What It’s REALLY Like to Live Off-Grid

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What is “off-grid” living really like? There’s a reason that I enclose that term in quotation marks, and we’ll address it toward the end of the article. Additionally, I have to balance a fine line between transparency on the subject and my own privacy. Perhaps you can understand this, as the world seems to have turned into a gigantic “reality TV show” where everything is made public, even though that shouldn’t be the case.

I produce my own power utilizing a combination of solar panels, small windmills, and a hydroelectric “ram.” Utilizing a battery array, I manage to keep more than enough electricity stored to meet my needs. I also have a generator for backup. My woodstove heats my small cabin efficiently, and I cook my meals on it.

During the summer months in Montana, the stove gets a rest because I alternate between my grill and a solar oven that I built to cook my food. During the fire season (the driest months of the summer), the county places restrictions on outdoor fires, and this is when the solar oven sees the most use. My tiny refrigerator runs from a small propane tank that I refill about every six months.

I don’t use a cell phone. I have a computer that isn’t connected to the Internet that I use to type up my articles and write my books. I use the public Internet outlets at the libraries to send and receive e-mail. In the nearest town, I have a post office box for my regular mail.

My property is fairly remote, and it’s unimproved, except for the cabin, my small greenhouse, and my chicken coops. Since they don’t have foundations, they aren’t considered permanent structures; therefore, they aren’t “added” to the property taxes, which we’ll also cover later.

What caused you to move off-grid?

There are several reasons I made such a move. First was the need for privacy (and to be left alone) coupled with the deterioration in society of individual liberties. Simply put, the quality of life in the large municipalities and urban sprawls is “zero,” and it’s a soul-draining existence, to say the least. It was also a quest, so to speak, to find something “more,” a small place that hadn’t been tainted or ruined the way most everything else is.

Additionally, politicians and world leaders are maniacs. They start wars that result in the deaths of thousands just to bring their poll ratings of popularity higher. They wouldn’t think twice about incinerating a million people in the blink of an eye if it was the means to holding on to their positions of power. When everything comes full circle (and it will), the odds of my surviving their megalomaniacal actions are better.

What were the expected difficulties that turned up?

Montana is a pretty tough state to live in if you’re seeking after a “primitive/back-to-nature” existence. It has a very short growing season, and the winters can be both long and brutal. You cut wood, split wood, stack wood, and tarp wood basically all summer and fall to prepare for the winter months.

You have to have at least one good chainsaw (I recommend either Stihl or Husqvarna) and a four-wheel-drive vehicle. You have to know the seasons and know the weather. The temperatures and precipitation can fluctuate wildly, and when a snowstorm rolls in, you have to “batten down the hatches” and ride it out. You have to have a healthy respect for the weather here. The coldest I’ve seen it was -26 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees below zero). That’s “straight” temperature, not some “wind-chill factor” nonsense, and it lasted for at least a week.

Living here (and in the way that I do) forces you to pick up some experience in the trades because repairs are a regular need, and maintenance on your tools, your vehicle, etc., is a constant priority.

(Want to learn more about how to can your own food? Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide.)

What were the unexpected difficulties that turned up?

Some unexpected problems pose themselves when fire season starts (roughly between June through September). Most of this stems from the tremendous fires west of Montana, in states such as Washington or California. The stagnant summer air is choked with particulate matter and smoke: noxious to the lungs, eyes, and mucosal membranes.

Other problems you can expect, but they arrive unexpectedly, without any time to prepare for them or little time to adjust, and these difficulties stem mainly from the weather. Windstorms can become so violent as to tear the living daylights out of everything around. In towns and metro areas, blown debris causes damage to transformers, electrical substations, and businesses.

At my place, I once had a giant tree branch come flying out of nowhere and take out an entire wall of my greenhouse. It took me several days to fix, and I lost some of my starter plants and my workbench.

Some other unpredictable variables have to do with wildlife. After the winter is completed, the grizzlies emerge from hibernation, having lost half of their body weight. They’re hungry, and the chicken coop (from their perspective) is like a “drive-thru” burger joint. They’ll tear a regular coop to shreds, and this is the reason mine is built like a miniature log cabin. It makes it more trouble than it’s worth to them, and my dog picks up the slack to alert me. He has to chase foxes off all the time. When the chickens are outside foraging, he stays near them, and this keeps hawks and other raptors at bay.

For the winter months, I have a tiny “rocket” woodstove that heats the entire coop. I can keep it a cozy 65 degrees for them.

What’s the hardest part about being completely off-grid?

People, plain and simple. This brings me to the point I mentioned earlier: an explanation of the term “off-grid.” In reality, it doesn’t exist.

My land isn’t really mine. If it was? Then, I wouldn’t have to pay property taxes on it. Unless you live in a cave and reject human society altogether, you’re always “on-grid.”

Government, plain and simple. We’re forced to pay exorbitant amounts that do not come back to us (the taxpayers) at all. Only the “entitlement” crowd sees the benefits.

I pay property taxes, federal income tax, and state income tax. I have to have car insurance, a driver’s license, and a mailing address. When I die, they’ll assess the value of my property and demand 50% of its worth from my heirs. If that amount isn’t coughed up, they’ll seize the property…proving it was never really mine to begin with.

off-grid living

Additionally, there’s a tremendous influx of people into Montana that affect life here. They don’t like the tax structures of their home states, so they move here. They don’t like “Covid” or “overcrowding,” so they decide to sojourn into the wilderness. The closest they may have ever been to a “wilderness setting” was a picnic table in Central Park, but here they come, nonetheless.

