I have no clue where to start. Journal? Land? What comes first. I am lost and do not know where I should start. I know this is important to be self sufficient but groups are important also.
Miss Kitty, great question!
Here’s my attempt to provide a good answer:
1. You need to create a very clear picture of what you want your off-grid lifestyle to be like — how you want to spend your time all week, what you want to eat (and not eat), what animals you want to have (and why), how you plan to support yourself, etc. The Path Program here on AcademyOSR.com is set up to assist in identifying all this, but YOU have to do the brainwork involved your self. We can’t do it for you — this is your life. The Path Program also has a journal feature so the co-op can learn from everyone’s experience and create recommended steps and procedures — but you are welcome to keep your own private journal, if you prefer.
2. Simultaneously to Step 1 above, I’d join our public and private Facebook groups. The public one posts articles and videos on related topics, and in the private group, we shareholders and wanna-be shareholders talk about issues related to making the transition from dependency on cities to our ideal off-grid homesteads. This is also important because you can get to know your future neighbors!
Public group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/academyofselfreliance
Private group: (You’ll need to befriend me and ask me to add you): https://www.facebook.com/top10traffic/
3. Next, I’d do an assessment of your financial resources. We want everyone to succeed at this (we want lots of self-reliant neighbors!). So, you need to determine if you have the resources to pay for the $20,000 co-op share, and another $120k to $150k available to build out your homestead (passive-solar home, barn/shop, greenhouse, garden and well). Most of our current shareholders will have to use our current home’s equity to swing it. A few have the resources to build out their homesteads without selling their existing home like the rest of us. We recommend you write up an informal plan on how you’re going to fund this project and how you will live in the meantime.
Some who don’t have these kinds of resources have come up with creative ways of funding their homesteads. One family plans to have the parents live upstairs and one or two young families live downstairs — so everyone is pitching in to build one large home. Another shareholder (single mom) has recruited her parents and siblings to help fund her homestead. Although you can have personal debt (signature loans, etc.), because this is a co-op, you can’t get a mortgage on your homestead, so you’ll need to find other ways of paying for the construction. Thankfully, the Utah OSR Land Co-op is constantly finding deals and group buys to save everyone money on the costs.
4. Then I’d do an initial drawing of how you want your property laid out (assuming two square acres side-by-side, which is about 209′ x 419′ or so. Where and how you place the items on your drawing need to be determined by your lifestyle values outlined in Step One above. Also, of course, the shape of the lot you select off the Riverbed Ranch plot map.
Be sure to leave 30′ on the street-side of the property between any building and the street (a zoning requirement). And leave 10′ between either side and any buildings you plan (up to 100′ from the road. If they are farther than 100′ from the road, you can set them right on the property line). Also, your water well needs to be at least 100′ from your septic leach field. Oh, and don’t plan any tall trees or buildings taller than 10′ on your northern property line — we don’t want your wintertime shadows to shade your neighbor’s greenhouses or solar panels.
4. Similarly, your house plan also needs to include elements that speak to your lifestyle values. Draw up a rough draft of your house plans.
5. Now once you’ve done all the above, it’s time to have the co-op engineering team review your lot and house plans so you can incorporate their recommendations — we really don’t want anyone freezing in the winter or cooking in the summer, so the co-op reserves the right to offer suggestions on your plans.
The next steps depend totally on how you plan to transition to your homestead.
One pathway is to rent somewhere while you come out and work on your lot. Another option is to move to your lot and live in an RV (there are expenses associated with this option that will drain some of your resources, so this path will need a budget as well). Some are building their barns first and plan to move their RVs inside during the Winter months until their homes are complete. Another option, open to some, is to hire a OSR contractor to build the home for you.