Off Grid Homes 101: Building the Best Home to Live Off Grid

The virus is creeping in, and it’s getting difficult to run away from it.

It’s like you can’t take one step without hearing someone sneeze or cough.

Plus, there’s the news. Every day, you seem to hear awful news. The economy is crumbling, food is running out, and the government isn’t any better.

To escape it all, you may just decide to live off the grid. But how do you start?

Here’s what you should know about off grid homes:

What Should You Know About Building Off the Grid?

building materials

A lot of off grid properties have homes ready for moving in. But, if you want to build an off grid home yourself, you have to address a few things, like:

Where Will You Move To?

Before you start planning anything, think about your location.

Are you going to live in the same state or move somewhere else? It’s up to you to choose whether to live someplace colder or settle down in a warmer area. Some states are also more off grid-friendly than others.

Once that’s been decided, you can start looking for land. You should keep the following in mind when doing so:

  • Accessibility
  • Available water sources like rivers, streams, or wells
  • The plants that dot the place
  • Livestock

What Materials Will You Use to Make Your Home?

There are all kinds of building materials out there.

Many people who decide to make the leap to off grid living choose to build their homes using materials like local timber or reclaimed wood. These materials are cheaper than other building materials. Plus, it’s easier to transport them.

But, for other types of off grid homes like tiny houses, yurts, and earthships, salvaged and upcycled materials are the way to go. If you haven’t realized it by now, most off the grid homes are built using eco-friendly resources.

Is Construction Legal?

Just because you’re living off the grid doesn’t mean you’re free from the law. The law can find you and track you down way better than the zombies can, so you gotta stick to it.

Before you move into any off grid cabins, make sure you check the laws and regulations for that region, county, and state. There are certain building codes and zoning codes you need to follow.

If you decide to look for off grid homes for sale instead, check this out:

Where Can You Find Off Grid Homes for Sale?

off grid homes are located far away from the city and general population

You can browse different websites to find potential off grid homes. Here are some sites to help you get started:

Zillow Searches

Yeah, Zillow is a mainstream real estate website. But you can use its advanced search feature to check out off grid land and properties. If you know how to use the filters correctly, you’ll be able to narrow down your quest for off grid land.

To start, try removing condos, apartments, and townhomes under the home type category. Then, set the lot size to 10+ acres. This will take out most of the suburban lots from your search. 1+ acre or 5+ acres can work, too, depending on where you plan on settling.

The last thing to do is to type in keywords under “more filters.” Try adding “grid.” Congrats, you’ve got yourself a custom search. Most of the properties that show up now will be off the grid.

Sustainable Properties Real Estate Listings

On the Sustainable Real Estate website, it says that they feature off grid, survival, sustainable, and alternative energy properties. And, since their listings include the entire US of A, you’ll have a lot of options than if you were to check out regional off grid real estate listings.

Survival Realty

From the name alone, you’d know that this real estate website is meant for survivalists and preppers. You can find pretty impressive compounds here. The best thing is that most of them are off grid. Plus, the site lists properties from every US state and even overseas options.

Facebook Groups

How weird would it be to find your off grid home from some random Facebook group? It’s probably not the first thing you’d think of, but you’ll never know what you can find.

Just search Facebook for off grid land for sale, and we’re pretty sure a lot of groups will appear. We’d like to put it out there, though, that Facebook listings can be sketchier than an Etch A Sketch, so proceed with caution.

In the next section, we take a look into various off grid homes. Ready? Let’s dive right in:

What Are the Different Types of Off Grid Homes?

Off grid homes come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and designs. Some look exactly what you’d expect an off grid home to be while others actually look like homes you’d find in the suburbs.

Check out these examples:

Tiny Houses

Does the idea of paying a mortgage make you feel like pulling all your hair out? You’re not the only one. There’s been a trend of people who buy or build houses smaller than the size of your usual living room.

While living in a tiny space is a major adjustment, it’s not impossible. You just gotta adopt a different mindset. Think about it. Looters will likely target big houses when SHTF, so you’ll be happy you decided to downsize.

Another nice thing about tiny houses? Some of them are mobile, so you can hook them up to your car whenever you feel the urge to travel.


You can say that cabins are the rustic siblings of tiny houses. Think pioneers living in the 1800s and early 1900s, and you’ll get an idea of what it’s like to live in an off grid cabin.

Many people like staying in a cabin during the summer season, but there are some who do spend their time in a cabin year-round.

Shipping Containers

What’s nice about this particular off grid home is that it’s already built. It’s also secure and easy to transport. And since you’re most likely used to living in square or rectangular-shaped houses, you won’t have a hard time adapting to a smaller space with its shape.

If you want a bigger structure, you can stack different shipping containers together.

Now, you’re probably wondering about the temperature in shipping container homes. Well, if we’re being honest, it’s quite difficult to control it since the metal they’re made of can absorb heat and cold well.

This may just be a deal breaker for some, but if you can find a way around it, then go ahead and call it home.


