Planning an Off Grid Future: Step 1/3: Questions

DSC_2312Congratulations on your interest in going off the grid and living a homestead lifestyle! When making any life-altering changes, there are some basic questions to ask yourself. Why are you doing this? How will your life improve? What hardships do you foresee? Who will be affected? Does your health allow these changes? What is your timeframe? How much experience do you have and how much will you need to learn? How invested are you? If you’ve already got the answers covered, below are questions to ask yourself when considering your path to off grid happiness. At the end of the list, you will find the link to our answers! Good luck!

What are your finances?

How will you pay for your new life?

  • How much money do you make? How much money do you have? How much money do you want to have in savings before becoming a full-time resident? What steps will you take to save money?
  • Will you pay cash? Do you need a loan and will you qualify? If you don’t, what steps do you need to take to make qualification? Will it be a conventional loan, home equity loan, raw land loan, or improved property loan? Are there other loan options out there for you? Are you open to an owner’s contract or leasing?

What are your expenses?

  • What is your current budget? What expenses do you have now that you wish to eliminate? What expenses will you acquire? How will your budget change?
  • Do you have debt? Will you be able to afford payments when living off the grid? Do you need to pay it off before going rural? What changes could you make to pay off the debt sooner?
  • How much money do you want to invest? What resources do you already have and what do you need to acquire? Will you do improvements yourself or outsource the labor?
  • Will you sacrifice amenities for lower cost of living? If so, which would you keep?

How do you earn an income?

  • Does your business depend on the local economy? Will you be able to continue the same field? After relocating, will you have more, the same, or less income?
  • Do you need to find a new profession? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing and how can you make money doing it?

Who else is along for the ride?

Do you have a spouse or significant other?

  • How’s your communication? Have you ever spent long periods of time together? Do both of you have a purpose in your new life? Is your partner on board? How will this affect their employment? Will they be able to maintain relationships? What opportunities are there to form new ones? What compromises need to be made to make each other happy?

Do you or will you have kids?

  • How will this impact their childhood? How will they receive an education? If you choose homeschooling, have you ever done it? What is your level of teaching capability? Have you and your spouse ever parented together for long periods of time? How many opportunities for socializing do you want for them?

Do you have other dependents?

  • Are the elderly in your family able to take care of themselves? If so, for how long? Will you take the responsibility of caring for them and will they be able to come with you? Will they want to join you? Will you need to find alternative living arrangements for them?

What does your property look like and what’s on it?

What is your ideal land?

  • When you look outside, what do you see? Do you want trees or desert? How about rolling fields with roaming livestock? What about the weather? Do you enjoy the heat or would you rather have snow? What natural resources would you like it to have? Is there a natural water source? Does it have a view? Is it level? Have you considered sloping or a steep incline? How private is it? Can you see your neighbors? How many acres do you want?

What do you want to live in?

  • Will your dwelling be stick, brick, log, or stone? Are you interested in a trailer or a modular home? Do you want to live in a yurt or some cool eco-friendly structure? Do you want to build your home, have it built, or buy established? If you build, what will you live in during construction? How will you heat? Will you have running water? Will you have household amenities, like a dishwasher or laundry machines?
  • How big is it? Will it be a tiny home, average home, or mansion? How big of a kitchen do you need to make your daily meals and preserve your garden’s harvest? How many bedrooms do you need? How many bathrooms? How much mayonnaise do you want? Will you need office space?

What other buildings will you need?

  • Will you build an outhouse? What do you need to store? Do you have vehicles you would like to keep under cover? Is a lean to sufficient or do you need a garage? Do you want a workshop? What about a barn? If livestock is in your future, what will be their shelter?

Will you be self-sufficient, or self-reliant and to what degree? 

Do you plan on going at this alone? What are you capable of and what are you willing to learn? Have you considered teaming up with another family or more? If you are, how will you benefit and what will you offer?

How will you feed yourself?

  • Do you like the convenience of a local supermarket?
  • Will you garden and to what extent? What will you grow? Do you want a row garden or will you use the square-foot method? Will it be traditional or raised beds? How will you preserve your harvest? How will you store your preserves?
  • Do you want to raise livestock? What animal products do you like? What should you try before investing? Do you hunt or have an interest in it? How will you preserve and store the meat?
  • What will be in your kitchen? Will you have an electric refrigerator or propane? Wood, propane, or gas burning stove or will you go electric? Will you have running water or will your dwelling be dry?

What will be your energy source?

  • Do you want to be hooked up to the grid? Will you use solar, the wind, or water? Are you capable of designing something custom?

What forms of outside communication will you need?

  • Do you depend on the internet? Will you need reliable broadband or will satellite internet suffice? Do you want a landline? What cell phone coverage do you have and will it work in rural areas? Will you need your mail delivered daily?

What will be your water source?

  • Would you be more comfortable being hooked up to community water service? Will you drill a well? Do you want a spring, creek, or river? Are you interested in rainwater collection?

How will you dispose of waste?

  • Will you be hooked up, install a septic system, use an outhouse, or have a composting toilet? If you compost, what will you fertilize with your waste? Are you healthy enough to put it in your garden? How will you recycle your gray water? Do you want the convenience of garbage pickup? How will you contain trash until removing it from your property?

The list of questions can be intimidating. Ultimately, think about who you are, what you do, and what you have now. Think about what’s important to you. What do you want for your new life and how many changes are you willing to make? Remember, not everything needs to be written in stone. The first step is just getting an idea of what you want. Problems will arise and plans will change; that’s all ok.

You may already know most of your answers and could add to our list. There is so much to consider, we’re sure we’ve forgotten something along the way. The answers to all of these questions are in Step 1.5. Next, we’ll share how we chose a location for our future off grid life. Finally, from our last stage of planning, we will be explaining how we designed our future property in order to shop efficiently. To see more on financing an independent life, check out Cash for Cabin in Penny-wise. If you want more tips for buying your property, see Buying Land. You can read about our family’s journey in The Adventure and be sure to like our Facebook page, PathfindersForOffGridHappiness. We hope our experience helps you find your path and good luck on your quest to happiness!

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