Off-grid living has become increasingly popular over recent years, but it is not always possible in every state. If you want to find off-grid living in Washington State, there are some options available. Most counties in Western Washington require you to live on the grid in some way. In some areas, you can live in a tiny house if it is on someone else’s property or if it is on wheels.
Where Can You Find Off-Grid Living in Washington State?
If you go to Eastern Washington, there are some off-grid options. The problem is being able to access water. In some cases, a bigger problem is accessing your own land. In Okanogan County, the Okanogan fire has meant that acres of land can be picked up fairly cheaply, and the building codes are fairly minimal. Unfortunately, the county does not actually make sure that these properties are accessible by any roadway. While your neighbor is theoretically required to have an easement through their land to your property, it does not always happen this way.
If you are in Western Washington, you can find a couple of different options available. Many city dwellers roll a tiny house to a friend or family member’s home and set up camp there. If you want to live on your own land, check out Skagit County.
There are two main destinations for off-grid living in Washington State that actually allow you to live off-grid without having to set up on someone else’s property. In Skagit County, the first option is Lake Tyee. This was designed as a campground, but it is no longer truly off-grid. It now has septic, water and electricity hook-ups. Worse still, Lake Tyee charges a fairly high yearly fee (around $1,400 to $1,500 per year) and only allows you to live there for up to half a year. You would either need a second property at the community or go somewhere else during the other half of the year.
Off-Grid Living in Marblemount, Washington
An alternative option that is my personal favorite is the Cascade River Community Club in Marblemount, Washington. This off-grid living option in Washington State is truly off-grid. For the $600 yearly fee, the community takes care of the roads and water lines. You have to install septic on your site or use a wastewater removal service.
When it comes to electricity, most people in this Marblemount community use propane or a generator. Showers, hot water, lights, ovens and refrigerators typically run on propane that is brought in by a propane truck every month or so. Meanwhile, televisions and other electrical gadgets can be run on an electrical generator.
The community is next to a national forest and looks like it. Cabins are hidden among the trees, and there are miles of gravel roads connecting the property. While many of the properties are being bought up right now, an undeveloped property sells for about $5,000 to $10,000. Many of these deals are sold by the community itself, so check out their website. If you want a property that already has septic or a cabin on it, the prices start at around $20,000 and go up from there. Unlike Lake Tyee, Marblemount’s off-grid homes can be lived on year round.
The community is changing their policy in April of 2018 to no longer allow people to live in RVs year-round. Technically, the county was always against this, but the county doesn’t have enough enforcement officials to actually look for people living in an RV. The park originally stayed out of governing residents’ lives, but decided to intervene in this case. Anyone who started living in an RV before April of 2018 will be grandfathered into the new system. Anyone who buys their property and moves in after this date will be reported by the Cascade River Park to the county–of course, the county is still low on enforcement officials, so how this actually plays out is anyone’s guess. To be safe, it would be much better to just build or buy a cabin instead of using an RV. The county might not enforce their rules about living in a shed or RV year-round, but the park most likely will. Look for a home larger than 200 square feet if you plan on living off-grid throughout the year.
Freelancers and Off-Grid Living
Already, there are several freelance writers and editors living off-grid in Marblemount. While some members of the community do not have internet access, there is a community center located in the main town. The library provides free internet access at the community center, and car-based inverters can charge a laptop. Even better, T-Mobile just set up a cell tower in the area. You need to check to make sure that your property can actually connect to their tower, but many of the properties in the Cascade River Park now have internet access.
In recent years, the area has attracted a unique population base. Some people are drawn to the area for its scenic beauty. Others want to live off the land or buy a vacation home. For some of the year-round residents, the area is ideal for freelance work or setting up a small business. Some residents sell items and food at the Marblemount Farmer’s Market or make their money through the Concrete Barter Fair each weekend. For freelancers, this remote community is ideal if you want to live off-grid in a natural paradise.
Off-grid living in Washington State is possible if you know where to go. Make sure to do your research first and visit your neighbors first. You need to make sure that your location is the perfect fit. In addition, make sure that your home can connect to water lines and is buildable. Talk to your real estate agent about other details you should look for in your prospective off-grid home.
With the rising cost of rent in Western Washington, building a tiny home has become more appealing than ever. Before long, you can start fulfilling your dreams. If you know where to look, off-grid living in Washington State can be possible.