How To Find The Best Deals On Off-Grid Land

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Many Americans who are tired of the rat race often dream of an off-grid life by a picturesque lake … but they never do anything about it.

This week’s guest on Off The Grid Radio had those same dreams – and he acted on them. His name is Gary Collins, and he traded his big California home and consumerism lifestyle for a simpler off-grid lakeside life in Washington state. And he’s not looking back.

His name is Gary Collins, and his new book, “Going Off Grid: The How-To Book Of Simple Living And Happiness,” details everything he learned during his off-grid venture.

He tells us:

  • How to find the best deals on off-grid land.
  • Why he chose to use contractors instead of building his home by himself.
  • How he made $10,000, simply by selling his possessions, before moving off-grid.
  • What off-gridders need to know about water rights before buying property.

Finally, Gary tells us why he is skeptical about tiny homes.

If you’ve considered moving off-grid, or you simply enjoy learning from adventurous people, then this week’s show is for you!

Remote Cabins Threaten Norwegian Wildlife

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Luxurious cabins Vs. the environment

The proliferation of off-grid cabins in remote Norway is disrupting the wildlife

Norwegians love to unplug once in a while — disappear from civilisation into their remote cabins. Being in contact with the nature is one of the most valued factors for people with cabins. They enjoy the cumbersome, rural life without any power, water or toilets. Or so they claim. In the last years cabins have gotten bigger and with more facilities, and it is starting to affect the environment and the wildlife in the Norwegian forest.

Cabins a disturbing factor
According to the Institute of Natural Research (NINA) report on “Conflicts and Sustainability around Second Home Development”, the mountain huts can give an unnatural high access to food to small game such as red foxes. This gives red foxes access to bigger areas which threatens different species, like the arctic fox.

Much of the cabin construction takes place in areas that are particularly important for wildlife such as migratory roads, winter habitats or calving areas. These are areas where the animals are particularly vulnerable, according to forskning.no.

The research shows that development interferes more than previously thought. For example reindeers are located kilometers away from their permanent infrastructure. This means that large mountain areas in practice are not available as habitats anymore. When removing cabins and trails, the reindeer seems to quickly reuse the areas, says Senior Researcher Bjørn Kaltenbor who conducted the interdisciplinary project.

Not enough focus on environmental awareness

The degree of environmental awareness people have for their cabin life is not particularly high. On the other hand, the attitudes towards new developers are overall negative.

Kalterborn told forskning.no: ”The vast majority of cottage owners are negative towards major future changes in the cottage areas, such as infrastructure development and depreciation”.

Cabins are today one of the largest economic sectors in the rural municipalities in Norway. In many of the municipalities, construction is considered a rescue plan in relation to failing agriculture and relocation. Unfortunately, according to Kalterborn´s research, the majority of the municipalities in the Southern Norway region have insufficient capacity and lack of competence and overview to keep up with developments in the sector.

“This can create major conflicts for the government in the future if they have to return lost habitat for important species such as wild boar”, Kalternborn warns.

Want to capture wild animals on camera? See: Trail Cameras for hunters or animal lovers.

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Does Your Plan B Include a Second Place to Live If Plan A Doesn’t Work Out?

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Does Your Plan B Include a Second Place to Live If Plan A Doesn’t Work Out? This article is a great look the reality of national debt and cost of living. It also sheds light on a topic that scares all homeowners: property value. It’s a terrifying thought when you imagine something in your area …

Continue reading »

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Dealing with Bureaucracy

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Feds attack Rancher

Not only in Nevada

Off-Grid living and Government Bureaucracy are totally opposed to each other. Many people go off the grid just to get away from the Bureaucrats. but you can never escape them altogether. An anonymous rancher from the mid-west tells his story:

I’m sure most everyone would agree that public service is a noble calling. We are indebted to all those since our founding fathers who have stepped up to serve the greater good. Unfortunately, serving the good of the public and that of the bureaucracy seems to be almost diametrically opposed.

I know many ranchers who have considered just moving out of the system entirely versus dealing with bureaucrats and bureaucracies. But the reality is there is no way to avoid them, no matter how frustrating, impersonal, complex, incompetent, and arrogant they may be. In fact, the reach of bureaucracies into our daily lives seems to be growing exponentially, almost at the pace of their incompetence.

In business, we have to innovate, we have to do things more efficiently (reduce overhead), we have to improve the quality and timeliness of our decision-making and we have to become more customer centric and deliver more value. It is a never-ending, daily struggle for survival that ensures that businesses have this type of focus.

The great irony is that bureaucracies, because of their nature, often perversely have the opposite incentives. They must spend all their money, grow their sphere of influence and gobble up more and more resources while often doing less and less.

Thus, innovative, cost-effective, efficient, customer focused, responsive to change, or even user-friendly are not words that one usually associates with bureaucracies, and for good reason.

For example, I recently had to go to a local social security office—local when you are a rancher includes traveling 180 miles to the nearest government office—to get a replacement social security card for my son. I won’t go through the month of wasted time attempting the process through the mail that his mother suffered through.

I knew I was in trouble when the alert security guard sent me back to my car as he spotted my pocket knife. When I returned, I had the privilege of standing in line to answer several questions on a touch screen computer so that I could be issued a number that would allow me to speak to a human.

There was not enough seating so we had to stand. The only thing to do was to watch the Social Security TV network that was playing on several big screens around the room. The weather was the focal point, along with admittedly well-conceived marketing messages that would make you inclined to be supportive of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the job it does.

The other tidbits were kind of shocking as they were highly reflective of a political agenda, which ironically was mostly focused on global warming. While I hope I never have to return to that office, I almost want to go back in a year or so and see if the new administration has changed the agenda of the SSA television network.

What struck me is that the Trump administration probably wouldn’t be able to effect that change. There are just so many layers, so many agencies, that it is almost impossible to believe that they could ever get that far down their priority list.

Sitting there waiting for my number to be called, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversations between desperate people who were needing problems resolved and the absolute indifference to their situations by the people working there and their rigid adherence to a set of rules.

7 hour wait – thank you Bureaucracy

My problem was solved instantly. Why it required a 7-hour drive and 2 hours of waiting, when it should have taken a 30 second phone call, is something I never will understand. But it did make me understand something I had never taken the time to contemplate before.

My state is unique as far as ranching goes. One side of the state operates in relative freedom from government, land is almost universally privately held and we do not have much pressure from urban governments. The other side operates largely on public lands and deals constantly with a myriad of competing interests for those lands, as well as urban and development encroachment.

Those of who us who live without having to deal with government bureaucracy tend to be a little less concerned about government; those who are forced to deal with them realize the importance of being engaged at so many levels.

Ranchers and bureaucrats are destined to not get along. Ranchers aren’t tied to rules and power grabs when it comes to Bureaucracy problems, they are geared to fixing them proactively and as quickly as possible. Ranchers live by a code that respects others; bureaucracies by their nature are almost inclined to disdain the individual. Ranchers are inclined to action; bureaucracies to discussion.

In case you are wondering, I didn’t walk out with the card even after having to provide what seemed like 25 different proofs of our identity. Instead, the new card will be mailed in 10-14 days. If it doesn’t show up, I’m sure I’d be welcome to return to get another number next week.

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Catch me if you Spam

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Well hidden – but not well enough

Con man James Hogue, famous for impersonating a Princeton student in the 1990s, has been found living in an illegally built cabin on Aspen Mountain in Colorado and running a social media business selling stolen goods via Ebay.

Police speculated that James, 57, had been living in the off-grid cabin on Shadow Mountain – a rather good address for a fugitive, on the westernmost peak of Aspen Mountain – for up to two years before an officer knocked on his door in September 2016. James ducked out the window and disappeared into the woods. The shack, which was allegedly built with materials and tools stolen from local construction sites, was (sadly) torn down by city parks department employees.

The fully enclosed, insulated cabin was built on a foundation and featured a window in the corner and a front door with two locks and a two-by-four across the door for security. The entrance, near one of the mountain lifts, was well camouflaged in the thick bush. The cabin was covered with black spray-paint designs on its plywood siding.

James, a latter day version of  Frank Abagnale Jr, portrayed in the movie Catch me if you Can starring Leonardo di Caprio, was arrested two months later when Aspen Skiing Co. employees saw him trying to build another cabin in the same area – he had dug out a 6-foot hole nearby for a new foundation and had started rebuilding near the remains of his old cabin. The work was in early stages and not easily hidden by its surroundings.

Aspen police officer Dan Davis took James into custody in a public library.
“[James] saw the officer’s uniform and it was like an ‘Oh crap’ moment for him,” Dan told the Aspen Times.
“He said his name was David Bee … from Ontario [Canada]. But I knew it was him. I said, ‘We’ll figure it out at the jail. If it’s not you, we’ll apologize and let you go on your way.’”

