Can you live off the grid in the UK?
With the hustle and bustle of modern life, sometimes we just want to switch off, go off-grid and live a basic, wholesome way of life. Can you achieve this in the UK?
Living off the grid in the UK is entirely possible and is the perfect way to experience the true natural beauty that our little island has to offer. That’s not to say it doesn’t come with some challenges!
#1. Think: Is this really what you want?
Living off the grid, no matter what country, is hard. There is a lot of investment, hard work and red tape to get through before achieving the true off-grid dream.
- You’ll truly be at one with the peaks and troughs of Mother Nature, meaning no matter what the weather, you’ll probably have to spend a lot of time outside.
- You’ve seen the gorgeous pictures of cabins in the woods on Social Media – can you deal with not being able to post your own once you’re living off the grid?
- You thought your 9-5 was tough? When you’re repairing a broken fence at 11pm in the driving rain, you’ll probably be wishing for your comfy office chair and central heating.
- Speaking of repairs, you’ve got to be prepared for things to go wrong. At the most inconvenient time possible. Systems will fail, and you may have to go without while you are sourcing parts.
- While you can see the appeal of living off the land, your friends and family may not be as visionary. You may have to put up with pressure from people that don’t quite understand your passion for sustainable living.
#2. Finding a suitable location.
When searching for a location to start your new life, there are a few factors you will want to consider.
- Woodland: Having access to woodland to use for fuel and possibly some shelter is a pretty good idea! Stay away from finding land through woodlands.co.uk, as they require you to sign a clause saying you’re never going to live on the land.
- Arable land: Having fertile land to grow your own food or graze livestock is a massive factor in living a sustainable life.
- Water Source: Having access to water in the form of a well or stream can make life easier, giving you access to a fresh water source.
The perfect plot of land is very hard to come by and if it does, will be very expensive. Why not consider teaming up with another family to create an off-grid community? Check out off-grid.net to find others looking to group up to create an off-grid paradise.
#3. Navigate through planning permission
If you’re planning on living in a yurt or static caravan, you won’t need to worry about planning permission. However, if you’re looking at something a little more permanent, you’ll have to navigate through the red tape that is the UK Planning Permission system. Want more advice from people that know the system? Have a chat with the group The Land is Ours.
#4. Sourcing water
If you’re living off the grid, there’s no more just turning the taps on and having water! As previously mentioned, wells and streams on your land will be rare. A solution to this is rainwater collection.
Collecting rainwater from your roof is a great solution, if you can store, filter and purify the water.
Check out this video for a great, long-lasting rainwater system that is low maintenance and has lasted 20 years (and counting!)
#5. Deciding on power sources
Just because you’re living off the grid doesn’t mean you have to go right back to the dark ages – unless you want to of course! Using electricity for food storage, washing clothes or lighting are just some of the basics that you may decide you can’t live without. Electric cookers use a crazy amount of power, so investing in a wood-burning stove for cooking, boiling water and generally heating your home can be a great alternative.
So, what power sources will you go for?
Most people go off the grid to minimise their impact on the environment, so renewable energy resources are the most favoured.
A lot of the decision will come down to what your geographical area will allow – if you’re close to water, you can use hydroelectric power; although this tends to be very expensive to set up.
If you are in a spot that gets a lot of sun, you could invest in solar panels. Alternatively, there are always wind turbines!
#6. What are you going to eat?
To be truly off the grid, you need to be as self-sufficient as possible. This will include growing your own fruits, veggies and grains, as well as raising livestock for meat and dairy products if you’re not vegan!
#7. Don’t forget waste disposal!
Often overlooked when in the planning stages of going off the grid, you’ll need a solid plan in place for waste disposal. Improper disposal is a biohazard and can result in fines, so make sure you’ve got it sorted.
A popular solution is investing in a waterless, composting toilet. These toilets are favoured by narrowboat and campervan owners due to their compact size and being odourless!
#8. Can you live alone?
Some people’s main motivations for going off the grid is to get away from people – but when it comes down to it, off-grid living can be very isolated. Unless you’re living in an off-grid community, you can go days or even weeks without seeing another human!
Living off the grid in the UK is entirely possible and will bring you as close as possible to the natural beauty that your ‘plugged-in’ neighbours will never be able to appreciate!