Living off the land – sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?! Spending your days working away on your own piece of paradise, making enough to pay the bills – it is something that many of us dream of – daily!
What Does Living Off the Land Mean?
Living off the land means living on the resources that come from nature. The three resources you will need are food, water, and power.
People who live off the land will grow, hunt or forage their food, and harvest power from sun and wind. Water comes from a source such as a well, spring, or borehole.
Living off the land is a lifestyle sought after by people who dream of a homestead or off-grid life. Living off the land also helps you get closer to nature and the sources of life’s essentials.
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But is Living Off the Land Possible?
Yes. For sure!
Living off the land is certainly achievable, and many people manage to do it successfully. Unless you get lucky, homesteading isn’t a lifestyle that will make you rich, but you can certainly be very comfortable. After all, none of us go into self-sufficiency or off-grid living to make millions anyway!
The hardest part of trying to live off the land is getting started. You will need to support yourself while you get your off-grid project up and running, so this means you’ll benefit by having savings on hand.
You will also very likely need a reliable source of income, as it is unlikely that you will be able to meet all of your needs from the land. Although you could develop the skills to make homestead supplies like soaps, clothes, shoes, and many other items, some things such as tools will need purchasing occasionally.
Either way – it’s good to have a nest egg saved for a rainy day! What if a piece of farming equipment breaks – or your pantry items spoil unexpectedly over winter. A little bit of cash goes a far way when you’re in a homesteading pinch.
Also – there aren’t many places where you can live without paying property tax, utilities – or other bills!
How Much Money Do You Need to Live Off the Land?
There are two things to consider regarding how much money you need to live off the land. The first is your initial setup costs.
To get free electricity from the sun or wind, you will need to spend some cash on the equipment to get started.
When working out how much money you need to live off the land, you will need to figure out what things you will be unable to provide for yourself. For example, you might want chickens for eggs. Even if you can breed backyard-laying hens and grow all the food they require, you will also need to pay for veterinary care and routine worm treatments.
Look at your food supply as well – many things are easy to grow, and it is (hopefully) not long before you’ll have enough food to sustain yourself. However, some variety in your diet is always welcome!
Most off-grid homesteaders need a reliable road-legal vehicle, whether a tractor for the land or a truck to take produce to market. If you are in a remote location, then transport is essential, especially in an emergency. For us, running a vehicle is our biggest monthly outgoing, but we’d feel lost without it!
In the long term, you should see a massive drop in your cost of living when living a self-sufficient, off-the-land lifestyle. But I remind you that it is always a good idea to have some emergency funds stashed away, though! You never know what awaits around the corner.
How Many Acres Do You Need to Live Off the Land?
So, if you want to live off the land, how much space do you need? Your spacing needs depend entirely on your circumstances, and no two households (or homesteads) are the same!
Traditionally, many homesteaders and farmers thought you needed at least 5 acres to sustain an income, but this will vary hugely according to the location and climate.
If the land is lush and fertile, and the climate is mild with plenty of rain, you will be able to manage with less land. On the other extreme, farming animals on dry, arid land will require much more space.
Remember that you will need to maintain your land, so taking on too much may be counter-productive! With clever systems such as vertical gardening and chicken tractors, it is possible to live off the land on a small patch of ground.
Where Should I Live to Live Off the Land?
Hopefully – somewhere warm!
Where you choose to live is a critical factor when planning a self-sufficient life. Location is vital to the success of your homestead, and you may need to relocate to achieve your dream.
However, it may be that you are already living in the ideal spot – if you’ve got land, sunshine, and water, then you may have everything you need!
If you want to live off the land, then make sure that you conduct your due diligence!
Consider zoning and building laws as an example. Although we’d all love to live wild and free, some countries (or counties) may not grant building permits, and they may require connection to electricity and water. The point is that – some variables are not under your control.
Affordability is another factor, and many people relocate to another state or country to find a place within their budget. In many countries, land prices are at a premium, making off-grid living almost impossible.
These are our top picks for off-grid living around the world:
- Canada – with huge open spaces, this vast country can make an excellent choice for off-grid life.
- Alaska – if you can brave the climate (and grizzly bears), give Alaska a try! Food production can be tricky, but the stunning scenery more than makes up for it.
- Portugal – yes, I am biased, but many people relocate to Portugal to live the off-grid dream. The combination of affordability and climate attracts many potential homesteaders from all around the world.
- The United Kingdom – many off-grid homesteads exist in the UK – and have for many decades. And although planning laws have tightened, it is still possible to live off-grid in some areas.
- Australia – abundant land and great weather make this country a popular choice for living off the land!
- America – some US states are much more welcoming towards off-grid homesteaders, with Montana and North Dakota coming out at the top of the list.
What Skills Do You Need to Live Off the Land?