Police found James’ Nissan Xterra SUV nearby, where he had stashed $17,000 in cash as well as stolen ski jackets, ski pants and ledgers detailing an online eBay business. James faces between one and three years in prison after pleading guilty to felony theft between $2,000 and $5000, felony possession of burglary tools and misdemeanor obstructing police officers.

A gifted runner, James posed at the age of 26 as a 16-year-old high school student Jay Huntsman in Palo Alto, California in the 1980s, and as a college student on track scholarship at Princeton when he was in his 30s. The elaborate Princeton hoax, which fooled the Princeton university board and several newspapers wanting to report on James’ track successes, was captured in a New Yorker profile and a documentary.

Named one of America’s Top 10 Impostors by Time Magazine, James was also arrested for stealing $50,000 worth of jewels from a Harvard museum in the early 1990s, and then served time in a Colorado prison after pleading guilty to stealing items in the Telluride area.

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My Favourite Off-Grid Place

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StrandThis is the place that celebrity chef Nick Knowles goes when he needs to get away – please send us details of YOUR favourite off-grid spot – to news@off-grid.net

The place I go to clear my head is Trebarwith Strand, just up the road from Polzeath and near Tintagel, on the north coast of Cornwall.Over the past 54 years, whenever I’ve had a black dog day or a time in my life where I’m particularly down and unhappy with the world, I’ll drive down there.

It’s literally one road running down to the coast where there’s a cove with a beach. The sea comes all the way up to the street and then, when it’s out, there’s a massive beach and caves. The sun sets behind an island out at sea. It’s a magical place.

From the age of about four, my dad would take me and all the family down there for holidays, and when I turned 17 I started to go down there on my own.

On the rocks to the lefthand side there’s a beautiful pub where you can sit and watch the surfers. Or you can climb up to the right on to a ledge that leaves you cut off when the tide comes in. You’re then stuck there for three hours until it goes out again. I’ve cut myself off on purpose many times. For the first hour it’s fine – I’ll have a Thermos and something to eat – but then I get annoyed with myself. But it forces me to slow down and think.

A few years ago a friend of mine died. It made me realise what I was doing was meaningless. I ended up going missing for two days, heading to Trebarwith. There’s very little reception down there, but when I finally answered a call, it was my brother. He knew I would be sat up there on the rock, watching the world go by and trying to make sense of things.

You see all kind of things while you’re down there; gulls, foxes, even dolphins if you sit there long enough. I’ve sat there in the snow watching surfers, or the lights on the fishing boats at night when they go squid-catching.

I lead a very transient life; I’m away a lot for work and I often don’t know where home is really. But Trebarwith reminds me of my childhood, teenage years and the times I’ve sat there to get through challenges. It’s somewhere I know intimately.

We holiday there every year – I take the kids and we fish in the pools. But in terms of going to escape on my own, I might go twice in a year or nothing for three years.

Its main purpose for me is in extremis. It’s a very angry coast and fits with darker moods. Being there is a bit like asking Turner to do a painting for you. The ferocious sea, aggressive rocks and sun piling through the clouds.

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Tiny House Nation

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Lots of nooks for little people

Lots of nooks for little people

Omaha, Nebraska Jan 1st – The TIny house movement is closely related to the off-grid movement.  IT makes sense to have a tiny home if you live off the grid – it means less building cost, less maintenance, less heating and lighting.  But there are still endless battles with local government dictators and with budgets.

So series like TIny House Nation provide a valuable service, and the next episode is no exception.

For the six-member Mike family, living in their pair of tiny houses felt just right. But everything else that comes along with owning a tiny house – construction costs and the bureaucracy of finding land – wasn’t so cozy.

Since the family sold its house this summer, moved into an RV and built its collective 688-square-foot tiny houses west of Ceresco, they’ve faced a rocky road to find a permanent, legal home for their new way of life. They’ve been kicked off properties several times, and despite filming a reality TV show about the construction of their tiny houses, aren’t living in them at the moment.

The construction of the two houses was filmed for an episode of “Tiny House Nation: Family Edition” set to air Thursday evening on Lifetime.

“We want to live in them,” Melody Mike said. “It’s breaking our hearts right now that we can’t.”

The Mikes – parents Melody and Darren; Darren’s teenage son Carter; the couple’s young daughters McKenzie, Trinity and Joey; and their dog – all moved into twin tiny houses in November. The World-Herald detailed the family’s plans in a July article.

Before filming, the family sold its house and moved into a retrofitted RV parked at The Gathering Place, their church in Valley. Shortly after, a neighbor complained, and the city told the Mikes that they had to move. So they moved into a two-bedroom apartment above the church.

Filming went well and was mostly fun for the family, Darren said, but the price quickly outgrew their budget, eventually by about $17,000, even after trade-outs from the TV show.

After construction, the family lived the tiny life for six weeks. They lived off the grid, drawing water from a well and power from solar panels. Darren shot his first deer, and cooked steaks and stew for the family. The kids played outside in the woods, and they made nightly campfires, staring up at the Milky Way.

“We absolutely loved it,” Darren said. “It was a lot of work repairing and fixing, but the lifestyle, it’s totally us. We’re somewhat desperate to get back into that.”

A month and a half in, connections to the underground cistern came loose. Then, the family was told that it had to vacate the land. Zoning problems are a common obstacle for tiny house owners. It’s something the Mikes hope will change soon, and they plan on appealing to nearby counties to find a solution.

The family moved into a friend’s house in Lincoln and, just this week, back to Omaha to live in and help renovate a friend’s four-bedroom house. Until they find a permanent solution, the tiny house structures will be moved to a friend’s land, and they’ll remain vacant.

Friends and family keep coming forward to help in the meantime. They’re grateful.

“The theme of this whole scary part is that God’s got this,” Melody said. “He’s providing for us, and we’re fine.”

Tiny House Nation: Family Edition

Episode: “688 Sq. Ft. It Takes Six to Tiny,” featuring Nebraskans Darren and Melody Mike and their four children

Channel: Lifetime

Time: 9 p.m. Thursday

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Vladamir Putin’s strangest obsession: Mount Athos

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Vladmir Putin has expressed interest in the secretive region

 

Mount Athos is a secretive, autonomist, theocratic region in a pocket of Greece, ran by Greek Orthodox monks, for the monks. It is  also home for the biggest and most populated off-grid community in the developed world –  it is completely unplugged.

Its a most difficult place to visit; you must apply for a visa a month beforehand and send in a copy of your passport. They allow 100 orthodox and 10 non-orthodox male pilgrims in per day. It is only accessible via the sea and visitors must arrive on an authorised boat where a policeman checks their visas against their passport before boarding. The visa is valid for only three nights; you have to book each night in advance and may not spend more than one night in the same spot. You may be thinking, why on Earth would Vladimir Putin, leader of Russia and ex-KGB be interested in a place like this? Which is what everyone is thinking.

Off-grid’s groundbreaking video about Mount Athos released last year is the most detailed portrait yet of this secretive community. The film takes you deep inside the world of the priests who run the mysterious mount….and leaves you hungry for more. Which brings us to Putin’s fascinating involvement with the region.

Putin made a public rapprochement with the Orthodox church after many years as a KGB agent and therefore a presumed atheist. He well knows that a significant percentage of Russians are adherents so it makes sense to use the church and Mount Athos as a propaganda tool. He has given money to the Russian monastery of Panteleimenos, which houses just 70 monks but has rooms for hundreds more. He attended a mass which was held in his honour earlier this year in May, and was seated in the bishop’s throne. Afterwards, he attended talks with the Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos whilst commemorating the 1,000th anniversary of a Russian monastic presence on the Holy Mountain.

 

“I am confident that relations between Russia and the Holy Mount Athos, and Greece as a whole, will only strengthen, while the spiritual relationship and trust will continue to determine the nature of our traditionally close and friendly relations,” – Vladimir Putin

 

 

 

Mount Athos

Mount Athos: The Holy Mountain

 

Putin has formed an unholy alliance with the Orthodox church in order to ensure he receives its blessing. This fits with his self-image as a modern Tsar embodying church and state. For believers, the Holy Mountain is the centre of their faith, their Rome, the place where the flame of their faith connects to heaven. He also visited the mountain in 2005, making him the first head of Russian state to set foot on their holy soil.The monks who live there take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and once their final vows are sworn, become monks for life.

Mount Athos is currently one large building site in contrast to the dereliction and poverty of the rest of Greece. It seems unreal that humble monks should be employing so much specialist labour. This must be costing hundreds of millions of euros. The ancient buildings have received EU and Unesco grants, but these surely account for a fraction of the lavish expenditure. Such huge grants could not be justified given that access is so limited and entry is forbidden to women.

