Off Grid Vs. Homestead: Here Are the Differences

It is becoming increasingly popular to live self-sufficient and self-reliant. With so much uncertainty and many factors that influence different supply chains, the idea of homesteading and living off-grid has regained interest. So, what is the difference between off-grid and homestead?

The main difference between living off the grid and homesteading is access to certain vital utilities. While both include self-sufficiency aspects, living off the grid means that you are not connected to the power grid or using city water or sewage. With homestead, you can use those public utilities.

Disturbing events affecting food supply security, health and wellness, and the global economy have encouraged people to think about becoming more self-reliant. And that often includes off-the-grid living and homesteading.

Read on to the difference between living off-grid and homesteading. You might also enjoy reading: Is Off The Grid Living Dangerous? Here’s What You Should Know

Off Grid vs Homestead
Off Grid vs. Homestead: Here are the Differences –

Off-Grid Vs. Homestead: What Are the Differences?

Before discussing the differences between off-grid and homestead, let’s first define homestead.

What Is Homesteading?

In recent years, interest in homesteading has grown increasingly popular. Like the phrase living off the grid, homesteading might mean different things to different individuals. It depends specifically on what you want to include in your lifestyle.

The meaning of homesteading has evolved over the decades. Today, homesteading refers to a lifestyle that promotes greater self-sufficiency. Let’s look at a very brief timeline of the term’s everyday use to understand what homesteading means.

  • The Homestead Act: In the middle 1800s, the term homesteading was synonymous with The Homesteading Act of 1862, which gave public land grants of 160 acres to any adult citizen who paid a small registration fee and accepted to live on the land continuously for five years, after which they would be awarded a deed to the land. In Canada, a similar act called The Dominion Lands Act was also enacted in 1872.
  • The Back to the Land Movement: In the 1970s, the term homesteading changed to mean a lifestyle as tens of thousands of young people and other adventurous souls threw off the cultural mantle of urban and suburban living and returned to their ancestral rural roots. The term homesteading continues to emerge to include self-sufficient living in urban and suburban environments and rural areas.
  • 21st Century Homesteading: Nowadays, homesteading is all about self-sufficiency wherever you live, which means eating wholesome local food, using less energy, and involving your family in the community’s life. Today, homesteading also means making wiser choices and decisions that will improve the health and quality of life for your family, your community or neighborhood, and the environment around you.

See also: How to Get Water for an Off Grid Bathroom

Off Grid vs Homestead
Off Grid vs Homestead: Here are the Differences –

4 Different Kinds of Homesteading

Traditional homesteads live on many acres of land, distant from towns and cities. However, with the renewed interest in self-sustainable living, modern homesteading has become more of a culture and lifestyle than a location. So, what are the different kinds of homesteading?

  • A large, more traditional homestead
  • An urban homestead
  • An apartment homestead
  • A smaller homestead

Let’s discuss each type of homestead in further detail.

Apartment Homesteading

Many apartment residents would like to live more independently while saving money and becoming more self-reliant.

An apartment homestead is close to a modern off-grid lifestyle. It includes potted herbs and vegetables growing on shelves and in windows, making all your own cleaning supplies and other household items.

Apartment homesteaders usually form relationships with local farmers and other homesteaders who grow livestock and work out barter arrangements and agreements.

Urban Homesteads

Urban homesteads have become incredibly common over the last few decades. It includes residential homes in a city or neighborhood where homeowners use their own property to assist in a self-sufficient lifestyle.

Urban homesteader adjusts their property for the maximum production of food and resources for their family.

People who adopt urban homesteads practice gardening and traditional food storage methods and raise small livestock like chickens, rabbits, and goats.

Traditional Homesteads

People who adopt a traditional homestead make their own products, including cleaning supplies and most foods from scratch, bread, and pasta, and practice many diverse food storage solutions such as canning, dehydrating, and freezing.

Many traditional homesteads also include different livestock, such as chickens, goats, pigs, rabbits, and even cows.

Some people decide to go partially “off the grid” while still relying moderately on the linked system that produces electricity and water for the masses. In contrast, others prefer to be completely self-sufficient.

The homesteading options for living off the grid are abundant, and most of them include being independent and autonomous and reducing self-reliance on public utilities.

What is Off Grid Living?

Off the grid or off-grid is a lifestyle designed independently without dependence on one or more public utilities. Commonly, an off-grid home must supply energy and potable water for itself and manage food, waste, and wastewater, according to Wikipedia.

Living off the grid lifestyle is an attractive option for you if you want more self-sufficiency and less dependence on established institutions. It means you create a life where you are no longer dependent on the electrical grid, which means you produce your own power, collect or pump your own water, and often grow your own food.

In other words, living off the grid also means homesteading, where you self-sustain your needs for food and supplies.

Living off the grid means being independent of electricity companies and also town water. When living off the grid, you don’t actually rely on an electricity company, which means your electricity or power source can be a renewable one.

In other words, you rely entirely on on the Sun, and your household is entirely run on solar power. You are also independent of the municipality in terms of water. You can collect water by yourself by your rainwater tanks to feed off your gardens and your veggie patches.

Living off the grid doesn’t mean that you are a hermit and Earthship stuck somewhere in the desert. It means that you live autonomously away from electricity companies, away from the town water supply, and are self-sufficient in some ways.

