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10 Common Mistakes People Make When Going off the Grid
Living off the grid is something that many people aspire to do. The idea of having no bills and being able to self-sustain your lifestyle is definitely appealing. There are quite a few common mistakes that people make when they are making the move to going off grid.
Some of these may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how sometimes seemingly simple things can slip by!
1) Not having a reliable water source
When you decide to go off grid you will need to have a reliable source of water. You can hire an expert and purchase land that has an underground source. You can then install a well. If you live near large pond, small lake or river you may be able to install your own water purification system and utilize those natural sources. You can also harvest water with large rain barrels and use that water for outside watering.
If, however, you don’t have a well or a reliable stream/spring, then you’re going to be relying on having enough rain, or – in times of drought, having your pond evaporate. So, while it may seem to be a big expense initially, it is probably a good idea to invest in a well.
2) Not having appropriate gardening experience
If you are going to live off of your land you need to have some basic knowledge of establishing a garden – actually, I’d go so far as to say you need more than just basic knowledge. You will need to research what plants thrive near each other and which plants choke each other out. You will need to learn how to develop cold weather gardens and you may want to build a greenhouse to extend your growing season.
So much also depends on your location and climate. Northern climates might be ideal for growing and storing such staples as garlic and potatoes (for just a tiny example), while southern climes may not work as well for that. If you are new to the idea of living off the grid, some gardening education from your regional extension services might be a good place to start.
3) Not preparing the ground for gardening
Learning about gardening is just a portion of learning how to grow your own food. You should have your soil tested prior to buying your land. Poor soil quality will result in weak crop development. Soil experts will be able to inform you on ways to correct the nutrients in the soil.
Beyond that, you will need to understand how to continually enrich your soil and replenish its nutrients with each growing cycle.
4) Not knowing local zoning laws
The appeal to going rural and off the grid is often due to the fact that you will not have neighbors. Just because you do not have neighbors does not mean the local rules and laws do not apply to you. You will need to build your house, green house, barn and any other structures to code. You also will need permits for digging a well or establishing a water filtration system.
You may also need permits if you are harnessing solar power or considering a wind generator. And, what if you have a perfect stream for a hydro electric dam? It will be of no use to you if you aren’t allowed to install one.
5) Not having a reliable food source and storage solution
When you build your home you may want to make it smaller to conserve on energy. The idea of going off grid is to live within your means and not need to use local utilities. When you design your new home make sure you include a large pantry or root cellar to store your vegetables and any meat you may hunt or fish for. If you are running a deep freeze for storage you will want to also have a generator on hand in the event that you run out of power.
6) Not having an income
Many people think that when they go off grid they can live off their land and not worry about working. This is not true. You will need to establish some form of business in order to survive. You will still need shoes, clothing and other basic necessities that you cannot make yourself. Many homesteaders develop products to sell at farmers markets or sell some of their produce. You can also find freelance or telecommuting jobs so you can work from home and work your land.
7) Unrealistic expectations
You cannot expect to become a homesteader and immediately begin thriving off of your land. It can take at least one year to develop a good garden. You will want chickens to supply eggs and meat. You will need to establish a chicken coop and food for the chickens to eat. Everything will be built from the ground up and will take you time to accomplish.
8) Not having a budget
Work with professionals to establish a budget for all of the features you will need to build on your new off grid property. It can be easy to get swept up in the movement and not stick to a plan.
9) Not knowing your neighbors and community
You can live off grid and still network. You should visit town and talk to others who may be selling at farmers markets. You are not alone in your off grid living life style and you may be able to learn quite a bit from those who have been doing this longer.
10) Not researching everything involved in going off grid
Make sure you fully research every aspect of living off grid. Knowledge is power and you may experience less surprises if you read up on this new adventure.