Is it necessary to live in the Woods to live off the grid? Not at all. Or at least, not all the way.
What is the “grid,” first of all?
The term refers to the centralized – and centrally controlled – distribution networks for such things as power and water, chiefly. To be “off the grid” means you obtain your power (it is not necessarily just electricity) and water from a source independent of this grid that is under your control. So as to not be dependent upon the grid and – even more so, these days – beholden to it. Not having to worry that those who do control it will use it to control you, as by threatening to turn off your power and water.
But it does not mean living in the Woods.
Millions of people (this writer included) are already off-grid as regards their water supply – a thing at least and arguably even more critical than food supply. You can survive weeks without much or even any food. You cannot survive for more than a few days without water. It is hard to eat without water. It is extremely difficult to maintain hygiene without it, too.
These millions of people have wells on their property. They control their water supply, which is also a supply of water that will be free of the things included for “free” in the recycled toilet water that’s piped into millions of other people’s homes; e.g., chlorine and fluoride.
Which they pay to drink and bathe in.
You will, however, require power to get that water out of the well. But even so, it’s not necessary to connect to the electric grid to obtain it. Most people who have wells also have back-up generators that power the well pump when grid power goes down. In principle, one could power a well pump all the time, without grid power. There is solar power and there is propane power. Many home back-up generators run on propane or can be easily converted to run on it. Including smaller, portable rigs.
Propane is is similar to natural gas but different in that it is not on-grid. There is no propane gas line connecting your home to the distribution network, as is the case with natural gas.
Instead, you have a propane tank – small or big – and the propane within it is not connected to anything besides what you’ve connected it to, such as your home. It can be used in conjunction with solar-electric and grid-back-up power to run a generator and/or a stove and or a tankless water heater. Also, a heater, for you – so that you won’t be frozen out in the winter if the grid goes down.
You can’t “pay-it-forward” when it comes to grid electricity, which is transmitted continuously but which stops being transmitted, completely, when the grid goes down (or a tree downs a power line). But you can with propane. Many people buy it ahead of time, not only to have it – in case the grid goes down – but also to avoid paying more for it. Those who bought a couple hundred gallons before Putin Bad! Ukraine Good! for instance paid a lot less for it than people who bought it after. You can also often buy propane now – ahead of time – for a set price, agreed to by buyer and seller. As opposed to paying as you go. And – if you own your own tank – you can shop for the best price, something that’s impossible to do with grid electric power.
Neither of the above forms of decoupling from the grid requires living in the Woods. It only requires decoupling from the grid. It’s not even necessary to have a well – or a way to power it – if you have a water-catch system, which is a something almost anyone can rig up almost anywhere. Provided it rains, you will have water – and not be dependent on the grid (or power) for it.
This is probably why such systems are being illegalized in some areas of the country. The last thing they want is for anyone to be independent of them. Same goes for talk of charging people who have wells for their own water. No one is under any moral obligation to obey such tyrannical edicts and thus morally free to end-run/disobey them at will.
Wood, by the way, is another way to get off the grid. If you have woods, even better – as you can cut your own wood and use it to heat and cook and even boil water for cleaning, if need be. A wood stove serves all those purposes – and it’s entirely under your control. If you haven’t got woods, you can still buy wood – and once you buy it, you have it. Two or three cords of it, neatly stacked, can be considered the off-grid fuel-equivalent of a year’s worth of stored food. You won’t starve – or freeze. And if you convert federal reserve notes into wood, the amount of wood you bought won’t be 15 (or 50) percent less six months from now.
Another way to be off grid without being (necessarily ) in the Woods is to decrease your dependence upon the food grid. I’ve written previously about raising backyard poultry – chickens and ducks, etc.- and how that plus a garden can be done by almost anyone almost anywhere.
Even in suburbia.
The bottom line is that being off-grid is more a mindset than a location.
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