Many of those who are dreaming of living off the grid also dream of leaving behind their job. Certainly, a lot of thought needs to go into this transition. There are some careers that tend to provide off-griders with more success than others. Depending on your personal skills, how close you are to city centers, and what kind of land you have.
Of course, there are also those who already live off-grid who are looking to increase their income. Depending your time investment, there are some relatively low-maintenance options. There are also money-making schemes that require a lot of input, but might get great output. So here’s the eight best career ideas that we’ve seen those who live off the grid take a swing at.
Rent Out Your Land
If you’re one of the off-griders who decided to make the middle of nowhere your home, chances are you have a great deal of excess land. Your little slice of paradise is the kind of place other people want to head to in order to practice their outdoor hobbies. With a little bit of start-up work you could rent out patches of your ground to people who need a place to garden or farm. With a little bit more work you could set up a shooting or archery range, which people living in cities and suburbs just can’t do at home.
If you’d prefer not to work at all, you could sell hunting rights on your land, the right to collect wood, maple sap, foraged greens, fish, mushrooms, or any other resource you have. If your land already has outbuildings you could rent them out as cabins or, with work, build some.
Of course, all of these options require you have strangers on your land, so you may want to vet these people carefully and introduce them to your neighbors. There’s many a tale of trespassers telling landowners that their neighbors gave permission for them to hunt/forage on the property.
On these large plots of land it’s usually not possible to drag the trespasser over to the neighbor to confirm, so work out an arrangement where guests are always introduced beforehand, or given a secret token to prove they are permitted. That way, any trespasser can be promptly kicked off.
When considering careers for living off grid, it’s also best to check out what your closest neighbors are up to. If one of them runs a cottage rental service it may not be worth your time to invest in building a few for yourself, as you may end up competing for customers or lowering your price to match theirs. Also, if you plan to offer services the suburban and urban people might want to spend the afternoon on, but not make a weekend trip (shooting or gardening) you’ll need to be within driving distance of your customers.
Sell What Your Land or Animals Produce
Certainly this is more work than the first option, but it is work that you’re likely doing anyway. It’s possible to just set up a farmer’s market type stall on your property and sell goods when you have extra, but you’ll get more foot traffic and more sales if you can regularly offer goods, or travel to a pre-established farmer’s market. Then again, a great low-maintenance option is a seasonal “pick your own” event where you simply invite the public to show up with a bucket and start picking. Popular choices include berries, apples and other fruits, and pumpkins.
The last thing that you want to do is try to compete with what the grocery store offers. You’re going to have to charge more than the grocery store, so you’re going to need to entice your customers with a wildly different product. This could mean growing different variety of food or breed of animal than is commonly available in your area. Or, you could play up how ethical, organic, or local your food is to attract people who would rather pay more for that kind of food. This route doesn’t always work out, it didn’t for the Well Fed Homestead.
Then there is the strategy of selling to upscale restaurants, if you can make connections with them and provide what kind of produce they are looking for. You can also sell out a kind of farm-share, where you customer pays a set amount up front in spring, and you send them a set amount of your farm produce. You could promise them a percentage, which is a good way to shield yourself from bad years. A customer like this would have to be relatively wealthy, care about eating what’s seasonal, and understand that a bad year could happen. You’d also have to get the food to them each week in a timely manner somehow. Others prefer to arrange cow or herdshares.
Unfortunately, there can be a lot of laws limiting what or how you can sell your foodstuffs, depending on your state. So, you should certainly check out your local laws before you decide to invest time or money in any product.
Be a Trades Person
This is not a career you commonly consider when you’re making the move off-grid. But, its a solid choice for a few reasons.
- First, when you’re dealing with your own electrical and plumbing systems, it would be a huge asset to be a plumber or electrician.
- Second, there are probably people living nearby you who are also off-grid, and they may occasionally need professional help with their own systems. They may much prefer asking for your help than waiting for someone to come out from a city, who is unlikely to be familiar with off-grid systems anyway. Of course, this will require travel, and all of the hard work that comes with owning your own business.
