Living Off Grid in Alaska: Why, What, and How

Off-grid living is becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason – it can be a more sustainable, affordable, and enjoyable way of life. But before you decide to take the plunge into off-grid living in Alaska, there are some things you need to know. We will discuss the basics of living off-grid in Alaska, from why people choose to do it to what you need to consider when selecting your property. We’ll also touch on renewable energy and food production options for those considering off-grid living in Alaska.

Why Choose to Live Off-Grid in Alaska?

For many people, the appeal of living off-grid is being able to live a more sustainable lifestyle. To live off the grid means being less reliant on fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources instead of using natural resources, which can be good for the environment and help you save money. Generally speaking, living off-grid often allows you to live a simpler life, which can be more enjoyable and satisfying for some people. It can also be more affordable than traditional living arrangements in many cases.

Choosing Alaska as your off-grid destination has some distinct advantages. First of all, Alaska is a vast state with a low population density, which means there are many remote areas where you can live off-grid without being too far from civilization. Additionally, Alaska has an abundance of renewable energy resources like solar, wind, and water power, which can make living off-grid more feasible. And finally, Alaska is home to a variety of climate zones, which can be a plus if you’re looking for year-round growing conditions for your garden or livestock.

Is it Legal to Live Off-Grid in Alaska?

Yes, it is legal to live off-grid in Alaska! In fact, there are many people already doing it. However, there are some things you need to consider before you make the move. You need to be sure that you are choosing a property that is zoned for off-grid living. You also need to ensure that you have access to the property – whether that means roads, trails, or waterways. And you need to make sure that you are aware of building codes and permits that may apply to your off-grid living situation.

Choosing Your Property for Off-Grid Living

When deciding where to live in Alaska off the grid, there are a few factors you should think about. First, you need to determine if you want to live in a town, near a town, or away from other inhabitants altogether. Each option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, so be sure to do your research before deciding. Next, you need to research zoning considerations and access to the property. Then, a big thing to know about is water availability and renewable energy options.

In Towns and Near Towns

Living in a town or near a town with a small population can be a good option for those who want to be close to civilization but still live a more sustainable lifestyle.

One advantage of living in a town or near a town is that you often have access to amenities like schools, libraries, and grocery stores. Additionally, you may have neighbors close by who can help with things like childcare or emergency assistance. However, one downside of living in a town is that you may have to deal with more traffic and noise.

Away from other inhabitants

If you’re looking for a truly remote off-grid living experience, you may want to consider living away from other inhabitants in a remote location. One advantage of living away from other people is having more peace and quiet. Additionally, you may have more space to grow your own food or keep livestock. However, one downside of living away from other people is that you’ll likely have to travel farther for supplies and assistance.

Zoning Considerations

When choosing a property for off-grid living, you need to be sure that it is zoned for that purpose. In Alaska, there are a variety of zoning categories, so be sure to do your research before making a decision. You need to be aware of building codes and permits that may apply to your house, garden, and other off-grid matters, so check the local laws with your municipality for more information.

Access to Properties

Another important consideration when choosing a property for off-grid living is access. Many properties are accessible by roads, trails, or waterways in Alaska. However, some properties are only accessible by air or snowmobile. Before you decide, you’ll need to know how you will get to and from your property and the average annual snowfall in the area where you’re looking to buy land or your own cabin.

Roads

If you choose a property that is accessible by road, you need to be aware of the condition of the roads. In Alaska, some roads are well-maintained while others are not. Be sure to check with your local municipality for more information.

Rivers

In Alaska, rivers freeze over in the winter, making them impassable except by snowmobile or a sled dog team. During break up, rivers can be dangerous due to high water levels and ice. You will also need a boat to use the river during warmer weather.

The plus side to living on the river is being able to fish for food. Fishing is popular for those living off the grid, and it has a thriving tourism industry in Alaska.

Trails

In Alaska, some trails are well-maintained while others are not. Those that are maintained may have special right-of-ways given the location and season.

Building Codes and Permits

In Alaska, there are a variety of building codes that may apply to your situation. Additionally, you may need to obtain a permit from your local municipality before you begin construction on your off-grid home.

Water Considerations and Water Rights

Water is a precious resource. If you plan to live off-grid, you need to ensure that you have access to a reliable water source. Additionally, you need to be aware of your water rights.

Wells

If you choose a property with a well, you need to be sure that the well is in good condition. Additionally, you will need to have the well inspected by a qualified professional before using it. In many cases, Alaskan wells have hard water and often do not have enough pressure to use for all your needs.

