Off grid communities have been around for decades, but they drew an increased attention and interest in the recent years. Social unrest, economic and political instabilities, natural disasters, unwelcome pandemics – everything that’s been happening recently is driving people toward simpler and freer lifestyle.
Off grid life is not something illegal or unusual, like the mainstream media would want you to believe. It basically means living without being dependent on public utility companies and official power grid. Off grid lifestyle often entails producing your own energy (from the sun or wind), growing your own crops and livestock, and living in a house away from the urban life. Some do it on their own or just with their families, while others unite in small off grid communities.
I did an extensive research and made the most comprehensive list of such communities around the globe. Since this is an article in English, I mostly list the communities in the English-speaking countries, but I will mention off grid communities in other countries as well.
Here is a table of contents for easier navigation:
And now, let’s have a look at off grid communities in each region.
Off Grid Communities in USA
The United States has always been an encouraging nation, as far as off grid living is concerned. There are states such as Florida, Arizona, Colorado and Missouri, where the combination of climate, land availability and local laws creates very welcoming conditions to live off the grid. I would like invite you to read my full review of the best places to live off the grid in the USA.
- Emerald Earth in Mendocino County, California, is based on 189 acres of meadows and forest. The community was established in 1989 by their own non-profit organization. Like-minded individuals and families are invited to apply for membership. The community grows their own food and strives to enrich their environment instead of depleting it. Emerald Earth’s members have an extensive knowledge of natural building and sustainable agriculture. They also conduct workshops, harvest seaweed at the coast and raise their own livestock. Although everyone involved do a lot of communal work, they also have plenty of spare time and energy for personal projects.
- Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an off-grid community located in the northeast part of Missouri. Dozens of its members enjoy living in houses made from recycled materials that are powered by renewable energy. This ecological village has been flourishing for over two decades. Visitors to Dancing Rabbit can gain a lot by learning organic gardening, production of alternative energy, self-governing management, and other useful off-grid skills. The ecovillage functions as a living laboratory, testing how permaculture can serve as a better approach to farming. The community also holds annual events, such as the Women’s Retreat, singing gatherings and Open House, and everyone is invited to visit! Here is a video from Rae Machado, who started living in Dancing Rabbit with no prior experience in farming or living off the grid:
- Earthaven is a community based near Asheville, North Carolina, in the mountains. Established in 1995, they currently have about 100 residents. Their holistic approach to life and dedication to sustainable culture make Earthaven ecovillage a great place to visit or live in. The village is located on a biodiverse land and has dozens of homesteads, with more being built all the time. Like many other off grid communities, this one also takes care of ecological systems and operates by permacultural principles. There are many different people in Earthaven: some are vegetarians, while others are omnivores who raise livestock. The power is supplied by solar system installations.
- Breitenbush is a thriving community in the mountains of Oregon. They are truly off the grid, as the power is supplied by the river and by geothermal wells. The buildings are designed by the principles of sustainability and recycling. The lumber used is only from the trees that fell on their own or were struck down by the forces of nature. Breitenbush is a home to dozens of people and always welcomes visitors and tourists.
- Three Rivers Recreation Area is another large Oregon community. Its 600+ residents decided to completely go off the grid. You will not find a single power of phone line throughout its 4,000 acres. 450 houses are powered by solar energy, while the residents enjoy clear skies and a quiet atmosphere. It’s a gated off grid community, so apply via their site if you wish to visit or move there. Nonetheless, this successful community is a real proof just how wonderful the off-grid style can be!
- Twin Oaks is a self-sufficient community in Virginia. It operates on the principles of income-sharing: all its members work in the community’s businesses, and in return they receive clothing, food, housing, and so on. This intentional community exists since 1967, and it’s completely free from centralized leadership. Today there are over 100 members living in Twins Oaks, and new members are encouraged to apply. To become a member, you first need to complete their Three-Week Visitor Period, in order to see whether this life of social cohesion and teamwork suits you. Visit their site for more information.
