Off The Grid Living Guide to Michigan (The Land of the Great Lakes)
Michigan is the only state that has contact with four of the five great lakes. The state has a good rep for living off the grid, if you can deal the winter. Most people associate Michigan with Detroit or Flint. While these cities are undoubtedly among the worst places to live in the state. Things are much better throughout the rest of the state (especially for off-gridders).
There are no restrictions stopping you from living off the grid in Michigan as long as you follow the local requirement. These include the construction code and the installation of a septic tank. The main reason Michigan is a wonderful place for living off the grid is that housing costs are 35 percent lower, and living costs are 11 percent lower. You will also have no trouble getting freshwater, and the state is ideal for farming. On the other hand, Michigan has a higher unemployment rate than the national average, as well as a high crime rate. This is mostly due to the major cities in the state though.
General Statistics For Living Off The Grid in Michigan
Michigan has a lot of water. On average, a person is only a few miles away from a body of water no matter where he lives in the state. Given the abundance of fresh water in the state, you might be wondering how the Flint water situation became so terrible. The answer is simple: local officials sought to save money and switched their water source to a highly polluted river. Furthermore, people who stopped paying their water bills were subjected to foreclosure.
Michigan has a population of roughly 10 million people, which is progressively increasing every year. Detroit is the largest city in Michigan, with a population of 680k inhabitants, followed by Grand Rapids with 200k. Flint has a population of roughly 98k people and is slowly growing.
Michigan has been heavily struck by the economic downturn, with many factories and businesses closing or being abandoned. The good news is that the unemployment rate has been declining, and new jobs have been generated in recent years. From an off-grid lifestyle standpoint, this implies that now is the best time to acquire a homestead or off-grid property. You should also compare Michigan to one of its surrounding states; for more information, see my Complete Guide to Off-Grid Living in Illinois.
What’s the Climate in Michigan?
Michigan has a continental climate, which means that summers are hot and short, and winters are frigid. If you’ve ever visited this state in the winter, you know what I’m talking about. During the summer, the average temperature is around 85°F; there are a few days when it is hotter, but these usually only last a couple of days.
During the winter, the average temperature is roughly 35°F, with temperatures dropping considerably further on some days, particularly at night. In general, there is a temperature difference between the northern and southern portions of the state; the closer you travel to the lakes, the colder it becomes. Looking for a state with a fairly similar climate? I recommend reading my Complete Guide to Off the Grid Living in Massachusetts.
What are the Best Crops to Grow in Michigan?
Corn is grown on the majority of Michigan farms, followed by wheat, soybeans, hay, fruits, and vegetables. Most homesteads have modest greenhouses set up to cultivate vegetables; they must use greenhouses if they wish to grow crops because the summers are short and the temperatures are not very high. The temperature in this area is ideal for growing a wide variety of fruits; in fact, this state is one of the leading producers of apples, cherries, and blueberries.
What’s Freshwater Availability Like in Michigan?
Michigan has a lot of freshwater, but as the instance of Flint City shows, having a lot of fresh water doesn’t matter if the local government is corrupt. The average annual precipitation is roughly 31 inches, and the average snowfall is between 40 and 120 inches. Annual snowfall in the western areas of the state can reach 150 inches. Most of the people living off the grid in Michigan collect rainwater and store it in water tanks.
What Kind of Wildlife Does Michigan Have?
Bears, white-tailed deer, cougars, moose, and a variety of birds can all be found in Michigan’s wildlife. Fishing may be excellent in this state because it has access to four of the five major lakes as well as lesser lakes and rivers. Smallmouth bass, Atlantic salmon, brook trout, brown trout, crappie, lake trout, yellow perch, and a variety of other fish can be found here. To fish legally, you’ll need a fishing license which can be found on the state’s website.
How to Generate Off-Grid Power in Michigan?
Solar power: Most people believe that solar panels are ineffective in this location because of the long winters, but the truth is that most people who live off the grid in this state use solar panels, and they function just as well in the winter as they do in the summer. You can apply for the Solar Investment Tax Credit as well as the federal tax credit; if you combine the two, the system will be roughly 50% less expensive.
