We all dream of running away now and then, heading for the hills, ocean or forest to escape the chaos of daily life. So it’s no wonder many people escape the hustle and bustle permanently by building an off-grid lifestyle. With this in mind, LawnStarter just released a ranking of the Best States to Live Off the Grid for 2023. Is your state in the top 10?
The research evaluated 23 key factors in each of the 50 states. These measurements included topics such as the cost of farmland, ease of legally producing self-generated utilities and availability of renewable energy. Other factors included hospital access, quality of phone services and the weather.
Related: Casa Etérea offers off-grid lodging on an extinct volcano
While living an off-grid lifestyle used to be the norm for everyone, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to truly unplug. If you’ve made the decision to go off-grid on a full or part-time basis, here’s LawnStarter’s take on where to locate.
States that ranked high in one category were often found to fall short in other categories. The overall rankings, however, placed Iowa, Texas and Kentucky in the top three (in that order). Minnesota and Oklahoma rounded out the top five. Filling in the top 10 states for off-grid living in 2023 are Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Illinois and Montana.
Some green factors to keep in mind
Access to reliable renewable resources was a big factor contributing to these rankings. However, the top five list looks a bit different with Texas, California, Ohio, Florida and Indiana showing the most promise for solar power. Meanwhile Texas, Illinois, Iowa, Montana and Indiana show the highest potential growth in wind power.
Natural water supply is obviously another key component of off-grid living, so the report outlines the highest average rainfall, listing New Hampshire, Louisiana, Hawaii, Alabama and Mississippi as the top five.
In a measure of land affordability Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma and North Dakota ranked highest. Then, of course, there’s the risk of natural disasters wiping out crops and devastating homes. The report took this into account, listing North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Michigan and Montana as the states least likely to be affected by natural hazards.
In general, the majority of the top 25 states on the list are located in the central portions of the country, from the south border to the north border. In fact, six of the Great Plains states made it into the top 10. It’s not too surprising that states with low rural populations are perfect for finding solitude. Many of the highly ranked states have a strong urban area where the majority of the state’s population lives. That leaves expansive lands for remote, independent living.
Worst states for off-grid
Then there are the states that are least equipped to support off-grid living. With all factors considered, New Jersey ranked 50th, with Rhode Island and Connecticut close behind. Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Utah, New York and Arizona round out the bottom 10 states for off-grid living. Many of these states support a high, and dense population, making it difficult to escape the grid. Seven of the lowest 10 ranked states are located in the populous northeast part of the country. Government regulation is another factor in landing at the bottom of the pile, with nine of the lowest 10 states sporting strict off-grid laws.
Breaking down the metrics for this study, data was collected from publicly-available sources. It was then filtered into five categories. Feasibility took into account laws around electricity, water and waste, as well as the population density in rural areas.
Infrastructure considered the availability of phone service, road conditions and the prevalence and growth of renewable resources in the region.
Affordability looked at the cost and value of land, tax rates, cost of living and the poverty rate in rural areas.
The climate category covered average amounts of sun and rain, as well as average temperatures throughout the year.
Finally, researchers looked at safety, focusing on the number of air and water quality issues, the presence of toxic chemicals, the frequency of natural hazards, the crime rate and access to hospital care.
Off-grid living takes many forms, from a tiny home with a landscape view to a homestead in the center of flat land. The only thing they have in common is a reliance on, and respect for, the environment that supports them. Whether you’re going off-grid in support of lessening the load on the planet or you’re simply looking to escape the ever-present connection, achieving that goal might involve inhabiting a different part of the country.
Living off grid is about more than figuring out your own energy and rainwater harvesting. It means being self-sufficient in every way. That can encompass lifestyles around homesteading, tiny living and others. We covered another data collection report by HomeAdvisor in 2020 that ranked the best states for these types of off-grid lifestyles.
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