Russian money forms an important source of funding all over the peninsula. Donating to the church to buy favours in heaven doesn’t seem a sufficient explanation. It has people questioning, does Russia have a secret agenda to account for such largesse? Why might Mr Putin be interested in this closed, authoritarian and guarded community?

 

Putin on a pilgrimage visit to Mount Athos on May 28th 2016

Putin on a pilgrimage visit to Mount Athos on May 28th 2016

 

Many Russians visit and work there, but people avoid answering questions about the role of Russia on Mount Athos. Which suggests that something ‘deeper and more sinister seems to be at work.’ Some have questioned whether Russia is using Mount Athos as a listening post or centre for intelligence gathering located well behind Nato’s front line; outsiders have noticed a number of sophisticated looking antennae and dish arrays.

Others say the answer lies in the important strategic position of Mount Athos? It is close to the border with Turkey and the narrow Dardanelles, a convenient haven for Russian vessels coming from their base in the recently annexed Crimea.

The EU and Greece have questions to answer, as do the inscrutable monks of Mt Athos. Has the Greek government been party to the discussions between the monks and Putin? Greece and Nato have a responsibility to ensure that this small part of Europe remains firmly in our sphere. It is in danger of becoming a Russian satellite, if it has not become one already.

It has you wondering: what is Mount Athos doing for Russia in return for all the funding they are receiving? Does the EU know?

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The Cheapest Way To Build A Sturdy, Reliable Bug-Out Retreat

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The Cheapest Way To Build A Sturdy, Reliable Bug-Out Retreat

Image source: Pixabay.com

Probably the biggest problem associated with bugging out is having a place to go. A few survivalists or preppers have a cabin in the woods or a bunker buried somewhere, but most of us don’t, simply because we can’t afford it.

Please note that I don’t consider just bugging out to the wild a viable alternative. Few people have the necessary skills to play Grizzly Adams and live off the land. And trying to do that, with what you can carry in your bug-out bag, is a recipe for disaster. You just can’t carry the tools you need to be able to build a cabin and cultivate crops in the wild. Nobody can.

What if I were to tell you that you can build that bug-out retreat and you can do it relatively cheap? Now, let me define “cheap” here. I’m talking about building something for a few thousand dollars, maybe as much as $5,000, but definitely less than $10,000. Compared to what a cabin in the woods costs, that’s cheap.

There are two basic things you need in order to create a bug-out retreat: land and a shelter. With that as a starting point, you can work on putting together the rest. So, let’s start with those.

Land

Overall, land is expensive. But it is still possible to buy land cheap, if you aren’t picky about what you buy. Land values are based upon the land’s utility, so the key is to find land that doesn’t have any real utility. While that land isn’t going to have electricity, water, phone service and city sewer, that doesn’t mean it’s totally useless. In fact, if you can come up with those things on your own, then that land becomes ideal for a bug-out retreat.

Get Off-Grid With Wind Power — It’s Easy!

What makes this land (usually referred to as “junk land”) so attractive for a bug-out retreat is that it is in places where people aren’t likely to go. We’re talking about land that’s out in the middle of nowhere — not close to any body of water, not close to any major highways, and you can just forget about finding a local electric company, let alone getting them to run wires out to your property.

But because this land is so unattractive to other buyers, you can buy it for next to nothing. I’ve seen land like this go for as little as $160 per acre. At that price, a 5- or 10-acre lot is still cheap.

The Cheapest Way To Build A Sturdy, Reliable Bug-Out Retreat

Image source: Pixabay.com

The biggest problem with this land, from a survival point of view, is water. You’re either going to have to count on rainwater collection or drilling a well — unless you want to haul water in. So, before buying any junk land, you want to figure out a water plan. That means doing some research — specifically into the annual rainfall and how low the water table is.

Surprisingly, the first layer of water-bearing sand isn’t usually as deep as most people think. If you talk to a well driller, they’ll tell you it’s hundreds of feet down. But they’re looking for really good water, as well as the bigger fees that come with those deep wells. There are ways that you can put in 20- to 100-foot wells yourself, without paying a fortune.

Preparing Your Land

Before going much further in preparing any bug-out shelter, you’re going to need to do some preparation of the land. More than anything, this means developing some means to get water, putting in a rudimentary septic system, and coming up with some way of producing electrical power.

Water

Of these, finding water is the hardest, which is why I listed it as a deal-breaker on any land you explore. But if you can get enough water on your land to survive, then you can do the rest. Keep in mind that you’ll not only need water for drinking and cooking, but also for cleaning and gardening. So forget about the “gallon of water per person a day” that some people reference. Even with being cautious of your water usage, you’re probably going to need somewhere between 20 to 50 gallons per day.

Ultra-Compact Water Filter Fits In Your POCKET !

But that’s doable, even from a shallow well. Remember, our ancestors lived without wasting 100 gallons a day watering their lawns and running their washing machines, and we can, too. In many parts of the world, there are still families living on five gallons of water per day.

Sewage

Sewage is easy. At its simplest, you need to dig a hole in the ground. If you want to do a little better, you can create a two-tank septic system out of 55-gallon drums and a leech field for it out of plastic pipe and some gravel. That would merely be a scaled-down version of what is used for a home.

Part of the reason you can use a scaled-down septic system is that you can reuse your grey water. Every drop of water you use for washing clothes, dishes and bodies can be reused, either for washing something else, or for watering your garden. That will do wonders to reduce your water usage. I’ve watered my garden for years with grey water and it hasn’t hurt the plants a bit.

Electricity

While electricity production isn’t really a requirement, we live in a society that is highly dependent on electricity. Having some electrical power production capability on site will make life easier in your bug-out retreat, even if that capacity is limited.

Get Free Backup Electricity — That Works Even During Blackouts!

Actually, in the case of many types of disasters, your own electrical power production will be more reliable than depending on the grid. So, be sure to put in a wind turbine or some solar panels, whichever will work better in your area, along with a battery backup system. That way, you’ll be able to use your electronics.

Shelter

The Cheapest Way To Build A Sturdy, Reliable Bug-Out Retreat

Image source: Pixabay.com

Okay, so now that you’ve got your land and you’ve done some work on it, the next big issue is shelter. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about a lot of different sorts of survival shelters over the years, and most of those are good. But personally, I’d rather be comfortable.

There are people who build a cabin out of 100 percent scavenged materials. Those are impressive. I’ll have to say that I’ve seen some amazing things built out of scavenged materials, like the cabin that a couple built with a front wall made of scavenged windows. But that requires a lot of time that you dedicate to scavenging the materials and lots of time to turn them into something usable.

There is another option that I’d like to show you — one that you may not have thought about. That’s to use a travel trailer. Now, before you tell me that travel trailers are expensive, take a look on eBay or Craigslist. While there are plenty of expensive travel trailers there, you’ll also see some older ones which can be bought for a song … or maybe two songs.

Look for one that needs some tender love and elbow grease; that’s how you get a trailer cheap. Add a little patience to that recipe, so that you don’t rush out and bid on something that’s beyond what you can afford. Remember: If you don’t win the bid, another one will come along.

A little elbow grease and a few hand tools will go a long way toward saving you thousands of dollars on a travel trailer. Buying one that needs work makes for a good project to work on evenings and weekends, and you can even turn it into a family project that you work on together.

The biggest advantage of this means of building a shelter is that you don’t have to change your entire life to do it. The change from living in a house to living in a trailer is much easier than that of moving into a yurt. At least you’ll have beds you recognize, as well as real cabinets to store things in. You’ll even have a real bathroom with a real toilet you can use.

Putting it All Together

Obviously, there are going to be a lot of other details you’ll need to discuss and work on to finish out your bug-out retreat. But these are the two biggest expenses. If you think about it, everything else is going to be pretty much the same, whether you bug out or bug in. So, those expenses are mostly identical.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:  

Are You Prepared For A Downed Grid? Read More Here.

Can you still get free land in the USA?

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Much of the expense of living off-grid is the property, that is the thing that usually stops people from being able to live their dreams.

At one time in the USA you could homestead land and get it free,  all you had to do was live on it and improve it,  but that has stopped a long time ago, well within my lifetime.

I’ve recently learned that there are states and towns that offer free land in exchange for living on it, improving it, or bringing jobs to the town. Of course it might not be exactly where you want to live, but beggars can’t be choosers righ?