Stream Water

In Alaska, some streams are polluted and not safe to drink from. You will need to test the stream water before you can use it. Filtering and boiling water may be an option if you decide to go this route. Furthermore, some municipalities in Alaska regularly test rivers and streams and report the results for potability.

Water Delivery

If you choose a property that is not near a reliable water source, you may need to have water delivered. There are a variety of companies that provide water delivery services. Many haul water from the same rivers and streams that locals may use, but if you cannot haul your own water, you can get your water delivered by truck.

Renewable Energy Considerations for Electricity

Renewable energy is an important consideration when choosing a property for off-grid living. While various renewable energy sources can be used, solar, wind, and water are the most common.

Solar

If you choose to use solar energy, you need to be aware of your property’s amount of sunlight. There are a variety of solar calculators that can help you determine if your property receives enough sunlight to power your home. Additionally, you will need to purchase and install solar panels. You may not require permits to install solar panels, but you should check with your local municipality to be sure.

Wind

There are a variety of wind maps that can help you determine if your property is located in an area with enough wind to power your home. You will need to purchase and install a wind turbine. Depending on the municipality, you may need to obtain a permit before installing a wind turbine.

Water

If you choose to use water power, you will need to have a source of running water on your property. Additionally, you will need to purchase and install a water turbine. In some cases, you may also need to obtain a permit from your municipality before installing a water turbine.

Waste Disposal

Another important consideration when living off-grid is waste disposal. There are a variety of options for waste disposal.

Outhouses

One option for waste disposal is to build an outhouse. Outhouses are simple structures that can be built without a permit in most cases. As a plus, outhouses do not require a water source. However, outhouses can be smelly and are often considered an eyesore.

Septic Tanks

If you have a water source on your property, you may choose to install a septic system. Septic systems are designed to treat and dispose of human waste. You will need to have your septic system designed and installed by a qualified professional. Also, you will need to obtain a permit from your municipality before you can install a septic system.

Composting Toilets

Composting toilets are designed to turn human waste into compost. You will need to purchase a composting toilet, and you will need a place to store the compost produced by the toilet. On the plus side, a composting toilet can stay indoors and is relatively odor-free.

Producing Your Own Food

One of the benefits of living off-grid is that you can produce your own food and become more self-sufficient. If you choose to grow your own food, you will need to have a source of water. You will also need to prepare your garden bed and plant your seeds. Once your plants are growing, you will need to water them and weed them regularly. Growing food is one of the pleasures of living in the Alaskan wilderness.

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If you choose to keep livestock, you will need to purchase the animals and build housing for them. Additionally, you will need to provide food and water for the animals, and you will need to care for the animals regularly.

Growing and Maintaining a Garden

Alaska has very short growing seasons, which is why it is essential to choose plants that are well suited for the climate. Some of the best vegetables to grow in Alaska include potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and kale. Daylight during the spring and summer months is nearly 24 hours which means that your plants will have plenty of time to grow during the short growing season.

Keeping Livestock

If you choose to keep livestock, you need to be aware of the challenges that come with it. First, you need to purchase the animals and build housing for them. Then you will need to provide food and water for the animals. You also need to care for the farm animals regularly. Choose farm animals that can handle the weather and snow. These include chickens, goats, and sheep.

Another challenge of keeping livestock is that you need to be aware of the predators in the area. In Alaska, some of the predators that you need to be mindful of include bears, wolves, and coyotes. To protect your livestock, you may need to build a fence around your property. You can also purchase a gun for protection.

Storing Your Food For the Winter Months

One of the challenges of living off-grid is storing food for the winter months. During the winter, temperatures can drop to -60 degrees Fahrenheit. To ensure that your food does not freeze, you will need to store it in a root cellar.

A root cellar is a structure that is built underground. The temperature in a root cellar stays relatively cool, which helps to keep food from freezing. A root cellar can be used to store items such as canned goods, dry goods, and potatoes.

If you do not want to build a root cellar, you can store your food in an unheated shed or garage. However, you will need to prevent animals from getting into your food. One way to do this is to store your food in metal containers with tight-fitting lids.

Another option for storing your food is to purchase a deep freezer. A deep freezer can be used to store meat, vegetables, and fruit.

No matter how you choose to store your food, it is important to plan how you will access it during the winter months. One option is to purchase a snowmobile or ATV with a plow. This will allow you to clear a path to your food storage area.

Another option is to make sure that you have enough food stored in your root cellar to last the entire winter. This way, you will not need to venture out into the cold to access your food.

Heating Considerations for Living Off-Grid in Alaska

Another consideration for living off-grid in Alaska is how you will heat your home.

Wood Fuel

One option is to purchase a wood stove to burn wood. A wood stove can heat your home and cook your food.

