Some place out there on the internet you can find all kinds of definitions for “what is living off grid”, “what is a prepper”, “what is a homesteader” and so on. Everyone you talk to has a different opinion of what the definition should be. Here is mine:
Off grid living– a person that does not need mass utilities such as electric, natural gas or LP, or city water.
Prepper– a person(s) that has gathered supplies and resources in preparation for an unexpected event.
Homesteader– a person that has a home in which they can provide themselves with basic necessities.
Those definitions are vague, that is because there are so many levels in each of those 3 categories and the categories blend together. Many people, especially younger people, think that being off grid is a new and radical form of living. It’s not, for most of history the entire world has lived “off grid”. Our modern world with city utilities is only a few generations old. To 99% of people living now in the United States having large cities with city water, electric, natural gas or LP, and the telephone system is just normal and has ”always been there”. That’s why living “off grid” is radical to most people. In reality more people of the world live off grid then live on grid. Many poor parts of the world have no utilities that people can connect to, and some places the utilities may not be reliable so people live without them.
Let me expand on off grid first. What does it mean to be off grid? Many people think to be an off grid person you have to be one of those crazy people that lives out in the woods all by yourself that have no contact with anyone. Yes, there are some people that have gone to that extreme; on the other end of the spectrum would be Amish communities. Most people I have talked with want to be someplace in the middle. They don’t want to be connected to city utilities; but they still have to go to work, go to the store, get gas in their vehicles, and other things that are needed every day.
Now you may be wondering how people that still need all the everyday things can call themselves “off grid”? You can’t make your boss make the company go off grid, but you can make your home off grid. If you are working to make your home off grid then I say you are moving to an off grid lifestyle. According to my thinking you may already be partly off grid and not know it.
Do you have a well for your water?
Do you have geothermal for your homes heat/cooling or water heating?
Do you burn wood or pellets to heat your home?
My home is connected to the local electric company, and my home is heated with natural gas. So those two things make me “on grid”. But my water comes from a well. I need electric to run the well pump, so it can be argued that my water is still “on grid”. But my water use is not metered and regulated by a city utility so I count my water as “off grid”. I have a small solar electric backup system, my goal is to grow the system until it can handle running the well pump in an emergency. These are small steps towards me dream of an entirely off grid home. My advice to everyone that wants to be “off grid” is to start slow and do your research. It does not have to be an overnight change. Take it slow and find out what works for you.
For more information on off grid living look here.
Expanding on prepping. Again when most people hear the term “prepper” they think of the crazy people they see on TV that have bunkers and 10 years’ worth of food and ammo for their firearms. If that is the amount of prepping you want to do that is up to you, it’s not what I recommend. In my opinion everyone should be a prepper in some level. If you have the money to build a bunker and stock it, that’s up to you if you can afford it. But for most of us that is totally out of our budget.
Prepping does not have to be something only crazy people that think the world is going to end should do. It is a way of living that makes it easier to survive through situations when normal life is disrupted. By disrupted I don’t mean that there is a pandemic happening, the economy has collapsed, or martial law has been initiated. By disrupted I am talking about a winter storm that traps you in your home for a week, or a summer storm that takes out the power of a few days or weeks.
If your life has been disrupted can you survive comfortably? Do you have food and water? Can you stay warm? If you cannot survive in your for a week with food and water and stay warm this is where I believe you should begin with prepping. Once you have enough food and water for a week then work toward a month, then two months, and continue on until you feel you have reached a point that you believe is enough. Enough may be a point of limited storage, or limited money to spend on extra stock to keep in your home, or an amount of supplies you feel are enough to have around.
Prepping can become a never ending cycle, do not let yourself get consumed by it. Once you have food and water supplies you may want to look at other items to stock up on in preparation for a disruption. One pitfall to watch out for is listening to people that say “you must have ____” if you want to be prepared. There are some things that I agree you “must” stock up on; like food and water, basic toiletries, and a small first aid kit that you know how to use. These are a must because you have to eat, you need to stay clean and healthy, and if you get hurt you need some basic medical supplies. As to how much you should have stocked up is your personal decision. You do not need to have everything that every other prepper has. You need to have what you feel comfortable with the items that you stock. If you do not feel comfortable with firearms in your home, do not go out and get one because someone told you that you “need” to have one to be a prepper. This is where common sense needs to be used. If you do not live in Florida, then I don’t suggest you spend the money for cold weather gear. If you live in Oklahoma I do not suggest you prep for an earthquake. Understand the region you are in and prep for it first. Once you have prepped for what could happen naturally in your region then you may want to start thinking about prepping for other events. If you feel you will not be able to stay in your home then research Bug Out Bags. If you feel other events may happen then begin prepping for those events.
No matter the reason you prep, they need to be your reasons. You do not have to be crazy to prep, I think people that do not have some basic items prepped are the crazy ones. Prepping is like insurance, it might cost you some money and you hope that you never need to use it. Depending on how you prep it can be a money saver too, but that is for another article.
To learn more about prepping look here.
Expanding on homesteading. Many people think that to be a homesteader you need lots of land for fields and animals. Yes, some people do have that. I wish I was one of those people that did have 100 acres of land to produce all my food on, but I cannot afford it. There is a growing trend of “urban homesteading”. People that have a quarter acre are finding ways to live producing much of the food they need. A garden can be grown almost any were you have sunlight and a place to put plants. This could be in your yard, or a few pots on a window sill. A homestead just means using your property the best way you can to support yourself, your family, and your community. Many people that have a homestead also have many preps and may also be off grid homes. A small homestead of one acre can produce a large garden. All the garden produce can be saved by canning, freezing, drying, or vacuum sealing. This saved produce can be stored for long periods of time, this is where many homesteaders get there prepped food from. Also on the one acre they may raise a small amount of meat or dairy animals. Meats can also be preserved in many of the forms listed above.
As I said before don’t have to be completely off grid, many large homesteads that are far from cities have a well or stream for the water source. Some may use LP gas for heating, but some use wood or pellet burners to heat their homes in the cold months. In some more remote areas that a person has set up a homestead may have solar or wind power for their home electric. Does this not make them a better prepper and live better off grid?
For more information about homesteading look here.
After reading this article you may be confused, you may be wondering “what am I, a prepper, an off grider, or a homesteader?”. No matter what you want to call yourself, it is always better to prepare in the best way you feel it should be done for you and your family to survive when life is not “normal”. Do your research about your region you live in, the things that you feel you need to do to be more prepared, and learn new skills. All this research will make life easier in difficult times, and you may even learn some new talents that you did not know you had before and enjoy them. Find others in your communities and online to help you prepare for an event, and to help you in and event.
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