So watch this video and let me know if this is something that you would be interested in doing. Enjoy.

https://youtu.be/_hK04LgK3Hw

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3 Taster Locations To Try Unplugging

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Off-grid home in Majorca to rent on airbnb, perfect for a getaway from technology

Enjoy the Spanish sun and views whilst unplugging from the rest of the world for a getaway

Curious about what living off-grid would be like but not quite ready to give up the mortgage? Thinking where to live out the rest of your days in idyllic peace but not quite sure?

Not to worry, if you’re considering the big leap into the unknown, you can try a short break disconnecting from the big brother system — renting an off-grid home from Airbnb.

In Chelan, Washington State, for example, there lies a hobbit hole which any Lord of the Rings fan would die for a night in. Upon a mountain hill, surrounded by rabbits and deer is the perfect place for someone on a quest for off-gird living to start their journey.

Kirstie Wolfe built the 288-square-foot rental into a hillside on a five-acre tract of land she bought in Orondo, a small town between Chelan and Wenatchee along the Columbia River in central Washington. After burying the structure, she went all out decorating the space with an obsessive attention to detail. “I try to make it as authentic as possible,” builder Kristie Wolfe explained. She succeeded with flying colours, visitors walk past a small outdoor garden through a big circular door — just like in the books and movies. The rustic interior uses reclaimed wood, hanging lanterns, and circular arches and windows to evoke a fantastical feeling, a point underlined with small charms like a cobbler’s workbench and several subtle “Lord of the Rings” touches inside.

As well as being the perfect place to let your imagination run free, it is also a fully functioning off grid home with its own septic tank and solar panels, you can unplug in style and comfort. To see the photos and more details on the hobbit home, click here!

 

For those in Europe – nestled into the mountains on the quiet North-West side of Mallorca it is the perfect place to turn off from the outside world and relish nature as it is.

It is a 30-minute drive down the mountain to a beach or an exhilarating hike away, which in turn, gives you the most breath-taking views of the blue Mediterranean. It’s located inside a national park which means you will live side by side with exotic birds and wild flowers. The house comes complete with a water tank which collects 40,00 litres of rain water which you can then filter into drinking water and use to flush the toilet and wash with . Also, it is furnished with two flushing toilets, solar panels a shower, a gas fridge and hob and a fireplace and wood burner for the winter months. There is an outside kitchen with a BBQ so you can cook cooley in the breeze whilst taking in the glorious views.

Outdoor hot shower in off-grid home in Majorca

Beautiful heated shower located outside to give you the perfect mixture of comfort and authenticity

If you’re not so keen with the cooking, you can hire a cook who will show you how to use the outdoor facilities and make your meals for you. The estate is broken up into separate houses which you may choose to rent altogether or just the one/two. The top house comes with two bedrooms and wireless broadband from a solar panel.

How secluded you are is completely up to you. You can have someone show you around the house and neighbourhood with you and immerse you into the off-the-grid lifestyle or you can do it alone and test yourself. You can view its profile on Airbnb here and watch a narrated tour of it here on youtube for more details on the property and how to book it.

 

Our third home was named as one of the best homes in America by Dwell and top ten homes in the world on Airbnb. And it’s completely off-grid. The humble abode is situated in a pristine remote valley in the beautiful Californian high desert and the views are amazing.

off-grid home in California desert to rent

The desert home underneath the stars

 

It is completely powered by solar panels which allow you to have a comfortable stay whilst venturing off into the unplugged world. There is no wifi or TV to encourage you to completely immerse yourself into your stunning surroundings and your own thoughts. It’s architecturally significant green home with large floor to ceiling windows, a fireplace, flushing toilet and hot shower and a fully functional kitchen. So why not check it out on Airbnb for pictures and the chance to enquire about booking it for a weekend away from your stress and worries.

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BREAKING NEWS: Obama, EPA Lose MAJOR Property Rights Case At Supreme Court

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Obama, EPA Lose Major Property Rights Case At Supreme Court

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Homeowners and landowners won a major victory over the EPA and the Obama administration Tuesday when the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that property owners have the right to challenge, in federal court, efforts to use the Clean Water Act to restrict land use.

The court ruled that property owners can go directly to court if the US Army Corps of Engineers says the land falls under Clean Water Act restrictions.

The Obama administration had argued that property owners must wait to sue until they are denied a permit – a lengthy bureaucratic process which could take years.

Want To Know About The REAL Constitution And What The Founders Truly Intended?

“If that were correct, the Act’s ominous reach would again be unchecked by the limited relief the Court allows today,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote of the federal government’s argument.

The justices, in an 8-0 decision, ruled that Hawkes Company, which mines peat in Minnesota, has the right to file a suit challenging a Corps of Engineers decision not to grant a permit to dig peat on the property. The Corp ruled that the area was part of the “water of the US.”

“They may proceed without a permit and argue in a Government enforcement action that a permit was not required, or they may complete the permit process and then seek judicial review, which, the Corps suggests, is what Congress envisioned,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote of Hawkes.

The Corps argued that it had the right to stop Hawkes from digging peat because it was mining in wetlands on a tributary of a river.

If Hawkes Company proceeds without a permit or court ruling on its side, it would be subject to fines as high as $37,500 a day.

What is your reaction to this story? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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After the Pacific Ocean swallows villages and five Solomon Islands, a study blames climate change

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After the Pacific Ocean swallows villages and five Solomon Islands, a study blames climate change.


Montana retreat near Canadian border

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Low maintenance home

Low maintenance home

If you want to unplug and enjoy the breathtaking scenery that Montana has to offer, head to The North Fork. Located only a mile from Glacier National Park and three miles from the Canadian border, this small community operates on off-grid generators and solar power, with no cell phone reception for miles.

“That’s exactly why we chose to build here,” said Bill, owner of a three-level log home. What attracted Bill and his wife Luann to the area is also what created a unique challenge for builder Scott Leigh. “To get to the site, we had to drive 60 miles up a gravel road, sometimes in terrible weather, and then have no cell phone reception the entire time we were there,” Scott said. To minimize the difficult commute, he would stay onsite with his workers four days a week and then drive back to his office on Friday and gather more building materials.

The layout and design of the three-bedroom, three-bath log home was a collaborative effort that included Scott, Bill and Luann and designer Eric Bachofner whose company provided the 12-inch Swedish cope, hand-hewn lodgepole pine logs.

Because the site had an unspoiled view of Kintla Peak in Glacier National Park, the scenery was a major influence on the design. “Bill’s big push was centered on how the house was oriented,” said Scott. “He wanted the bay windows to face the mountain range, so we sat out there together with a compass and the floor plans and made it happen.”

The other key essential was a dining bay with 14-foot ceilings that Bill saw on another floor plan and wanted to incorporate into his own log home. The room features large windows with a 270-degree view of the horizon. Western larch logs provide structural support for the roof, but also create a unique “speckled” design leading up to the ceiling.

Not to be outdone by the dining bay, the kitchen boasts amazing views that “look straight out into Lewis and Clark country,” according to Bill, and is decorated to transition seamlessly into the dining and great rooms in the home’s open design.

To complement the logs, Kurt Kress was brought in to create the kitchen’s custom cabinetry from knotty alder. He applied several layers of stain, glaze and lacquer before heavily distressing the doors to give them an antiqued look. He chose a deep brown hue with green undertones that plays off the copper farm sink framed with two handmade newel posts. Seeded-glass panels were inserted into several upper cabinets as accents. Crema Bordeaux granite countertops complete the rich look of the space with copper features that mirror the same accents found throughout the home.

If you want to disconnect from the wired world, Bill and Luann’s home is certainly the place to do it. And you couldn’t ask for a better backdrop than some of the most spectacular scenery in North America.

The post Montana retreat near Canadian border appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Going Off Grid – Jump, Run or Walk

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By Dovely from cherrylovefarmm.com

Writer Dovely holding her baby goat

Dovely with her favorite goat

Figuring out how to get from where you are to that sustainable garden of Eden can be daunting. We would all like to have the money to jump. Most of us don’t. When blocked, many run into a situation and find themselves ill equipped to cope.
I’m walking.
There’s an old saying in sales. Plan your work and work your plan. Be open to the fact that the picture of your end goal may change as you move forward. We all want to find 300 acres for $50.00 an acre. I hope that you do. I didn’t. What I thought I needed and what I now have are very different. Yet, my tiny half acre has and has the potential for all of the elements I want to live a sustainable life off grid.

As I read the Landbuddy post I see many of you are searching for others to create a community. I have found that you can have a community and they don’t have to live in your back yard. Networking and bartering with others in my rural town has given me access to things I can’t produce on my tiny urban farm. I help a friend with his fences and then we harvest dead trees from his woods for my stove. My two dairy goats need about 40 bales of hay a year. I help a farmer get his hay up in exchange for the bales I need. If I had those ten acres, I would have had to plow, plant, cut and bale an acre by myself. And I’d have to have the equipment or do it all by hand.