- Freedom Village Georgia is a modern off-grid eco-village. It’s entirely self-contained, and is managed by the ideas outlined in “The Principles of Freedom” book (link to its Amazon page). A co-living community in the very center of the state of Georgia, it contains over 60 tiny houses, restaurants, art center, park and a lake. There are modern facilities as well, such as schools, medical center, shuttle service, internal hi-tech network, and so forth. This sustainable community has over 400 members, and always welcomes more members and visitors.
Off Grid Communities in Canada
The off-grid lifestyle is flourishing in Canada. Thousands of groups, families and individuals are settling on their own land, away from the bustling cities. The areas around Rocky Mountains, Okanagan Valley and New Brunswick are especially sought after. At the same time, other parts of Canada are less suitable for the off grid life, as I explain in details in my “Where Is the Best Place to Live off the Grid in Canada?” post. Just look at the following map that includes many off-grid places across the country:
Let’s have a look at a few established off grid communities in Canada.
- Lasqueti Island is a community of 400 people, located in Vancouver’s vicinity. The local residents’ lifestyle is self-sufficient and totally off the grid. They prefer composting toilets and solar power to the modern appliances. It’s a diverse community of individuals, many of whom are skilled at fishing, logging, planting, farming, manufacturing, and also making music, writing and creating in general. The community welcomes visitors, tourists and anyone who wished to temporarily or permanently experience this type of life. You can contact them via the site.
- Terre de la Reunion is a new community based in a mountain maple grove in Quebec. It was only recently established, but already has 13 buildings. The driving ideology of this community is peaceful co-existence of equal people. The residents are highly ecologically aware and always make sure that their actions never harm the nearby environment. Terre de la Reunion welcomes visitors and new members, but keep in mind that the community’s daily language is French.
- La Cité Écologique is another community in Quebec. This is an eco-village that covers 700 acres of land, with about 100 of them producing a wide range of crops. No chemicals were used on this property for over 35 years. The eco-village also offers full education of children. Visitors are welcome to visit the learning center, and there is always an option to become a new permanent member.
- Freedom Cove is a famous miniature off grid community, made from recycled platforms that simply float on the waters of the Cypress Bay, near the town of Tofino, BC. This artificial island was initially built by a couple of artists some 30 years ago, and today it includes a dance floor, greenhouses and an art gallery. The floating community constantly evolves, with new structures constantly being added to it. Everything here is made from a reclaimed material and inspired by nature. This complex home is not just off the grid, it’s simply on nature’s grid.
Off Grid Communities in United Kingdom
The off grid life in UK can be challenging, but then again, it’s challenging in other places around the globe, too. You will need to locate an arable land, preferably close to a water source, so some scouting across the UK is in order. And unless you intend to dwell in a hut or a caravan, you will need to deal with UK Planning Permission System before establishing a permanent homestead. I go into more details about my post on UK off grid living. Here are a few off grid places in UK that make it work.
- Brithdir Mawr is a large farm in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. It does not use the country’s water lines and power lines, therefore it’s completely off the grid. The residents conserve and recycle resource, dedicate their time to organic farming and generally take care of the nature and the environment. There are currently 20 people living on an area of 165 acres, and they welcome visitors as well as new members. Adult members are required to work 3 days per week for the community, and the rest of their time can be directed to their personal projects. Brithdir Mawr’s vision is to keep educating future generations regarding sustainable lifestyle and the preservation of natural resources.
- Findhorn Foundation’s Community Eco-Village Project is located in the northeastern part of Scotland. There are over 400 people living here, from 40 different countries! Together, they participate in this huge experiment, running an intentional community, cooperating and creating together. The eco-village is open to more members and visitors from all over the world. The natural conditions at the Findhorn peninsula are challenging, yet the residents were able to establish beautiful gardens that flourish on the sand dunes. From its humble start as a caravan park, this community has significantly grown over the years, constantly evolving and expanding.
