For a lot of people who come to the site, off-grid living is something they’ve been dreaming about for as long as they can remember. Unfortunately, the dream of living off the grid is something that sometimes causes them to overlook the many challenges associated with the lifestyle.
Living off the grid often means living on a rural property, and living in rural areas presents a number of safety issues that you must be aware of before choosing a property. When it comes to finding the perfect piece of land to build your off-grid paradise, there are some things that you should keep in mind.
You must consider emergency situations and access to emergency services.
While many people think living in a rural environment is safer than living in the big city, there are a number of safety considerations that you need to keep in mind.
How far is the nearest level one trauma center? A lot of bad things can happen when living in a rural environment. From accidents when cutting wood or working on your land, to everyday emergency situations that can happen no matter where you live, you need to consider how far away the nearest emergency room is, and what types of emergencies they can handle.
Do you have medical issues that require regular care? If you have any medical problems that require you to see a doctor on a regular basis, you need to seriously consider what type of healthcare facilities are in the immediate area. Make sure you thoroughly research the hospitals and the doctors who will be treating you.
What emergency services are in the immediate area? Before picking any piece property, you need to take the time to find out where the nearest emergency services are in the community.
- Find out if there’s a local fire department, police department, and emergency response teams. Are they volunteers, or are they trained professionals?
- Find out how long it takes for first responders to get to your property.
- Find out what emergency plans first responders have in place to deal with disasters and medical emergencies.
You need to consider rural crime and violence.
One of the biggest reasons for moving out to the country is to escape the crime and chaos that usually runs rampant in major cities. While most people believe rural areas are safer, there is a growing number of criminal organizations and gangs moving into these rural areas to escape the eyes of law enforcement.
- Look at local crime stats before making your decision on a community. Talk to your potential neighbors and ask locals about problems in the area.
- Drugs like meth have become a serious problem in rural communities throughout the United States. Look into local drug stats, and do research online to see what actually going on in the community. Jump on social media and see what the locals are talking about.
- Before buying any piece of property, make sure you check the area out at night. Watch the people, find out what they’re doing, and see if anything looks out of the ordinary. Just because something looks peaceful during the day, doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way when the sun goes down.
You need to consider future development and potential localized hazards.
The property you’re looking at might be in the middle of nowhere now, but 20 years from now that quaint, peaceful town might be the new center of industry. The last thing you want to do is buy a piece of property and have some industrial factory or prison pop up next door.
- Check the local zoning codes and makes sure the property is only zoned for residential purposes. If there is industrial zoning in the area, be aware that you may encounter problems in the future.
- Check to see if there are official building plans. Check with the local municipality to see if there are plans for future development in the area.
- Find out what types of businesses the area allows. Are there industrial plants? What types of chemicals are allowed to be stored at these local businesses? What plans are in place for emergencies caused by these businesses?
- When buying land that sits near waterways, make sure you find out what lies upstream. Are there old mines or industrial factories along the waterway? Anything bad that happens upstream will eventually affect you and your land.
You need to perform a threat assessment on the area.
Part of actually being prepared for future problems means knowing exactly what threats you’re facing, and then analyzing how those threats will affect you.
- Find out what disasters have happened in the past. Look through the areas historical data to find past disasters that occurred in the area; this information can help determine what threats are most likely and how the community responded to those threats.
- Find out if the property sits in a floodplain. The local municipality should have detailed maps of the area; these maps can help determine whether or not your property sits in a floodplain. Make sure you look for things like local levees and dams, which could become a problem in the future if the fail.
- Think about how you will defend the land. During times of crisis how easy is it to defend your land from criminals and attacks. Would your future home be concealed from outsiders? Is it away from main routes of travel and major highways?
You need to understand any Zoning Issues: Protecting your Property from the Government.
While zoning issues aren’t necessarily safety issues, they are something you need to keep in mind; they could someday become an issue that affects your ability to live and build on your property.
Hire a surveyor: Unlike property in urban areas, rural plots are often irregular in size and shape. Make sure you know exactly what you’re buying, and take note of any existing survey flags when checking the property.
Check the Topography: While your land may look like your dream piece of property, it’s important to carefully survey the lands topography. Understand what type of soil is on your land, look for areas where water runs, look for signs of flooding, and make sure you know exactly where you can build on the land.
If there’s a local building/planning office:
- Find out if the lot is buildable and if there are any existing restrictions on the size or type of buildings you can put on the land.
- Find out if the property is zoned; if it is, what it’s zoned for. Are there restrictions on what can be built, or what you can do on the land? Can you legally raise livestock, grow crops, build a pond, etc…?
- Are there environmental restrictions? Make sure you ask about environmental restrictions and ask about environmentally protected areas like wetlands that might be in the area.