They come here waving wads of money, making big plans to change a part of the country that doesn’t need the kind of changes they intend to make. In essence, they want to turn it into the very thing that they fled…transform it into another version of their “happy” home-state. They change the demographics and try to vote in flawed, failing, socialist policies that are predominant in the places that spawned their exodus.

The hardest part of living “off-grid” is maintaining your privacy and being able to be left alone and undisturbed, bottom line.

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What advice do you have for living off-grid?

The best advice I can give prior to your rendering a personal decision to live off-grid is to do some serious soul-searching and introspection first. Most people want to move out into the woods to survive and simply to escape their current location. There’s more at stake here, however.

Let’s say you do take the “plunge.” What then? What will be the purpose? You have to be willing to start out fresh, with an open mind to things. You have to be willing to be a part of something greater than yourself and understand the importance of living close to the land and to the Earth. To try and live in balance as much as possible, with true respect for flora and fauna, and more: with compassion for the natural world.

It’s a fundamental return to what we were prior to being compressed and crammed into drywall-sided cubicles made of Chinese gypsum wallboard and the prefabricated nightmares of our “Fisher-Price” plastic cities, towns, and residences. You have to decide whether you’d rather have television and endlessly-squawking cell phones or if you’d be content to take your copy of The Martian Chronicles and read it outside, leaning against a tree with just the dog to keep you company.

It’s about being a part of a new place without trying to “fundamentally transform” it into something it was never meant to be. It’s also about living on less (in terms of money and material possessions) and then discovering that, in reality, you have far more than you could put a price tag on. In the end, you’re the one who has to decide if such a thing is right for you…and if you are right for it. Have a good day! JJ out!

What are your thoughts?

Do you live off-grid? If not, would you like to? Share your stories and opinions about off-grid living in the comments.

About Jeremiah Johnson

Jeremiah Johnson is the nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the U.S. Army Special Forces.  Mr. Johnson is also a Gunsmith and a Master Herbalist.  He graduated from the Special Forces course at SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, and escape) School, and is an expert in small unit tactics, survival, and disaster-preparedness.  He lives in a cabin in the Rocky Mountains of Western Montana.

What It\'s REALLY Like to Live Off-Grid
Jeremiah Johnson

Jeremiah Johnson

Jeremiah Johnson is the nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the U.S. Army Special Forces.  Mr. Johnson is also a Gunsmith and a Master Herbalist.  He graduated from the Special Forces course at SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, and escape) School, and is an expert in small unit tactics, survival, and disaster-preparedness.  He lives in a cabin in the Rocky Mountains of Western Montana.

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  • I live in a trailer park. I have no gas or electric (I use my camping solar panels, and am buying a larger setup) no hot water, no internet, and no car. I get a truck from work during the summer months. I have almost no bills aside from lot rent and water.

    In the winter I drain the water pipes in the trailer, screw the doors shut, give guns and valuables to a friend for safe keeping, and canoe/hike from December to February or March, depending on my mental state/starvation level. I go unsupported, and sleep in the canoe or tent in all weather and temperatures. I had to buy an MSR reactor stove for when I get stranded on sandbars on the Mississippi in sub zero Temps. I try to film it, but so far the cold has just played havoc with batteries and solar charging.

    This winter I am planning a 300 mile minimum hike in Northern IL, pulling a sled along a few canal and creek systems to make a loop. Should take a month, or two if I just kick back and enjoy a few spots.

    I typically end up “camping” about 3 or 4 months of the year.

    It’s not that hard. Federal Fish and Wildlife will check me out, and sometimes I let local PD know I will be coming through just to avoid hassle. It’s always been really positive, people seem to root for someone taking on challenges.

    Montana must be brutal, in Northern IL being mostly off grid is hardly an inconvenience, although being able to trot down to the gas station for ice helps, thats for sure. And Walmart is 2 miles away, thats an easy ruck when I need to.

    It’s not bad. I get to spend my money on living a way I enjoy, instead of paycheck to paycheck in a place I hate anyway. I won’t go back to being forced to pay whatever they want to charge for gas or electric or whatever.

  • Been off grid in Nevada 23 years, in a tiny rock abobie cabin with my dog my Burro died. The cabin is10 miles to the nearest neighbor 50 miles to town (on dirt 4×4 trails). If people think they can live off grid with all the conveniences of civilization you better have a “LOT OF MONEY 7 FIGURES”. If you are handy and healthy it can be done on the”CHEAP”. But off grid living take diligence, it is not for the faint of heart, soul or mind.

    • My nearest neighbor is five miles away. The nearest town only has five people living in it. Nearest gas station is 25 miles. I understand the not faint of heart. However, when there is a power outage in our area, I hear about it after the fact. If I don’t have power, then it is my fault.

  • I would like to live offgrid but my wife and daughters dont like the idea.. so we live in the countryside with grid electricity and running water from own well. But I am preparing for worse to come.. and it will. I am prepping to be able to grow our own food, cooking it on wood stove, heating the house with wood and having solar panels and batteries when needed. My house is not offgrid but it will be.. soon.. because our society is deteriorating fast.

