Every day, a family picks up and leaves their house in the suburbs of America and heads north. They’re heading to the wild, wild earth in Alaska. It’s one of the last places in the United States that has thousands of acres of land available for a reasonable price.
Living off the grid in Alaska may be a dream many of us have, however only a few are brave enough to take the huge leap of faith and do it. Living in an area that’s still just about untouched by humans is exciting, freeing and a little intimidating. Because the land is so remote, those who are buying land and building homes in the lovely forest land should be ready to be off the grid.
Off the grid means you’re on your own. You do not have access to public utilities. It’s you and nature. There aren’t any meters outside the house, no power lines running to and from and no underground cables. It’s really getting back to basics and enjoying this lovely land without ugly signs of civilization.
Before you head off to Alaska, there are some stuff you need to know to make sure you’re successful. There are lots of those who have made the leap and failed. They were miserable and ended up packing up and moving back into those suburbs so many others are trying to get out of. Don’t be one of those who couldn’t make it. Prepare yourself by following these ten tips.
Find the right land #1
This is by far the toughest part of getting off the grid. Never purchase a piece of land sight unseen. There are many parcels available that seem too good to be true because they’re. You’re getting to be completely self-reliant, which suggests you need a bit of land that will provide your basic requirements. There are many points to think about when you are looking for land to go off grid in Alaska.
Before you begin looking, decide just how far away from civilization you want to be. Some folks say the farther the better while others want to be off the beaten path, but still close enough to a town that they will make each day trip to get supplies. You also should decide the terrain. It isn’t all trees. There are some wide open spaces nestled in between the immense forests. Some folks wish to be surrounded by public lands. This is a method to make sure a mall isn’t going to be built not far away.
You also need to evaluate how much daylight you’re going to get. You’ll probably need to own a few solar panels to run things like a refrigerator or a hot water heater. If you’re going completely old school and are going to go without electricity altogether, that isn’t going to be a problem. However, you’ll likely need to have a garden to sustain you and if you’re enclosed by trees, it’s going to be tough to get the sun you need to your plants.
You also need to check on the zoning for the particular piece of land you have your eye on. Not each parcel will be built on. There are plenty of particulars about what you can and cannot do on land you own. You’ll be close to a lake, however not lawfully be able to use it as a supply of water. you’ll only be allowed to make a one-story home and so on.
How will you get to your home? Will you need to use a small plane (which is really pretty common in the Alaskan bush)? Is it boat access only? Roads to the house are most likely not going to be there unless you’re buying land that has already been developed. In almost any scenario, you’re going to need a reliable vehicle with 4WD. Snowmobiles or sleds are another choices for getting to your home in the deep winter months.
You have to have water to live. Carting in hundreds of gallons of water isn’t going to be a choice if you’re deep into the Alaskan wilderness. Luckily, there are many lakes and fresh springs in Alaska. Your land will need to have access to one of these bodies of water. You need to make certain you have rights to use that water for your own wants. Rain water catchment systems are differently to get the water you need to survive.
If you don’t have access to water, you’ll need to drill a well. However, you’ll not have the rights to drill a well on your land. This is why it’s so vital you know all the little details regarding the land you’re looking at buying.
Alaska could be a big state. The further up north you go, the colder it’s going to be. You need to decide just how cold you’re willing to go. In some areas, forty to sixty degrees below zero is extremely possible. The arctic and interior areas of Alaska are extraordinarily cold in the winter. You need to be prepared to ride out the winter in the safety of your home.
Preparing to be alone — really alone #2
Living off grid in Alaska means you’re going to have a lot of peace and quiet. The occasional visit from friends and family is going to be non-existent. You’re not going to be handling salesmen. In fact, you’re not going to be handling anybody. For some, the isolation is too much. It may all seem romantic and exciting while you sit in your residential neighborhood and listen to the sounds you take for granted.
In the bush or off the grid, it’s quiet. The only sounds are the musical tunes of nature. You have to be able to really embrace the isolation. In many parts of Alaska, mobile phone service isn’t possible. When you are off the grid in Alaska, you won’t have regular telephone service either. You’ll have a satellite installed to access the internet, however it’ll be restricted by the weather.
If you’re moving with your family, you’ll have some company. Having some pets is another way to fight off the lonely blues. Write letters and schedule times when you can talk with friends and family. You’ll still have neighbors (albeit some miles away at least) and it would be a decent idea to find out their names and have occasional gatherings.
Accept nature #3
Nature was there first. You need to be willing to just accept that. Bears, deer, moose and a whole host of different animals call Alaska home. You’re coming into their territory. In most cases, they’re going to leave you alone as long as you return the favor. However, there are going to be times you get in their manner and they get in yours. Pick your battles wisely.
Living in Alaska, off the grid, means you’re on your own. You don’t need to choose a fight with a bear, end up on the losing end and have to expect help to arrive. Respect the boundaries. Putting up fences around your garden area isn’t always going to be effective. You will probably end up sharing your produce with the local wildlife till you figure out how to keep the animals at bay. Don’t let it get you down. Plant extra and set up on sharing.
