As good as it sounds, it involves a lot of effective planning and resources to achieve the desired experience of living off the grid. One of the many things to consider is which state legally allows living off the grid and how suitable these environments are.
You should find out the cost of living and building, local laws, restrictions and regulations, weather conditions, local building codes, and the various taxes required of you. Each state has a different environment with distinctive features to offer. Based on your personal choice and comfort, you know what qualities to look out for in the desired place.
Hence, you should take this into consideration while deciding the period of your stay. Meanwhile, in some states, it is more hectic to set up a working power supply. This means you could need to set up extensive solar panel systems to have access to electricity. Planning should involve detailed research on where to live and how to live comfortably there.
Why Is Living Off-Grid Illegal?
While it is not illegal to live off-grid, there are restrictions and local ordinances that make it illegal for you to carry out certain activities on your off-grid property.
Living off the grid can be exciting and appealing when you organize a power source to supply your power, cultivate crops for food, and build your house yourself. To ensure that the law is maintained, while it is legal to live off-grid anywhere in the US, some strict rules and regulations must apply.
The issue with off-grid living is that a lot of necessities are hard to come by. Most infrastructure and procedures that are vital for living off-grid are strictly regulated or outright illegal. Carrying out certain actions can attract heavy fines or even land you in jail. Some of these tricky actions include installing a composting toilet in your home, setting up a standard septic system, and completely taking your home off the electrical grid.
The rules that guide off-grid living are more rigorous in urban areas. Wealthy suburban areas also have a lot of limitations, particularly those with homeowner associations. Rural areas, on the other hand, have fewer conditions for living off the grid. Their rules focus on the health department and septic installations.
It is better to live off the grid in rural areas compared to the urban areas, as they focus on disconnecting from the power grid and waste systems. Here are some limitations to off-grid settlements.
- Breaking composting toilet codes
- Defaulting rainwater collection codes
- Disconnecting from the power grid entirely
- The size of your home might be too small in most states
- Selling raw milk from your off-grid homestead
Make sure to check the requirements for the size of home acceptable, whether you can generate your power or even sell raw milk from your home. This is to avoid any possible fine or jail term. Some of these rules are specific to certain countries or cities, while some are common to all.
That is, if a country, town, or city does not want the settlers to disconnect totally from the power grid, they simply pass a law concerning that. This logic also applies to many other laws; hence, it becomes illegal to do any of those.
Can I Live Off the Grid and Not Pay Taxes?
Taxes are important for the economy of the country and must be paid by everyone, including those who live off-grid.
Since staying in isolated parts of a state does not make you less of a citizen, you need to pay your tax regardless of whether you are off the grid. There are legal considerations that must be noted before trying to live off-grid. Since you are not directly under the government, you can avoid some tax types, while others might be unavoidable.
You will be taxed if you use postal services while living off the grid. Also, while you might decide to produce most things you need while living off-grid, you might still need to make occasional purchases. This will lead to you paying sales taxes and excise taxes. Also, you cannot evade taxes because plying government roads keeps you under the government still.
While it might seem outrageous that you still need to pay all those taxes, they are a necessary contribution to the state and country. Also, if you are a good taxpayer, you will have access to state services in cases where you need them, such as when you have medical emergencies.
It is important to note that there are several jobs that you can do while enjoying your off-grid experience. This will enable you to pay the taxes required as it is important in your service to the state. In more recent times, there are many online jobs through which one can earn. While working from the comfort of your home can be very lucrative, the effectiveness depends on the strength of internet connectivity in the place you have chosen to stay.
Another option is to sell some of the produce you grow. When you live off-grid, it is often a clever idea to sell farm produce, because not only do you supply communities around, but you can also earn money that way. Starter seeds might be perfect for future cultivation. Check out this listing on Amazon for more information. Transporting these goods consequently requires you to pay tax as you will be plying government roads.
Where Can I Live for Free?
With little to no cost, you can live comfortably in some parts of Kansas and Nebraska, including Mankato, Curtis, Osborne, Lincoln, and Buffalo in New York.