  • JJ:
    I could not agree more with your reality check concerning MT being a tough
    spot to “year round.”
    A hundred miles out in the desert from Boise is my spot for “back-up.”
    It has good water and a couple of feet of snow at 4000 ft, but nothing like the snows of MT. It is an adjustment living out there a week at a time, when one is comparing to current life in cities.

    The high desert has it’s advantages and challenges in comparison to high altitude MT, but one thing I do not worry about is overcrowding like MT is currently experiencing. The local ranching community where my wife grew up is 40 miles away and not inundated by Left Coaster transplants. We are surrounded by conservatives “ag” people.

    If it is ever a time to sell at the top of the market there and buy into another place, give me a shout back if you want to consider moving to a location with many advantages over your current locale and a strong contengent of ex-military and folks who take their oath of office seriously. I have a life time commission if you know what that means, and am sole owner of the place I am referring to.
    I would consider an equity partner who wants to live in our location full time as I have been too busy making a good living in the city.

    Give a ding or ring back if you wonder what I am thinking about. [email protected] or too ought eight, 761 + (riddle of the day) movie Major Dave Bowman’s character played in.

    g

  • “The Martian Chronicles” is my favorite book. I can feel sitting leaned against a tree reading it. Too bad I’m well past my “Best By” date…

  • Before talking about some of the main challenges, here’s the situation: I live alone on a remote 20 acres, built a small home and barn with no mortgage that is more than two hours from any big city and 10 miles from the closest small town. Jeremiah Johnson is right, you never really own your land (property and inheritance taxes), but a mortgage makes holding onto the place just too precarious. Challenge: Keep it small, have a strict budget. Although I do have electricity, I made sure that I had a wood stove that would heat the house and cook food in the worst of winter weather. Challenge: insurance companies do not like that there is no backup heat system. I put in a deep well. Challenge: which had to go 662′ down, too deep for a hand pump to work if the electricity goes out, so I have a duel fuel 12K watt generator but also a large cistern and rain water catchment system. Gardening and chicken challenge: Deer, ground squirrels, bear. Answer: strong fence around 5 acres and a good dog that’s a great early warning system and loves to chase deer out, catch the grey diggers along with traps. I also have a few sheep and a milk cow. Challenge: mountain lions. Answer: Not much will fix this. Put the animals in the barn every night. My biggest challenges are due to lack of training/experience. As a woman, I’ve got the household, cooking, fire building, canning, gardening, animal husbandry, fence building, use of guns, and much more down pat. Now that I’m in the middle of my homestead, it is difficult to find the time to learn how to fix a chainsaw, clean rifles/handguns, car repair, moving a 2′ diameter limb off my fence without further tearing it up, and fixing anything with a gas, propane or electric motor. As an RN that retired one month ago, I am finding more time to try to tackle those things, but I must admit to wondering on rare occasions how I will get help if something serious happens and there’s 5 feet of snow outside or a wild fire bearing down on my property. I GREATLY value my privacy, so I have terribly mixed feelings about getting to know my distant neighbors. So glad I did. Got seriously sick for a couple of weeks and they helped with my animals. I’ve removed splinters and stitches and shared produce from my garden, eggs from my chickens. Thankfully, they value their privacy as much as I do, but this is certainly a challenge that must be faced when living remotely or “off-grid”. This much I can tell you, as hard as it’s been at times, I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. Love the peace and quiet, the beauty of the natural world, living a life that is more in tune with the constantly changing weather and seasonal rhythms, self-sufficiency (as much as possible), and deep contentment even in the face of struggle.

    • WOW, I do admire you. You are one tough lady. Bless you heart and I hope the LORD watched over you day and nite. I am glad you are happy and self-sufficient and have peace within. I love privacy also. I live alone with me small dog for company. She barks if anything is near. We live in a camper in a small campground but the neighbors are NOT friendly and other than waving, that’s really it. I don’t do much at all. Not a partier, less friendly than I uses to. Have never lived off the grid. They would be touch for me. I see hard times coming so I hope you are as prepared as you can be. At least you have the internet or a way to write on this site and that is good. As long as you have this site you won’t be alone totally…I like peace and quite but I do enjoy tv and my emailing and the google hangout chatting also. I would be concerned about an emergency way out in the middle of nowhere, b/c the ambulance might have trouble finding a person and with lots of snow, it might be impossible. Anyway YOU take care and stay safe. I am in the mountains of North Carolina.

      • Thank you, Wandakate. There are trade-offs as with most things. I’d much rather live here and accept whatever risks there are rather than live in a city or town where my soul would surely perish, but I’d be closer to healthcare (a questionable benefit considering the medical tyranny currently in play). The mountains of North Carolina are spectacular – good for you! I live in the eastern (and conservative) part of a very blue state – Washington state. The reasons are long and tedious. Still I’m content to have my little oasis so far. I *am* looking around and trying to decide where I could go that would allow me to live my life the way I feel is best. See my comment below to Lewis. Thanks again for your kind words. Jeannie

        • Jeannie, I live on the blue-er and soggier side of WA and I am also looking hard for somewhere else although I’ll probably stay in state, just on the saner east side. Republic is nice. I have a beautiful little piece of land here, but it’s not really big enough for my goats and the couple of elderly horses I still have. It’s very hard to go off grid on this side because of the cloud cover but I’ve considered trying, in case we aren’t able to exit and build. I really admire your spunk and it sounds like you are by yourself. I have too many health issues to make it on my own but my husband is on board with everything and shares my dream of off grid paradise. We love the east side, we wait anxiously every year for the pass to open, lol, despite having to deal with the huge increase in traffic at the end of our road for as long as it’s open. I really wish this was easier. Owning a back up/bug-out property without having to sell on this side is the trick, I guess. I hate to leave my orchard and gardens.