Learn how to go grocery shopping #4
Sure, you know how to go grocery shopping, but when living in rural Alaska, it’s an art. You must purchase enough groceries to last your family for several weeks or months depending on how remote you’re. You can’t run to the shop for a gallon of milk. Which means you either rely on instant milk or go without. You will be doing plenty of cooking from scratch. You will need a nice supply of ingredients like flour, sugar, butter and so on.
You will need a decent supply of non-perishables, like canned foods and such. If you’re going to be using solar power, there are going to be some long weeks where the sun is blocked by clouds and serious snowfall. You need to be prepared not to have the luxury of electricity.
Get used to the dark #5
If you are moving to the northern corners of Alaska, prepare to be living in the dark for days on end. The inside of Alaska has some pretty short days in the winter as well. It may be depressing. It does wreak havoc on your mental health. Humans need sunlight to thrive.
On the flip side of the short days in winter, if your land is near the polar circle, summer days are unending. In fact, for places like the Barrow area, the sun is out for 24 hours all summer long. Seriously, three months of daylight. This can be an enormous welcome after a long, dark winter. In fact, you may welcome those dark days.
Get a hobby #6
When the long winter drives you indoors, you’ll quickly get bored. Cabin fever takes on a whole new meaning when you are really confined to your cabin. There are plenty of hobbies that will keep your mind and hands busy. Once you choose your hobby, stock up on the provides you need to keep going for many months. Whether you’re thinking about sewing, knitting, painting or leather working, get the tools and materials you need when you visit town. Have backups just in case a piece of equipment breaks. Have lots of books on hand as well.
You don’t need to get stuck inside and literally go stir crazy. Those who have tried living off the grid will tell you the long days and nights ar tough to take when you are used to having different things keep you busy.
During the summer, you will need to grow food that you can preserve for the winter months. It will offer you a purpose and really help get you in tune with Alaska. Obviously, gardening in Alaska is going to create some challenges.
Investing in a greenhouse or building your own may be a very good plan. It’ll extend the growing season and allow you to grow crops that ar going to be very hard to come by in Alaska. You’ll realize prices at the grocery store for fresh produce ar much higher than you would realize in the lower forty-eight. Growing your own food will facilitate cut down on the grocery bill.
Outhouses — Learning to love them #8
When you think about buying your dream home, it probably doesn’t include an outhouse for a toilet. One of the perks, if you’ll, is outhouses. Septic systems are a rare commodity for homes that are way off the grid. Outhouses are extremely common in the Alaskan community for off the grid homes. Running water is a rare commodity as are flushing toilets.
How you set up your outhouse is up to you. Folks usually like to place them a little far from the house just because they can be a little smelly. That isn’t your only choice. Composting toilets are an option for an indoor toilet. They’re actually very simple to use and truly little to no odor at all.
Some folks cannot get their minds around using an outhouse and yes, it will be problematic in the dead of winter, which is why the compost toilet is an ideal option. There’s always going to be some compromises. Using an outhouse isn’t necessarily a dream for many, but living out in the quiet and being very near nature could be a perk that’s well worth it.
Prepare to cut and stack a LOT of wood #9
Wood heat is the way to go in Alaska. Luckily, with miles and miles of forest and trees covering the area, there’s lots of wood. If you have never had to chop wood with a chainsaw, split it with an ax then stack it in neat little piles, you need to be prepared for lots of work. This can be a job that takes all summer.
The minute the weather starts to heat, it’s time to begin thinking about your wood supply next year. You can’t afford to run out of wood in the winter. It’ll be your only source of heat. When it’s forty below outside, you can’t just wrap up during a blanket and tough it out.
If you’re planning on having someone doing the cutting for you, prepare to pay big money. Depending on wherever you plan on living, you’ll burn through five to fifteen cords of wood in one winter. You’ll always rely on oil to heat the home, however it can be expensive and when you are out, you need a backup set up if you can’t get into town quickly.
It isn’t that cheap #10
Many people move to Alaska with the dream of living off the land and living a relatively debt free life. Once they move in, they realize it isn’t simple living off the land and buying things that are usually very cheap at the local Wal-Mart are double or triple in price in the remote towns of Alaska. If you’re moving near one of the larger cities, like Anchorage, the price of living is similar to that of anyplace in the lower forty-eight states.
You can cut costs by planning those shopping trips and stocking up on all the essentials to chop down those emergency buys from the smaller towns. Learning how to grow your own food and how to hunt will also save you a good deal of cash. Many folks buy the land and home outright so they aren’t strapped with a mortgage payment. If you’ll do that, you will be setting yourself up for success.
The key to remember is you’re paying lower taxes and enjoying the beauty of an area that’s unscathed by humans and big cities. There are clearly going to be some trade-offs, however if you can dedicate yourself to making it work, you may reap the benefits of living in a remote area, off the grid in Alaska. If you can’t image yourself riding a snowmobile into town or using a boat to get to work, you can live on the outskirts of one of the larger cities and still be off the grid. In fact, it may be good practice for you.
When you have mastered the art of dry living, you can head off to parts unknown and make a real go of it. Alaska is really one of the last frontiers and one of the last places on this earth a person can really get away from it all and live life to the fullest the way nature intended.