- Tinkers Bubble, situated in rural Somerset, England, is a charming woodland community that runs without any use of the fossil fuels. The small houses with thatched roofs create the illusion that you stepped into Tolkien’s Shire. Nonetheless, this is a great off grid community with solid goals and principles. They make sure that their impact on the environment is minimal. They use compost toilets, spring water connected to the taps and solar energy. The small village always welcomes volunteers and curious visitors. Here is a story that BBC recently did on them:
Off Grid Communities in Australia
Off grid living is definitely on the rise in Australia. People are drawn to the eco-friendly aspect of this life style, as well as more affordable housing costs. It’s not illegal to live off the grid there, but some rules and limitations do apply. I have even more information in a separate article about living off the grid in Australia. And now, let’s have a look at the local off grid communities.
- Aldinga Arts EcoVillage is a community located at 40km to the south of Adelaide, SA. Their main focuses are permaculture, environmental sustainability and arts. A truly cohesive community, Aldinga Arts EcoVillage sees its people as the most valuable asset. There are tons of group activities and projects open to everyone, including a small farm. It has over 400 members and invites everyone to visit or settle there. Their website lists houses that are currently available for renting or purchase.
- Witchcliffe Ecovillage is a brand new eco-village in Western Australia. It was planned for 10 years, and it’s open for new settlers. The goal is to reach 1,000 residents, who will enjoy a peaceful life in a self-sustainable settlement. The eco-village intends to be highly affordable as well as green. Fresh food produce, renewable water, solar power – you name it. You can enjoy the benefits and comfort of modern life, while reducing your carbon footprint. The community will provide proper education, courses and workshop, which will teach you how water, food, waste and energy are handled within this village. This will help you become a full member in this unique off grid community.
- BEND Eco-Neighbourhood in Bega, NSW, is a neighbourhood in a small Australian town that is entirely off the grid. They use solar hot water, passive solar design, rainwater and composting toilets. Currently there are 22 houses, with 10 available for cheap rent. There are plans to establish more households, as this community of 50 people intends to expand. The community stretches across an area of 10 hectares next to the Bega River, evenly split between agriculture, housing and reforestation purposes. There are a few vacant lots for sale as well, feel free to contact the community via their website.
- Chewton Bushlands started all the way back in 1967, when two people purchased land in central Victoria. Their initial plan was to establish a community of alternative lifestyle. 5 decades passed since then, and there are currently 35 households under Chewton Bushlands Association, who live there off the grid. Surrounded by the amazing bush flora and fauna, the residents make sure they preserve the nearby nature. The Chewtonians encourage the use of solar energy, organic farming and the spirit of community. Frequent events make the local life even more enjoyable and interesting. The community is open to new permanent and part-time members.
Off Grid Communities in New Zealand
New Zealand is a very appealing off-grid destination, thanks to its remoteness and the astonishing nature. Both the Tasman Sea shore and the West coast are suitable locations; especially the West coast, thanks to its richness of fresh water sources. There are a couple of off-grid NZ communities as well.
- Kotare Village is a community in Hawke’s Bay Region. This eco-village is a home to dozens of self-reliant families, who want nothing more but to enjoy their independent life style as well as a regenerative future. Currently, their main power source is solar panels, and they plan to establish their own energy grid. The community’s trust owns the land, so you never have to worry about the government reclaiming it. The village is planned to be sustainable for many years in the future, offering an alternative to the unstable global economy. See the following video for further impression of this wonderful off grid community.
- Te Manawa is another eco-village, located in the Motueka Valley. This small and charming community always welcomes guests and volunteers. There is a scenic natural views wherever you look, with mountains, valley, sea and even 2 fresh springs nearby. There is a story about a Dutch family that fell in love with the place and completely relocated there. They now live in a yurt and enjoy every moment of this peaceful and fulfilling lifestyle. Everyone in the community feels like they are the guardians of this land. The power is supplied by solar and hydro systems. It’s a completely sustainable eco-village that exists in harmony with the surrounding environment.