  • We are also off grid. Have been calling this remote location home for 40 years.
    Over that time, I can only echo JJ’s sentiments:
    “they come here waving wads of money, making big plans to change a part of the country that doesn’t need the kind of changes they intend to make. In essence, they want to turn it into the very thing that they fled…transform it into another version of their “happy” home-state. They change the demographics and try to vote in flawed, failing, socialist policies that are predominant in the places that spawned their exodus.”
    This place has recently had a large population increase. I am too old to start homesteading all over again.
    When the power goes down, and the internet isn’t, and things start getting (more) scarce at the nearest food market,
    we have secret weapon……we know how, they don’t
    Be debt free in as much as possible……can’t seem to lose those property taxes though.

  • THE hardest part about living off grid is getting people to leave when they come for a long visit. 🙂

    • LOL! Many times, you just need to hand them an iron post driver, a half mile of woven wire, and iron posts to place or hand them a shovel and 400′ of 18″ deep trench to dig! If it turns out they liked it – might be good to keep them nearby.

  • I think soon, most of us are going to experience living off the grid whether we want to or not… If you’re not prepared for it – it’s too late.

  • I agree with you Jeremiah, basically if you want to live in their area you have to pay the mafia or they send their goons around to ‘encourage’ you to pay up. I think true off grid requires low key, nomadic living, to stay away from the troublesome types and even then trouble can have a way of finding you. To protect yourself from potential problems requires community and eventually, in time, that develops into all that you thought to leave behind. Maybe the gray man principle may prove more sustainable as you move in and out of wilderness like Misreading The River shared with us. This of course is not every ones cup of tea and we must choose our level of suffering we are willing to endure.

  • Um, not sure where you’re getting your data but to the best of my knowledge there are no estate or inheritance taxes at all payable to the state of Montana. As to federal estate tax, unless your property is worth more than $12.06 million, no federal estate or gift tax would be due at all from your heirs.

    • Re-read it – IF the heirs don’t live in MT, they may have to pay estate taxes. Don’t assume heirs live in the same state as the decedent.

  • Both pairs of my grandparents grew up in non-electric farmsteads that pre-dated the Rural Electrification era. The women did the gardening and housekeeping while the men worked like dogs to manage the fields and animals. In both cases when they reached retirement age as their physical abilities ebbed they moved into small towns and left all that hard labor behind. They lived through the years when the farm population slowly dropped from about 30% in 1930 to around 1-2% in our era as small farmstead profitability ebbed away. My own father was forced to add feeder cattle to his business model since the crop income was no longer sufficient to pay the bills. Lots of such small farms of that era have since been bulldozed.

    Today I have some sense that many people living off grid, or seeking to, are in effect searching for the America best described in the 1830s book “Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville — an internationally classic description of that early America.

    In 1863 Edward Everett Hale wrote a short story about a fictional US soldier named Phillip Nolan whose court conviction sentenced him to live on a ship at sea for the rest of his life without ever hearing or seeing any mention, news, or discussion about America again. The story was intended to politically glorify Lincoln’s effort to keep the union from splitting apart because of his tax extortion war. The story was named “The Man Without a Country.” I’m wondering if that title relates to today’s off-gridders.

    In 1892 a socialist minister named Francis Bellamy wrote a Pledge of Allegiance that included the word “indivisible” in homage to the outcome of Lincoln’s war. Instead of government pledging allegiance to the people, it was designed to make the people swear their allegiance to that government. As a part of that, American school children were taught to raise their right arm to shoulder height (as the ancient Romans did in pledging allegiance to their emperor). That lasted until Hitler began requiring that same salute — making it suddenly very unpopular in America — even though the Roman style pledge of allegiance verbiage to the empire government remained intact.

    In 1912 the British sneaked cash into the US to pay to rig the presidential election for Woodrow Wilson by funding Teddy Roosevelt’s third party run to suck away enough votes from Taft — a strategy which worked so Wilson could sign off on such abominations as the central bank counterfeiting Federal Reserve, the Income Tax, and participation in the European civil war the British knew was coming.

    Since that time America has been lied to about every major war ever since. Examples include Wilson shutting down most (but not all) of the US newspaper ads paid for by the German government which tried to warn Americans not to sail on the 1915 Lusitania because the Germans learned it was carrying illegal munitions and would be torpedoed … and such monstrosities as FDR taking two years prior to December 7, 1941 to figure out how to goad the Japanese into a “surprise” attack on Pearl Harbor … and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (that fraud being drafted several months prior) which Lyndon Johnson used to lie to the US Congress about an attack on US shipping in Vietnam (which never happened). The spending to benefit the congressional-military-industrial complex for that Vietnam war counterfeited the US dollar so much that foreign governments that were demanding gold for their US dollar denominated financial obligations were finally stiffed by Nixon in 1971 when he “closed the gold window” — just as one might expect from an criminally guilty scammer. The price of gold in US dollars has skyrocketed ever since as the purchasing power of saved US dollars has continued to be stolen.

