Homesteading is an appealing proposition. Escaping the rat race, being closer to nature, experiencing freedom and spending more time with family are all compelling motivations to live off the grid.
Having a cabin makes this lifestyle transition less costly and stressful. Still, going off-grid is a massive undertaking. Here are the challenges you’ll face and how to overcome them.
Setting up Systems
If your cabin has access to traditional utilities, you have the luxury to connect to them and make your rural life easier and more convenient. If you’re away from civilization, you’ll have to put off-grid systems in place to support your daily needs. You must generate electricity, collect water, heat your property and treat your sewage. Setting these systems up can be complicated and expensive.
Solution: Explore Your Options
Learn about what’s on the market to minimize your initial cost and simplify installation. You’ll discover products for harnessing energy and water from different sources at various price points. Understanding how they work, their limitations and which ones suit your situation matters to set your expectations accordingly.
Some off-grid setups are friendly to do-it-yourselfers. However, others need professional expertise — like septic tank installation — to bring your off-grid home up to code.
Doing Everything Yourself
Isolating yourself or your family from the rest of the world means help can be hours or days away when you need it. Underestimating the time and energy you must spend to have the resources you need to survive in the woods will increase your stress while adjusting to rural living. Getting your hands dirty can be exhausting with or without using modern conveniences if you’re used to outsourcing menial and tedious tasks.
Solution: Learn Vital Skills
Not knowing what to do is the biggest roadblock to successful homesteading. Develop these crucial skills to be self-sufficient:
- Gardening and farming
- Animal husbandry
- Meat processing
- Wood harvestingCampfire building
- Food preservation
- Water filtration and purification
- Sewing and mending
- Basic first aid
- Home maintenance work
The more skilled you are, the less nerve-wracking living in the wilderness will be. Homesteading will still be labor-intensive, but you can overcome the psychological aspect of feeling helpless when something goes wrong when you confidently know how to do things.
Inexperienced off-gridders often make the mistake of using more resources than they should. Mismanaging your food, water, electricity and gas can be critical because other people may need more time to come to your rescue when you run out of essentials.
Solution: Have Foresight
Minimizing waste is instrumental in living off the grid. Even if your cabin has abundant nearby renewable resources, you must still conserve your supplies to avoid needlessly exposing yourself to the dangers of obtaining them. Consuming them mindlessly — like flushing water down the toilet instead of turning your waste into compost or driving when you can bike — can put you in a tight spot.
Straining Your Body
Being self-sufficient is taxing. The older you are, the more you’ll find every day off-grid chores physically demanding. Tools will reduce manual labor, but lifting a chainsaw, slashing with a scythe, hammering with a splitting maul and drawing deep-well water with a manual pump can leave you sore and sap you of energy.
Solution: Get in Shape
The active lifestyle of living off-grid will benefit your health. However, paying attention to your fitness beforehand is essential to prepare for backbreaking homesteading tasks.
Strengthen your muscles, enhance your flexibility, improve your stamina and increase your endurance before you pack your bags and start an independent life in a remote location. Here are the activities you can do:
- Eat a balanced diet
- Stroll long distances
- Lift weights
- Work with resistance bands
- Do pushups, sit-ups and squats
- Walk uphill
- Practice yoga
Dealing With Emergencies
Living in the middle of nowhere comes with its own set of perils. Violent weather, non-potable water, fires, wildlife encounters, severe illnesses and serious injuries will jeopardize you and your family. Your limited access to responders and finite resources will negatively affect your ability to handle an emergency off-grid.
Solution: Adopt Survivalism
Having a survivalist mindset is a must. You should be paranoid enough to acknowledge that your safety is not guaranteed even when you do everything right and are prudent enough to plan for every emergency thoroughly. You may still face curveballs, but you have a higher chance of getting through any predicaments when you prepare for the worst.
Rural living can free you from bills you must worry about when staying in an urban or suburban area. However, living off-grid can still be costly. You still need to pay for home insurance and property tax. Likewise, you must keep an emergency fund to finance unexpected major repairs — like a broken fence and a malfunctioning solar system. Taking 30-minute drives to buy groceries frequently to stock up on supplies will increase your gas expenses.
Solution: Be More Self-Sufficient
The only way to minimize costs is to be independent in every area possible. Living off-grid without connecting to standard electric, water and sewage systems will eliminate public utility bills. Being completely food-sufficient will save you routine trips to the grocery store. Investing in high-quality equipment will prevent pricey repair jobs and replacements from eating up your savings.
Only some off-grid homesteaders can live with zero income. Being a traditional salaried employee while living in a remote area may be infeasible. Dividends may support your lifestyle, but they’re unreliable because the companies issuing them will turn off the taps when they become unprofitable. Renting out another property can keep you afloat, but having a vacancy for an extended period may force you to touch your nest egg.
Solution: Provide Value to Others
Homesteading may deprive you of ordinary employment opportunities, but it opens new doors. You can monetize your survival skills in these ways:
- Supplying produce to restaurants
- Selling arts and crafts
- Handcrafting furniture
- Holding educational workshops
- Guiding hikers and campers
- Writing a book
Carve out a niche for yourself as an off-gridder with your unique capabilities. Running a food, tourism or digital business requires a different skill set, so it’s just one more thing you must learn and master to maintain positive cash flow.
Go Off-Grid with a Network
Living away from civilization differs from being an island. Homesteaders love their privacy but are passionate about sharing their best practices. Build or find a support network of individuals online or in real life to get ideas from the community’s hivemind to overcome your everyday challenges.