I came to North Carolina with the intention of using my $25,000.00 to buy more land and less house in the country. I did my reserach and had my lists. You can’t fight Mother Nature. I wanted enough winter cold to help kill bugs and chill the apple trees but not the New England snow drifts I grew up with. I wanted to be at least 150 miles from the ocean and away from river flood zones. I have seen first hand the damage from earth quakes, hurricanes and tornadoes I wanted a place where they don’t often happen. Because of the danger posed by natural disasters and human error and my aversion to nuculear power I did not want to live near or in the path of prevailing winds of a nuclear power plant. I KNEW what I was looking for…..Then I saw what is now my house… no basement or attic. No out buildings. No 10 acres and it was in town. What was I thinking even looking at this place? Well ….she is an Italian brick beauty built in 1888. All that is left of the old farm is the heart beat more than the half acre she sits on. My picture changed.

For the first six months I thought I’d fix this lovely up and flip her for a place with more land. That was five years ago. I now know this is where I should be. I am baby stepping my way to being free from the grid. Yes, that Yeti solar generator big enough to run a fridge and my solar set up are still out of reach. However when the heat pump died last spring I said no to replacing it. It took several months but I found an amazing Dogwood wood stove from the 70’s and a wonderful fan that is powered by the heat from the stove. One step closer.

One of the things that inspired me to rethink my plan is the surge in tiny houses. My house is in no way tiny but my land is. I simply applied the tiny living concept to my land. I had shelter and land now I needed to transform the land to full my needs. My land has about five inches of top soil then it’s solid dense red clay. I opted for raised beds that I make out of any wood or stone I can recycle. My beds produce way more than a $1.00 per square foot of food. I gave away at least a hundred pounds of tomatoes last year. I still had enough to put up 50 quarts of sauce and feed the ducks and chickens all they could eat. All of that out of four 20′ x 2′ rows.

How you ask? Organic compost. Four free pallets make a perfect compost bin. I have three and I don’t have time to turn them. The one in the chicken yard gives the girls plenty to do and it keeps the feed bill down. I throw stuff on top they work it through. In the winter they enjoy the heat and the wind break the pallets offer. In the spring and fall I spread the compost on a tarp for a few days. The ducks go through it and eat all the bugs. When they are through it’s ready to add to the beds.

While you are treading water waiting for the funds for your dream location, start working a mini version of your plan. Work with what you have. Even if it’s just an apartment balcony. Tomatoes and squash will grow in a five gallon bucket. You can compost in one too. Think outside the box. Look for a grocery bag of dried leaves. Make friends with a lawn person for some grass cuttings. Once you start putting your food waste in the bucket like coffee and grounds, egg shells, produce scraps, fruit juice or pasta, you will begin understand how large of a carbon foot print your trash has. Your tomatoes will be happy for a days worth of grounds worked into their top dressing once a month. One of my tricks is I grow up. My pumpkins grow on a welded wire fence. I make slings for the pumpkins out of the net bags onions come in. It’s also easier to pick off the squash bugs which the chickens and ducks love, or add them to your compost bucket. Once your compost starts cooking you can make a tea to spray your plants. It feeds the plants and kills bugs. If you know someone with a bunny, beg them to let you clean out the cage. Add that to your compost. Bunny poo is crazy high in nitrogen. Or find a pet store that has bunnies. Lettus and spinach grow well in a plastic window box. Rainbow Swiss Chard is really pretty in a flower pot.

Dreaming of your flock of kicken chickens with all those lovely free range eggs, but …. your back yard is tiny? Design a compost bin slash chicken coop. Get two leghorn pullets who lay an egg a day. You don’t need a rooster unless you want to hatch the eggs. You’ll gain hands on experince, amazing eggs and reduce your carbon foot print.

If you can, get out and explore the area you want to live. I have found that many places in rural towns change hands buy word of mouth and for very little money. Just last week a farmer I know told me about a small farm house and 7 acres that sold for $10,000.00. Meet people and let them know what your’re looking for. I have found that people how work the land are very nice human beings. Talk to the vendors at your farmers market. Along the way you may find that your vision changes too.

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Buy a town in Southern Nevada

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meme1There’s an entire town on the market in rural Southern Nevada; Before the economy crashed there was a queue of buyers.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s hometown is a rural community with double-wides and abandoned mines. Some 540 people lived there by 2010.
About 350 people live in Cal-Nev-Ari today, a town about 70 miles south of Las Vegas which is being sold for $8 million.Broker Nancy Kidwell is selling the town, which is mainly land. Some homeowners in the area have their own hangar at the town’s airstrip. Two to five aircraft land there each weekday.

It’s dark and mostly empty in the low-slung, 1960s-era casino here, with a handful of people at the bar and just one or two others playing slots.
The streets in this dusty, isolated town aren’t paved, but there’s almost nothing to drive to, anyway no doctors offices, shopping centers or much else around here.
But there’s plenty of vacant land, and Cal-Nev-Ari’s co-founder is again embarking on a tough but not-unheard-of task in Southern Nevada: selling real estate in the middle of nowhere.
Nancy Kidwell is trying to unload more than 500 acres of mostly vacant land here for $8 million, after her attempts in 2010 to sell for $17 million fell flat. Looking to retire, the 78-year-old is offering most of the town, including its casino, diner, convenience store, 10-room motel, RV park and mile-long dirt airstrip.
Listing broker Fred Marik said the “main thing we’re selling,” however, is land.
“That’s the value,” he said, noting the businesses here are “just breaking even.”
During the bubble years in the past decade, investors bought land in rural towns sprinkled outside Las Vegas for projects that eventually fizzled, including suburban-style subdivisions and a resort designed like a fairy-tale castle. At one point, people even got into a bidding war for Kidwell’s holdings but backed out when the economy crashed.
Today, a sale in Cal-Nev-Ari could bring new life to this hole-in-the-wall community of 350 people, some 70 miles south of Las Vegas off U.S. 95. But without the development craze of yesteryear or skyrocketing land prices pushing builders out of Las Vegas, who would buy property in a place like this?
By all accounts, the pool of prospects is relatively small. It includes people who already own real estate in the area; are willing to gamble on remote, unincorporated towns with little to no growth; or would develop an attraction that lures visitors, according to local brokers who handle these listings.
“It takes a person with some vision,” broker Tony Castrignano said.
Castrignano, owner of Sky Mesa Realty & Capital, is trying to sell the 80-acre town of Nipton, Calif. Owners Jerry and Roxanne Freeman, of Henderson, are seeking $5 million.
Nearly an hour south of the Strip between Interstate 15 and Searchlight, Nipton has a handful of businesses, including a hotel, an RV park and a country store that offers, among other things, lottery tickets.
It also has a solar array, water rights and ample space, and it gets visitors “from all over the world,” Castrignano said. An ideal spot, perhaps, for people to live off the grid in an eco-friendly compound?
As Castrignano sees it, investors “could pretty much do what (they) want” with the town.
“We like to say that it’s conveniently located in the middle of nowhere,” he said.

Compared to Las Vegas, land in rural towns an hour or so outside the city can cost cents on the dollar.
Some owners want anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000 per acre in such places as Sandy Valley, Logandale and Searchlight, listings show. Kidwell wants around $17,000 per acre, Marik said.
In the Las Vegas area, by comparison, land sold for a median of about $317,000 per acre last year, according toColliers International.
Then again, Las Vegas has jobs, schools, hospitals, an international airport and other trappings of a major metropolitan area that are largely missing from outlying communities.
Keller Williams Realty agent Rick Brenkus said there are “dozens of properties for sale” in these towns but “only a few sales per year.” In some areas, Brenkus said, his group is the only one that has “sold anything in the last six or nine months.”
Some investors prefer to buy land rather than deposit money in a bank and collect small interest payments. But with little to no construction in the rural outposts, the chances of selling land to developers “is kind of remote,” he said.
“I certainly want to paint it with a positive brush, but it’s very competitive right now,” he said.
Land broker and investor Bill Lenhart doesn’t expect any new projects in Cal-Nev-Ari to materialize for a long time, as there’s plenty of other land in the region at reasonable prices and with more infrastructure that “make a lot more sense.”
Lenhart, founder of Sunbelt Development & Realty Partners, knows firsthand that selling property in a small town is no easy task: He has a listing for a failed, boom-era subdivision in Searchlight, about 10 miles north of Cal-Nev-Ari.

