For those who like their privacy and less human interaction, living off-the-grid is appealing. Living off-grid is living autonomously without reliance on a utility for power. This often includes growing your own food and building your own home. Some people will raise livestock as well. The off-grid lifestyle is very close to a self-sufficient, homestead lifestyle.
Off-grid living itself is not illegal, especially when it comes to producing your own power, growing your own food, or building your own home. However, the problem with an off-grid lifestyle arises when local ordinances and zoning restrictions make it illegal to do certain tithings on or with your own property.
Living off the grid is technically not illegal in any of the 50 U.S. states, but some of the most essential infrastructure aspects of going off-grid are either too strictly regulated or banned. Problems usually arise when people want to remove their homes from the electrical grid entirely or put composting commodes in their homes. Such actions can lead to heavy fines or even jail time. Installing a septic system that passes health department rules is another large challenge for those looking to go off-grid.
Off-Grid Living Laws
Off-grid living laws vary by state but also vary greatly in municipalities and counties as well.
Generally, urban areas have the most restrictions regarding off-grid living, as well as affluent suburban areas, especially those with homeowners associations. Small towns have also placed restrictions on common off-grid activities, although usually not as stringiest as in urban areas, that typically focus on disconnecting from the power grid and sewer systems. Rural areas are the best place to take advantage of off-grid living, as they usually have the least restrictions and even lack zoning restrictions other than health department septic installation regulations.
Laws to consider in each state include:
- Rainwater collection laws
- Composting toilet codes
- Solar energy regulations
- Disconnecting from the power grid entirely
Many states also have laws and restrictions regarding the following:
- Selling raw milk from your off-grid homestead
- Building a permanent dwelling. Using a tent or mobile home long-term could result in fines or eviction
- The size of your home. Your house can be too small in many states.
- Make sure any mobile home or manufactured home you purchase meets minimum age requirements.
- Read your property deed very closely as some might have restriction about livestock
- How to process waste from a composting toilet is used or disposed of may also pose a problem
Individual restrictions on the state-level for each state can be found here.
While you can live off-grid in any state, some states are better for off-grid living than others. Considering six main categories of factors (cost of living, freedom of lifestyle, water availability, how easy it is to grow food, energy availability, and the area’s community, the ten best states for off-grid living area:
These states have low overall costs of living and property taxes, the most freedom for off-grid living, the least restrictive building codes, best off-grid water access, strong off-grid solar or wind power potential, and good conditions for growing crop gardens. )