Where to Live Off The Grid – What States are the Best? - My View From The Woods

Where to Live Off The Grid – What States are the Best?

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Jun 26

Where To Live?

Truthfully? I have no idea.

I wrote a post on why I want to live off the grid. But there are so many questions on where to live.

I've made a list of some of the states that I'd like to look at and have heard they're good places to live off the grid.

There are several characteristics that I want in a place to live.

Vegetation

The area needs to be wooded. Preferably, with a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees with some size.

I like greenery.

Don't get me wrong; there are many beautiful places that don't have trees or only evergreen trees. But after a while, I miss seeing a variety of plants, and it's so nice being able to get under the canopy of leaves in the summer, enjoy the color of autumn, and the openness of the forest in the spring when you crave the sunshine the most.

Water

I grew up in Central New York State that receives between 35- and 45-inches of precipitation a year.  Besides the abundant precipitation, the region has large bodies of water (Lake Ontario), many smaller lakes, and numerous flowing streams, creeks, rivers, and groundwater is relatively shallow.

No way in Hell do I want to live in a place where I need to conserve water.

That said, I don't want it to rain every day either. Rain is refreshing, it keeps plants green and growing, but it cuts down on solar radiation, and it can beat you down and be depressing.

Topography

To me, the best power source for an off the grid home would be a micro-hydro turbine. So I'll need some elevation change on the property. The greater the elevation change, the better but being able to incorporate the benefit of geothermal for cooling and heating would also be nice.

Not wanting to invest a shit ton of money drilling wells into rock for geothermal means the property will need several feet of unconsolidated soil, leaving mountainous, rocky areas out of the equation.

My eyes enjoy looking at hilly terrain, so my ideal place will have some elevation change but at least a bit of level ground to make building and gardening easier.

Temperature

I grew up in an area that receives lake effect snow. Snow doesn't bother me, but I'm sick of it. I doubt I will miss it, but I also know that it will be hard to find a place to live that doesn't receive some snow.

Heating a home takes a lot of resources, whether it be wood, electricity, or propane. So the longer the climate stays warm, the better. A longer growing season would also be beneficial.

So temperature is a major factor for me. But I've never been to some of the places that could be a great place to live. A good way to find out what the climate is for an area would be to look at the average minimum temperature.

Luckily, the government has mapped out the minimum winter temperature. The U.S. plant hardiness zone map is a good way to figure out how cold it gets anywhere in the U.S.

Central New York is located within three hardiness zones from 4 to 6. I currently live in zone 5.

Residing in a warmer area such as in zone 6 or 7 would be nice. I also realize that regional plant hardiness zones are generalizations, and each area could have several micro-climates, but it's a good place to start. More on this later in the post.

Laws & Taxes

I want to build and live the way I want.

Also, it might not be possible to build quickly, so I may have to live in a smaller build or travel trailer until the finished building is complete.

This means I may need to find a place that does not enforce the codes, or better yet find a place that has little or no building codes or zoning.

I've read that some areas discourage off the grid living by using tough building codes or zoning. After all, the municipality relies on tax dollars to fund their treasury, so smaller homes that don't depend on the system won't contribute as much and are unwelcomed.

Other laws, such as water usage regulations could also affect my preferred energy collection system.

One of the main reasons I want to live off the grid is to reduce bills. Getting a massive tax bill in the mail is not a good day and one I want to eliminate.

Land Price

Obviously, money is a huge factor.

The cheaper an acre of land is the more land I can buy. Of course, the natural resources and the topography of the land is a determining factor, but all things being equal, the larger the piece of land the better.

The budget is limited, and the less I spend on land, the quicker I can develop the property.

States in the Running

Below is a list of states that I've heard could be good candidates for off the grid living, or I know they have the resources that I want to have on my property.

  1. Tennessee
  2. Oregon
  3. Washington
  4. Idaho
  5. West Virginia
  6. North Carolina
  7. Arkansas
  8. Colorado
  9. Maine
  10. Vermont
  11. New York
  12. New Hampshire
  13. Kentucky
  14. Missouri
  15. Alaska

Can Any Be Eliminated?

I'm not sure I want to eliminate any state permanently from the list right now. But let's face it, owning a title to the land is one of the first actual steps I need to take.

Searching for land in 15 states at once is, well, stupid.

I'll use the characteristics listed at the beginning of the post to see if one or two states might be better candidates over the others.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zone Map represents the average annual minimum winter temperatures based on 10-degree zones.

The map covers all of the U.S .and will be a good tool to cull out some states, or at least, eliminate areas of some states. It can also be used to choose areas that I may prefer to live in based on temperature and length of the growing season.

Plant Zones

As previously mentioned, any state that doesn't have a hardiness zone warmer than zone 5 can be crossed off the list. States with wholly, or mostly in zones 6 or 7 will be highlighted.

US plant hardiness zones

Pass or Fail?

Comparing the state list to the plant hardiness zone map, Colorado, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine can be crossed off because they are in Zone 5 or colder. New York can also be crossed off because the counties within Zone 6 are not areas where I want to live.

Below is the state list with those currently not in the running struck out and those in the ideal temperature range highlighted in green. The others have limited areas within a good temperature zone.

  1. Tennessee
  2. Oregon
  3. Washington
  4. Idaho
  5. West Virginia
  6. North Carolina
  7. Arkansas
  8. Colorado
  9. Maine
  10. Vermont
  11. New York
  12. New Hampshire
  13. Kentucky
  14. Missouri
  15. Alaska

In future posts, I will take a closer look at the other characteristics of the remaining states in more detail.

Where Do You Live? How Do You Like It There?

Drop me a comment and let me know. 

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