Taking the leap and going off grid, or even semi off grid is a formidable decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. But, just because it’s quite a daunting goal, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. I’ve been slowly working toward that goal over the years, and while I’m still not completely there I am well along my way. In fact I would say that I am set up comfortably enough that if it all went to hell tomorrow we would probably do alright. At least as ‘alright’ as anyone can expect to in such a situation.
To help those of you who are contemplating the same decision or just want to incorporate some more self reliance into your lifestyle I’ve compiled a list of what I consider some of the primary essentials for a homestead. While the list below is not all inclusive it is a great primer to get you headed in the right direction. After you read through it please let us know what your thoughts are on the topic and share anything you think I may have left out. One of the primary goals of the MWP is to help foster a community and grow from each other’s knowledge and experience, and the best way to do that is share.
It makes sense to start the list off with a good piece of property. I recommend that it is away from large cities, but not so far away from civilization that it makes your day to day life unpleasant. Ultimately this is a personal decision on what level you enjoy the conveniences of the commercial market. Another consideration on location is whether or not your homestead will be your primary residence. If it is a bug out location or retreat of sort then the distance from your residence as well as potential issues of travel must be incorporated into the decision. I also recommend at least 3 acres of land. I feel that although a relatively small plot from a homesteading perspective it is large enough to easily accommodate a family’s homestead. Of course in an ideal situation your homestead would also be somewhat isolated from view, but like most things you have to find that compromise that meets your needs.
Soil quality and terrain. Since your goal is to obtain self reliance gardening and livestock should be a consideration. As such you want to consider the quality of the soil and the crops you can potentially grow on site. Additionally, you want to consider the general terrain and layout and whether it is suitable for any potential livestock you hope to raise.
A good water source is critical in my opinion. While a nearby water source could potentially suffice, I recommend that you have the source on your property. This is one area that I absolutely make a requirement when shopping a new property. It could be in the form of a creek, stream. pond. well or the like. Even better if you have multiple sources located on your property. Make sure that you also evaluate the water source and potential challenges during various disasters that could occur. Are you downstream from a plant that could contaminate your source if it were compromised during a natural disaster? Consider the source and its surroundings as best you can to have a reasonable idea of its viability in any given scenario, and if nothing else to help you develop contingencies in the event of a contamination.
Potential for electricity. While it can be argued that electricity is not a necessity, our modern life is definitely adapted to it. On top of that it just makes life better and easier. While I could survive without electricity I have no desire to do so unless I have no choice. When setting up your homestead you should seek to facilitate the ability to generate your own electricity. This can be by a number of methods such as hyrdro, solar, wind or a combination. If you have running water on your property you could potentially excavate an elevation drop to accommodate the hydro option. Solar power is always a great option, though can be a bit costly to start. If you’re in a wind plane with at least 9-10 mph. winds you could consider putting in a turbine to capture that.
A safe room or bunker is an ideal feature to get in place early on. While these are often associated with worst case scenarios they have numerous benefits such as a hidden storage facility (in the even of burglary) as well as simply providing a safe refuge during a dangerous weather condition. Not to mention they’re a perfect place to house the in-laws when they visit.
Supplies for building and repair. Ideally your property will have resources available to utilize for building and repairs, such as trees, gravel, sand etc.. For those items not present it’s a good idea to slowly accumulate them to always have on hand just in case you need them. However, keep in mind their durability along with your climate and storage conditions to minimize lost goods to deterioration.
Climate controlled (or mitigated) storage. You need to ensure you have a good and adequate amount of storage for your preps and supplies. Many of which will not hold up well or lose shelf-life if not properly stored in a cool dry place.
Security. This is an extensive category in and of itself. You should ensure your homestead is secure. This obviously encompasses physical security measure (locks, solid doors, cameras, etc..), personal equipment (firearms, ammunition, dog, etc..) as well as procedural measures in place and understood by all inhabitants of the homestead.
With these relatively few, but critical elements in place you’re well on your way to a self reliant homestead. Share your thoughts below as well as any specific tips you have that might help others on their quest to move off grid.