    Living as inexpensively as possible in off-grid locations is one strategy to only partly escape some of the barbaric abuses of that American warfare/welfare empire. There are still the federal (and sometimes state) income taxes and property taxes. While America is only one of a couple countries that lays claim on its citizens’ worldwide earnings, there is at least about a $110,000 exemption on that first earned amount if earned in any other country — an exemption which many expats use immediately. It’s a pity that people have to leave this country (that was once the envy of the world per that 1830s book by De Tocqueville) in order to avoid the tax ripoff and benefit from affordable and effective healthcare without being bankrupted by the excesses of this country’s medical cartel.

    This 2020 article by Joe Jarvis describes 10 provisions of the communist manifesto that have already been implemented in America:

    https://www.thedailybell.com/all-articles/news-analysis/top-10-goals-in-the-communist-manifesto-accomplished-in-america/

    And as the central planning grip on the US dollar tightens to replace it with a totally digital cashless money system instantly trackable and controllable by Fed computers, those people living off-grid will find little escape from such tyranny. There is a limit to what barter can handle. Paying income or property taxes or vehicle insurance, eg, won’t be possible by barter. And the IRS even regards barter transactions as taxable.

    The SEC is already exploring ways to regulate (aka oppress) cryptocurrency use to make it uncompetitive with the coming digital money — a less obvious version of the Communist Chinese approach which has already been to outright prohibit any crypto currency the central government doesn’t own. And we are already seeing the IMF threatening smaller countries (like El Salvador) that adopt Bitcoin as an acceptable alternate currency.

    The question then becomes “where would a determined off-gridder go to avoid the coming digital money tyranny?” Or within their lifetime would there likely even be such a place left?

    –Lewis

    • Lewis, you are absolutely right on the mark. Rather than comment and repeat much of the historical items, your concusion is precisely where I am at and would love to hear some more thoughts about it: “where would a determined off-gridder go … or within their lifetime would there likely even be such a place left?” Is there? In the USA OR ELSEWHERE? I just need a direction because I cannot guess at this point.
      It’s not just the digital money tyranny, but much of the communist/leftist agenda … Agenda2030. Gun confiscation, carbon footprint records, stop fossil fuel before anything can take its place, supply chain destruction, social scores, food prep confiscation, destruction of commercial food processing plants, Christian persecution, actively annihilating conservative thought and imprisoning conservative persons, medical tyranny … just to name a few.
      Where can we go??? Anyone? America has a huge target on its back. China and Russia want to destroy us and our leaders seem to agree that this is a good idea. What they do is daring them to annihilate us. Where can a person go?

      • I went through a period of my life several years ago where I seriously asked this question “where should I go?” and actually did a lot of research into other countries. I finally concluded that while there may be some good places for an American to expatriate to when times are good, it is the time of coming collapse that will be the true test. I don’t believe it wise to be in any location where you are an “outsider” when the global collapse hits. So, my strategy was to find one of the most conservative and free-est states and Montana fit the bill. Here I can blend in, reduce my exposure to tyranny and have a better chance at survival. Here also is the most likely opportunity to thrive outside any banking system with a barter economy. It is actually feasible here to live without ever going to a store. Gardening, fishing, hunting, barter, together with deep long term food stores for the things you can’t grow or gather yourself. In a state where cattle outnumber people three to one there will never be a shortage of meat. The local ranchers are not stupid. They will actually prefer to sell meat for silver instead of worthless Federal Reserve Notes.
        One of the keys to avoiding confrontation with the tyrants is to never be the low hanging fruit. Stay off social media – or at least never post anything. Be the grey man. Blend in. Quietly but persistently resist and nullify their unconstitutional orders. Get out of the system to the greatest extent possible. Get into the mindset of surrendering certain lesser freedoms in order to preserve those more essential and sacred freedoms. Don’t advertise you are a prepper and a conservative. Be careful what you say and who you say it to.

      • Fall on God’s mercy. Pray to repent of your sins, & ask Jesus into your heart, to forgive you for your sins. Thank Him for saving you, & coming back to take you to Heaven where our eternal home will be forever! Read His words, to understand; start at the book of John, in the New Testament, & be sure to love those who believe you, by helping them to depend fully on the Father for Salvation through His Son’s blood, shed to pay your debt. ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, & whosoever, believes on Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life.–John 3:16 Hope to see you all there, love, Robin, (for Jesus)

        • I find that if I live toward God, or Love Thy Neighbour, I get more honest such that what I am feeling is visible in my face, I cannot hide anything. Then people who can appreciate that join me in words and actions and the other people dont see it and are somewhere else.
          Thus in a sense I am alwys “off grid”, away from the matrix.
          David Lawn

      • That wasn’t a lie. The last six tons of it was sold to a Canadian processing plant a couple of years after the U.S. invasion.

  • ♥ Some day. Praying for it to be very soon.
    Congratulations for living the dream.
    I believe the hard work will be worth it.