The most important skill you can bring to a new self-sufficiency project is a good mindset – but staying upbeat is hard work! You need to cope well with setbacks and complications!
Homesteading off-the-land can be quite an isolated lifestyle, so make sure you have strategies to cope with loneliness. Even if you are embarking on this adventure with a friend, partner, or family, it is nice to have other humans to speak to from time to time!
You also need practical skills to be able to live off the land. Although you will probably develop homesteading skills along the way, the more you can learn before you begin – the easier adapting becomes.
Depending on how you plan on sustaining yourself, you should learn the basics of hunting, fishing, foraging, or growing food.
It is also tremendously helpful to be able to make and repair things. And don’t forget, you’re going to need to stick to a budget, so learning how to manage money is vital!
Top Tips to Get Started When Living Off the Land
Think you’ve got what it takes to live a self-sufficient lifestyle? Here are our top tips to get you started!
Try Before You Buy!
Before jumping in at the deep end, see if you can find a way to experience living off the land first. Why not make your next holiday a working holiday on a farm or homestead?
There are many volunteer exchange opportunities available worldwide. So you can find out what off-grid living is all about before jumping the shark!
Alternatively, before selling up and moving to the middle of nowhere, try embracing some self-sufficiency principles in your current lifestyle.
Slowly transitioning into a homesteader can be a great way to learn new skills before taking the plunge and rushing into your homestead ASAP.
If your current home is not suitable, then consider a short-term rental to see how your new lifestyle works for you. You could also try offering to housesit for other homesteaders, which is a great way to gain valuable experience.
Living off the land won’t work if you need the same lifestyle as someone with a 9-to-5 office job.
For most people living a homestead lifestyle, any luxury items seem like an extravagance! So, we quickly get used to managing with very little!
Frugal living means eating what you have produced, mending clothes, cutting down transport costs – basically – we don’t spend anything unless it is essential! So be prepared to ditch the luxury shampoo, takeout dinners, oversized monitors, and superfast internet.
(I do have a small confession to make, though. I can’t seem to kick my ice-cream habit! They are just too tempting when we pop to the store on a blisteringly hot day. I guess we all need one little luxury in life!)
Find Something You Love
Living off the land can only be successful if you enjoy it – this lifestyle should not be a tedious slog! Homesteading can be a repetitive lifestyle, with many tasks needing to be done day in, day out.
So for 365 days a year, you could be letting hens out, picking fruit and vegetables, pumping water – the novelty may soon wear off!
Think about what makes you smile when it comes to outdoor life. If you love to wander to the river and have a swim, then perhaps fishing is the best food source for you?
Maybe you love spending time in the kitchen – you could consider growing extra fruit to make preserves to sell at the farm gate? Or if you’re the crafty type, is there a way to make money from your land this way?
By the way, do you know Soap Queen? Yep, Anne-Marie – the owner of Bramble Berry Soap Supplies! She has an amazing course on making your own bath and body products for only $19 on Creative Live.
It teaches you cold-process soap making, balms, lotions, sugar scrubs, and much more – check it out here!
Feel Inspired by Living Off the Land? You Won’t Regret Starting!
Speaking from experience, living off the land is a great way of life, but having a small income does make it a lot easier. It just takes the pressure off worrying about what happens if a crop fails, or if something breaks. Over time we’ll hopefully become more self-sufficient, and I know some people who manage to completely live off the land!
I hope you are feeling inspired living off the land – it certainly is a wonderful way of life, and the world would be a better place if more people gave it a go! Do you have any great ideas for living off the land? If so, we would love to hear them!
There’s one more short story about living off the land that I’d love to share – from a historical setting in a tiny New England town.
It’s called – the Fruitlands!
The Fruitlands – a Famous (and Failed) Living Off the Land Attempt From New England
One of the most intriguing examples of living entirely off-grid from American history is the Fruitlands experiment – a utopian agrarian society launched in 1843 by the transcendentalist movement – namely Amos Bronson Alcott.
(Bronson was Louisa May Alcott’s father and a good friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson!)
Bronson Alcott proposed (and launched) a utopian society, the Fruitlands, that denounced all forms of animal products and animal labor. Bronson, a devoted vegan, refused to use any products that harmed animals – or products derived from animal farm labor. Period!
Some New England homesteaders still debate whether or not Alcott’s altruistic viewpoint was wise; Fruitlands ultimately failed and disbanded as a living off the land community after seven or eight months.
Nevertheless, the transcendentalist movement remains a famous and interesting attempt at living off-grid harmoniously!
Editor’s note – I think surviving harsh New England winters without animal fat or farm animals is trickier than it looks – especially during the 1800s! However, I shall always respect their attempt.
(Can homesteads survive without the help of farm animals? I’m not sure!)
Thanks for reading.