Modern life can be difficult at times, and so many people around the world are choosing to start living a totally new way of life, an off-grid lifestyle. I’ve talked a lot about living off the grid around the world, and in this article, I’m going to talk about living off the grid in the UK.
Essentially, off-grid living means living on your own without being connected or dependent on urban infrastructure. You’re generating your own electricity, using your own water source, and maybe even growing your own foodstuffs like fruit and veg.
So the question you have to ask yourself is – is it possible to live off the grid in the United Kingdom? The short answer to that is yes. You’ll be able to live off the grid in the UK and start living a safe and healthy life. More than that, living off the grid often means saving a lot of money in the long run. The planet is going to supply you with electricity, heat, water and food.
There are problems along the way, of course. The transition to this new life can be complicated and sometimes impossible. However, a lot of people around the world do it, and despite the challenges, they completely embraced this off the grid lifestyle. So here’s how it can be achieved in the UK, too.
What Does Living Off-Grid Mean?
Generally speaking, it doesn’t matter where you want to stay off the grid in the country. As I mentioned briefly, this way of life can be challenging at times. There’s an initial investment to be made and hard work to be done to get it up and running properly. But at the end of the day, you’re going to make your dream of living off the grid in the UK.
You’re likely to spend a lot or most of your time outdoors, in nature, because you’re disconnected from urban life and infrastructure. You’ll need to generate your own electricity, have a source of water (and, if possible, purify water), maybe cultivate your own food, and know how to deal with waste and sewage. You’ll need to be alert to know how to cope with unpredictable circumstances (such as bad weather) and how to repair, restore, and create stuff on your own. You will be entirely responsible for the upkeep of your new off-grid home and surroundings. You’re going to have to be confident and happy with being on your own and with your family alone. Friends may be far away, but you can still keep in touch through the off-grid Internet, so you’re not totally isolated from the modern world.
What Are The Advantages of Off-Grid Living?
Now that you have a taste of what it means to live off the grid, here are some of the benefits and advantages, both in the UK and elsewhere in the world:
- You start living healthy, away from pollution, noise, and stressful urban lifestyle.
- You’re going to save a lot of money in the long run, because you’re not going to have any more energy bills now that you live off the grid and entirely on your own.
- You’re going to start living in harmony with nature, Mother Earth and the planet.
- You will become more responsible, autonomous and respectful for your planet.
- You’ll be able to live in a quiet, natural place that’s stunningly beautiful.
- You’re going to become self-sufficient because you live self-sustaining.
How To Start Off-Grid Living: Step by Step Guide
So, now you know what it’s all like living off the grid. Let us continue to understand what steps you need to take to make your vision come true.
How To Find & Choose The Best Off-Grid Living Location?
This is the first and the most important thing when it comes to living off the grid. You’ll need to find land that’s both accessible and appropriate for off-grid living. If you’ve lived in the UK, consider buying a piece of land for your new home. However, don’t forget to check whether you do need to pay a council tax that corresponds to the size of your purchased property. To avoid unintentionally violating the local rules.
If you find the right property, you will possibly need to learn and observe local planning regulations before you can start building your new off-grid home (see below).
Here are some more important things to consider when deciding on a piece of land:
Woodland: a very good option, as wood can be a source of fuel as well as a building material.
Arable land: a fertile land that helps you to grow food on your own as well as livestock.
Water Supply: You should select a place near a water supply because there is no life without water. Freshwater is vital to life, so consider a place near a lake, a river or a well. You also need to remember to purify the water if appropriate.
If you’re planning to live off the grid lifestyle in a static caravan or yurt type tent, then you don’t have to worry so much about planning permission. But if you’re looking to move in a permanent home, you’d need to go through the UK Planning Permission Procedure.
In the following situations, you will need planning permission:
- When you’re planning to create something new,
- If you want to make a big change to your building
- If you want to change the use of the building
Living off the grid doesn’t mean you’re going to have to stay in the dark, like in the old days. You can still produce power and enjoy the use of modern appliances. You can charge your laptop or mobile phone, use a computer, a portable oven, a washing machine, and other gadgets that make your life easier.
The most common alternative to produce power while living off the grid is to install solar panels on the roof of your property or at the side of your tent. Keep in mind that you’re going to need batteries to store this energy. Also, each gadget uses a different amount of energy, so make sure you have enough batteries to hold all the power your home needs.
Some homes use electricity turbines (wind turbines). Others use water power (hydroelectric power) to produce electricity while they are close to a water source, but it can be costly to set up. As I said before, using solar panels is the most common source of power and electricity generation.
Live next to or near a water source that can supply water for drinking, cooking, washing and basically living would be great. However, that is not always possible. So, your water supply choices will come from rainwater and bore water. You can, of course, purify and sterilize the water before you drink it because it may be polluted.
Rainwater collection is also a possibility, but you would probably need an underground water tank to store the water and then filter it using a special device. This setup will cost £10,000 or more.
As for the borehole, a geological survey is needed. Luckily, there are providers and companies in the UK that organize such a survey and even drill the borehole for you.
Another interesting choice is to use something called the Off-Grid Box. It will provide you with both drinking water and electricity almost anywhere in the world. This box is often used in developing countries, or by those who want to live off the grid. It can be deployed even in the event of a natural disaster.