  • I lived off-grid in the White Mountains of Arizona for five years in the 80’s but couldn’t make a living there, and I had to periodically go down to Phoenix and camp out in a RV park while I accumulated enough money to be able to return to the woods for a few months. That area is now subject to the same influx of refugees that JJ describes, and though I could probably make a living there now, I probably wouldn’t like living among those people any more than JJ does.
    Seeing the future that was coming (and is now here), I relocated to SW Oregon in the early 90’s, before the state’s politics went radically blue, because there is not a nuclear or biological target within 200 miles, and the winds off the ocean will take any warfare residue east and away from here. I have given some thought to relocating to a red state, Idaho or Montana or Wyoming, because Oregon’s politics have become so incoherent. But the blue crap is all in Portland/Salem 200 miles away, and everybody I know down here is a redneck patriot, so what would be the point? I’m too old now to start over. Besides, the climate is mild (and wet) and wood-stove fuel is to be had in abundance.
    The place I found here is in a “mini-tract” of a dozen homes on mostly 2-acre lots, owner-built back in the 50’s and sandwiched between two large ranches, two miles outside a town of 800 that is three miles from a major highway… which is a drag but was a convenient one when I made my living with my Freightliner. There’s a substantial town 25 miles in each direction on the highway, but nobody gets off to come to this little town because it’s not on the way to anyplace else. Yes, I’m on the grid, but if/when the grid goes down I’ll be self-sufficient by throwing a couple of switches. My perimeter is ringed with a thick, thorny blackberry hedge and my house can’t be seen from the road. Got room for a few critters and garden and shop , without so much as to be a maintenance or security hassle.
    I guess the point I’m here to make is that it isn’t necessary to be a hundred miles from civilization to be secluded and self-sufficient The key is location, planning, and persistence.

  • You know, every human being lived off grid for most of human history.

    Why do we make such a big deal about it now? Like it’s sooo difficult.

    Just difficult to give up life’s easy conveniences.

  • I came to Montana several years ago to do just this, although I’m not as hard core as Mr. Johnson – I still have some thin ties to the “grid”. While I make my own electricity (solar, wind and generator) and heat with wood, I buy propane and water (only until I can get a well working) and have internet from the local telecom co-op. To get property I could pay cash for I had to settle for a lot in a rural subdivision with covenants. However, the association is great and we, as a group of common sense conservatives, have agreed to nullify some of the nonsense rules, like the prohibition on poultry. So, I just finished installing chickens. Having a broad range of skills is important as Mr. Johnson noted. To make it here on a tight budget, I have to be able to everything myself. Being a good marksman is important just to keep the gopher population in check. Hitting a gopher at 150 feet is like hitting the bullseye dead center every time. Being a small engine mechanic is essential to keep the generator and chainsaw operational. Carpentry, electrical, small animal husbandry (vets are expensive), cook, canner, gardener, tailor… The list goes on. The need to collect rain water for irrigation forced me to figure out how to build a pond without a fancy backhoe. Precast tanks are too small and too expensive. Add to the normal off grid stuff, there is also the recent supply chain problems and food price inflation. Now it is also essential that we be our own banker, grocer and security force. I can’t do anything about those taxes that won’t land me in prison, but just about everything else is solvable. I retired from an office job last year, but I don’t really consider it retirement – just a change of career. I work with my hands every day at my own survival and enjoy it far more that sitting behind a computer 8 hours a day, five days a week and fighting traffic and nonsense bureaucracy.
    Yes, the temps can get brutal (lowest low of -28 last winter) and the winds scary (locals tell me they’ve seen winds over 100 mph) but learning to deal with those forces develops resiliency. You learn not to leave stuff lying around outside lest it ends up in North Dakota. You learn to get a good stack of firewood just outside the door before the blizzard hits – and to have enough wood cut off the log pile to last until the drifts go away. You learn to run the washing machine only when the sun is full on the panels so you don’t over drain the batteries. New patterns. New habits. Life is grand.
    My one disagreement with Mr. Johnson is people. I too thought I wanted to get as far away as possible and be completely alone, but now I am grateful for some really great, like-minded neighbors who have been great encouragement and help in getting to this point. Even my UPS driver has become a like minded friend. Also, having a good local church is great.
    For me the issue is not seeing how far away I can get from people in general, but how much freedom I can achieve from bureaucrats and politicians.

    • No utility bills. No utility outages. No easements allowing utility workers to access your property at will. Wood heat is the best heat. Our water has no chemicals in it. Privacy and independence. I can go weeks withour leaving the property.

  • My family homesteads in Maine and we’re self-sustainable. We have the same vicious cold and short growing season as you. We have found wonderful purpose, satisfaction, and peace with our life here. We eschew materialism and money; could not be happier. We love being able to see 1st-hand the “circle of life”. This life has its joys, sorrows, and hardships but we wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world!

