More than 180,000 people in the United States alone currently live off the grid, and that number is growing every day. These people have chosen to disconnect from society, and have discovered a whole new way to live. "Off the grid" means no connection to the government provided power grid, but it can also refer to a whole range of different living practices. People living off the grid often grow their own food, build their own homes, and create their own communities. While it might seem like a ridiculous and pointless concept to many, those that succeed in living off the grid have gained an entirely new appreciation for life.
What happens when you live off the grid? I guess the easy answer is that you never find out until you try it for yourself. You might find that life is easier and more meaningful. Or you might hate having little or no access to television and the internet (not to mention having to use a composting toilet). You might be surprised at how little it costs to do this, and how easy it is to harness your own energy using solar, geothermal or wind power. And when things go south for the country or the world, you might find yourself in a position that others will undoubtedly envy.
But a lot of strange things can happen when you choose to live off the grid. With so many people choosing this way of living over the city life, some governments are starting to get a little anxious. Many are starting to discourage and even ban people from trying it. But with more and more people going off the grid every day, you get the feeling that this is a movement that can't be stopped.
15 You Can Escape Debt
Why do people decide to live off the grid in the first place? Everyone has their own reasons. But a huge majority of people do it to escape their slavery to debt. Many of us don't even realize how tied down we are by debt. People seem to accept that debt is just necessary in order to own a house, but when you really think about it, this is a pretty strange and disturbing concept. The price of housing in many big cities has skyrocketed to the point where some people can't even consider buying, and must instead commit to a lifetime of renting. But it doesn't have to be that way. When you live off the grid, you can own your own house without getting into an insane amount of debt with the banks. Price of raw land in rural areas is relatively cheap, and building your own home is less expensive than many think.
But others go off the grid to escape debt in another very real sense. I'm not talking about escaping the necessity of going into debt to own a home; I'm talking about people who already have debt and want to simply walk away from it. Debt collectors track you down by getting your phone number, finding your address, and other methods. But if you're truly living off the grid, there is no way they will ever be able to find you. After a few years, debt collectors sometimes give up on collecting the debt as well, and they just write it off.
14 You Don't Need To Work As Many Hours
Living off the grid is extremely hard work, but it's not quite the same as working a full-time job. There are certain times when you will have to work your butt off to make things work, but there are other times when you'll find you have a lot more free time on your hands. Obviously, the work it takes to actually set up an off the grid home is pretty substantial. You'll need to build the home, set up your water source, purification methods, and power sources (if you want them.) Heating/cooling might also be necessary depending on the climate. And you'll definitely need to set up at least a small garden to provide you with food.
But after all that initial set up is done, the workload will substantially diminish. Compared to a full-time job, you will be working less hours. There's also less of a need to work. You won't have any bills, and most off the grid homes cost only a few hundred dollars to run each year, if that. If you're starting a farm, harvest season will demand more work, but you just might find yourself relaxing a lot more than you did when you were "wired into the grid."
13 You Could Be Charged With Endangering Your Children
Many families are choosing to live life off the grid. These people are experiencing not only a new way to live, but a new way to raise their children. But is it really "new?" Kids were raised in this manner for hundreds of thousands of years before our industrial revolution came along and put us all in crowded cities. You could say that raising your children in an off the grid setting is the most natural and therefore the most healthy way to go. But according to many government agencies, this amounts to "child endangerment." People have actually been charged with this crime simply because they live off the grid, and this is really waking people up to some pretty harsh facts.
The government doesn't want you to live off the grid. They want you to continue to pay bills and work in their cities, buy their genetically modified food and drink their fluoridated water. And they're willing to do whatever it takes to make you stay "connected," even if it means threatening to take away your children.
12 When The World Goes To Hell, You'll Be In The Best Position
While "doomsday preppers" and people living off the grid aren't the same, they're definitely related. Whatever happens, both of these groups of people will be in the best position to survive once things hit the fan. This is actually one reason why many people choose to live off the grid – the feeling that the economy or civilization might collapse at some point in the near future. But for the most part, people living off the grid made their choice because they wanted to live a different life, and it wasn't a choice made out of fear alone. So while doomsday preppers chose to live off the grid for the sole purpose of preparation, it's more of an added benefit for people living off the grid.
If we hit another major recession like we saw in the 1920s, people living off the grid won't even really notice the change. All of their power will come from solar, wind, or other "free" sources of energy. Their food will be supplied right out of their gardens. And they won't be paying any bills to anyone. Compare that with people who have to rent out apartments, buy food, and pay for heat and electricity, and it's obvious who will come out worse in this scenario. Additionally, in the event of a nuclear war, those living in rural areas will likely survive the blasts, as warheads primarily target major cities.