Overall, living off the grid means adopting a lifestyle and building a home without the following: 

  • Without municipal water: you build your own and dependent on an off-grid water system instead of town water 
  • No sewer: you have either a septic tank or field bed, toilet, or composting off-grid toilet instead of a sewer system
  • No natural gas: There is no natural gas to heat your house or run your stove or dryer – and it also means no natural gas bills either

So if you love the concept of being independent, autonomous, and self-reliant, an off-grid lifestyle may be the perfect choice for you.

Without public utilities, you will need to build your water system and use an outhouse or a compost toilet instead of the plumbing and electricity required for traditional toilets.

Once you decide to live off the grid, you will need to build a homestead to provide shelter, food, and everything else you would need to sustain yourself and your family.

While living off the grid is not for everyone, it is becoming increasingly popular as more people want to reclaim their independence and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

See also: Do You Need a Permit for Off-Grid Solar Power?

Off Grid vs Homestead
Off Grid vs. Homestead: Here are the Differences –

There are various reasons people choose to live off the grid. Some just want to save money, while others are planning for the possibility of survival.

As with any lifestyle choice, there are various ways to live off the grid. The most traditional off-grid homesteads are:

Roughing It

“Roughing it” means going entirely off the grid and not relying on the government for electricity, water, gas, or septic. This way of living off the grid requires you to commit to significant lifestyle changes.

With this option, you will likely need to build the following: 

  • A small home on land that is essentially a ‘dry cabin, 
  • An outhouse for sanitary needs and have a well, rainwater catchment, or river nearby for drinking and bathing.
  • Grow your own food in your garden and build a small homestead to provide for your family’s needs.
  • Have a generator or solar panels that generate electricity or use alternative cooking and refrigeration methods.

Half-On/Half-Off the Grid

Half-On/Half-Off the Grid means living half on and half off the grid. This option is excellent for homesteaders who don’t want to be entirely “rough it,” which means they don’t rely heavily on the public system; however, they still use the grid when needed to live off the grid.

For instance, you may choose to use the city’s electricity for cooking or lighting at night, but avoid using it during the day.

Half-On/Half-Off the Grid is a great choice if you are looking to test the waters of an off-grid lifestyle with your family. 

If you want to adopt a half-on/half-off-the-grid lifestyle, start with the following:

  • Grow your own food
  • Make your own cleaning and hygiene products. 
  • Raise chickens or livestock.

Modern Off-Grid Lifestyle

This off-grid homestead is one of the most popular options for living off the grid. With this option,  homesteaders access all of the conveniences of modern lifestyles and use technology to remain self-sufficient.

The modern off-grid lifestyle often has the most expensive option upfront cost, but you cut your costs drastically in the long run. Here’s how to get started with the modern off the grid lifestyle:

  • Have a way to harness electricity by using solar panels on your roof. If there is flowing water nearby, some homesteaders also choose to harness wind or water power. 
  • Dig a well and attach an electric well pump to harness running water straight from the ground.
  • Have your indoor bathroom run to a septic tank instead of the sewage system. 
  • Grow your own food.
  • Make your own cleaning and bathing products.
  • Raise cattle or chickens.

Essential Steps to Starting off-grid homesteads

Now you’ve read the article and learned the differences between off Grid and Homestead. And you might be wondering how you can start your journey to an off the grid lifestyle.

My advice is to take it one step at a time, and you will be very surprised how satisfying and easy it is to adopt an off grid homesteads lifestyle.

  • Start reading everything you can about off the grid and homestead living ( books, blogs, and magazines ) 
  • Begin looking for potential locations that interest you. 
  • Study and learn about shelter possibilities. After you decided on your location, look at the available options for off-grid homesteads, and educate yourself on local’s laws and regulations on off-grid homesteads.
  • Check your energy and water options. 
  • Answer the question of how you will be providing your food supply. Are you planning to hunt, fish and garden? And then learn the required skills to provide for you and your family. Look for off-grid homestead money-making options. Are you going to sell woodworking, handmade crafts, or open your home to paying guests?
  • Learn basic survival skills such as mechanics, first aid, basic carpentry, and essential gardening. 
  • Begin an off-grid homestead living preparation supply list, including safety equipment, dried and canned food, gardening, hunting, fishing equipment, tools, and clothing.

Final Thoughts 

The key difference between living off-grid and homestead living is your dependence on public and town utilities. To successfully live off-grid, you need to homestead; however, you do not need to live off-grid to homestead.

The main goal for people choosing to go off the grid or adopt a homestead lifestyle is to reduce their reliance on public utilities and increase their independence.

In today’s world, becoming more self-sufficient and independent is slowly becoming a goal for many people. While going off the grid may require more commitment, you can adopt a homestead lifestyle virtually anywhere.

Start by taking one step at a time, and you will be amazed at how satisfying and easy it is to adopt an off grid or homestead lifestyle.


Hello friends, I am Altiné. I am SO excited you are here! I am the person behind Off The Grid Planet. Off The Grid Planet is about off-grid living, homesteading, and self-sufficiency: learning self-reliance, sustainable homes, gardening, survival, preparedness, and renewable energy and inspire you to live a simple life. I do my best to bring you the most correct, up-to-date, and comprehensive information on these topics.

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