Off-grid living is a term used to describe a situation in which someone lives off of power separate from any public power grid. Off-grid living has become more prevalent in recent years due to fears of an inevitable societal collapse. With all the stuff going on in the world right now, it can be tempting to pack all of your things and head for the mountains. But, one thing that stops many people from doing so is the thought of wondering, “is off-grid living illegal?”
The short answer to that question is no. But, there are some instances in which off-grid living can lead you to do illegal things unknowingly. There are several factors and elements to consider before you can say you’re living off-grid legally. If you fall into one of the legal traps set for those interested in off-grid living, you could face some stiff consequences.
For those interested in off-grid living, you need to educate yourself about the various rules to ensure you can live comfortably while avoiding legal downfalls. To learn more about off-grid living, continue reading.
The legality of off-grid living
Shelter and housing are two of the most important things you need to have in place when living off the grid. But, all cities and municipalities have regulations governing what you can do with your land. For an off-grid lifestyle, you should always strive to build a permanent home to live. Depending on where you build, there could be a minimum square footage requirement for your structure. In my experience, most cities require at least 1,200sq./ft. for a dwelling to be established.
Another huge aspect of off-grid living is that of recycling your own waste. Even when trying to use your own waste as manure, many states won’t allow you to do so for long. People who live off-grid produce more organic waste, and you’re responsible for getting rid of it. However you decide to dispose of your waste, just make sure you aren’t violating any recycling or compost laws.
We produce more organic waste but we use fewer plastics and non-recyclables. The Mental state that we have imposed on ourselves has made us more aware of what we consume or use that comes in plastic packaging.
Recycle or Re-use
We ultimately try to avoid buying anything that cannot be recycled. Recycling is easy today with local recycling centres separating plastics, glass and paper.
Reusing plastic containers for the sowing of seedlings in the greenhouse. Clearwater bottles as mini-greenhouses are all simple and practical solutions for the second use of negative packaging. Sadly, I know of some off-grid inhabitants that are burying their plastic waste in shallow holes, this is an environmental hazard and very illegal.
Are biodegradable plastics OK?
So-called biodegradable plastics only break down into smaller pieces of itself and not into organic compounds.
Water is the single most important consideration when making that move to living off-grid. You can separate the water for the home into two main categories: Drinking and Washing!
Washing water can be recycled or collected from surface runoff but drinking water has to be pure. Legally you are required to make reasonable effort to ensure that the water that you and your guests drink is safe. We only drink filtered or boiled spring source and bottled water.
Many local codes for spring, borehole or well exist to keep you safe. You may have an obligation to take a sample of your water to an official testing centre to certificate your sample for potable.
Spring or Well
Spring is a natural source of water that is filtered naturally through the rock. The rock adds good minerals that our body needs. A WELL is a chamber that is filled by the aquifer and is reliant on the level of the water table. An Aquifer if how water is stored in porous rock underground.
When choosing a site for your off-grid adventure, survey the land and strata for the possibility of water close to the surface or from the rock. If the source is already present you can use that with little intervention from authorities but the drilling of a well will likely need planning consent.
To live separately from the rest of your city, you’ll need to have proof that you have a treated water source that is potable.
Reasons why you should not drink rainwater without treatment
- Rainwater can collect airborne contaminates
- Rainwater can be too acidic
- Rainwater is contaminated by water runoff systems such as gutters, valleys and roof tiles/shingles
- Chemical treatments are applied to many building surfaces
All of the above can contaminate your drinking water making it toxic for human consumption.
One of the only ways to use rainwater as your primary water source is by using a harvesting facility that is entirely separate from your home. The only time residents are allowed to be disconnected from the main utilities are in rural areas. Within city limits, being disconnected from some city utilities is illegal. Check your zone rules.
Many people who live off-grid use fuel or diesel generators that produce harmful greenhouse gases. To offset carbon emissions while living off the grid, you should consider solar power. To avoid being disconnected from the state electricity line, many counties allow you to sell generated solar power back to the electricity company. Research your local laws before installing any ecological electric generating systems using any of the following.
- Solar power
- Wind power
Installing an engine based generator system does not usually require any permissions. Be aware though that they can be very noisy when power is used as the revs increase. There are ways to reduce the noise by muffling the exhaust and placing the generator in a soundproofed building away from habitation. Remember the further the generator is away from the home the more voltage loss will require thicker cables.
I personally only use a generator as a back-up system when all eco power systems fail or batteries are depleted.
If there was one thing that I would find difficult to let go and that is the ability to be able to surf the net or post new content for this blog! There is an option where you will require no hard-wired connection! This is exactly how we connect to the web.
Living legally in Canada, Europe, and Australia
Living off-grid in places like Canada, Europe, and Australia varies drastically from the United States. Primarily due to infrastructure reasons and also economic restrictions that apply in those countries. One thing they do have in common is building code so play it safe and check out your local code which is usually available from the ‘Town Hall’ or ‘The Mayor’s Department’.
More information about off-grid living
To avoid running into any legal trouble, you need to plan out your off-grid living plan beforehand. As long as you arrange all of your living amenities and in accordance with your local city regulations and laws, you won’t have to worry about much. Off-grid living is all about exploring your ability to exercise your God-given rights outside of any government intervention or opposition.
Using all of the information in this article, you can start living off-grid without any stress related to potential legal ramifications. Begin your journey to off-grid living today and experience life on your own terms.