How to choose an off-grid location. 10 MIN READ

Are you Prepared?

The world contains a variety of different terrain, climates, plants, and wildlife.  With the right plan, attitude, and work ethic you can make any location you choose work for living in a self-sufficient life.   Your location will heavily influence your off-grid lifestyle. We have compiled a list that we recommend you use when choosing your off-grid location.  Water, Food, and Shelter are the most important needs to survive and it helps to know what to look for to make sure all three are accomplished.  It’s important to remember that you can survive and thrive in almost any environment, if you make the right preparations.

1.       Community

Being a part of a community with similar goals and desires is extremely beneficial for success. Get to know your off-grid community! A community can prosper together through helping and trading with one another. When one member has goat milk and another has lettuce and apples, they trade their goods to benefit each other. Living completely self-sufficient is a life full of hard work for every family member.  Living in a part of a bigger community with the same goals will bring added quality and relaxation time.  

The Ozark Co-op is a community.  Together we are stronger.  Thriving while being safe and secure is achievable when you are part of a larger community.  We hold community trainings and resources for our members. Over the next year we will finish construction of multiple community structures including meeting rooms, gazebos, and more.  Community gardens and power banks are also benefits from having a community.  Together as a team, the off-grid lifestyle is possible.

2.       Water

Water is a vital aspect of living off-grid successfully. You need to make sure your area has access to water.  A spring, creek, or river is ideal for water collection but not necessary.  Wells, rain collection, and even condensation collection are all viable options for off-grid living.  If you don’t have a spring or direct water source don’t sweat, because other sources are easy to set up.

Wells can be deep or shallow wells.  Off-grid living is a lifestyle of providing what you and your family need and consuming less.  Deep wells often require electricity and there are solar powered pump systems that can be set up for your deep wells, but it is always smart to also have a backup manual pump available.  With some ingenuity you can even set up a bicycle to power a water pump.  Exercise and water gathering at the same time.  Shallow wells can be hand dug or dug using machinery. Using rocks, sticks, or cement along the outside of the well will extend it’s life and improve your cleanliness. 

Rain collection is a very common water collection method across the world.  We have an average of 48 inches per year at our Co-op location and that is plenty enough for rain collection. In many areas, the amount you can collect is not the challenge, rather it is the amount you can store.  Whenever you construct a living, livestock, or any other structure think “water”. Where are you going to put this water?  Remember that storage is the key.  There are numerous options out there for storage and they all work.  Just make sure you have an easy way to clean it and easy ports for your flow.  Also consider using larger pipe to transport the main amount of water and decrease size where your outflow is to give you a good pressure. Gravity flow is the best option because it’s sustainable.  If you have a sloped terrain, plan your buildings according to the water flow. 

 Any water collection may require filtration at times.  If you are able, you always want to get your water tested.  Separate your grey water from drinking water to extend the life of any filtration systems.  Water can often be treated by adding a small amount of bleach or chlorine to the tank. Consult with your local water specialist on what ratios to use. Yearly cleansing of any water lines will keep your pipes clean for years.  This can be done by adding a large amount of cleaning agent, like bleach, to the water intakes and flush all the lines with a slow but steady flow until the lines are purged.

3.       Terrain

Knowing your terrain is important when going off-gird. You need to know the hardness of the ground, the area, the slopes, and the ability you will have to build and thrive. Having a plan and knowing your needs will help you choose the right location.  It’s always important to remember that you can survive and thrive in almost any environment, if you make the right preparations.

Steep and rocky terrains may seem unsuitable for growing food until you prepare by building terrace gardens.  While being steep requires more work initially in making your terraces, you also gain the ongoing benefit of easily transporting water to all your terraces using gravity flow systems.  It’s always important to remember that you can survive and thrive in almost any environment, if you make the right preparations.