Still, housing investors laid bets on the town during the go-go years. The Cottonwood Lake Homes subdivision, across from Harry Reid Elementary School, called for 65 houses spread over 16 acres, according to county records. Sales prices initially were strong one house sold in 2007 for $511,000 and another in 2008 for $499,000 but the project went bust. Today, the walled subdivision contains paved roads, 13 houses and lots of empty land. The original developer sold four of the homes, and investors who foreclosed on the project in 2011 sold the other nine, all in the $100,000 range, county records show.
Lenhart doesn’t have an asking price for the 52 remaining vacant lots in Cottonwood, but he expects to sell them for less than $400,000 total. The property is an hour’s drive from Las Vegas and about 13 miles west of the Cottonwood Cove marina, though homebuilders “are lukewarm on it,” he said.
Out-of-state, publicly traded homebuilding companies, which dominate Las Vegas’ new-home market, “won’t touch it,” but a private builder might, Lenhart said.
All told, brokers take listings in outlying areas “out of obligation,” he said without elaborating, not because they’re hunting for deals.
“I don’t know anybody who’s prospecting for assignments in Pahrump,” he said of the rural town of 36,000 an hour west of Las Vegas. “And you’re talking to a guy who owns hundreds of acres in Pahrump.”
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When real estate values were soaring in Las Vegas, plenty of investors looked outside the metro area for cheaper land and launched housing developments in places such as Pahrump; Mesquite; and Bullhead City, Ariz. Buyers also went to the smaller, pint-sized towns in the region.
Sandy Valley, on the Nevada-California border, had only 2,000 residents by 2010. But during the bubble, Focus Property Group, developer of the 3,500-acre Mountain’s Edge and 1,200-acre Providence communities in Las Vegas, bought swaths of land there. According to court records, the company acquired at least 300 acres in the town.
After the economy tanked, Focus lost much of its land in Sandy Valley to foreclosure, property records show. Focus founder and CEO John Ritter was unavailable to comment, a representative said.
About 15 miles east of Sandy Valley, Goodsprings is known for its Pioneer Saloon, a bar and restaurant built in 1913. Just 230 people lived there by 2010.
But in 2006, investors Charles Whitley and Melissa Henry bought 25 acres there for $1 million and unveiled plans for Nova Town. At the time, Henry described their proposed resort as a “fairy-tale-like town” with “enchanting fountains, ponds, little bridges and flower beds.” An artist’s rendering showed a Disney-esque castle with portholes, stained-glass windows and blue flags flying from towers.
The resort was never built, and Whitley and Henry lost the land to foreclosure in 2010, county records show. Efforts to reach them for comment were unsuccessful.
Cal-Nev-Ari, meanwhile, is by no means desolate. It has water, electric and natural-gas service; a community center; and a volunteer-run fire station. Homes sit alongside the airstrip, and some have their own hangars.
About 25 people work for Kidwell’s businesses here, and all but one of them live in Cal-Nev-Ari. The other resides in Searchlight.
Kidwell founded the town in the mid-1960s with her first husband, Everette “Slim” Kidwell. They learned about the property when Slim, who operated aviation facilities at the Torrance, Calif., airport, flew by and noticed the abandoned airstrip, which had been used as a training facility during World War II.
They acquired 640 acres from the federal government, named their new town after its home state and the two nearby, and, according to the Los Angeles Times, installed a sign: “Cal-Nev-Ari, Population: 4. Watch Us Grow.” The other residents were their cat and dog.
Slim, 34 years older than Nancy, died in 1983. Years later, she married Verne “Ace” Kidwell, Slim’s son from a prior marriage, who was 14 years older than her. Ace died in 2011.
The two Kidwells, who both died from Alzheimer’s disease, are buried in a small, private cemetery here, with space between them for Nancy’s plot.
By almost any measure, Cal-Nev-Ari is a speck of a town. But during the boom years, would-be buyers eyeing the place for housing developments were “bartering back and forth” over the land, bidding up to $24 million, Kidwell said.
“My attorneys were astounded,” she said.
She was interested in selling, but once the economy collapsed, the buyers “all just drifted away.” Kidwell listed her holdings in 2010, but by that time, the bubble had already burst and the economy was a mess.
“We had a little interest, but not a whole lot,” she said.
Marik, of Las Vegas Commercial & Business Sales, had never visited Cal-Nev-Ari until he got the listing a few months ago. But he’s familiar with this part of the county.
He brokered the sale of the Searchlight Nugget casino and some nearby property to the Herbst family last year and the sale of an abandoned, bank-owned subdivision in Searchlight to a couple in Seattle.
Marik is pitching Cal-Nev-Ari as a blank canvas. His marketing materials say the town could have, among other things, a dude ranch, parachute center, survival school, marijuana resort, shooting range, paint-gun park, drone center, air races, and motorcycle and ATV tours.
The town already is an attraction of sorts: People fly here to eat, gamble and then take off, an afternoon outing for a retiree with a pilot’s license. Two to five planes fly in each weekday, with 25 to 30 a day on weekends, Marik said.
Kate Colton, who has lived here for about 20 years, said a marijuana business would be “a little scary.” But she’s happy Kidwell, whom she says is one of her closest friends, is trying to open a new chapter in life, and Colton figures new investors would bring a shot of commerce to the area.
“The economy here could use a boost,” she said.
Her husband, former Nevada state treasurer Stan Colton, said it “would be wonderful” if someone paved the streets “You can’t wash your car and expect it to stay clean for the day.”
He’d like to see more housing and also figures Cal-Nev-Ari would be a great spot for warehouses, distribution centers or other industrial property.
Kidwell, he noted, is offering more than 500 acres right on a highway.
“What more could you ask for?” he said.

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Your Very First Homestead: Costs You May Not Have Considered

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Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

Transitioning from a traditional city or suburban lifestyle to that of a more rural homestead is occurring with greater frequency these days. The call to live the ultimate do-it-yourself life appeals to many different types of people, and with a little bit of planning and forethought, mixed with drive and determination, most can successfully create a self-sufficient homestead of their own.

Building a homestead from scratch, or even purchasing an established homestead, is an exciting step forward in making that transition, but it is vitally important to budget and plan for each aspect of the new venture. Failure to be financially prepared has left many would-be homesteaders scratching their heads and wondering where they went wrong.

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A major part of launching a homestead involves the initial startup costs. Startup costs include acreage, dwellings and outbuildings, seeds and livestock, but they also should include such details as alternative energy sources, water sources and purification methods, necessary farm equipment, and other basic needs that the homestead is not yet producing.

Below are some helpful considerations to start with.

Land of Your Own

After determining the minimum amount of acreage that will be sufficient, the search for the perfect location can begin. Land prices vary greatly, so those who are willing to relocate may have the opportunity to save a significant amount of money. Some rural locations are looking for families to relocate and offer homestead contracts for acreage at drastically reduced prices. In other areas, though, it is much harder to purchase just a few acres. Some locations have laws against farmers selling small acreage allotments along the edges of their properties. Before contacting a landowner, check local ordinances for such restrictions. Renting is also a budget-friendly option for those who are just getting their feet wet in homesteading and not ready to commit.

Dwelling Places

Your First Homestead: Costs You May Not Have Considered

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In pioneer days, a hastily constructed dwelling was erected, while time and attention was given to the barns and other outbuildings. Despite the suburbs filled home of enormous proportions, a new trend is emerging: the tiny house. If the acreage set aside for the homestead does not have a preexisting dwelling, there are several options from which to choose. A traditionally constructed farmhouse is the most expensive option, but it also the one that people feel most comfortable with. Small homes constructed from sheds, cargo containers and other salvaged materials are a recent trend that can be much more cost-efficient. Some homesteaders even are living in yurts.

On the Farm

Barns and other outbuildings are essential on the homestead. Providing shelter for the livestock and protection for precious feed, these buildings can be acquired in much the same manner as the principle dwelling.

Even good quality used equipment will set the new homesteader back some. Budgeting for the necessary equipment is a must. For those pieces of machinery that are for convenience, try bartering with a neighbor or acquaintance to reduce the initial investment in equipment.

Seeds, trees and other perennial plants may not seem like a source of budget woes, but these relatively small purchases can add up quickly.

Produce Boiling Hot Water, Anywhere, Anytime With Absolutely No Power Whatsoever…

Livestock can be bartered for or purchased outright. The biggest expense for the new homestead is feed costs. For the first few years, livestock will need to have their feed supplemented until the homestead can produce enough feed to sustain itself.

Alternative Energy

Off-grid living and homesteading go seemingly hand in hand. Even if living off the grid is not the intention of the owners, alternative energy sources are a positive when faced with power outages and rising utility rates. Solar power systems, wind turbines and hydroelectric outfits have become more readily available for the consumer.