Wind power: Michigan is undoubtedly one of the greatest states for wind turbine power generation because it is nearly always windy, and the state offers a variety of incentives and rebates. You can apply for a federal tax credit if you qualify.
Does Michigan Have Any Off-Grid Laws?
Some sites on the internet suggest that living off the grid in Michigan is illegal. This is absolutely wrong. The majority of those who encounter issues are those who do not follow local building codes or who seek to live off the grid in a city or suburb, which will be exceedingly tough in any state, not just Michigan. You can also legally harvest and store rainwater and install a septic system, but you’ll need to receive additional information from your county officials on this.
Many people living off the grid in Michigan homeschool their children, allowing them to avoid commuting every day and, in most cases, providing higher education for their children than the public school system. Homeschooling rules are straightforward: simply notify the authorities that you wish to homeschool your children, and they will inform you of the necessary steps.
What’s Road Access Like in Michigan?
Because Michigan’s economy isn’t as strong as it was a few decades ago, huge budget cuts are necessary, and road upkeep suffers as a result. The roads in certain regions are great, but if you go for a drive in Detroit, some of the roads will make you feel like you’re in a third-world country. Aside from the lack of upkeep, the huge amount of snowfall can make the roads a serious hazard throughout the winter.
What’s the Price of Land in Michigan?
When it comes to land prices, Michigan is closer to the southern states than it is to the northern ones. In general, the cost of housing and land in Michigan is about 35% lower than the national average. Although the price of property has begun to slowly rise in recent years, as the local economy grows, so will the price of land and property.
It is only a matter of time before Michigan’s economy improves, and because of its proximity to the country’s wealthiest states, it will have a higher living standard, cost of living, and housing prices; it is just a matter of time.
What’s the Property Tax in Michigan?
Michigan’s property tax is roughly 1.64 percent, which is greater than the national average of 1.08 percent, yet states with such high property taxes also have higher property prices. Saint Clair County, with a 1.44 percent property tax, has the lowest property tax in the state.
What’s the Cost of Living Off The Grid Michigan?
The cost of living in Michigan is substantially below the national average; in general, you will pay roughly 10% less for everything in this state. Most notably, you will pay approximately 35% less for housing, 7% less for groceries, and 4% less for healthcare services. On the other side, you’ll pay about 15% more for utilities, and this can be even more expensive in some counties where the infrastructure isn’t well-maintained; all utility losses are borne by the consumers.
Interested in reading about living off the grid in another state? Check out my guide to Indiana.
What’s the Job Market Like in Michigan?
Michigan’s unemployment rate is 4.1 percent, which is higher than the national average of 3.6 percent. The good news is that the unemployment rate is decreasing every year; in 2011, the state’s unemployment rate was over 10%. The minimum wage is $9.45, which is more than the minimum wage in some of its bordering states. Manufacturing, agricultural, automotive, services, and tourism are the industries in which the majority of people work.
What’s the Crime Rate in Michigan?
Michigan’s crime rate is somewhat higher than the national average, with 4.49 crimes per 1000 people, compared to 4 crimes per 1000 people nationally. Posen, Forestville, Minden City, Garden, and Twining have the lowest crime rates. Munising, Atlanta, Gaylord, Detroit, Flint, and Mackinaw City have the highest crime rates. The safest places are generally found in the state’s central and northwestern regions.
Are There Natural Disasters in Michigan?
Natural disasters such as wildfires, floods, tornadoes, and storms have occurred in Michigan. Storms are the most common natural disasters, which occur throughout the year due to the close proximity of numerous large lakes. Although tornadoes can occur in this state, the majority of them are tiny and do not result in any fatalities.
Can You Live Off-Grid in Michigan?
Overall, living off the grid in Michigan is a good choice because the property is inexpensive and living costs are low. The primary issue with Michigan is the weather; winters can be harsh in some years, and if you aren’t used to them, you will struggle.
I personally recommend living off the grid in Michigan if you feel that winters won’t be a problem. The state has a strong growing season, and there’s truly not a lot to say that’s negative about it. Also it’s beautiful.