What Does Living Off the Grid Mean?

Living off the grid means that you are able to survive away the amenities of typical society. Included are solar, water, and septic which are not connected with the national grid. Many of those that live off the grid also grow their own food, and try to be completely sustainable.

By adopting this natural lifestyle, you reduce your impact on the environment. However, living off the grid is not for the faint of heart or the unprepared. Years of preparation and skill development are required to reach a point where you can exist (and flourish) without municipal utilities, food shops, and other services that we take for granted daily. That’s not to say that people haven’t gone off the grid without any preparedness, however.

what does living off grid mean

The Main Components of Living Off the Grid

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already familiar with the off the grid lifestyle, but for those unfamiliar with the concept, here’s a quick primer: living off the grid entails relying only on natural resources. 

The big three resources are food, water, and energy, although it increases its amenities as one continues its development. Those who live off the grid, in other words, eat by hunting, scavenging for food, growing it themselves, or by minimal grocery store runs. 

Many intense off gridders or homesteaders may disagree when I say you still live off the grid if you go to the grocery store, but frankly, to each their own. If you are self-reliant by harnessing the power of the Earth, in my opinion, you live off the grid. 

Living off the land whether you call it homesteading, off the grid living, or permanent camping, is a gratifying method to teach yourself and your family how to be completely self-sufficient. In the next section, we’ll check out some categories of different types of off-gridders. Which category are you in?

Survivalists and Preppers

Many see living off the grid as a requirement for emergency preparedness and survival. In the case of an emergency, it becomes a method of survival and a strategy to survive and keep your family safe. A simple power blackout, catastrophic financial collapse, political upheaval, war, or a natural calamity are all examples of emergencies. 

Serious preppers believe that living off the grid is all about preparing, having enough supplies to care for their family, and surviving an apocalyptic event. Preppers definitely represent an extreme side of the off the grid spectrum. Still, nevertheless, they do it best (and usually have the most canned goods).

For some reason, there’s a mass amount of preppers that live in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. For more information, check out my guide to Living Off Grid in Colorado.

Sustainable Livers

For most people, living off the grid simply means living a more sustainable lifestyle, consuming fewer resources, and creating more than they consume. It entails getting away from the power grid and producing your own electricity, growing your own food, and living a “green” lifestyle. Living off the land is what some people refer to it as.

Sustainable living involves consuming renewable resources at a slower pace than they can be replaced and produced. It’s about striking a balance in the way of living that contributes to rather than depletes the environment.

living off the grid

What are Basic Requirements to Live off the Grid?

There are several reasons to disconnect and set up shop on your own plot of land. Still, you should not pursue this lifestyle unless you have access to the essential homesteading requirements: water, food, shelter, and energy. 


Water is not a concern for those who live on the grid. It’s delivered directly to their houses by a public utility or a well. However, you’re completely on your own when you’re off the grid. Rainwater collecting, drilling a well, or using wind or solar power to provide H2O to your home via a freshwater source are all options for bringing water to your home site.

You’ll quickly realize that water is a valuable commodity when you go off the grid. You won’t get very far without clean, dependable water, so keep those jugs and stock up!

I opted for a well, but I live in Virginia, which has an optimal water level. I’m sorry for those who live off the grid in the desert, on a mountain, or anywhere with a low water table. Just kidding, but you’ll have to either collect rainwater or use another water system. 


In wilderness existence, the quest for food is practically everything; just think about any wild animal! When you abandon the traditional way of life and choose to live off the grid, you quickly transform into a hunter-gatherer or gardener. 

Hunting, fishing, farming, gardening, composting, land management (i.e., establishing optimal food plots to attract deer or other food sources to your property), and other critical life-giving activities are all part of food sourcing. 

Frankly, I see the ‘food’ topic as a little different from many off-gridders. I don’t think it’s a requirement to grow, harvest, or hunt 100% of all your food. When I first transitioned to living off the grid, I knew I spent more time than I’d like to admit at the grocery store. Even now, I travel to the grocery store and get a few specialty items that I can’t grow myself (don’t tell the preppers). 


When you’re living off the grid, being protected from the elements—cold, rain, wind, snow, and severe heat—is one of the most crucial things to keep yourself safe and (quite frankly) alive.

Building shelter entails more than just having a secure roof over your head. It also entails keeping a supply of tough cold or hot weather gear available and reliable fire starters. A solid shelter must also provide protection from intruders and wild animals.


Sure, we’ve all spent a week or two camping with nothing but a battery-powered lamp and a roaring fire to keep us company—but living without power for an extended period is uncomfortable and dangerous.

When you move entirely off the grid, you’ll consume less electricity, but you’ll still need it for heating and cooking. Consider all of your off the grid power options—solar power is the most popular and accessible for many homesteaders—and choose the most dependable and practical choice for your specific needs.

Here’s a few tips for living without typical electricity (they’ll help in the long run)!

what does living off the grid mean?

Other Considerations For Living Off the Grid

You’re already well on your way to a very sustainable homesteading situation if you’ve thought about how to handle water, food, and shelter. But, of course, there’s a lot more to consider. Here are a few more things to think about.

Throwaway Goods are Not Sensible 

Plastic and other disposable products are often off the menu when you intend to live off the grid permanently. Anything that isn’t built to withstand hard, demanding conditions year after year is out.

Spend time looking for the most durable outdoor clothes, including jackets, pants, mid-layers, base layers, gloves, caps, and face masks that can be worn or repurposed for many years before entering your off the grid area.

It’s All About Safety and Survival 

At the end of the day, even if you do nothing else to prepare for your new lifestyle, knowing how to care for yourself in an emergency is critical.

There may be circumstances in which you must return to “regular” society—for medical treatment or restocking supplies. For example—and you must be open to this and prepared to put your survival ahead of your own convictions.

Learn everything you can about first aid to handle common problems and injuries quickly and effectively.

You May Get Lonely 

Self-sufficiency is at the heart of homesteading and living off the grid. That includes being self-sufficient in terms of feeding, housing, and entertainment.

Even if you plan to begin this lifestyle with your spouse or entire family, you will most certainly experience periods of loneliness because you will be engaging with fewer people overall. Make sure you’re ready for this and have a strategy to deal with it.

Being Prepared and Enjoying the Ride

Choosing to live off the grid might be one of the finest decisions. I know it is for myself. You’ll be more productive and rewarded than you’ve ever been before. However, suppose you don’t set the basis for a safe, healthy, and happy homesteading lifestyle. In that case, you risk endangering yourself (and others who have elected to join you on this path). The greatest thing you can do to assure a favorable outcome is to spend some time getting ready before making the change. 

If you’re looking for some of the best places to live off the grid, I recommend reading my Off Grid Living Guide to West Virginia, Tennessee, and Michigan.

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