Heat pumps are probably the best choice, efficiency-wise when it comes to heating your off-grid home. This ingenious invention works by using the heat from the ground. Alternatively, the heat may be withdrawn from the outside, adding warm air to the room.
Other methods for heating your home are biomass (which means burning wood or using organic matter) and thermal collectors.
You may also buy portable heating equipment and items that are not bad for heating purposes at all. I’ve written a separate article about various types of heaters that can warm up a tent or a room in your new home.
If you really want to live and eat off the grid, then it’s time for you to grow your own food. You can grow vegetables, fruit, grains, raise livestock for dairy and meat purposes, create a coop, and more.
If you’re a total newcomer in the farming sector, don’t worry! I can recommend an excellent book that’s going to set you on the right path. It’s called – “The Encyclopedia of Country Living: The Original Manual of Living Out of Land & Doing It Yourself”. This book will teach you all of the skills you need and give you basic knowledge. This wonderful book teaches you how to grow all kinds of food, how to store it, how to forage, how to keep bees, how to feed animals, and much more. The book has hundreds of excellent reviews on Amazon, and I really encourage you to check it out.
Drainage and Waste Disposal
Often this issue is overlooked and ignored, but you must have a waste management program. Improper disposal not only destroys the land, nature and the environment but may also result in fines.
The two most common and effective ways to dispose of the waste are:
Toilet composting: Many off-gridders build composting toilets. They are waterless, small in size and do not smell (completely odourless).
Soakaway: This is a basic hole you dig in the dirt. It is lined with rough stones and debris, enabling the surface water to percolate down into the earth. The hole will have a depth of 1 meter (give or take).
5 Amazing Places in the UK to Experience the off Grid Living
Beginning an off-grid lifestyle is a big challenge that can be life-changing for sure. So, before you disengage from the city and city-life, here are five great places in the UK where you can get a glimpse of what it’s all about living off the grid.
Guardswell Farm, Perthshire: Guests in this lovely place are asked to turn everything off and switch off completely. This means no Wi-Fi, you’re just soaking up the breathtaking views. The farm is located on a hilltop and sits between the villages of Kinnaird and Abernyte. The self-catering options include sleeping cabins for two or farmhouses for ten. Lighting is available thanks to solar power, but no refrigerator is available. You can choose between a Woodburner, a gas hob and an outdoor fire pit for your cooking. A fold-out sofa bed is available for children — cost: £130 per day.
Laggan, Ardnish Peninsula is a whitewashed cottage sat on private land of 3,500 acres. You can only access it by sea, and there’s no electricity at all. Feel free to enjoy the cosy and romantic atmosphere of the wood burners and paraffin lamps. You’re near the edge of the water with a stunning view. Wildlife also includes red deer, white-tailed eagles and seals. To get to the nearest town, you’d have to walk for 3 hours or take a 10-minute boat trip. You’re playing cards and games, but you’re going to be surrounded by nature and its sounds — cost: £900 per week. Sleeping is up to five in two bedrooms and one in the cabin.
Old Coach House, near Looe on the south coast, Cornwall: the narrow lanes and winding lanes lead you to Old Coach House, an incredible Victorian home. It consists of three bedrooms on 70 acres of private property. There are also fields and wild gardens for your enjoyment, and even a path (though steep) that takes you down to a private beach. Here, you see what it’s all like living off the grid. You get energy from the solar panels for the refrigerator and the lamps, and you cook with a gas hob or a wood burner. There are no houses in the neighbourhood, and the world feels far, far away. There are a lot of games and books, guitars and African drums. Don’t worry. There’s even a home-built, wood-fired hot tub. Cost: from £89 a night, and sleeps up to 8 people.
Chartners Farm, Northumberland: situated 20 miles from the Scottish border, this is a new off-grid bunkhouse for up to 12 people. Solar panels and wind turbines produce electricity, and a large log burner ensures that the place is well heated. There is no Wi-Fi, however. Instead, you can take a stroll through the beautiful woods and cycle along the Sandstone Way, which is a modern bike path. You will enjoy the bbq area as well as the terrace, which is ideal throughout the summer. You can also camp in the surrounding area with tents and sleeping bags. You can also plan to take the dog with you. Cost: £95 per night (minimum two nights), up to 12 people in three areas.
Shank Wood Log Cabin, Cumbria: This beautiful log cabin is situated on the bank of the river and is surrounded by woodland. It is made of local timber. This is where you really get the experience of living off the grid by going back to nature. Here, all you’ll hear is running water, because there’s no telephone signal, no Wi-Fi, no TV, no refrigerator. There is a wood-fired hot tub, and the lights are provided by solar panels. Basically, it’s just about getting in contact with the natural environment. This place is ideal for a family, as it includes two double beds, a kitchen, a dining area and a wood-burning stove — cost: £150 a night, up to four people, for a minimum of two days.
We hope you found this guide on how to live off grid in the UK useful, check out our other property blogs on eco homes and living as well as our general property news. If you live off grid and want to share your experiences and know how with us then get in touch, we may want to feature you in one of our next blog posts.