Have you ever wanted to live free and independent? Far from the grid and traffic jams? Self-sufficiency, using wood you cut yourself to construct cookfires, an ancient wood cookstove. Me too. However, when I first started, I made a ton of off grid mistakes.
I never thought I’d make so many errors while living off the grid in my daydreams. I made mistakes that I could have prevented if I’d been better organized.
Since I was a young child, I’ve pictured myself leading a modest life like a pioneer. And in 2020, I moved into my off grid cabin in rural Virginia.
I was happy. I was worried. I was unprepared, too.
I made so many errors with off-grid life that I’m surprised I’m still alive to write this.
If you’re considering going off the grid in the future, consider these five common mistakes I made and how to avoid them.
Five Off Grid Mistakes I’ve Made
My five worst errors since moving to our off-grid ranch in 2013. Prepare before you relocate and take a lesson from my mistakes!
Didn’t Know Enough About Energy Systems
Seriously. The biggest off grid mistakes I made related to solar. I’ve always thought of myself as a resourceful, adaptable person. I graduated from college many years ago as a parent of two young children and a mature student.
Then, to advance my career in financial planning, I spent the day working and the evening studying.
However, on a -40 degree afternoon when it was dark at 3:00, and there was no electricity, that information wasn’t going to be useful to me. The sad reality is that I didn’t even realize what I didn’t know about off-grid living.
Yes, I was aware of solar energy. I had a faint idea that the sun’s heat was somehow transformed into electricity. However, I had never thought about the practical operation of solar panels.
I had no knowledge about off grid house setups. And when a generator doesn’t start, I certainly didn’t know what to do.
A battery bank was an idea that eluded me. Or the significance of batteries for living off the grid. Additionally, I’d never heard of an inverter, which transforms a solar panel’s DC (direct current) output into an AC (alternating current) output to power an off-grid setup.
I could have read up on the fundamentals earlier if I had planned and prepared to live off the grid. How they function is off-grid electricity, solar panels, inverters, charge panels, batteries, and generators.
This book, by the solar expert Will Prowse, is everything you need to learn about electric systems. He wrote it for vans but all the skills transfer.
Unrealistic Vision of Off Grid Living
Before arriving here, daydreaming instead of learning practical off grid living homesteading skills was one of my biggest off grid living blunders.
I knit while picturing a “Little House on the Prairie” future when I would quilt by the fire, make my own bread, and grow a sizable vegetable garden.
I ought to have been educating myself on the difficulties of off-grid homesteading and becoming independent.
Like how to store tomato seeds and produce beans indoors. Or how to design a garden before beginning a backyard garden (a low-maintenance garden is a good place to start.)
Alternately, you might learn from the comfort of your home by viewing films, enrolling in classes, and reading about how to hunt, fish, forage, and preserve food.
I ought to have utilized the unrestricted internet. I would have been more equipped to dive right into these activities when we were off the grid.
Underestimate the Cost of Off Grid Living
I strongly support achieving financial independence. I also believed that our desired off-grid existence would be less expensive than our former suburban one.
It is in many ways. We no longer have to pay for energy or satellite TV, and our property taxes are significantly lower than in our prior residences.
However, I was unaware that our homeowners’ insurance cost would be five times higher than what we spent in the suburbs.
Or that buying 9 cords of firewood at about $300 each would cost us almost $3600 a year to keep the house warm (roughly).
One of our more expensive off-grid living mistakes was my lack of research into the costs of living off the grid in a region of the world where the winters may be extremely cold.
Most costs depends on where you live. Check out our guide on finding off grid land to figure out where you should buy land.
I Wasn’t Physically Strong Enough
The reality is that leading an off-grid lifestyle necessitates a certain degree of physical fitness.
You work out daily, especially if you homestead and use a wood stove for heating. And I made the great mistake of not being in enough physical shape for off-grid living.
I was a middle-aged, unfit woman with weak abdominal and a back. And in the spring of 2014, I injured my back easily by carrying a few pieces of wood.
Healing essentially took two years. I should have started working more intensively on developing a stronger core and upper arms sooner because I was aware of my history of back problems.
I Didn’t Have a Network
The lack of a support system was one of the main blunders I made when living off the grid that I was unaware of.
I didn’t know a single person when I first got here, much less someone familiar with the specifics of living off the grid in a frigid environment.
This area is somewhat isolated, so having some other homesteading off gridders to connect with during that first winter would have been helpful.
Off Grid Living for Beginners
The greatest approach to getting ready to live off the grid is to increase your various forms of self-sufficiency. Start learning first, then put what you’ve learned into practice. The practical, hands-on knowledge is priceless.
Start by imagining the ideal off-grid lifestyle. Look into available off-grid houses. Additionally, be honest with yourself.
Do you wish to transport a little house to outlying areas? Or would you rather have your own land to homestead and raise your own food?
What about an unplugged house close to a water source? One where, if necessary, you could link your off-grid system to on-grid systems?
Perhaps you’d like to use a wind turbine to capture wind energy for your own energy production. Alternately, harness the sun’s power using a charge controller and solar panel setup.
It’s vital to remember that there are many different viewpoints on living off the grid. Additionally, the amount of money you’re willing to spend can be a factor.
A septic tank, contemporary amenities, convenient access to neighboring towns in rural locations, and the choice to connect to public services are all features of some off-grid residences. Others, like ours, resemble regular homes but rely on a backup generator and solar array for power.
When deciding whether to go off the grid and/or start a homestead, consider your energy level, your time availability, and the long-term lifestyle adjustments you can handle.
Building your knowledge, strength, and capacity for problem-solving is an excellent concept. You’ll have a higher chance of avoiding expensive and hazardous off-grid living errors.
Build your strength, knowledge, and problem-solving skills as you make your plans to go off the grid and/or homestead. You’ll have a higher chance of avoiding expensive and hazardous off-grid living errors.
Want to learn more about off grid living? Check out our library of free resources.