11 You Could Be Arrested In Florida
As you can see, living off the grid has its benefits, and is seen by many as the "ultimate life hack." No bills, no debt, and "free food." What it all boils down to is that you become completely unreliant on anyone and anything, especially the government. But will the government simply allow you to sever all ties and leave them? Not in Florida, it would seem. The State of Florida has ruled that living off the grid is illegal, and attempting to do will result in criminal charges. Their courts have ruled that off the grid living is in violation of the International Property Maintenance code.
Many people in Florida have been fined or even jailed, such as the Speroni family, who were actually put in prison. So what's their reasoning behind this? Apparently they have decided that people must have access to sustainable forms of energy, such as solar and wind, and water if they decide to live off the grid. But this still hasn't stopped them from fining and charging those who collect rainwater and have solar panels... It seems that "big brother" isn't too happy when you stop paying your bills.
10 Children Can Be Born And "Never Exist" In The Eyes Of The Government
Another strange thing that can happen when you live off the grid involves your children. It is possible for children to be born and be completely "invisible" in the eyes of the government. No passport, no social security number, and no record of them ever having existed at all. One of these children was Noah Boyce. Until the age of 18, no one knew he existed at all, and he never went to school or even visited a doctor. His father chose to live off the grid and raised his son in a very different way than most parents. Noah didn't even know his birthday until very recently.
This story all started when Noah's father decided to live off the grid in a rural part of Michigan. The boy's father also publicly refused to pay property taxes, claiming that it effectively made him a renter on his own land, and infringed upon his God-given right to stay there. He also claimed to have rejected his own US citizenship. Eventually, he was kicked off his own farm for not paying the property taxes, and that was when Noah finally went to school at the age of 18, and received his government documentation.
9 You Might Have To Get Used To A "Composting Toilet"
Of course, you might have to give up a few luxuries when you choose to live off the grid. And one of these luxuries has to do with the way you use the bathroom. Many people who live off the grid find that the best option for them is a composting toilet. But just what is this strange invention? Basically, this toilet works by evaporating the water from the waste instead of taking it down a pipe to a sewage facility. Since the waste entering the toilet is 90% water, the remaining waste when the water is evaporated is minuscule. And this remaining waste can also be used to fertilize your pants, so it's a win win!
There are many different models and types of composting toilets, some much more simple than others. But most contain a composting chamber and a finishing drawer. The composting chamber is where the waste sits and composts, and the finishing drawer is where you can retrieve the waste once it's completely composted. It might take some getting used to, but whoever said living off the grid was for the faint of heart?
8 In Pretty Much Every State You Could Face Charges For Building Without A License
One of the greatest things about living off the grid is being able to build your own home. The sky is the limit when it comes to what kinds of structures you can build, and this is a big reason why many people choose to live off the grid. When raw land is cheap, you can build much larger homes, and some people get quite creative in building elaborate homes completely customized to their personality. But there's just one problem. The government might actually charge you with building without a license, which will result in your home being condemned. Even robust, sturdy houses built by qualified and experienced people are not safe from this.
What many people are finding out is that if you use non-commercial materials, the government takes notice and tries to shut your house down. An example of a non-commercial material would be using local trees as wood to build your house, instead of buying "pre-approved" lumber from the same sources everyone else goes to. Other people who live off the grid also choose to incorporate other materials into their homes, such as rocks and even pieces of driftwood as decoration. But if the government sees this, they could determine that your home is a "danger to others."
7 Arizona Could Charge You $152 Per Year Just For Using Solar Panels
Arizona is also clawing at those trying to escape the clutches of their power grid. This state is one of the most popular off the grid locations for people around America. The reasons should be pretty obvious – the desert environment provides a perfect place to harness incredible amounts of energy from the sun via solar panels. Many people have discovered they can easily live pretty amazing lives using just the sun to power their homes and appliances. Suddenly everyone is finding out that we don't actually need to pay for power – not if we have a giant orb in the sky that sends us free power constantly.
Not so fast! Did you really think you could get away with living your lives without filling the pockets of the bankers? You see, the State of Arizona has basically decided that it now owns the sun, and is trying to implement an annual tax of $152 for anyone who harnesses their energy from solar panels. The driving force behind this is the Arizona Corporation Commission, which has been trying to shut down green energy in this state for some time now. More than 20,000 people in Arizona rely on solar panels, and the number is growing rapidly. These people are primarily middle-class families who can afford to make the initial investment of solar panels.
6 You Can Also Face Phoney Charges Of "Stealing" Water And Electricity
There are countless other things the government can charge you with if you try to go off the grid. Some of these are just plain ridiculous. People have been deemed a threat to Homeland Security because they store large amounts of fertilizer in their homes/farms. Other people have had their excess grain and seed seized by the government, because apparently having a small, self-sustaining farm should be under the same FDA regulations as a massive commercial farm owned by corporations. But perhaps the strangest thing you can get charged with is stealing water and electricity. Even when you're using solar panels, wind turbines, and other sources of power, you can still get charged with this crime. Collecting rainwater is illegal in many states, although not in Hawaii. It's obvious that the government feels they own things that are part of the Earth.
