The Dos and Don’ts of Going Off the Grid

There was a time when “going off the grid” sounded like a fantasy to a lot of people for a long time. However, we’re living in a society where power outages can happen at any time — sometimes even thanks to the electrical companies themselves. On top of that, utility bills have increased for most people. Now, there’s even talk of limiting or eliminating things like gas-powered stoves in residential homes.

No matter your political beliefs or how you felt about going off the grid before, there’s no denying the benefits now. It’s better for the environment, helps you foster a sustainable lifestyle, and keeps you in more control of your daily routine.

Of course, it’s not as easy as turning off a switch and never turning it back on again. If you’re seriously considering going off the grid, there are some important dos and don’ts you should be aware of ahead of time. With the right knowledge and preparation, the entire experience will be easier and more fulfilling for you and your family.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the things you should do, and some things you should avoid before stepping into this lifestyle.

Do: Secure Your Homestead

We’re living in a world where smart home technology is more popular than ever. According to eMarketer, about 60.4 million households in the U.S. currently use at least one smart home device. That includes everything from thermostats to security systems and video doorbells. While smart security can be a great way to keep your home safe, it doesn’t coincide with off-the-grid living.

You’ll have to find other, effective ways to secure your homestead if you decide to live off the land and away from technology. Try things like:

  • Covering your windows;
  • Using motion-sensor lights outside;
  • Installing heavy-duty locks;
  • Putting up fencing.

Most importantly, make sure you always double-check everything before you leave your home and before you go to bed each night.

Don’t: Expect Things to Be Easy

Whether you’ve been prepping for a while or not, there’s no denying that living off the grid is difficult. Most of us are used to simple, everyday luxuries. Technology has made life incredibly easy, and not being able to use that to your advantage will undoubtedly be a struggle at first. Living off the grid isn’t for people who don’t have a lot of motivation and drive. You have to be willing to stay productive and put in a lot of hard work every day, especially if you’re going to live off the land.

Do: Plan for Proper Storage

Seasons change, and so will your needs throughout the year. Make sure you’re always planning ahead for the next season so you’ll have an adequate supply of food and seasonal equipment.

For example, depending on where you live, you’re probably not going to be playing baseball and basketball with the kids in the middle of winter. But, you don’t want that equipment to take up too much space. You can organize seasonal equipment more efficiently by:

  • Utilizing wall space;
  • Utilizing ceiling space;
  • Using buckets and baskets;
  • Labeling storage items.

These organizational tips work for more than just seasonal sports equipment. You can keep things like space heaters, heavy blankets, and even yard equipment stored properly and safely, leaving room for you to use the equipment you need for the current season.

Additionally, you should plan for food storage throughout the year. If you’re growing your own food, things like canning and preserving are great ways to ensure you have a year-round supply of nutritious meals. If you only go on a few shopping trips throughout the year, making room for bulk storage items is important. Create an organized system that allows you to keep track of expiration dates, and one that makes it easy to store foods in categories that are easy for your whole family to identify.

Don’t: Be Unprepared for Seasonal Weather

In addition to storing your seasonal equipment properly, it’s essential to prepare your home and your family for whatever the changing seasons might bring. That typically means preparing for winter or common natural disasters within your area so nothing gets damaged.

Do a seasonal check of your home. Make sure there are no leaks or cracks in the interior or exterior. Keeping up with maintenance this way will allow you to catch any problems while they’re still small.

Before it gets cold, consider sealing your windows and doors, cleaning out your gutters, and getting your chimney inspected. It’s also a good time to cut back any tree branches that might be hanging over your house. A strong wind or winter storm could knock them down and create a lot of damage.

For natural disasters, make sure you create an evacuation plan for your family to follow in case a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, etc., affects your off-the-grid residence. You should also pack a go-bag for each scenario as well.

Do: Start a Garden and Raise Animals

Going off the grid typically means living off the land as much as possible. It offers a great opportunity to be more sustainable by growing your own food and raising your own animals to eat.

Starting a home garden is easier than you might think. Most vegetables do well in sunny spots, so pick the ideal location and plot out your garden before you start planting. Think about foods that you and your family enjoy eating and things that you can preserve somehow once it’s time to harvest. Some of the best foods for home canning are:

  • Carrots;
  • Green beans;
  • Pickles;
  • Applesauce;
  • Beans;
  • Jams and jellies.

If you raise chickens, turkeys, or even cattle, you can also learn how to properly butcher them for the meat, and preserve them through freezing, dehydrating, and canning. Living off the land and growing/raising your own food is a fantastic way to become more independent. Plus, you’ll save money, and do something good for the environment (and your own health) while you’re at it.

Do: Explore Solar Panels

Solar energy is becoming more popular than ever, but it’s not just a fad. The energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness of today’s residential solar panels might surprise you. They’re certainly still an investment, but they will lower your utility bills almost immediately and make it easier to become energy independent.

Nowadays, you can even go beyond basic solar panels and consider other options. There are solar water heaters, solar house heating that can keep your home warm in the winter, and even solar energy for outdoor lighting, so you can keep your home and property well-lit and safe without having to rely on traditional forms of energy.

Don’t: Ignore First Aid Skills

When you go off the grid, you won’t be able to quickly call an ambulance in an emergency or your child’s doctor when they’re up in the middle of the night with a fever. When you’re living in a secluded area or your home is in a rural environment, you might also be putting yourself at risk for more accidents and injuries. Everything from nature-related injuries to insect and animal bites can cause problems.

If you don’t have strong first-aid skills, you might want to hold off on cutting yourself off from technology. There are a few basic skills that are important for everyone to know, but they’re especially crucial when you’re more secluded. Some of the most important skills to learn include:

  • CPR;
  • The Heimlich maneuver;
  • Recognizing a concussion;
  • Treating a burn;
  • Stopping a bleeding wound;
  • Setting a splint.

