Have you been thinking about homesteading, otherwise known as going “off-grid”? People have lots of different reasons for making this choice, including a desire to be more environmentally friendly or more self sufficient or just wanting to get “unplugged” and closer to nature. If this lifestyle holds some appeal for you, there are some things that you should understand about what your decision really means in terms of what you’ll be giving up and what hardships you might face.
The first thing to consider is how self sufficient you intend to be. Do you intend to grow all of your own food? If so, does that include raising livestock or fowl? If so, you’ll need enough land to accommodate your gardens or patch farms as well as grazing room for your animals. If you intend to use your homestead to generate some income, you’ll need even more land. The more land you need, especially when that land needs to serve the above purposes, the larger your investment will be and the more work you’ll have to do to maintain the homestead. Getting into even small-scale farming can be incredibly difficult for those going in blindly. You can certainly get away with less land if you’re happy with purchasing food (in addition to other goods) from local sources. If you’ll be able to earn your living from home, your location won’t be quite as important as if you’ll still need to commute to work.
Next, you should understand exactly what you could be giving up in terms of things most of us currently take for granted. Naturally, where you intend to homestead makes a difference here. Mostly rural areas might offer services that a cabin in the woods cannot. Going too far away from “civilization” could mean losing reliable cell phone and internet service, easy access to shopping and neighbors, municipal utilities (including garbage pickup), and home mail delivery. Going way off the beaten path could also mean few, if any, paved roads, so make sure your vehicle is equipped to handle the new routine and that you’re prepared for the extra maintenance that might arise. If you live someplace where winter means snow, don’t forget to take snowy roads and paths into account. Will you be able to shovel enough snow to get yourself out?
For those simply looking to get farther away from city life than even the suburbs allow, living “out in the country” might be the goal. In these cases, you’ll probably have access to municipal electricity, but might have to rely on a well for water delivery and a septic system for sewage handling. Make sure you understand what expenses and ongoing maintenance are required to keep a well going and your septic system working properly. Cell phone and internet service in rural areas varies greatly, so make sure you know how reliable these services will be if maintaining these connections is important to you. You’ll also need to adjust to the fact that your commute to work will be longer, and that a quick trip to the grocery store might be a thing of the past.
If you’re looking to go completely off grid, you’ve probably already thought about how you’ll generate electricity or otherwise meet your heating and cooking needs. Make sure you also consider water and waste needs, too. If you’re too far away from town, don’t forget to account for the time commuting or errand-running will take, as well as the fact that emergency services will be farther away.
All in all, getting away from it all can be a great way to simplify your life as long as you understand the potential complications before they become a reason to regret your decision.