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What does it mean to truly live off the grid? It’s not as simple as switching from basic energy to solar or growing your own food.
Whilst that's a great start, exploring this alternative way of living means really unplugging your home and lifestyle from the grid and other outside sources of existing and producing the essentials independently.
As more families make the decision to completely switch to off grid power, the benefits are defined in the true freedom in living. But it's not an easy change to disconnect from the comforts and practicality of modern society – especially when we've been relying on it for so long now. It's a decision that shouldn't be taken lightly and you'll need to be prepared to work hard and get your hands dirty. Here's a few essential considerations if you're planning on moving off the grid in Australia:
1. Securing Land and Permits
After you've dedicated yourself to the idea of off the grid living, the first step is to secure a piece of land and obtain the right permits. Living completely off the grid inside a city is virtually impossible because you need to make sure there's enough space to generate solar or wind power to your home and to dig a well to take care of your water needs and waste removal so be willing to relocate.
Buy a small piece of land that's spacious enough for you and your family's needs, most people don't need a sprawling ranch that's hundreds of acres – 1 acre will be sufficient. Find the right place that takes seasonal weather and personal location needs into consideration. Be aware that councils don't just let you do whatever you want to your purchased piece of land either; there's building permits in place subject to council approval of planning. Check the local council before making your land purchase to find out what's involved. The general rule of thumb is that the more remote you are, the less likely you'll need a building permit.
2. The Critical Importance of Power
You don't realise how much you rely on power until you've experienced a long-winded blackout. Living off the grid in Australia means summer will be hot, winter will be cold and nights are dark – so you'll want to accommodate accordingly. You'll need a generator to power the essentials; from lighting to cooking, heating and cooling, entertainment and power tools and everything else in between.
Once you move off the grid, the sun will become your new best friend. Solar power and solar hot water systems are necessary and will keep your home running efficiently – and Australia is one of the best countries to take advantage of solar power. Combining an off grid generator (or two) with solar power or wind energy will give you reliable and backup power for your household items when you need it. Smart landscaping and clever home design including the placement of windows and passive heating will help keep your off-grid house energy efficient too.
3. The Critical Importance of Self-Sufficiency
Self-sufficiency; the fast growing trend to turn to a more simple way of life and use your own resources to provide your personal needs. All our everyday requirements in the 21st century we live in – food, water, electricity and other everyday requirements are fed through the system.
To live off the grid, you and your family need to be self-sufficient – in all aspects. This includes being able to financially support yourself, being willing to get your hands dirty, maintain water tanks, keep a garden, grow your own food and herbs, maintain a fire and locate timber for the cooler months. Most of all, you need to be willing to get rid a lot of your stuff and almost 'start again fresh'.
4. Recycle with Passion
If recycling has only ever been separating plastics and putting the bins out for collection, then be prepared to make a few changes before living off the grid. This simpler way of life not only reconnects you with the basics, but it allows you to be creative too.
Suddenly everything becomes a question – how can I put this to good use? Instead of waste and junk, you have opportunities for every item. Greenhouse extensions can be worth your while living off the grid and compost bins shouldn't be out of the question. To effectively live off the grid, you want to be passionate about change and recycling too.
5. Don't Just Survive, Thrive!
It doesn't matter how self-efficient you are now, living off the grid is a challenge. But it also comes with its own amazing benefits and appreciation for the simpler things in life that make the freedom so rewarding for many Australians.
Living off the grid though shouldn't just be about 'surviving'. You want the changes to positively impact you and your family and enjoy a lifestyle you can thrive on. If you're willing to learn and adapt to new ways that'll assure the best comfort for you and your family, the living off the grid in Australia can be a fantastic experience.
This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Able Sales – Australia wide supplier of quality backup generators to support your off grid living and generator needs. You can catch her on Google+.
Image Source: Shutterstock
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