But perhaps the most disturbing thing is that the government obviously feels they own you. Because you know what the government's greatest resource is? It's not coal, oil, food or water – it's people. The people are the real "power" behind any country, and when people start to disconnect from the "grid," the government loses that power. Don't expect them to let you leave so easily.
5 The Government Could Force You To "Reconnect"
Cheryl Smith was one woman who tried to live off the grid, and she ultimately failed. But her failure wasn't the result of her shoddy building techniques, lack of food and energy, or poor discipline. She failed because the government of Canada forced her to reconnect. This is a reminder that people all over the world are experiencing resistance from their governments when they try to disconnect from the grid. This woman tried to set up an off-the-grid home in Nova Scotia, but was denied the crucial occupancy permit by the local mayor. Now the house sits abandoned and unoccupied. According to the mayor, the permit was denied because energy is required to power smoke detectors and other safety equipment. But those could have been powered by solar panels, generators, or simply batteries.
Cheryl Smith explained her frustration, saying "I just don't want to leave a big footprint on the earth. If what we're trying to do is move the world into a greener place and make it more environmentally friendly so there's something still left for our children, then why am I being forced to rely on electricity or fossil fuels?"
4 If You're German, You Might Be PAID To Use Electricity
While some countries might be reluctant to embrace green energy or even reject it entirely, other nations are making huge strides in this area. One example is Germany, where the government has invested heavily in green energy, especially wind turbines. They're now popping up everywhere in Germany, and they're starting to have a very real effect on the nation's power supply. Wind power supplies 10% of Europe's energy demands, and this number is expected to increase as green energy technology gets cheaper with higher demand. This year, on March 18, a record-setting 38,370 megawatts was generated by Germany from wind turbines alone.
On the day this article was written, Germany's wind production was expected to peak at 39,190 megawatts, which is equivalent to 40 nuclear reactors. This means that the production of wind energy far outweighs the demand. In this situation, Germany has two choices: either shut off the wind turbines so they don't produce more energy than they can actually use, or pay people to use the energy. That's right – Germany is going to pay people to use energy from their grid. Many people choose to live off the grid because they feel they are being charged too much... But if you live in Germany, staying on the grid might actually be more profitable!
3 You Might Just Find That Other People Will Join You
You might think that living off the grid is for crazy, radical people who want to be left alone. But one of the craziest things that is happening right now is the fact that this trend is really catching on. Entire communities of people are now choosing to live off the grid, and it's really quite amazing. The benefits of having an entire community of people around you are obvious and many. You can barter and trade with other people, reducing or completely eliminating the need for money altogether. You can also rely on each other in times of need. And you can also ensure that you don't go completely insane from isolation and boredom!
One example of this happening in real life is Lasqueti Island in British Columbia, Canada. This small island is a little over an hour away from the big city of Vancouver, but the people there live drastically different lives. All 400 residents live completely off the grid, and they are thriving. The island is not connected to British Columbia's power grid, and people use solar panels, generators, and other methods to power their houses. And they're not stuck in the Stone Age either, contrary to what you might expect. The island has a pub, and many of the residents have beautiful homes.
2 You'll End Up Reading A Lot More Books
And what will you be doing with all that extra time? Well, if you're truly living off the grid, you won't be able to connect to the internet or watch television. Most off the grid power sources don't provide enough juice for you to power a computer or television for very long, and you need to be very cautious and sparing when it comes to power usage. But there is another option – an age old form of entertainment that requires zero watts: books. Even if you previously didn't consider yourself a reader, once you go off the grid you'll probably find a new love for this pastime. You might even need to construct a new part of your home to hold all those books!
Reading is a great way to educate yourself about the world around you, and you might find that living off the grid actually makes you more knowledgeable as a result. It's ironic that living off the grid, an act associated with isolation, can actually result in you learning more about the world around you through the magic of reading.
1 The Government In Pennsylvania Could Force You To Loan Wind Turbines From Them For An Annual Fee
Hopefully you're now learning that the government might not be too happy about people living off the grid. Think about it. These are people who pay taxes, bills, work in offices and are "good little worker bees." When these people start to abandon this life, which some describe as modern slavery, those in power get a little nervous. What if this trend catches on? (It is, by the way.) The government feels like it has to do something to discourage others from living off the grid. In short, they need to protect their income and hold on to those precious "human resources."
One example of the government doing this comes from Pennsylvania, where people are being forced to loan wind turbines from the government for an annual fee. This all comes from the strict regulations which are being put in place that govern people who choose to live off the grid. Since privately-owned wind turbines are becoming popular in this area, the government has decreed that everyone must get their renewable energy source provider "approved" by the authorities. If you own your own wind turbine(s), you'll probably end up getting rejected, and your only choice will be to pay to use the government-provided wind turbines – at the cost of their choosing, of course.
Sources: washtingtonpost.com, financialtribune.com, tipsforsurvivalists.com