If you choose to use a wood stove, you will need to have a source of wood. One option is to purchase a woodlot. A woodlot is a piece of property specifically for growing and harvesting trees. You will have to chop wood and have enough for the entire winter. That can be anywhere from 5 to 12 cords of firewood.

Propane Heater

Another option for heating your home is to purchase a propane heater. Propane heaters are less expensive than wood stoves, and they are easier to use. However, you will need to have a source of propane.

Heating Oil

Another option for heating your home is to purchase heating oil. Heating oil can be used in conjunction with a wood stove or propane heater.

No matter what type of heater you choose, it is vital to have a plan for how you will keep your home warm during the winter months. You can also purchase a generator to power your heater in the event of a power outage.

Moving with a Family to Alaska

You need to make sure that your family is on board with the move. Living off-grid can be a challenge, and it is important that everyone is on board with the decision.

Another thing to consider is your child’s education. If you have young children, you will need to decide if you want them to attend a public school or if you want to homeschool them. In the backcountry, it is unlikely you will have public schooling options available to your child unless you are living in or near a small town.

If you choose to homeschool your child, there are a few things that you need to consider. First, you need to make sure that you are familiar with the homeschooling laws in Alaska.

Another thing to consider is how you will teach your child. There are many resources available to homeschooling families that can be used to help you create lesson plans and find materials for your child.

Healthcare Considerations for Living Off-Grid in Alaska

If you are living off-grid in Alaska, there are a few things that you need to consider when it comes to healthcare.

One of the most important things to consider is how you will access medical services. It is unlikely that you will have access to a hospital in the backcountry. This means that you will need to be familiar with first aid and have a plan for how you will access medical care.

Another thing to consider is your health insurance. In Alaska, it is required that all residents have health insurance. However, if you live off-grid, you may not have access to traditional health insurance. There are a few options available to you.

You may be able to purchase a health care sharing plan. These plans are designed for people who do not have access to traditional health insurance.

You can also purchase a short-term health insurance policy. These policies can cover you in the event of an emergency.

Wildlife and Predators

One of the most important things to consider when living off-grid in Alaska is the wildlife. There are a number of dangerous wildlife that live in Alaska, including bears, wolves, and moose.

It is important to be aware of the dangers these animals pose and have a plan for how you will protect yourself and your family. One option is to purchase a gun.

Another course of action to consider is to take a bear safety course. These courses can teach you how to avoid encounters with bears and what to do if you are attacked by one.

Bears

Alaska is the home to black bears, brown bears, and polar bears. All of these bears can pose a threat to humans.

The best way to avoid an encounter with a bear is to be aware of your surroundings and make noise when walking in bear country.

If you encounter a bear, it is crucial to stay calm and not run. Try to make yourself as large as possible to show you are not prey and give the bear a way to escape. Bear sprays do work, so always carry a canister on you, even when around your home.

Wolves

There are two species of wolves in Alaska, the arctic wolf, and the grey wolf. These animals typically avoid humans, but there have been instances where they have attacked people.

The best way to avoid an encounter with a wolf is to make sure that you are not walking alone in wolf territory.

If you encounter a wolf, it is important to make yourself as large as possible and make noise. Try to scare the wolf off by throwing rocks or sticks at it.

Moose

Moose are the largest members of the deer family, and they can be found throughout Alaska. Moose can be aggressive, especially around the rut and when they feel threatened.

The best way to avoid an encounter with a moose is to give them plenty of space and make noise when you are walking in areas where they live.

If you encounter a moose, it is important to stay calm and not run. Try to find a place where the moose cannot attack you and give the moose a way to escape.

Other Hazardous Wildlife

There are a number of other hazardous wildlife that live in Alaska, including coyotes, snakes, and mountain lions.

It is important to be aware of the dangers these animals pose and have a plan for how you will protect yourself and your family.

Dealing with Being Alone

One of the challenges of living off-grid is the isolation of living in the remote wilderness. There are several ways to deal with being alone, including joining a community, making friends with your neighbors, and contacting family and friends. The phone and satellite Internet are two ways to ensure that you remain in communication with people.

Another way to deal with being alone is to find ways to occupy your time. This can include hobbies, reading, and spending time outdoors.

Final Thoughts

Living off-grid in Alaska can be a rewarding experience. It is essential to be prepared for the challenges you will face, including the isolation, the wildlife, and the weather. By being prepared and having a plan, you can make living off-grid in Alaska a success. Living off-grid in Alaska is not for everyone, but it can be an excellent experience for those who are prepared for the challenges. Do your research and be prepared before making the decision.

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