Off-Grid  – Definitions


  • Living without reticulated* services

* reticulated = ‘networked’


  • Living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities; or,
  • A person who disdains all recordable common forms of commerce, such as eschewing any form of credit extension, banking services or reportable payroll activities, using only cash or bartering so as to avoid any traceable transactions, e.g. living completely ‘underground’.

‘Off-the-Grid Home’

  • Autonomous dwelling that does not rely on municipal water supply, sewerage, natural gas, electrical power grid, or other utility services.


When we think of networked services in the context of Off-Grid, we generally take this to mean municipal utilities such as electricity, gas, potable water, sewage, etc.

However, the definition of ‘networked services’ can be extended to include other networks including those for the supply of goods and services including foodstuffs, mail, road and rail transport, radio, television, fixed telephony, mobile telephony, internet etc.

Therefore, before starting to evaluate our needs and options, we should be clear on the scope of the intentions.

Going Off-Grid

Reasons for going ‘Off-Grid’ are numerous and may stem from a conscious decision to reduce reliance on reticulated services for ethical, financial or viability reasons; or as a result of circumstances over which we have little or no control.

For some, it may only be a romantic notion, with little consideration of the hardships and discomforts which may have to be endured – at least initially.

Doing it from choice will pose different challenges from being forced to do it.

If we choose to do it, then we have the luxury of deciding the When? and the What? to fulfil our objectives. We will have time to research, ask question, seek advice and tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience available, in order to achieve a ‘warts and all’ perspective of the challenges and rewards that may lie ahead. It will give time to evaluate all the options for providing the basics (the ‘needs’); and hopefully for realising some of the comforts and enjoyments (the ‘wants’) that make life bearable and enjoyable.

For those who may be confronted by an immediate or imminent need to live Off-Grid, the situation may be very, very different. Here we may be faced by a crisis situation and will have to focus absolutely on the basic requirements for survival – water, shelter and food. Perhaps, if we are lucky, we may be able to chose a location which will increase our chances of meeting the basic needs.


BodgerJohn is a firm believer that we should hope for the best, but plan for the worst (just in case!). Because of this he has studied Off-Grid living and survival techniques for several years, conducted endless hours of research, read thousands of words, asked a myriad of questions, sort answers, talked with those who have done it (to varying extents) and still would not consider himself to be an expert on the subject. Although enjoying ‘going Off-Grid’ and surviving for short periods, this has been from the perspective of knowing that a return to a relatively cosseted existence is available. Very, very, different from making it a way of life…

What BodgerJohn is reasonably confident about, is having the knowledge and skills to fulfil the basic requirements of finding/creating potable water, shelter and food.

BodgerJohn recognises the potential wealth of natural materials available to us and the uses to which they can be put; and living in a coastal area, the food available in our tidal waters and on the sea shore.

For those who would like to learn more about coastal foraging, BodgerJohn recommends a visit to the website of the Coastal Survival School. Fraser Christian, the founder and chief instructor has produced a practical guide to coastal foraging titled ‘Eat the Beach

Those who are thinking about moving towards an Off-Grid lifestyle may like to read Nick Rosen’s book “How to Live Off-Grid” which is packed with useful information. The main focus of the book being on real people living an Off-Grid life and covering their motivations, struggles, problems and their solutions.

More specific information may be found on Nick’s website.

There are plenty of other books, magazines and resources on how to make good shelters, benders, huts, etc. and lots of resources on wild food, bushcraft, low technology sustainable energy generation, water purification, dealing with waste, growing and harvesting, and so on.