Living Off Grid in Illinois (Everything You Need to Know)

Living off grid in Illinois may be difficult. Illinois is one of the few states where people are leaving in large numbers. The crazy thing is that many more would be willing to do so if they could afford it. Illinois has a population of about 12 million people, with the largest city, Chicago, having a population of around 2.7 million. Illinois has one of the worst crime rates in the country. There are numerous smaller towns and communities with low crime rates.

not off grid living in illinois
Let’s face it, most people think of Chicago when they think of Illinois.

General Statistics about Living Off Grid in Illinois

Although you are allowed to live off the grid in Illinois, there are several obstacles that make this a tough state for doing so. The fundamental issue in this state is the local climate, which is just unsuitable for dependably cultivating crops. Furthermore, the crime rate, cost of living, and property tax are all significantly greater than the rest of the country.

If you keep up with the news, you’re definitely aware that Illinois has a high crime rate and is commonly connected with corruption. On top of that, the state’s taxes are simply unforgiving for a state that offers very little to the normal person, let alone someone who wishes to live off-grid. Recently the state increased the income tax as well. 

Don’t get me wrong: Illinois is a lovely state, and Chicago is one of the best cities to visit, but living off-grid may prove to be difficult. The southern and northern parts of the state have vastly different climates. As you travel south, you will see that the standard of living improves slightly, but not significantly. Even in the northern portion of the state, there are some wonderful areas to reside, but they will cost you a lot more. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, check out my article on Off-Grid Living in Idaho

What is the climate in Illinois? 

Although this is true for the entire state of Illinois, Chicago is known as the “windy city.” Illinois is flat, and there is little to shield the winds; also, Lake Michigan delivers a lot of rain and snow, and the weather gets worse the closer you get to the lake. Illinois has a humid continental climate, which means that summers are hot and winters are cold, and rain and snow are common.

The average temperature in the summer is around 80°F, while the average temperature in the winter is around 10°F. The northern half of the state is generally cooler than the southern section, and the temperature in Chicago is slightly higher in the summer since all those concrete buildings radiate a lot of heat. Winters can be harsh at times; the coldest temperature ever recorded in this state was -36°F, and ice storms are common in the winter.

Looking for a state with more moderate weather? I recommend reading my Guide to Living Off Grid in Georgia.

What are the Best Crops to Grow in Illinois?

Although you may believe that due to the state’s geographic location, you will have limited alternatives for cultivating crops. Illinois, in fact, grows a lot of maize, soybeans, wheat, rye, and even oats. Farmlands provide the majority of the crops in the southern portion of the state, and if you visit the southern section of the state, you will note that it resembles Nebraska more than the northern part of Illinois. 

What’s Freshwater Availability Like in Illinois?

Illinois has abundant freshwater, both underground and above ground. Several rivers run across the state, and there are numerous lakes. Because of the regular rainfalls and large snowfalls during the winter, the groundwater is refilled quite quickly. Every year, there is enough rain to allow you to capture lots of rainwater, and rainwater harvesting is legal.

Interested in living off grid in a state like no other? Check out my article on Off Grid Living in Hawaii.

What Kind of Wildlife Does Illinois Have? 

White-tailed deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, coyotes, and other wildlife are common sightings. Some of the animals have adapted to city life, and you might see one or two of them in your backyard. If you enjoy fishing, Illinois is the place to be. You can catch everything from crappies to pumpkinseed, smallmouth bass, walleye, and yellow perch. Check the state’s website for hunting and fishing licenses as well as any local regulations

How to Generate Off-Grid Power in Illinois? 

Solar power: During the summer, you will have no trouble generating electricity; however, the challenge arises during the winter, when snowfall is common and days are short and gloomy. Illinois offers both rebates and incentives for solar power; however, the federal tax credit is just 26%, while other states offer 30%. 

Wind power: Because the wind is almost always blowing, this is by far one of the greatest ways to create electricity. In addition to state rebates, Illinois also has federal wind energy credits, which, when combined, might save you money.

Check out my Complete Guide to Off-Grid Power here. 

What are the Off-Grid Laws in Illinois? 

In Illinois, you can legally live off-grid if you don’t want to live in the city. Furthermore, rainwater harvesting is permitted in Illinois, so there is nothing prohibiting you from living off the grid. Homeschooling rules are likewise pretty conventional, requiring little more than minimal documentation and adherence to Illinois State Board of Education requirements.

What is Road Access Like in Illinois? 

To be fair: Illinois road systems are pretty weak. With a high taxed state, you’d think they would be in perfect condition, but Illinois struggles with political corruption. The chances are that the roads will not improve in the next few years, and the worst part is that the authorities will continue to be astonished by the amount of snowfall each year.

What is the Price of Land in Illinois? 

Land can be costly in most locations; nevertheless, the northern section of the state is far more expensive than the southern part. The closer you get to Chicago or Lake Michigan, the more expensive it becomes. The property is more affordable in the southern section of the state, and there is an abundance of space suited for growing crops.

What is the Property Tax in Illinois? 

The 2.31 percent property tax, which is more than double the national average, is one of the reasons why Illinois is a tough state for off-grid living. Property taxes in some jurisdictions, such as McHenry County, can reach 2.83 percent. One of the main reasons why so many people are leaving this state is because of the high property taxes, which are far too high.

What is the Cost of Living in Illinois? 

Although Illinois’ cost of living is around 7% lower than the rest of the country, the 2.31 percent property tax will still bite. Housing is around 20% cheaper than the rest of the country, but this is primarily owing to people’s aversion to purchasing houses because of the property tax; yet, rent in most places, particularly in Chicago, is rather expensive.

What’s the Job Market Like in Illinois? 

Illinois’ unemployment rate is around 5.1 percent, which is much higher than the national average of 3.9 percent. Manufacturing, agriculture, exports, and even mining employ the majority of the population. Jobs in finance and health care are plentiful, particularly in the Chicago area. Illinois’ minimum wage is $12.00, which is higher than the national minimum wage. 

What is the Crime Rate in Illinois? 

Illinois has a crime rate of roughly 4.3 per 1000 inhabitants, which is only 0.3 points more than the national average. The majority of crime occurs in the Chicago region, whereas most smaller cities and towns have low crime rates.

Is Illinois Affected by Natural Disasters?

Tornadoes, wildfires, floods, storms, and blizzards are all common natural catastrophes in Illinois. The good news is that Illinois is one of the states that is best prepared for natural disasters. If you wish to live off the grid in Illinois, it will be tough to find land that is sufficiently elevation to avoid flooding.

Can You Live Off-Grid in Illinois? 

Illinois is not a favorable place to live off the grid; the primary issues are expensive property taxes and a high crime rate in some places. Winters can be particularly harsh, with plenty of snowfall and ice roads; also, due to the state’s peculiar geographical location, the weather can change rapidly.

On the positive side, Illinois has a strong growing season in the southern part of the state. Although comparable to other states in the area, I recommend looking at other midwest states such as Missouri or Nebraska. 

off grid living in illinois
The beautiful Vermilion River in Illinois.

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