When you look at the terrain, think about the resources you are getting.  Do you have a lot of rocks for projects? Trees for wood? Flat ground for easy building? Are you on a north facing slope?  In the northern hemisphere, the sun travels in the south end of the sky for most of the year, making south facing slopes better for sun exposure.  Northern slopes often have more moss, moisture, and tend to be cooler in temperature.  The severity of these attributes is dependent on vegetation and how steep the slope is.  Beyond the terrain of your location, factor in the area surrounding you.  If you have a large mountain that blocks the sunlight for part of the day, that is important know when considering a location for gardening or solar. 

Now depending on your reasoning behind wanting to live off-grid you may also consider other options when deciding on the right terrain.  The Ozark Co-op chooses property in the Ozarks because the terrain is perfect for defense and safety.   The terrain makes it difficult to get to and we are located very far from any cities.  Also, the Ozark region is a good place to be in the event of a nuclear radiation situation.  The terrain, vegetation, and atmosphere in this area make it difficult for radiation, chemical, or biological agents to travel in the region.  The United States Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear headquarters is located in the Ozarks precisely for this reason.

4.       Vegetation

Knowing your locations vegetation will help you survive and succeed off-grid. This knowledge is important for gathering edible vegetation to sustain life. It is also important to know what vegetation grows around you in case you have livestock. Some vegetation is important to know as it can be dangerous and unhealthy for livestock and yourselves. Other vegetation can be used for medicinal purposes and would benefit your off-grid living experience.  All vegetation has some benefit if you are willing to do the work in extracting and processing it.  In the Ozark Region, we are blessed to have numerous wild edible berries, fruit, vegetables, spices, and mushrooms.

If your location is dry, barren, and has no vegetation, then you may encounter serious difficulty in growing your own food.  If you see big old trees, then you know that the ground is probably suitable for growing. Knowing your tree types will also tell you about your growing ability. Certain tree types such as sycamore or willow will let you know that you are close to water, above or underground.  In a heavy pine or cedar forest, the ground and soil will house very different plants than an oak hardwood forest. 

Vegetation also can provide you with building material.  Cedar is a commonly used building tree in the Ozarks because of its rot resistant characteristics.  Cedar is very high in tannin and other oils which prevent rot.  The Ozark region has a lot of moisture and rot is common for exposed wood that is not treated or naturally rot resistant.   Bamboo and rivercane are other common building items for the shape and rot resistant properties. 

5.       Diet

Knowing the diet you will choose while living off-grid is important.  Your diet is directly linked to your energy, mood, and health.  You need to know if your area has the proper game and vegetation to sustain you. You also need to know if you want to raise any personal livestock.  Modern culture shows us that diets should be extremely diverse but when living in an off-grid way your diet may become simpler.  When you have other neighbors to trade with, your diet possibilities will increase with trades.

The Ozark Co-op has deer, hogs, rabbits, and many other small game to sustain a healthy diet.  There are also numerous wild edibles throughout the property.  Keep in mind providing food for livestock in the winter.  Often this means growing and storing grains and corn for your animals as well as for your family.  When you are living with a community these items may also be traded for.

6.       Climate

Climate can change rapidly and drastically in some areas. Knowing the usual climate of your area will help you determine if the location is right for you and your off-grid life. Very dry areas are not good for water collection and plant growth. Cold and snowy locations are often hard to build on, freeze pipes, and require more fuel to keep warm. However, cold locations will help to collect ice and keep food storage longer.  Knowing your climate and what you want will help you choose the best area for yourself and off-grid home.  High rain fall climates are good for water collection but require other preparations. Do your own research for any area that you are considering and then make the proper preparations.

Your choice for an off-grid location will determine your lifestyle, work, diet, and more.  Do your research and make sure you are choosing the best location.  We have chosen the Brandenburg Property in the Ozark Mountains for our off-grid community because it has everything that we need for our community to thrive.  We have water, security, food, and more.   The vegetation, terrain and climate promote a strong and self-sufficient community.  For more information about how you can experience an off-grid community, check out the Ozark Co-op .