Location is one of the most important factors to take into account when going OffGrid. Just about everything depends on location. When looking for a place to settle OffGrid a lot people make the crucial mistake of only looking at the positive attributes of a location. Yes, everyone should have a list of “i want this” and “i would prefer not that” and matching these criteria somewhat is important for happiness.
However it is just as important to also properly inspect negative sides of locations and how that might impact the future. Solar does not make sense if all your land is next to a forest and all you have is shade, it might be hard to source water in the desert, good luck getting a legal permit for drilling a well in Germany, punctual workforce is not a thing in east Europe , that river might look nice but with that chemical factory 10 km upstream hmm, etc etc.
Don’t be persuaded to buy land quickly! If the seller of the building plot harasses you by making you know that there are other interested parties you need to pre-empt, then you should take the time to check the building plot very carefully. If the type and characteristics of the building plot have special features in the soils condition, this can result in considerable additional costs in the building of the house. Therefore, the question of soil condition must always be clarified with a soil assessment in case of doubt. Other problems may arise from soil conditions that include water or moor soil. In order to protect you from costly surprises, you should obtain very intensive level of information on the soil condition and load-bearing capacity before purchasing the property.
Points to consider for picking an area
Which climate do you wish to live in? Do you have experience living in different climates for a prolonged period of time? That central mexico village might be sweet for two weeks of summer holiday, but are you sure you can take the heat all year round being born in Norway? Do you even want the same weather all year around, or would you enjoy a change of seasons? How is your body coping with a certain climate? A lot of times after living 3-4 months in a different climate people get all sorts of funny symptoms because their body did not adjust well. It is highly recommended to travel and try to experience different climates to feel which fits you and your body best.
Cultures can be vastly different on each and every level of society and human behaviour. Some cultures are harsh and rough at first glance, others are open, calm and forgiving. Some support the lifestyle going OffGrid more then others, some embrace it as national tradition.
Be aware that if you come as “outsider” you are the one who needs to adjust to local culture! No one likes the foreign smart ass who knows everything better and disrespects local traditions, definatly not a good way to make friends. Same as what can be said as with climate, it is highly recommended to travel and try to experience different cultures to see which fits you best.
Law, Permits, Regulations, Legal Situation
This sort of overlaps with culture. More often then not, law and how it is enforced is very much tied to culture. However there is always legal things that will be minorly or majorly different from country to country, from state to state or even from city to city. Depending on what your plans are it should be worthwhile to inspect the legal situation properly.
Prices, Price Level
Some areas will be cheaper then others, this does not only reflect countries but can also vary vastly within the same country.
Getting land in Somalia will generally drain less numbers from your bank account then acquiring a mansion in Luxenbourg.
Consider not only your budget but also your future maintenance costs and such.
Healthcare and Education
Both important topics. Check how conditions are before moving.
A common mistake from people coming from systems with universal healthcare is to realise healthcare can be excessively expensive. The same procedure that will be free in “civilised country” could cost you a mortgage and life long payments somewhere else. *USA being the prime example of negativity here.
Inform yourself about the general state of the police. What authorities do they have or not have. Is corruption a problem, etc etc.
General Society Statistics
Statistics never paint the whole picture. You should never rely apon numbers blindly, but they can be an important factor for choosing.
Here a few examples what to look for:
- Employment and unemployment numbers
- Crime statistics for burglaries, etc.
- Police Interactions per citizen yearly
- Average Income Levels
- Education Levels
Things to consider for location
Proximity to water
While water is needed to keep you and your OffGrid running,
being too close to large bodies of water like rivers and lakes can also mean you need to take extra precautions because of flooding. In any climate over freezing point larger bodies of water also mean a lot more insects and general wildlife in close proximity. This can be both positive or negative.
Wind turbines are a valid source of power. They will provide power at the night and during cloudy and bad weather. There is very efficient vertical turbines that basically work in just about all environments. See how the situation with wind is around your location.
More Information on wind turbines can be found in the wind section under electricity.
Does the sun stop existing for 5 month every year? cough greetings to all the tough souls in Finland* How much minus for how long constitutes a harsh winter? Whats the usual and unusual summers like? Has there been flooding? How strong is the rain season? Weather is a major factor for living OffGrid! It is highly recommended to inform yourself properly about the local weather.
If you planning on raising crops or larger amounts of livestock it is recommended to check the soil quality if you buy larger pieces of land. That said, for your casual veggie garden of 4 m² its not a big factor; you can easily dump a few m³ of nutrient rich soil for such purposes.
You will need things. Not only food, but items of daily life, electronics, medicine, maintenance of machinery, etc.
Remote area also means less variety in shopping opportunities and such. Make sure you know how far certain shops are from your location.
Closest populated area
Consider carefully how far out you want to be. A 5 km distance to the next populated area can easily be overcome on foot or bike even for smaller children. Being too far out makes things more complex. 20 km or more and “on foot” is not really a viable option anymore.
Wood, stone, sand, clay, water, etc are all things you will need one way or another during construction. The more resources are locally available on your land the less you need to “import”. This usually scales with your distance to the next populated area.