Yurts are like tents but sturdier and a little fancier. Typically, they’re built with lattice walls, a circular wood frame, and some sort of fabric cover.

What’s nice about yurts is that they’re built on a platform, meaning they have minimal impact on the land. This makes them more friendly to the environment than the average Joe’s home. They’re also much cheaper—you can get a yurt at a fraction of the cost you’d pay for a house in the suburbs.

The downside about yurts? You gotta be ready to make friends with rodents, insects, and other animals since yurts fall somewhere between residing in a modern home and camping. Yurts also aren’t soundproof. Other disadvantages are lack of privacy and storage space.

But if you love nature, camping, and living a simple life, yurt living may just be your cup of tea.


Sound like something out of a science fiction movie? In reality, they’re not that out of this world.

Earthships are essentially shelters made of upcycled and natural materials like earth-packed tires. They’re self-sufficient and comfortable, making them a perfect choice for people who want to live off the grid without sacrificing the luxuries of modern life.

Underground Houses

If Frodo could live underground, what’s stopping you from following in his footsteps?

The good thing about an underground house is its insulation. It can keep you cool in the winter and warm in the summer. Another plus? Privacy. Since you’re underground and won’t easily be seen, people won’t be bugging you much.

The homes above may look unique from one another, but they share common characteristics that make them different from your average home. Read on to discover some of these features:

What Features Should Off Grid Homes Have?

Off grid homes need to be very conservative with water and energy. That’s why a lot of things unique to these homes focus on stuff like water collection, heating and cooling, and power efficiency.

That being said, you may want to consider the following features:


Off grid homes need really thick insulation. The ones constructed for traditional homes simply won’t cut it. This allows you to preserve heat from the sun during winter. At the same time, it keeps your house from getting too hot in the summer.

Power Generation System

Since you can’t connect to the power grid, you need to generate electricity on your own. How else will you power up all your appliances and charge your devices?

You need a power generation system (with backups) in place. Depending on how much power you’ll use, a few 250-watt solar panels and a 250-500 watt wind turbine would be enough for your home.

It’s good to have a wind turbine as a backup for the solar panels and vice versa. You’ll never know when the sun decides it doesn’t wanna shine. The same thing goes for the wind. That’s why you need to have both solar panels and a wind turbine.

Water System

When you live on the grid, you can take a shower without having to think twice about where your water is coming from. It’s a whole different story once you’re off the grid.

Having said that, you’ll need to decide on an off grid water system that best fits your needs. You’ll have to weigh in location, budget, and preferences.

Wells are great, though they can quickly get expensive. The more its depth increases, the higher its cost. On the flip side, rainwater catchment systems give you a practically free water source. But this means you’ll be dependent on rainfall.

You may need to use a combination of well water, buying and storing water, rain catchment systems, and water filters to ensure you’ll have enough water year-round.

Waste Disposal and Septic System

You can escape from society, but you can’t run away from waste disposal. Your home should have some kind of composting waste disposal in place. Or, you can make a traditional septic system.

Whatever you choose, don’t forget to follow local and federal guidelines.

And aside from the law, it’s simply gross to put all your waste into a hole and wish for the best. It’s not wrong, but don’t make the mistake of doing it near your water source. Just do yourself a favor, though, and build a working septic system.

Wood Stove

There’s a high chance your wood stove will be your home’s centerpiece. In the harsh winter months, this is one of the most effective ways to keep your home heated. Your stove needs to be heavily insulated to maximize your limited wood supplies.

Tankless Hot Water Heater or Solar Water Heater

Compared to your usual water heaters, tankless heaters start the heat only when the water is running. With a heater like this, you get to save a lot of energy without needing to deal with unpleasant cold showers.

Heat Recovery Ventilator (MVHR)

Wanna save even more energy on heating? Of course, you do.

What you want to do is move the heat from your outgoing hot air into your incoming cold air when it’s winter. A heat recovery ventilator helps you do this by seizing the remaining heat before it escapes your home.

What Else Do You Need?

Besides the features we mentioned, you also need to factor in the following:

  • Food: How will you get food? Are you going to grow your own fruits and veggies? Forage for food? What about raising livestock?
  • Money: How will you make a living when you’re off the grid? You still need money in case of emergencies.
  • Staying Connected: How will you contact the people you want to keep in touch with? Consider getting a satellite phone and a ham radio. And, of course, WiFi.

Final Thoughts

Living off the grid is simple. Just move to the outskirts, build or buy a home, put in some solar panels, gather rain, raise some animals, and whatnot, right?

We’re sorry to say it, but this isn’t Little House on the Prairie.

Ask anyone living off the grid (if you can reach them), and they’ll tell you it’s easier said than done. A lot of planning and prepping will go into making that transition. And even after you move in, you still need to maintain your off grid home.

But all your efforts will pay off—whether that means becoming more self-sufficient, saying goodbye to a mortgage, or escaping a pandemic.

Have other questions about off grid homes? Let us know in the comments!

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