- Wilderland was established in 1964 on the Coromandel peninsula. It started as one of New Zealand’s earliest organic farms, and eventually transformed into a well-known sustainable community. People who live or visit Wilderland learn significant skills that help them to practically and intelligently live off the land. The Wilderland Trust is always focused on developing both the land and the people tending to it. Wilderland carries experimentation that explores eco-balance while growing new crops and plants. On a more personal level, the local community encourages creativity and education, while discouraging any use of drugs and substances. This is truly a great place to be and grow.
Off Grid Communities in Other Countries
The off grid situation in other countries widely varies. Obviously, some of the countries are not yet fully modernized, so a large part of the local population already live off the grid (if a grid even exists there). In other places, a strict religious or Communist regime does not allow any form of personal freedom. This why I will mostly mention off grid communities in democratic countries.
- Oasis du Coq à l’Âme is a relatively new eco-community in Bordeaux region, France. They choose to govern themselves by the method of holacracy, a system of decentralized management that does not recognize a hierarchy of managers, and is comprised of self-organizing teams instead. The community promotes the principles of energetic simplicity, food autonomy and shared governing system. They are approximately 20 families, and they wholeheartedly welcome new members and visitors. This is a pilot village, a part of the Oasis program inspired by the Colibri movement. The community is open to the world, and they firmly believe in their philosophy and goals.
- Villa Monte Reserve in northwestern Argentina is a communal place that embraces both people and the nature. 400 acres of native forest, plus rivers, plus caves, plus springs, and so forth – this is truly a place to live in! This small yet beautiful community always welcomes visitors, new members and new ideas. It’s a private natural reserve that contains unique fauna and flora, thanks to its being a midway zone between several ecosystems. The local people promote conservation of the forest and its biodiversity, organic farming and sustainable lifestyle.
- Global Tribe Biodynamic Eco-village is located next to the Doñana National Park in southern Spain. It’s a very astounding place, approximately situated between two countries, two continents and two large bodies of water (the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea). There are plenty of beautiful and historical places in the vicinity to hike. The community itself adheres to biodynamism, growing and harvesting the crops according to the natural cycles, as well as by using only natural fertilizers and pesticides. They welcome new members and open to visitors.
- Monte dos Carvalhos (Mount of Oaks) is a small off-grid community in the municipality of Fundão, Portugal. It’s a very tranquil place, with kind people whose sole focus is to care for the land, plants and animals. They frequently hold workshops, teaching the best and most natural ways of agriculture. They are also open to new member and visitors, offering a safe and quiet space to anyone who seeks it.
- Catfarm is an open off-grid community near the village of Poussan, France, close to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. They embrace alternative ways of life and welcome free and creative spirits. They constantly run new projects, while teaching the local folks better methods of waste-reduction, land cultivation and creative expression. You can stay as a new member or as a guest, by renting a tipi or parking your RV. The Catfarm is a fun and nurturing place to truly experience the off-grid life.
Where can I live off grid for free? There is no completely free option to start an off grid life. You will need to invest at least some amount of money into your tools, equipment and a tiny house. As for the land itself, it’s pretty rare to find a lot that costs next to nothing and yet includes fertile soil. I would like to direct you to my additional article, “How Much Does It Cost to Live Off the Grid?”, where you can get exact information regarding the expected expenses.
Is it illegal to live off the grid in the United States? Technically speaking, it’s not illegal. No one forces you to connect to the power grid lines. However, before establishing your off-the-grid homestead, you should become familiar with the local laws and regulations. An independent house is still required to abide by building codes and restrictions. For more information on this topic, here is an article about the best places to live off the grid in the USA.
Where is the best place in the world to live off the grid? Although I listed quite a few off grid communities, not all of them are welcoming new dwellers. And you’re probably wondering at this point, “Where should I choose to live off the grid? Maybe I should move into another country?” There are quite a few countries and places that welcome the off-grid life style, such as USA, Italy, Portugal and even Japan. As it happens, I also have an article on this subject, so feel free to read my complete list of best places in the world to live off the grid.