Living Essentials

While focusing on the dream of starting your homestead, it may be easy to lose sight of the fact that daily necessities will still need to be budgeted. Food not produced on the homestead will need to be purchased, and toiletries, clothing and other miscellaneous household supplies will need to be replaced. Buying ahead or setting aside a portion of the budget to prepare for them can be a great help.

Related: 

Renting To Homestead?!? (Here’s The Pros And Cons)

What advice would you add for purchasing a first homestead? Share your advice in the section below:

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The 5 Biggest Challenges To Moving Off The Grid

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The 5 Biggest Challenges To Moving Off Grid

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Living off the grid is a rewarding lifestyle that millions of Americans enjoy, but it is hard work for the newly initiated. Here are the five biggest challenges for most people who want to move and begin living off-grid.

1. Land

It would be great if you could live off the grid anywhere, but cities have begun making that difficult. In some municipalities, it’s illegal to inhabit a dwelling without being hooked up to the municipal power system. Other cities only allow off-grid power sources to supplement power, but not to replace electricity.

So you need to find some land outside city limits with enough acreage to meet your planned needs for growing food or raising animals. Many people live a satisfying life on an acre or two with a robust garden and small animals, like chickens or rabbits. Others need more acreage because they grow grains or raise livestock.

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Unless your family is in excellent health and financially well-off, you’ll have to consider commute times to jobs or drive time to hospitals when choosing the location. Many off-grid families supplement income with part-time jobs, or they have a family member that needs periodic medical care.Water

2. Water

Regardless of where you choose to live, you must have access to an abundant source of fresh water. Ideally, surface water from a lake, river or creek is available. While many people successfully live off the grid with a well that draws water from an underground aquifer, this has two disadvantages. First, it takes a lot of power to pump water, and second, even the best designed off-grid power system goes down occasionally.

The 5 Biggest Challenges To Moving Off Grid

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Not only does your property need to have water, but you need to make sure you have rights to the water. Water law is complicated because it is a morass of federal, state, tribal and local rights and treaties. It is also very different depending on which side of the Mississippi River you live.

Generally, west of the Mississippi, if you have water on (or under) your land, your household will have the right to use it for personal consumption. But many off-the-gridders need water for their livestock to drink and to irrigate crops. These water rights may or may not be yours. So when looking at the perfect piece of land to build the homestead, get legal help to ensure that you’ll have rights to all of the water that will be needed.

3. Power

Some off-gridders live without electricity. They get water from a nearby lake or stream, and heat and cook with firewood. If that’s your plan, then you don’t need to worry about an off-the-grid power system.

But most people want to generate their own power. This may be for comfort (like air conditioning on a hot day or running a washing machine) or necessity. For example, if you grow large fields of grains in the southwest, you’ll likely need power to pump water from its source to the fields.

Today, there are several great technologies for generating power. In many parts of the country, solar power with battery storage is a sound and reliable choice. Or maybe you live in the plains states and harness the power of wind. Or perhaps you live on a creek that provides hydropower. Regardless of the choice, the challenge with generating your own power is knowing how to maintain and repair the system. You need to be ready and able to make repairs if needed.Food

4. Food

People live off-grid because they so desire. This means that most prefer to supply as much of their own food as possible. So before choosing the perfect property, think about how the homestead will provide food. Many off-gridders do very well with a good garden and small animals for meat like chickens or rabbits. Others have larger operations with fields of grain and livestock, with enough food left over for bartering.

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It’s important to remember that humans enjoy variety in their diet. So if you specialize in one or two types of food production, make sure to produce extra for barter. For example, if your main source of protein is rabbit, then your family would love it if some of the rabbits can be traded with nearby homesteaders for chicken or beef. Or if you grow corn, bartering some away for wheat flour would be much appreciated.Neighbors

5. Neighbors

The 5 Biggest Challenges To Moving Off Grid

Image source: Pixabay.com

Many first-time off-the-gridders don’t want neighbors or anyone even living nearby. If they have the financial resources, they can get 100 or even 1,000 acres and live totally secluded.

But not everyone can afford this type of isolation. And after several years living off-grid, I’ve found that like-minded neighbors are key to a successful homestead. Like-minded neighbors — those who share your respect for hard work and a peaceful and quiet lifestyle — can be a benefit.

Human beings all have different skills. So maybe one neighbor specializes in equipment repair and can diagnose and repair your wind power system. Or maybe a neighbor has a green thumb and always has fresh produce to barter for some of your rabbit meat. Or maybe a neighbor served in the military and helps the surrounding area set up a security perimeter. Finally, perhaps one of them is gifted with animal care, and can help diagnose disease or treat injuries that livestock may get.

Conclusion

Living off grid is a great lifestyle. But it’s not easy, and there are several challenges to think about before beginning. The right land, with water and the natural resources for power generation and food production, and the presence (or absence) of nearby like-minded people, are all things to carefully consider. Good luck!

What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Airbnb’s hottest properties – yes, they are off-grid

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Airbnb, holiday let, vacation rental, tree house, offthegridnews

Most sought on Airbnb – Atlanta tree house

Airbnb has just released it’s 10 most wished-for properties on the vacation web site. Quirky, unique properties are most in demand. Four out of the ten properties are tree-houses and three of those are located in California.

The top ten roundup of wish-listed abodes on the property site shows that quirky, unorthodox residences are the places where most people wish to stay.

From a secluded treehouse with rope bridge in the woods of Atlanta, Georgia to a ‘seashell’ house in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, to a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’-themed guest house in Topanga Canyon, California, the properties that were the most popular were strange and fanciful.

It is also number one on the site’s list of most popular property types. This author has his own https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/2589762″ target=”_blank”>off-grid property on Airbnb – in Majorca Spain – Check it out here: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/2589762″>https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/2589762
The U.S. was the most represented country on the list, with three of the four properties represented in California.
The second most popular destination was Italy, with three locations in the top ten. Mexico, Canada, and Bali rounded out the list.

PICK OF THE OFF GRID PLACES

No. 10: ($380 per night) This off-the-grid solar-powered house in the high desert of Pioneertown, California does have heat, hot water, and a washer, but of course no TV or Internet – Joshua Tree National Park is nearby

No. 8: ($76 per night) This ‘mushroom villa’ as the locals in Bali call it, comes with a beautifully lit private swimming pool with ocean view and garden where you are free to pick your own fruit and veranda where you can watch the sunrise – there’s a hot water shower and Wifi spot

No. 7: A Pirates of the Caribbean themed tropical guest house contains a deck with a teepee for lounging (not overnight sleeping!) N($95 per night/two nights minimum/$225 for one night)Guest house contains a Jacuzzi and BBQ fire pit – the property contains waterfalls and ponds.

No. 6: ($110 per night) A mushroom shaped dome cabin in in Aptos, California is called a ‘geodesic dome loft’ and it has a large outdoor deck shaded by oak and madrone trees and abutting a redwood grove on ten acres of prime forest chiming with birds – there’s also a nearby beach – there’s a flatscreen TV with DVD player but no television reception

No. 5: ($157 per night) Another treehouse, this time in San Salvatore Monferrato, Alessandria, Italy – it contains one bedroom, one bathroom, a garden solarium and swimming pool on the property – and a cat

No. 4: ($100 per night) This unique cob cottage in Mayne Island, British Columbia is sculpted of local, sustainable natural materials – guests have access to all of the surrounding lush property, including the small private vineyard

No. 3: ($281 per night) This glass paneled treehouse in Tuscany, Italy is only only twenty minutes’ from the Duomo and one hour from Siena – the tree home is surrounded by olive trees, and boasts a kitchen garden, tennis court and small swimming pool

No. 2: ($249 per night) This seashell shaped house in Isla Mujeres contains private pool, two king beds, a kitchen and free Wifi and air conditioning

And te most desired property ont he whole of AirBnb: ($350 per night) A secluded treehouse only a minute Atlanta contains three connected treehouse rooms in the woody area of Buckhead – the house was featured on Treehouse Masters – each room is furnished with antiques, natural artefacts

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Cold War launch center for auction on Ebay

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Russ - hoping to win big on Ebay

Russ – hoping to win big on Ebay

There are silos and missile bunkers for sale all over the USA, but California investor Russ Nielsen can assure you that the hardest work is done in reclaiming his Cold War relic.

Earlier this year he and his hired crews unburied the decommissioned “Mike-1” missile control center near Holden, Mo.  It comes with 9 acres of land

After years of navigating intense defense and environmental regulations to establish what is now the first and only privately held Minuteman launch control facility in the U.S, Russ put it straight on the market.

The people who worked here held the keys to 10 of the 150 Minuteman missiles once buried in Missouri. There were as many as 1,000 buried in the U.S., though many of them, including all the Missouri missiles, were decommissioned and buried in the 1990s.

Starting bid, if you’re intrigued, is $265,000.

