Living off the grid or at your dream survival retreat might be more affordable that you think. Unless you are independently wealthy, an income must still be earned while preparing for a SHTF scenario. More than a few notable accomplished preparedness authors, presenters, and radio show personalities left lucrative and high-powered positions to live more simply while focusing on enhancing their level of self-reliance.
Taking the mammoth leap required to live either entirely or partially off the grid requires a significant amount of planning. Before browsing real estate listings to unearth the perfect homesteading property, review finances and necessary bills thoroughly. Although you may be downsizing your modern world needs, the cost of building necessary structures, acquiring agriculture tools and equipment, and purchasing supplies for livestock must also be factored into your new off-the-grid budget.
As with most things in life, planning is key to developing a successful off-the-grid existence. After working from home for several years now, I can’t imagine ever going back to an office or classroom environment. The liberating feeling of being your own boss is equaled only by the sense of satisfaction that comes after accomplishing a beloved project. Gone are the chatty co-workers who are more concerned with the latest antics of Kim Kardashian and the annoying work peers who do not understand your preparedness mindset. Instead you get to enjoy chirping birds, beautiful views and perhaps a dog or two at your feet.
Working from home is not for everyone. If you do no function well without a boss breathing down your neck to meet deadlines and complete tasks, a back porch office might foster failure instead of self-reliant bliss.
Top 7 ways to make an off-the-grid living
- Sell What You Grow – Laws vary by state, but farm-to-stand produce and goods sales are generally allowed just about everywhere. As long as you do not leave your own property to sell your food, livestock, or handmade goods, a host of restrictive laws do not generally apply. Garnering an LLC (limited liability company) permit may not be required but is still a good idea. Protecting yourself from lawsuits if someone becomes ill from the food you sell is worth the small amount of time and $200 generally required to get an LLC. Raw milk sales are strictly prohibited in many areas, but herd share agreements are not. Selling a “share” of a cow allows property owners to earn income from the collection of raw milk by those who pay a fee to co-own the animal. Participating in farmers’ markets might require a few government hoops to jump through but can also offer an opportunity to increase earnings from crop yields. The “Localvore” movement, or eating food that is grown or raised locally, has substantially increased in popularity. Connect with restaurants and grocery stores in your area and hammer out an agreement to sell your fruit, vegetables, eggs, and meat at nearby establishments. Green City Acres farmer Curtis Stone grew 50,000 pounds of food on less than a single acre of land, took winter off, and reportedly grossed nearly $100,000 in a year.
- Cabin Rentals – There is definitely money to be made in renting cabins and camping space. Living in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio, I have seen folks with primitive cabins garner up to $200 per night for such rentals. Folks come here to hunt, hike, ride horses and ATVs, and to escape the city for a weekend. The vast majority of the cabins are rented months in advance, sometimes longer. Shipping containers and used campers can make great starter cabin rentals and be used for low-cost lodging after the business grows and traditional wood cabins are constructed on the property. Marketing is extremely important. Connect with the local travel and tourism bureau, set up a simple website that links to regional events and attractions, and use social media to establish your off-the-grid cabin rental brand. Rent barns and outdoor space for special events, like weddings and receptions.
- Become A Nature Teacher – Share your skills and land with others as a single business, or in conjunction with a cabin rental endeavor. Schools, scout groups, church groups, and nursing homes often seek low-cost learning experiences for their students and members. You could also offer short how-to homesteading, art or nature photography courses. These self-reliance educational outings can offer a steady stream of income. Connect with a local college or trade school to offer extension learning experiences for adult students. Go the extra mile here and use the internet to offer online courses and monetize YouTube videos to increase cash flow.
- Horse Trail Rides – Offer horseback trails rides, boarding, and training to bolster your off-grid income options. Learn how to shoe horses; such a skill is not only handy after a TEOTWAWKI event, but as a money-saving skill on your homestead and as a business service you can offer to others. Teaching others how to shoe horses and to ride could also become part of a seasonal workshop offering.
- ATV Rides – If you are not opposed to fuel-powered vehicles on your property, open up the trail for paid rides and special events. Coordinating crop sales, workshops, camping and trail rides into monthly or quarterly events could allow you to substantially increase your annual off-the-grid living earnings.
- Write – If having the public trampling all over your land does not sound like something you would enjoy, write about what you know instead. Writing online articles or books via Amazon’s independent publishing arm, Create Space, can also provide dependable income. Making how-to videos and selling DVDs showing others how to live off the grid could help supplement your income as well.
- Sell What You Make – There are a host of online retailers that have turned work-from-home fans into thriving cottage industries. Here’s a sample list of items you could sell both online and in local shops: furniture, toys, crafts and decorations, photos, wooden picture frames, stained glass pieces, dried herbs, dehydrated produce, paintings, yarn, essential oils, organic baby food, handmade or upcycled clothing, pottery, leather accessories, handmade jewelry, soap and heirloom seeds.