General Question

killerkadoogen's avatar

How to pursue living off the grid?

Asked by killerkadoogen (421points) February 10th, 2011

Over the last few years it become a fantasy to live off the grid In either a small house I built myself or decent sized shed converted into a home with no electricity or running water. I can find other ways to bathe and cook. After doing some research I discovered this does not have to be a fantasy. I just don’t know how to go about it. I live in New Jersey and they have a bullshit law for every little thing you try to do. Does anyone know the rules about building stuff in jersey? Lets say I bought a small plot of land in a remote area. Could I just put up a small building without anyone giving trouble if I didn’t make it clear I would be living there? I guess technically I do have to have a address somewhere. This is where it gets technical..

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13 Answers

Rememberme's avatar

if you but the small building on wheels, you dont have to apply for any building permits.

Coloma's avatar

I have no idea about the Jersey laws, but, back in the early 90’s I moved to a dutch barn on property in the Sierra Nevada foothills where I still live.

The ‘barn’ as we called it, ( yes, my daughter was raised in a barn for several years, lol ) was on an agricultural permit for a Xmas tree farm which was planted on the land.

While not entirely off the grid it was heated by wood heat and had a full bathroom, shower, electricity but…the catch was no stove was allowed, which would redefine the dwelling as a single family structure.

I cooked with a buffet range, crockpot, microwave and BBQ for almost 5 years.

My daughter had a loft room, we had a ships ladder up to the loft, slanted windows, and a panoramic view of the Sierras. It was truly heaven on earth.

I still miss that place, it was the coolest little house I ever lived in.

Summum's avatar

I would love to get a few people together and buy some land together and learn to exist completely on our own. This is a dream that a couple of my friends and I have. There are so many things to work out to do so but I think it would be great.

mammal's avatar

i’m afraid, the system takes a dim view of such behaviour. Not only will you be grappling with your own demons you will be ridiculed and harassed for not being a responsible tax paying citizen.

Coloma's avatar


The old commune scene, yep, and, I also think this is a great option for healthy seniors on fixed incomes. Now that I am 50 I have had the same idea, setting up a senior commune for aging hippy types in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Beyond that, well, brownies on wheels. lol

20 acres with small single occupancy cabin dwellings and community effort, the healthier help the less healthy but everyone makes a contribution.

Summum's avatar


A few of my friends and I are seriously considering doing something about it. We are looking for the land here in Utah. There are some places that are very reasonable with the cost. All of us have experience with planting and other survival techniques. It would take lots of work but I think it would be worth it.

stratman37's avatar

Yeah, it’s all fun and games until the leader breaks out the Kool-Aid…

seriously, the concept sounds mighty tempting.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Google Intentional Communities. There are many different kinds and some blog about how to form one, how to deal with child education, the travails of interdependence among a small group of like-minded people, support group stuff. There are urban communties that have bought whole buildings, rural communities that produce handmade goods and farm products for sale on the internet, Christian communities, commune-type communities, communities that specialize in free enterprise and self sufficiency fueled by alternative energy sources, etc., etc., even Libertarian communities.
Their blogs should show you how its done and the pitfalls to avoid.

Rememberme's avatar

Also, it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. I would not hold back your dream and get caught of in all the paperwork. Go ahead and build something and live with it, enjoy it. Any type of fee you would have to pay will untimately be a small price to pay….... Just make it safe. :)

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Rememberme There was a gentleman, when I was in college ( long ago and in Connecticut) that built “forgiveness” house. The town bulldozed it and sent him the bill for the heavy equipment.
Building code said so…...

Coloma's avatar

@Summum—I love Utah. Spent a couple of weeks in Bryce/Zion in 07. Beautiful country, just beautiful!

Summum's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Yes we have investigated and been in touch with quite a few of the groups you mention. I’ve been the local church prepardness specialist for quite a few years. Thanks I will look into it even more.

Summum's avatar


Yes I love Utah and have been through all the canyon lands which are amazingly beautiful. We found some property fairly close to Zion Canyon that is fairly inexpensive. The weather there is good for food production also with many streams for a water supply. In the canyons there is always winds and some are using windmills for power.

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