It’s on eBay, of course.

The Kansas City Star was there earlier this year when the excavation team dug down to the blast doors and learned that they would in fact open — a great relief to Nielsen.

Since then, crews have cleared out the rest of the concrete and rock that buried the facility, pumped out the water, plugged the leaks, put in some lighting and a ladder.

Now Nielsen hopes some of you out there will take a look and imagine the possibilities.

Maybe you want to live “somewhat off the grid,” he said, with a little more than 9 acres of land for crops or livestock and a steel-enforced underground sanctuary for whatever “end times” might come.

Or maybe historical preservation — a Cold War museum — makes good sense, he said. Or an RV park. Or a campground.

Bidding is open until Jan. 2.

“A lot of people shake their head when I talk about what I did,” Nielsen said. “It’s not your ordinary thing to do.”

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South Dakota ghost town – ideal for staging off-grid reality show

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Closed tavern in Swett

There’s no there there

The South Dakota ghost town of Swett is once again for sale, and this time the asking price is a lot cheaper.

Swett in the southwestern part of the State is home to about 6 acres of land, an empty house reputed to be haunted and a closed bar. It first went on the market in June 2014, for $399,000. It generated interest around the world, but three written offers fell through for various reasons.

Real estate agent Stacie Montgomery says she’s put the town southeast of Rapid City back on the market, at a reduced price of $250,000. The tract was cleaned up, with three decaying mobile homes and an aging transport truck removed.

Swett isn’t the only town in the area put up for sale in recent years. In 2011, a Philippines-based church bought most of the town of Scenic, paying $700,000.

Montgomery said when Swett went on the market last year, she got hundreds of emails and calls from prospects as far away as China, Russia and Australia. She said she got several verbal offers in addition to the written ones.

Those who showed interest in buying the town included people who wanted to be mayor or live off-grid, and a Nebraska man who wanted to bring in 2,000 women from Russia and 600 men who are felons, build houses and run cameras nonstop.

Montgomery still gets phone calls about the town, she said.

“It’s been a year and a half and people still want to know about Swett,” Montgomery said.

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Actress Lisa Gormley build off grid

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Home and Away star makes off-grid plans in Tasmania

Lisa and friends

Aussie actress Lisa Gormley is in the middle of building an off-the-grid eco cabin in the Tasmanian rainforest.

The 30-year-old moved to Tasmania with her parents when she was 12, and recently said she wanted to spend time with her family and travel. Not one to shy away from new challenges, Gormley was one of hundreds of people who gathered in Tasmania’s Upper Florentine Valley in April to rally against the Federal Government’s attempt to reopen some World Heritage-listed forests to logging.

One of Australia’s most popular stars, she also revealed she would be open to returning to her soapie roots, years after leaving the show,

Since, Gormley has spent a few years travelling, teaching overseas and starring in various stage productions. And is open to returning to the show that launched her career – just not yet. “I would, but maybe not for another little while because I’ve still got things I want to try,” she says. “I’ve done a lot of things that were on my list – I’m slowly ticking them off.”

She had a ball “getting the band back together”. “It was just gorgeous,” she beams. “I love this show. It’s not like I left because I didn’t. And, when I did, I suddenly lost 50 people from my life, which was sad. Coming back to play with them again was great.” Bonnie Sveen is a central part of the plot for the spin-off, after her character Ricky’s baby Casey is kidnapped. Adding to that, everyone is left reeling by Ash’s (George Mason) revelation.

She relished the chance to sink her teeth into a meaty storyline and be part of a history-making experiment.

“This is a first for the show – they’ve never done anything like it before,” Sveen says.

“It feels different, too – they’re shooting it differently. I don’t know much about the technology, I’m sorry, but the cameramen played with filters and angles and that sort of thing.

“It gives it a slightly different look and feel. That made it an exciting prospect.” Ricky’s story arc in recent years has been a turbulent one but Sveen thinks there’s a lot of life left in it.

“I think there’s a while to go in the journey and I’m enjoying it,” she says. “I’m not in any hurry to move on at all.”HOME AND AWAY FINALE, WEDNESDAY, 7PM, SEVEN. AN EYE FOR AN EYE WILL BE AVAILABLE ON PRESTO IMMEDIATELY AFTER, AT 8.30PM

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9 Things You Gotta’ Consider Before Buying Any Off-Grid Land

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Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

Without a doubt, the main things people think of when considering buying rural land for an off-grid property are size, location and cost.

But there are several other steps and factors you’ll need to consider to ascertain if the area is viable for living in and farming, especially in the long term. Going through these guidelines will help you make a better assessment, and spare you from potential problems ahead — especially if you’ve been a city-slicker all your life and are only now transitioning into country living. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it may include items you may not have thought of.

1. Soil condition. Is the soil arable? Too rocky? Too sandy? Clay-like? Contaminated with chemicals from fertilizers used by previous owners? These factors, along with soil acidity and pH, would determine the level of success and challenges you’ll have in growing your food. I would recommend getting a soil test done, and doing so on the specific areas you’re planning a garden.

2. Safety from hazards — natural and man-made. You may wish to steer clear of known earthquake faults, nuclear plants, tornado belts, flood plains, drought-prone areas, and low-lying coastal villages (at risk of hurricanes and tsunamis).

3. Water source. This could be a stream, an underground spring, an existing well shaft or a small creek or pond. An uphill spring is perfect, so you could do a gravity-fed water catchment system. If you’re looking to drill a well, ask the neighbors how deep they were able to tap their well.

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Check the water quality, and how land is — and was — used in the surrounding area, not just yours. Is or was there a commercial orchard in the distance? A mining operation? A feedlot? A factory? You don’t want any of their wastes or chemical run-off in your groundwater. Find out about water rights, too. Some states don’t even allow residents to collect rainwater right from their own roof gutters.

4. Accessibility of goods and services. Depending on your and your family’s needs, you’ll need to consider the distance and time it would take for you to get to the nearest town for supplies and hard-to-find service – for anything from automotive repair to computer parts. Probably a few non-negotiables for many folks are a hospital, trauma center, fire station or any kind of emergency response. That would be very important if you or a family member have a medical condition that could need urgent care.

Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

5. Zoning and building restrictions. Look at land use regulations, covenants and homeowners association rules. Can residents build or dig any structure they want — a straw bale house, a tree house, a pond, some cabins to rent out? Some neighborhoods set a limit on what kind and number of livestock homeowners can keep. While some counties have strict laws, others, especially those in the most remote locations, have virtually none. And not having them could be just as bad. What if the neighbors opened a huge poultry or hog operation in the distance and the smell and the flies start sweeping over to you? If peace and privacy are critical for you, go for residential and strictly non-commercial zones, as you wouldn’t want enterprises, big or small, building structures near you – from even a small, seemingly passive thing as a cell phone tower, to an all-out, invasive industrial park. Are you near a forest reserve or property owned by the government? Make sure property lines are clear and yours is a good distance from them. Look out for companies that do fracking, timber harvesting or mining of any sort. You don’t know if they’d be looking to encroach in your area in the future.

6. Woods. The benefits of having or living near wooded areas are endless: privacy and concealment, a buffer from dust and strong winds, and availability of timber and firewood. The natural habitat would also mean edible wildlife for you and your family.

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Aside from hunting and foraging, the woods could also mean hours of recreation: exploring, trail running, camping and swimming if there’s a nearby pond or river. If you’re purchasing wooded land, find out exactly if you’d be allowed to cut — and how much.

7. Clearing. On the other hand, if you’re going to do some serious homesteading, you’ll need sunny, open spaces for gardening and livestock grazing. Don’t forget areas needed for barns and animal pens, an extra storage shed, garage or workshop, and a compost pile. Budget permitting, you might also consider building a greenhouse and potting shed. Off-grid energy installations like solar panels and wind turbines might also require specific locations besides your roof. And, if you decide to use a compost toilet instead of a septic, look for the most strategic location for an outhouse.

8. Communications. Unless you’re ready to totally unplug and live without phone or Internet connection, check the availability of telecom services. Check cell phone signals in different areas of the property. Not only would you want to remain connected to loved ones and the rest of the world, you might also consider working online by selling goods and services. Find out if there’s more than one service provider, so there’s an alternative if you’re not happy with one.

9. Like-minded neighbors. Whether they be somewhat similar to you in the area of self-sufficiency, farming practices, political views or faith, living next to people who share the same values will make life a lot easier for you. Neighbors can be an important asset and even a resource when living off the grid. They can come to your aid in an emergency, they can share valuable knowledge and skills in all things faming, they can lend tools and equipment you don’t yet have; and they can provide good-old company when things get lonely.

What would you add to our list? Share your suggestions in the section below:

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