  • You can get out of paying property taxes. I’m not talking about “sovereign citizen” stuff or anything like that. The dirty little secret they don’t want you to know is that sub-divisions of states like counties and municipalities can’t tax residents or their property; they can only tax licensed businesses. If you stop paying your property taxes, you’ll get notice of a lien on your property from the county saying that a judgment has been entered against you. But no actual judgment can occur without an order from a judge following a trial. Find out who submitted the lien to the county clerk, who then sent you the notice. It will probably be an attorney. File a complaint against that attorney with the local bar association. File criminal complaints against him or her with the county district attorney and state attorney general. The complaints should allege execution of documents by deception; forgery; fraudulent business practices; fraudulent conversion; official misconduct and barratry. If you can, find out the insurance company the lawyer uses and send them copies of the complaints. Then threaten to sue county officials in their personal capacity in federal court under 18 USC 242 (deprivation of rights under color of law) and 18 USC 241 (conspiracy against rights). The law is on your side, not theirs. They will back off and you’ll never see another property tax bill. You can find out more about how to protect your rights by signing up for a course at howtowinincourt dot com. It costs about $250. Disclaimer. I’m not an attorney.

    • I have a friend who has all the laws cited and has filed for ten years. The judge refused to read any of her filings and even stated he was not going to read them. She has been ruled against even though the prosecutors produce no evidence nor file any motions to contradict her filings. Judges sides with the prosecutors. She has now filed with the Texas Supreme court, but I do not know where it stands right now. Just because the law is on your side, does not mean the judges are going to rule for you.

  • I’ve been a reader of JJ’s articles for years although this is the first time I’ve seen or recall him being on The O.P., so good to see him in print again.

    These are all very good points and I especially agree with him on ‘really owning your property/land once it’s paid off if you’re still paying taxes on it’. That aside, I have one major point that I don’t agree with him on…
    Let me first state briefly, my experience. I too am a Army veteran. 24 years, 15 of those in the same Career Management Field as JJ, mine was in the commo slot. Years before that however, my first two tours (out of Basic/AIT) were in Alaska in the mid 70’s in Fairbanks at Ft. Wainwright in the only active duty Recon unit in the entire state. For those of you who’ve never been to Alaska or realize it’s actual size, that’s 30 guys covering a wilderness area approximately the size from Mexico to Canada along the Rockies over to Seattle down to L.A. and everywhere in between, (basically, that’s every state west of the Rockies). We occasionally worked with the Eskimo Scouts where we learned a lot of cold weather tips and to this day, I still retain those lessons learned (I’ve since moved, 20 years ago from No. California to the No. Great Lakes area). My bone picking is this one statement:
    “The coldest I’ve seen it was -26 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees below zero). That’s “straight” temperature, not some “wind-chill factor” nonsense, and it lasted for at least a week.”

    Well, I’m here to tell you, Windchill factor IS NOT NONSENSE! Windchill is far more dangerous than ambient temperatures. -26 below with no wind is just that, -26 below zero, cold no doubt but get on your ski’s or snowshoes with a ruck on and you’ll be warm in no time, or get into your cabin with the fire going and you’re ok, but -26 with just a simple 10mph wind and now you’re at -45 to -50 below zero. Add 5 more mph of wind (15mph) which most of us experience weekly with no thought and that increases to between -60 to -70 degrees below zero and that is just plain miserable! It goes right through ALL layers of clothing, through any and all cracks in your buildings/shelter (windows, doors, etc). Try lighting a fire with cold hands at -26 below, then try lighting a fire at -26 below with a 10-15mph wind…IT SUCKS! But with training and experience, it can be done. Never under estimate the (miserable) power of the wind.

    I’m sure JJ did not mean to play down windchill but for those living below the Mason Dixon line who may have never really experienced it and are thinking of ‘the mountain man lifestyle’ or moving to the Redoubt, just know that it gets very windy and very cold.

    Other than that, excellent article on off-grid reality.

    • You re so correct.I am 82 now and have lived for years in MINUS 40 (WITHOUT the Wind factor). in a Northern part of Canada. By the way MINUS 40 C is the same in Fahrenheit. THAT is only one of the GOOD REASONS we Humans decided to “Civilize” ourselves.

      The ONLY FINAL solution, as i discovered after many years is we need to PUT GOVERNMENT back into its PROPER and LAWFUL place ……… as our SERVANT not our MASTER

      Then we wont need to “Live off grid” to have what we want, OUR WAY & choice and without asking permission from Supremacist small minded Psychopathic BUREAUCRATS

      Too many of us have FORGOTTEN that WE are the BOSS, not Government. After all who creates the Government.WE DO.It does NOT create us.

      The CREATED cannot RULE the CREATOR

  • Thank you for sharing that having land in owning it free and clear are two different things. The taxman cometh that is why when I choose to disappear for several weeks at a time I have a small tent trailer. I can rough it anytime of the year without having to pay taxes and fees and get permits beyond what I need for the trailer and the truck pulling it. To truly live off-grid you need to move out of this country and then you will realize that no matter how primitive we are here we are 200 years ahead of some places on this planet. I have been to places were you have to walk at least one day to get to somebody that has a satellite phone think about that. That is truly off.

    • Pam, he uses a nom de plume (a pen name, not his real name) and even mentions in this article his need to maintain his privacy – his anonymity. Why would you ask about a photo? We must be careful about protecting ourselves and our families. I hope that Pam Hallifax is not your real name, but something tells me it is. Stay off of Facebook. Do not publish personal information – name, DOB, address or even the city you live in. Do not put photos of yourself, your children or grandchildren on the Internet. Do not make it easy for them to find you. Be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

  • “Off Grid” is a term with a lot of meanings. As the author points out, there are taxes, repairs, he presumably makes money by being an author. The infrastructure all costs money, then there’s propane, chicken feed, seeds—now there’s a vehicle using gas. Sometimes it seems off grid is just a way to throw away money doing things the hard way.