If trades are not for you, there are other careers that are likely to be needed in the rural area you’re probably in. Doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas and other healthcare professionals would probably be in high demand. Of course, there’s a reason that people with these careers don’t tend to live in rural areas, the clients are few and you’d have to drive far as well.
Sell What You Can Create
Finished goods can be a great avenue for money. Art of all kinds, jam, preserves, soaps, leather products, wood working projects, blacksmithing goods, and clothing or fibre arts, are just some of the potential options. Again, it’s important to try not to compete with city retailers when producing these artisan goods, unless you can beat them in price (which you probably can’t).
While you may be using your soap, for example, for your everyday use, other people are more likely to purchase your soap as gifts, luxuries, or as ethically-motivated purchases, so design and market your soap accordingly.
The opportunities for this kind of creation are limitless. Here’s a list of some of the most unusual I’ve come across, just to get you started:
- cut flower arrangements from your garden
- art from re-worked scrap metal
- specialty cheeses, perhaps with herbs added
- canned and homemade condiments with unusual ingredients
- wool, dyed by hand with plants you’ve grown
- handmade paper, with handmade stamps
- linseed or other oils pressed from your homegrown seeds
- cloth created by a traditional loom
- handmade garden statues from clay or other materials
- pork or other meat jerky
Host Events on Your Land
Depending on the characteristics of your property, there are several different types of events people may pay to hold on your land. Outdoor weddings continue to be popular, and you don’t necessarily require a building for them, as many people hold their receptions in large tents. If you do have cabins or other buildings, you could host campers, clubs (especially outdoors clubs), corporate retreats, LARPers, festivals, and more.
If you have a small or urban plot of land you can still rent it out for events, but you’ll likely want to focus on smaller, less formal events than weddings. These also have the benefit of being less demanding on your time. Craft clubs, brownie or scout groups, religious gatherings and other local groups, which meet weekly or monthly, may be better suited to you.
Teach Others Your Off-grid Skills
Hosting seminars and retreats may be much more enjoyable and profitable if you’re running the show and offering knowledge about something you’re passionate about. For most off-griders the natural thing to offer is the knowledge they use to live their lifestyle every day. You can base your curriculum after your daily tasks, or you can be more specific, teaching only about growing food, raising a specific animal, hunting, foraging, etc.
It’s important to be experienced when offering your knowledge and truly provide more than the basics that someone could learn from a few hours on the internet, especially because many off-griders and homestead type people will be in competition with you. Even large companies, like Ball, hold seminars. Also, your potential seminar attendees will likely want to get their hands dirty with real experience, so keep that in mind when designing the course.
Run Services Which Require Land
If you’re willing to invest in a long-term project, running some camps or events not related to being off-grid may be worth your time. Consider running an equestrian camp, a dog kennel, a petting zoo, a bed and breakfast, or other kinds of camps. One of the most important aspects of starting up this kind of business is getting insurance for it, to make sure that you’re covered in case accidents or other problems happen on your watch, so don’t forget it.
Careers over the internet are popular choices for off-griders. The flexibility of an online job can be excellent, and cutting your commute time to nothing can enable you to live further from the city than you could otherwise. On the other hand, you do need to have a power source of some sort to do your work and getting reliable and fast internet off the grid can be quite a challenge, depending on where you’re located. Internet jobs could be a big drain on your resources, but if they also pay for those resources, they could be worth it.
Consider the following internet careers for living off grid:
- graphic designer
- web administrator
- online assistant
- data entry
- virtual nurse
- virtual radiologist
Other than for internet jobs, the basic best advice for off-griders starting one of these new careers, is as follows:
- check your local laws
- check if there is nearby competition
- make sure you’re legally covered in case of accidents or other issues
- differentiate yourself from big retailers with any goods you offer
If you’ve done those four things you’ll be in good shape to launch yourself into this new career or side-gig. Those who are unemployed or who are seeking a purpose will probably want to follow those links to Gaye’s past advice for those in your situation. Happy job hunting!
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