Take the time to educate yourself on these basic practices, and make sure you feel comfortable and safe performing all of them, especially in emergencies.

Don’t: Fail to Prepare for Threats

We touched on the importance of securing your homestead, but it’s worth understanding that the types of threats you might face in a rural area are often different than the ones you would deal with in an urban setting.

For example, criminals might be more likely to “invade” your space if they feel like you’re alone and they won’t easily get caught by law enforcement. Things like motion lights and alarms can deter them. However, you might also have to deal with wildlife threats.

Building barriers around your home, using the natural landscape to protect your property, and having a firearm to protect yourself from wild predators can make a big difference. While it might sound extreme, it’s important to do whatever it takes to protect yourself and your family, and you never know who (or what) might try coming up to your home with ill intentions. Consider getting a large dog or two to protect your home, as well. They’ll be a great addition to the family, and breeds like German Shepherds and labs can easily deter other animals from coming near the house.

Living off the grid can be incredibly fulfilling. Is it hard work? Absolutely. You’ll rarely get a break from prepping, planning, and taking action to keep things safe and comfortable. However, you can have peace of mind in knowing you’re as independent as possible, you’re not relying on anyone else for resources, and you’re giving back to the planet in the process. If you’ve been considering this lifestyle for a while, keep these dos and don’ts in mind. They’ll help you get started with realistic expectations, so you can make the most of rural living.

Written by

Miles is an independent writer with a background in business and passion for prepping, tech, psychology, news, and simply helping people live happy and fulfilled lives. He has lived and traveled all over the United States and continues to expand his awareness and experiences. When he is not writing, he is most likely mountain biking or kicking back with a cup of tea.

Latest comments
  • Though every state and sometimes jurisdictions (like mountain region verses plains that may be in the same state) have their own rules, in States I have lived in you can “connect into your venting” home vent system more than one home heating device (if the improvement matches the building and/or HVAC code). Adding a back-up heat system protects lots of your home from adverse effects: loss of power, winter pipe freezing damage, etc. I lived some years in a cabin with only electricity (it was designed as a work room, but I moved in). There were other cabins for showers, kitchen, etc. A microwave helped. Every other year we lost electricity from a fallen limb. Generator was backup for electricity. Pot belly wood burner with chimney was heat back-up. Two is one, when one fails for any reason; One is none when one fails for any reason.

  • Thank you, Miles,
    Thought provoking article. I’m watching The Walking Dead, currently at Season 7. The Zombies are annoying as hell, but the real story is how people and groups of people treat each other when the ultimate SHTF event occurs and civil society breaks down. The thread that runs through this story is that the man with the gun gets everyone’s shit.

    • Yeah, i kinda quit watching them after about season five. BUT, while some of the stuff they show is hilariously wrong, a lot of behavior is pretty much as it will be. People will kill for food. The first time or 2 they may feel bad about it. But everything gets easier with practice. There will be a time when one person will kill another over a cookie, sad to say. When the rule of law breaks down, anarchy follows. One thing they did right at one point was somehow found and equipped their firearms with silencers. When you shoot a high powered rifle the sound is audible for miles, literally. Unless it’s snowing or raining hard. Especially a big-flaked wet snow. Natures silencer. Very Effective. About a quarter mile away a rifle sounds like a well-muffled dull thud. The funny thing that i found very annoying with WD was the constant overtolerance of enemies. Many times they let opportunities slip by that would have left them in much better shape all around if they had capitalized on them. Really basic infantry type training and a lot more emphasis on a sound defense and better fortifications would have served them well. And yes, the firearm IS the great equalizer. Just like a shovel, it’s a great tool to create or destroy things with. I’ve got to get my garden going good as the best of preppers rarely have enough food for around a year. A years worth of food for two people that eat twice a day is a pretty good pile.

      • Thanks for the reply. Sounds like you have some pretty good skills esp in the area of weaponry. I’m a builder, general contractor, prepper, farmer and all around hoarder. I realize now those skills just make you a target.

        I had started to build an association with a former military type believing complementary skills were good planning. He’s well stocked on weapons, rounds and attack skills, bad ass mobile setup…Tesla stocked to the gills with weapons, but nothing else. I realized that this guy is a ghost, building an inventory of people literally across the country who would serve as his pantries and anything else needed or wanted. I would become Hilltop or Alexandria, he would be Negan.

        Call me jaded, but I now believe I’m on his list should shit go down. Forewarned is forearmed. Keep your friends close, your enemies closer..
        Sad to say our society is broken and when this shit gets real It’s going to be mere weeks before we’re at each other’s throats.. We’re a couple events away from anarchy. Just one man’s opinion.

  • Didn’t know about the gas stoves. Only thing I have ever cooked on other than a Hibachi grill that I have for emergencies. I blocked off one room of my house to heat this winter and basically used by gas fireplace for heat. Worked awesome my gas bill dropped from over $300 a month in the winter to around $100 a month. Hate the way the government is invading our lives. Can’t go off grid because I am bedbound but have gotten rid of TV and only use my computer blocking all location services same with my phone. Hopefully that helps some. Good article.

  • A quick word on computer s, try an Open Source system. Linux has lots of different varieties, or flavours. They go from Windows style to super parano secretive. You choose and install. Usually it’s free and from easy to a bit more complex.
    If you want privacy on the www go for Linux.
    You can install home smart systems, alarms included or media servers, using minimal power in processing and electricity.
    There is lots of reading available, so read up a bit if you’re interested.

  • I don’t think most people will be able to find what I did. I know of a log cabin Ghost town I want to see if I can buy. supposed to be pretty big so I can bring family out to live with us when SHTF