    If you want to be off grid in order to be private, this can be done well in a more urban environment, where there always could be work for cash, where you don’t stick out like a sore thumb to your rural neighbors who WILL notice your activities. In mainland America, I don’t think there’s anywhere rural enough to be unnoticed. My nearest neighbors are many miles away, I know who they are, where they work, what car they drive, and if something changes everyone notices.

    If you want to be off grid to not be connected to utilities, this is entirely doable if you’ve got the money and a bit of know-how, or if you’ve got a LOT of money and no know-how, but there will always be wood, propane, gasoline, and all the chargers, generators, off grid freezers, etc. Sure, you don’t have to pay a big company, but you’ve likely got to pay someone.

    If you want to be off grid to be independent, good luck with that. I suppose if you’re single and healthy–maybe. Our forefathers often had a VERY tough life, and civilization was also a thing back in the day. Your diet won’t be much varied, you need to pick a very rich location because, as the author points out, you will need a nice growing season, water, good soil, the predators and weather will be trying to kill you and your homestead. And you will need cash for some stuff, even once you’re established. Good luck being independent if you get sick.

    Here’s my take, as someone who’s been doing it awhile. If shtf, I want the capability and know-how to withdraw the instant I decide to. When that happens, life will not be that good, but my family will have a fighting shot at staying clear of whatever nonsense the world has brewed up. We’ll have a fair bit of food production capacity as well as practice and working infrastructure, we are clear of debt on things that matter and we have a certain amount of isolation. There will always be security concerns, better to be established in your community first if you can, and thus have an idea about how to get resources.

    It’s really just about planning your entire life, I don’t like how some portray it as throwing a switch. Even those with money will have a tough time knowing how to use the things they buy if they’ve previously been specialist rather than a generalist. Raising animals for instance, or building, or growing food. Some advocates of ‘off-grid’ seem to sell it without explaining it. Perhaps it’s most like choosing a career path. You can’t suddenly just decide to be a doctor, you have to live that path for decades in order to achieve it. Same with being off-grid.

    I’m not arguing you shouldn’t get started. It will require perseverance and a contentedness with fighting the battle to walk the path you’ve chosen. You also could fail. Living a modern life is easy and attractive.

    • Greg, I was the one who made the remark about throwing a switch. Actually, there’s three: shut off the main that connects me to the grid, switch on the breaker that allows my generator to feed the shop and then backfeed into the house, and push a button to start the generator (which is connected to a 100 gallon gas tank…propane keeps forever but is not efficient), without the expensive auto system that does it automatically. I have solar for low-draw household stuff; the generator is for pumping and heating water, doing laundry, and running shop tools.
      Odd that after you denigrated my switch-throwing, you then echoed what I said about planning and persistence. We are on the same page. The other factor, as I said, is location. It is foolish to try to prep in a location dependent upon any city infrastructure besides electricity, because when the SHTF, city water and sewer service will cease, making that location uninhabitable. With a good well and proper septic system (or a comfortable outhouse), everything else is doable, given time, planning, and persistence.

  • This is a unique and excellent assessment of a popular topic. I can’t improve upon it, but I would like to add that there are degrees to what you write about: starting with self-reliance, graduating to self-sufficiency, and finally “off-grid”. The hordes moving out of the cities to their little Mcmansion farmettes (thank you, Joel Salatin) want to skip past the acquisition of skills and knowledge and go straight to just “Buying Stuff”. Though I wish no ill will towards these folks, I believe a rude awakening awaits them. We wish y’all the best in times to come.

  • The goal is not off grid, it is under the radar. The wise person (and really, making the point you are ex-military – you think the government doesn’t know who you are) blends in without raising any notice/red flags.

  • I also live off grid. I have a generator, solar panels and propane. I recommend a dvd called “beyond off grid” for a look at what “if” you can’t get refills of fuel or propane, etc. I have a dragon heater downstairs and small wood stove upstairs to heat, but they could be used for cooking in the winter. Today the high where we live is 108 F. Still building our home as we have money, but we live in it. No mortgage and the land is paid off. At night all power is off except to our refrigerator. We are not connected to any utility company and have our own well. Taxes are not an issue. My husband is 100% disable veteran, which in Texas means no property tax. All his income is tax free since it is disability. I am only rated at 50%, but that part is tax free coming from VA. My concern is where to get feed for the poultry if things go to far south. I can reduce the number to conserve feed. We have rechargeable batteries, but what happens when they wear out and can’t be replaced? Lots of things to look at.

  • Jeremiah and all those that cannot stomach not being a private land OWNER…you folks need to internet search Ron Gibson, Medford Oregon.

  • In my humble opinion, off-grid is madness. In the best case, you’ve become an isolated subsistence farmer on a marginal piece of land. In the worst case, you’re easy prey for bad hombres. Why is that a goal? What historical examples are there to support this strategy?

    Instead, find a like minded resilient community with a reason to exist beyond the current globalized system. Think of the medieval hill towns in Europe. That was the successful strategy for the fall of Rome.

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