What’s the best place to live off the grid in the USA? While technically you could live off grid anywhere, there are some places that are better suited for living off the grid than others. The reasons are many, but most have to do with land prices and local county building codes and ordinances.
I’ll start the list off in alphabetical order, and then I’ll give my opinion on the best states to live off grid based on benefits and availability.
Before I list them you need to know how I choose the states and what I’m looking for in off grid land. Because that’s what it comes down to. Land. You have to have a place to go to before you can move off grid, and while that seems obvious, it’s not as obvious when choosing the perfect off grid land and property location.
A number of factors should be considered: land prices, county building codes and local ordinances, property taxes, zoning restrictions, covenants, water availability, septic system regulations (which are usually governed by state and federal agencies), and lots of other factors.
Factors to consider when choosing land for off grid living
To simplify, there are some main factors that people need to consider when buying land for building their off grid homestead.
1. Climate – Do you want to live in a place with all four seasons, 2 seasons, or where it’s nice year-round? Do you like rain, snow, sun, heat, cold? Figuring that out seems easy, but it takes research. Citydata.com has awesome historical weather charts you can look at to help you decide where to move to.
2. Water – You need a renewable, dependable, clean water source to survive. Period. Especially in desert areas. Desert land is cheap and it’s cheap for a reason. You can buy 100 acres of desert land for the same amount or less that what you’d pay for waterfront property in milder climate zones.
3. Laws – You need to make sure you can build what you want and live the way you want. This means being off grid, disconnected from the power grid (or grid-tied solar/wind), and producing your own power and water.
Building codes must be followed or find a place that does not enforce the codes, or better yet find a place that has little or no building codes which means a remote property far from a city or town usually.
4. Taxes – You obviously want lower property taxes. Agricultural property is less expensive, but usually is a larger piece of land. This could be a good thing, but not always.
A larger parcel of land is typically more expensive and requires a larger outlay of cash upfront. A smaller property will be zoned residential, but residential property taxes are higher on agriculturally zoned land.
5. Zoning – Try to pick an agricultural property, or apply for rezoning or a variance with your county to get your taxes lowered. It depends on the county and city planning department, but you could get your property rezoned agricultural if you can provide a good reason for the rezoning, such as creating a garden or micro-farm, or raising livestock of some kind. Depending on the location and your neighbors, you might be able to get rezoned fairly easily to allow that kind of operation.
6. Land Price – I left land price almost last because this is so subjective. Affordable pricing is important, but it’s not always indicative of a good deal or the best place to buy off grid land. Like I said above about desert land, it’s cheap for a reason. The same thing with swamp land.
7. Timber & Rock – You’ll need building materials!
Well, that’s a good start and now I can use this to gauge whether a property is located in a good area to go off grid.
Best places to live off grid in the U.S.
Arizona – Northern Arizona. Cheap land, mild climate and some trees. Water is an issue and you will probably have to haul water to your property, but it’s doable.
California – Northern California specifically has a lot of good land and it’s priced reasonably. Climate is milder than most northern territories, water is readily available, ordinances are less strict, taxes are lower, and land prices are affordable. SoCal is good, but expensive and overpopulated. Land is expensive there and there’s too many people and rules.
Colorado – Some counties in Colorado are relaxing their strict codes and allowing more off grid and sustainable buildings. Water could be an issue in some places since a lot of Colorado is desert, but it’s not a huge problem and there are workarounds. Land prices are pretty good further away from the bigger cities.
Florida – YES! Florida is awesome for living off grid. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT illegal to live off grid in Florida. Just like anywhere else in the USA you must have a proper septic system and a clean water source.
Many people have exaggerated on a story going around the internet that Florida doesn’t allow off grid living, but the story is completely false. That story has been published and republished by people who have ulterior motives and agendas and those who simply didn’t know any better. Most of those who posted the story did so only to make money off the advertising by spreading bogus, non-factual stories which spread like wildfire.
So to clarify and set the record straight. YES! You can live off grid in Florida! You can have solar panels and wind turbines and water wells and gardens and all the great cool stuff that off grid living has to offer. You can even have chickens and cows and pigs! Just like anywhere else in the USA.
Land is relatively affordable in rural areas and water is plentiful. Timber is also plentiful, however, rock is not. Florida is mostly sand and dirt, except for southern Florida which sits atop calcified, petrified coral beds which are hard as rock.
Homestead, Florida is a place where the fossilized coral is very thick. So thick, a long time ago a man had a quarry in his back yard and built a castle out of the coral. Look up “The Coral Castle” by Edward Leedskalnin. It’s an amazing thing to see. So, living off grid in Florida is perfectly legal and it ranks as one of my top 5 places to live off grid in the USA.