If free in this context implies extremely low cost, it is possible to live for free in certain parts of the US.
Some lands in the remote parts of the US are free to live on. However, you might only live there for some time and have your building on the land.
Apart from the names given above, some other places include Beatrice, Elwood, and Loup City in Nebraska; Marquette and Plainville in Kansas; and Manilla and Marne in Iowa.
You must put certain things in place before moving to any of these places. First, you can get land at an incredibly low cost in some of these areas. Then you need to build and set up a home. During your stay, you will have to grow your food naturally and manually. Find ways to purify your water and set up a waste disposal system that does not require you to employ any paid services. Save time and resources by investing in a water purifying system, which can be seen on Amazon, by APEC Water systems. Featuring a five-level filtration system. All these put in place can save you from numerous bills and guarantee your free living.
You must bear in mind that you must put in a lot of physical work to achieve the perfect setup for living free and off the grid. That is, building and setting up the home without relying on machine power will require you to be physically agile and ready to work.
Many of these free lands are not advertised. Hence, you must know where to look. Some lands can be gotten through contracts especially for farm caretakers in the countryside. Finally, there is a not-so-popular law called Adverse Possession which gives you access to some unused land lying idle for free. This is obtainable in some parts of all 50 states.
Is It Cheaper to Live Off-Grid?
Once you have your house and facilities properly set up, it is a lot cheaper to live off the grid.
Since living off-grid is not exactly luxurious or expensive, you can cut the cost of living the urban life by setting up your space out of town. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, you can have a serene and cost-effective means of livelihood.
The best part about living off-grid is that you can set up systems suitable for you based on your budget and available resources. Hence, you can make your home as expensive or as affordable as you would like it. You will need to find your source of food, power, shelter, and other necessities.
You also need to make your off-grid accommodation convenient in the absence of modern facilities. Some other factors are relevant in determining the cost of living off the grid. They include:
- Access to a water source
- Closeness to a major city
- If it is woodland or farmland; they are more expensive
- The view (ocean, mountains)
The city where you build is also relevant when considering the cost. Urban cities are much more expensive than rural areas, and the former has many more rules guiding residence in off-grid areas than the latter.
The following major cities have expensive lands: New York – $3,250/acre, Florida – $5,950/acre, Texas – $2,120/acre, among others. Also, building your house is more cost-effective than buying a house off the grid.
A small house (following building codes and restrictions), with readily available local materials, is cheap and easy to achieve. But if you cannot build your house, there are houses off the grid that you can readily purchase if you have the funds.
What Are Some Disadvantages of Living Off-Grid?
The major disadvantage of living off-grid is the lack of access to modern facilities and systems.
Amidst the beauty of living in serene environments, away from the stress of city life, there are several disadvantages of living off-grid. While some are specific to individuals and certain environments, there are general challenges that people staying off-grid might face.
First, the convenience that modern facilities and systems offer is unattainable in some of these areas. For starters, it might take some time to adapt to the climate and environment. This process could be extremely uncomfortable. Building a house is important but very tasking and can take a lot of time and resources.
The cost of maintenance in the absence of modern facilities might be high. You cannot overlook taking care of the few things that make your off-grid experience convenient. During your off grid stay, the need to constantly fix stuff such as your building’s parts never ends.
Your mindset is important if you want to see past the disadvantages and enjoy the beauty of living off-grid. While merits and demerits vary from place to place and from individual to individual, there are significant pros of living off the grid.
For example, the cost-of-living monthly decreases after setting up the home. It is also healthier to live and think in this kind of environment. The environment can help facilitate self-evaluation and development; it also helps you to maximize productivity. Other advantages involve immersion in nature, the feeling of self-sufficiency, and less stress.
Being able to create your power source is an advantage. On the other hand, one disadvantage is that a power source can take a long time to achieve. You must be ready to put certain things in place and be mentally ready for the job, helping you experience limited disadvantages and maximum fun.