Visit a social media platform like Instagram or Facebook and search the words “off-grid” and you’ll probably find a lot of accounts talking about the benefits and drawbacks of living off the grid. People choose off-grid living to simplify their lives and to be more eco-friendly. Some do it just to prove that in a world growing increasingly connected, you can disconnect and thrive while doing it. But what exactly does it mean to live off the grid?
“Off-grid” is an umbrella term that pertains to a number of different things. Generally, it’s defined as not requiring assistance from public utilities or services. A fully off-grid family is able to provide all necessities themselves or through technology like solar panels.
There are some parts of the world where it’s easier to live off-grid while others are more challenging. These are 10 of the best places to live off-grid in North America.
1. New Mexico
New Mexico is ground zero for a special kind of home – the Earthship. An Earthship is homemade primarily from reclaimed materials, like tires and plastic bottles, and materials gathered from the Earth, like wood, stones, and mud. The first Earthship was built by Mike Reynolds in the 1970s.
Earthships are built in such a way that they can take advantage of each season. When it rains, Earthships are able to collect the water for greywater and garden use. When it’s hot, the Earthship’s walls help keep the interior cool. When it’s cold, large greenhouse windows help trap the heat from sunlight.
When you think of Alaska, what do you picture in your mind? Polar bears, cold winters, and having to fly to get anywhere, right? Alaska is the largest state in the United States and many parts of it are remote, with no highways leading you to them. As such, Alaska is becoming a go-to for people who desire a simpler, off-grid life.
Compared to other parts of the country, Alaska boasts fairly inexpensive and untamed land, and the climate isn’t perpetually-cold like you might believe. With plentiful resources and lots of undisturbed territory to call home, Alaska is an excellent spot for off-grid living.
3. Lasqueti Island, Canada
Living off the grid doesn’t necessarily mean you adopt the lifestyle of a lonely hermit. Some choose to live off the grid in what are called “eco-villages.” This style of off-grid living is more aligned with the concept of a commune, just without a lot of the negative connotations that go along with the term ‘commune.’
For residents of Lasqueti, living a simple, self-sufficient lifestyle is a priority. There are approximately 400 residents on the island living a radically different lifestyle. There is no such thing as a 5-day workweek because, at most, you only need to work 3 days to get done what you need to do.
Jobs on Lasqueti Island usually involve wastewater systems, energy production, gardening, and chopping wood. In their spare time, residents of Lasqueti enjoy studying different sciences, the arts, fishing, and even small-scale manufacturing.
The US state of Oregon features two at times radically different climates: a temperate, rainy climate in the west and a semi-arid climate in the east. Each climate has its pros and cons, but Oregon truly has it all.
If you have a love for snow and ranching is more your style, eastern Oregon is an ideal place for you to try living off-grid. If you love rain, dank forests, and plan to do more gardening than ranching, the western half of the state would serve you better.
Between the two climates is the Cascade Range – a range of tall mountains and volcanos that stretch from Northern California all the way into Washington. If mountain living is your style, the Cascades are perfect!
Our list so far has focused on the Western part of the continent, but the midwest can be a great place to post up for off-grid living too. In particular, Missouri offers a lot. There are few legal loopholes to jump through for living off-grid and the necessary natural resources are fairly plentiful.
Additionally, it has a pretty reasonable climate. Summers are warm and humid while winters are cold and snowy. Being situated further south, compared to Illinois and Wisconsin, means you’ll be able to enjoy slightly warmer winters.
6. North Carolina
You might picture the east coast as being overdeveloped and difficult to get your footing for off-grid living, but that isn’t necessarily the case! North Carolina is an excellent mid-Atlantic state for off-grid enthusiasts.
North Carolina also plays host to an annual, 3-day hands-on prepping, homesteading, and survival camp. If you’re a newbie to the art of off-grid living, this camp, and this state, could be perfect for you!
Apple cider, fall foliage, syrup, cheese, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream are all things Vermont is famous for. What few realize is that Vermont is an off-grid family’s dream come true. The state has relaxed zoning laws when it comes to off-grid living and it’s easy to stay away from large cities. Vermont doesn’t have any!
The only major drawback to living in Vermont is the bitterly cold winter. You have to build yourself a home that can really keep the cold out and the heat in. But as far as natural beauty, Vermont is second-to-none.
Texas is a popular destination for families who want to live off-grid due to the climate and the land. Texas, while not the most hospitable place in the country, has a warmer climate and plentiful inexpensive land.
There are some pitfalls to Texas: be conscious of the availability of water as well as the risk of severe thunderstorms and tornados. It would be unfortunate to set up your off-grid homestead only to have a tornado damage it!
Like Vermont, Montana can get pretty cold. But like Alaska, it is a large state with lots of remote, wildlands. Plus the state has laws that are generally agreeable to the needs of an off-grid family.
The growing season in Montana is generally pretty short, so a greenhouse is a must-have. But the state is windy, making it ideal for small-scale wind power!
Ohio is one of the fastest growing places in North America. Good jobs are plentiful, real estate is cheap, and property taxes are relatively low. That, in conjunction with an inexpensive cost of living in general, makes it a great place to set up shop for an off-grid family.
Some parts of the state don’t actually have any laws that govern zoning, which makes it ideal for homesteaders who want to be a little more creative in the way they build. The only drawback to Ohio is the potential for it to become crowded over time.
But regardless of where you decide to try living off the grid, you’re bound to have an incredibly fun and at times challenging lifestyle. It will be hard, but rewarding. Good luck!