Maine – Maine is an off gridders dream! There are lots of properties for sale and much of the land is cheap and remote. Water is plentiful, as is timber and rock to build with.
The only drawback is the climate. It gets cold there, and it’s a wet cold. But if you can deal with the winters, it does have beautiful seasons. Summer is bearable and temps in spring and fall are comfortable. Zoning, from what I’ve determined, is open to off gridders and building codes are relatively reasonable.
Montana – Big sky country! This state is great if you’re a rancher, but it’s bitter cold in the winter and the wind howls across the prairie and grasslands.
If you’re looking for land in Montana look in the mountains for shelter from the winds. The same goes for Wyoming and North Dakota. Cold and windy unless you’re in the mountains, and even then it’s bitter cold in the winter.
Having said that, Montana is a great state to move off grid. Land prices are reasonable, you can find some good waterfront property on a stream in the mountains for a relatively reasonable price, and water is readily available in most areas. Timber and rock is also plentiful in mountainous areas, but not so much on the prairies.
Oregon – Again, just about anywhere in Oregon is good. There are some desert areas, but western Oregon up and down the Cascade mountain range is very good. Central Oregon is desert, but it’s high desert like in places in central and northern California and the climate is milder there.
Summers in Oregon get hot just like anywhere, and winters are cold, but they do not last as long. Land prices are good and there are plenty of timber properties available too.
Texas – The land in Texas is plentiful – it’s a big state – but water is an issue in some places. Land is affordable in remote areas and in smaller counties and towns.
There is good hunting and fishing in Texas, and the climate is mild to hot depending on where you are. Some of Texas is desert, so try to avoid that area if you don’t like the heat, but if you’re smart and do your research you can find good land deals there.
Vermont – Vermont is another great state to live off grid. Land is plentiful and affordable. Water is available and not hard to come by as well as timber and rock for building. Resources are available and zoning is open to living off grid in most counties. Again, stay away from the larger cities and towns to find counties which are more open to living off the grid.
That’s enough for now. I will update this list as I get time with more detail as I get it. If you think I left a good state off this list let me know and I’ll research it and place it on my list.
Of these, here is my list of the top 5 best places to live off grid in the USA:
I like Florida because the weather there is awesome year-round. Colorado, well, one word. Cannabis! Actually, there are lots more reasons than the fact marijuana is legal there. Hemp is also legal and it’s a great material that can produce many hundreds of products.
Northern California is beautiful and peaceful, and Maine is awesome and land is very plentiful and affordable. Last but certainly not least is Vermont. They have beautiful country land in Vermont and maple syrup and all kinds of hunting and fishing. Timber is plentiful, as is water, and land is very affordable.
So there you have it. The best states to live off grid in the USA.
Thursday 13th of August 2020
Hi Mike, I live in Venice, fl. I would be interested in a bug out situation. Can you advise? Thanks
Tuesday 14th of July 2020
This is a great blog - thank you! 👍
Saturday 30th of May 2020
Thank you for the article. I am just starting to consider living off grid and it is difficult to find useful information. Thanks :)
Tuesday 14th of July 2020
More and more people are starting to not have a choice, the government needs to relax the laws so people can live however they want/need to
Friday 27th of July 2018
Washington and Idaho would seem to be just as good as the other Western States you mentioned,? Any reason they aren't as good as Oregon for instance?
Monday 9th of July 2018
In June of 2017, I made a spreadsheet and called the zoning department in about 15 counties in about a 2 hour radius from Lake City FL because I wanted to buy property and find out where I could most likely live off grid. My off grid goal included using a sawdust toilet, solar panels, propane for heat and cooking, and a pull camper.
Very few counties allowed you to have a recreational vehicle on your property for the duration of the whole year.
I asked about tiny houses... There were only 2 counties out of 15 that said yes but that they were hard to build to fit state code approval.
All counties require septic, well, and power. (I didn't ask about an alternate water source like rain catchment systems. Possibly some of the counties may have allowed that, but I believe a power pole was still required.)
I finally gave up on off grid and set everything up for on grid... building permits and fees for a mobile home, septic, well, power.
In order for inspection to pass here in Suwannee County, I was even forced to have the AC hooked up.
The only people I've heard of going off grid here are people who do it in places where code enforcement is lax and they can get by with it. But as far as codes go... no, you cannot cut the electric company out of profits and use solar panels. The only way you can use solar panels is if you go through the electric company and pay them a fee each month.
The lack of freedom and liberty is astounding.