Who doesn’t dream of living with nature, supporting yourself and living off the land? It feels like almost everybody wishes for it, but almost no one has the time to seriously research what alternatives are really viable. I am going to start with a few maps, so you can do your own analysis before you see my tips. After all, maybe we’re not all looking for exactly the same thing, or even the same types of soil.

The first and most important question is probably what type of soil is there. The maya did well by using soil with clay to create micro-environments that were better for food crops than jungle foliage. Of course, there is also the option of opting for soil that is already well suited for growing your food.

soiltypes

Types of soil, via the FAO http://www.fao.org/docrep/u8480e/U8480E3e.jpg

 

The second map is related to the first: it shows where there room for expanded crop growth (large indicates a lot of unused space that can grow crops).

croplandgrowth

This third map displays soil acidity. Most plans need a soil pH between 6 and 8, although exceptions do exist and there are species of plants that can adapt to acidic soils (which have more free Aluminium, which otherwise hurts the plants). You will need to think about your local soil pH when deciding what you want to plant or culture.

soilph

Red is acidic (pH < 7), yellow is neutral (pH 7), and blue is basic (pH 8-14)

 

The fourth map deals with population density: where is there enough room for people to come and set up for off-grid living?

mapopulationdensity

The more red it is, the higher the population density. Living off the grid is easier in areas of lower population density.

 

Since dreams of living sustainably and off the grid are generally connected to autonomous living, you should look for somewhere with little risk of natural disasters in the coming future. This is what the fifth map deals with.

naturaldisasterrisk

 

Taking this all into account, and also considering the relative “freedom” the population has in living autonomously, and costs of immigration, under existing governments, I have picked what I consider to be the 5 best countries for off-the-grid living. If you have other opinions, or think we should enlarge the list, don’t hesitate to write!

1. Paraguay

Paraguay_(orthographic_projection).svg

Paraguay is a reasonably small South American country with only about 7,000,000 inhabitants, good soil quality, low risk for natural disasters, lots more room for growing food, and relatively low requirements for immigration. Not to mention that living and land costs in Paraguay are among the lowest in South America.

The vast majority of its population lives in the south-eastern “bulb” bordering Brazil, with the remaining territories containing 10 or fewer people per square kilometer. Based on all available information, Paraguay is my number 1 pick for off-the-grid living.

2. Uruguay

Uruguay has only recently entered the public eye since its legalization of marijuana in 2014.  Uruguay also has good soil quality, low risk of natural disasters, a lot of room for more crop growth, and a reasonably small population of only around 3,300,000 people.

Uruguay’s living and property costs are pretty low, especially compared to equally progressive western nations. Immigration requirements are reasonably low (you should own property or have enough money, same as in pretty much all nations).

uruguay

bolivia

Bolivia

3. Bolivia

The soil quality of Bolivia comparable to Paraguay’s, and the two are neighbors. Although it is slightly more threatened by natural disasters than either Uruguay or Paraguay. It has regions of soil in the west that are less suited for crop growth, although in general the country still has a lot of potential.

Bolivia has a population of around 10,500,000 and has reasonably open borders for immigration. It is easier to get around the whole of Bolivia than it is Paraguay, but both have a lot good and open land.

4. New Zealand

We now jump halfway around the world to the island nation of New Zealand. Moving to New Zealand is a lot moreNZ difficult than moving to any of the other nations listed here: you need to have quite a decent bit of money in your bank. New Zealand has good soil, little chance of natural disasters, low population density, and enough place for developing crops.

Despite being an island, its mountains and distance from any nuclear power plants make it a good bet for long-term living almost regardless of disasters or even in the event civilization as we know it collapses. It isn’t as easy to get in, but once you are there: it is a wonderful and beautiful place to be.

queenstown

5. New Guinea

NewguineaThis island nation, north of New Zealand and Australia, is at a far greater risk of natural disasters than any of the others on this list, and the soil is more acidic. That said, the soil quality is reasonably high, but there is less room for crops. It was a part of Australia, but now is seperated in an Indonesian West and independant East, is not overly easy or difficult to immigrate them (although easier than immigrating to New Zealand, you will have a lot of trouble unless you can marry into land). The population is roughly 11,000,000 and although the western half of the island is less populated, it is at a higher risk of natural disasters.

Another drawback for New Guinea relative to the others is that  the most fertile part of the island is also in danger of going underwater due to climate change. Although largely safe from any potential nuclear fallout, New Guinea is a decent, but not amazing, place to go for off-the-grid living.

Conclusion

How important different qualities and attributes are to you, will be the major factor determining what area is best for you. Planning is necessary before living successfully off-the-grid anywhere, so find out more specific information about the land and what grows best there (as well as educating yourself about permaculture methods) before jumping on a plane or a boat. Save up enough money to get some land up and understand what type of structure(s) you plan to build. If this analysis underemphasized any points, feel free to write us and we’ll improve the article. Goodluck on future sustainable living!