Where to Live Off Grid in Idaho: The Ultimate Guide

Discover the best regions and counties for off-grid living in Idaho with this comprehensive guide. Explore Idaho's scenic wilderness, affordable land, and sustainable lifestyle options. Learn key factors for selecting the perfect location and gain insights into building and living off the grid in Idaho's diverse climates. Perfect for those asking 'where to live off grid in Idaho'.


Off-grid living has been growing in popularity across the country, especially in rural states like Idaho that offer affordable land, a low cost of living, and plenty of scenic wilderness. With its abundance of public lands, four distinct seasons, and natural amenities, Idaho is an ideal location for those looking to live sustainably off the grid. This ultimate guide covers everything you need to know about the best off-grid regions, counties, towns, and property considerations in the state. Get ready to learn where to live off grid in Idaho.

Overview of Off-Grid Living in Idaho

Idaho has seen rapid growth in off-grid homes, RV living, and homesteads in recent years. The state offers privacy, freedom, and the ability to live sustainably off the land. With low population density and affordable real estate, Idaho is especially appealing for off-grid enthusiasts. Abundant water resources, excellent solar potential, and arable land are major pluses. The wide variety of terrain and microclimates allow for different off-grid lifestyles ranging from homesteading to boondocking.

According to the Idaho Office of Energy and Mineral Resources, Idaho has over 5,000 off-grid homes, with many more residents living in RVs. Most counties have seen a rise in off-grid building permits and alternative home options. The tight-knit community of off-grid residents share knowledge, come together for events and workshops, and provide support to new homesteaders.

Factors driving the growth in off-grid living include rising costs of traditional housing and utilities, desire for self-sufficiency, and internet connectivity enabling remote work. Escaping urban stress and return to basics back-to-the-land living also motivate folks. Idaho provides the perfect blend of nature, space, and low-cost land for making off-grid dreams a reality.

Criteria for Choosing a Location

No matter what part of Idaho you choose, some key factors to look for in an off-grid property include:

  • Water – Well, stream, lake access is ideal. Rain catchment systems can work well in drier areas. Look at average rainfall and snowpack for the region.
  • Solar access – South or west-facing sites without shading are best to maximize solar production. Understand the microclimate and sun angles.
  • Hunting/foraging – Land with woods, wild game, and native berry patches is a plus for self-sufficiency.
  • Growing season – Frost-free days range from 80 days in cooler northern valleys to 160 days in warmer southern spots. Understand your crop selection.
  • Building site – A flat or gently sloping site avoids expensive earthwork. Check for site drainage and geologic hazards.
  • Isolation – Balance remoteness with proximity to towns for occasional supplies. factor in vehicle accessibility.
  • Permit requirements – Some rural counties have minimal zoning hurdles. Research codes before buying land.
  • Community – Connecting with other off-grid residents provides mutual support. Seek out like-minded neighbors.
  • Emergency access – Consider proximity to medical facilities since response times are slower.
  • Recreation – If you enjoy hunting, boating, hiking, etc. factor in recreational opportunities on or near the land.

Best Regions for Off-Grid Living

Idaho can be divided into four main geographical regions, each with their own appeal:

North Idaho

North Idaho offers natural beauty with forests, mountains, and lakes. Benefits include:

  • Outdoor recreation right at your doorstep
  • Small, quirky mountain towns
  • Cooler summers and colder winters
  • Affordable rural counties like Boundary, Bonner, Shoshone
  • Towns like Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry, and Priest River provide amenities
  • Major rivers and lakes for water sports
  • Income potential from tourism activities
  • Growing seasons range from 80 days in higher valleys to 120 days nearer to Lake Pend Oreille

Popular off-grid areas include Hope/East Hope, Clark Fork, Moyie Springs, and Nordman. The panhandle has seen growing numbers of solar installs, micro-hydro projects, and residential wind systems according to the Idaho Strategic Energy Alliance. Permits vary but many rural counties have minimal zoning requirements for off-grid constructed homes.

Central Idaho

The central Idaho mountains and rivers provide seclusion on public lands. Highlights include:

  • Total privacy and isolation
  • Rugged beauty and wilderness
  • Counties like Custer, Butte, Blaine
  • National forests and wilderness areas
  • Challenging but rewarding high mountain desert
  • Short 60-90 day growing season at higher elevations

Central Idaho is ideal for those seeking remote wilderness living. However, the short growing season at elevations over 5,000 feet limits gardening and livestock feed production. Winters also bring heavy snowfall that can temporarily block access. Still, the ability to live completely off the grid far from any signs of civilization appeals to many.

Popular off-grid zone include the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, White Cloud Mountains, Lost River Range, and Lemhi Valley. These areas provide backcountry solitude and adventure but require advanced survival skills and planning.

Southern Idaho

Southern Idaho’s high desert offers hot springs, a long growing season, and wide open spaces.

  • Most sunshine and mildest winters in Idaho
  • Affordable counties include Fremont, Clark, and Teton
  • Quirky small towns like Soda Springs and Fairfield
  • Hot spot for geothermal greenhouses
  • BLM and state land options
  • Growing season up to 160 days

Southern Idaho mimics the Great Basin with its volcanic soil, hot springs, and desert climate. Milder winters allow for four season growing and lower heating costs. The region leads the state in solar installations according to the Idaho Strategic Energy Alliance. Geothermal resources provide direct heat for greenhouses and aquaculture.

Popular off-grid areas include the Camas Prairie, Little Lost River Valley, and Willow Creek. These high desert valleys complement the lifestyle of modern homesteaders with small-scale farming and sustainable living. Proximity to National Forests and BLM land offer recreational access.

Eastern Idaho

Eastern Idaho has valleys, rivers, and open prairie. Benefits include:

  • Most affordable part of the state
  • Rural farming and ranching communities
  • Close proximity to Yellowstone National Park
  • Major rivers like the Snake, Henry’s Fork, South Fork
  • Counties like Jefferson, Madison, Fremont
  • Sunny days allow for 120 day growing seasons

With Idaho’s lowest population density and home prices below the national median, eastern Idaho attracts bargain-seeking homesteaders. The climate supports livestock grazing and hay production. Angling is world-class on the Snake River tributaries. Harvestable timber covers much of the mountainous regions.

The Teton Valley, Ashton, and Island Park areas harbor most of the off-grid development. Close proximity to medical care in Rexburg and Idaho Falls eases the remoteness. Expect colder winters with more snowfall than other Idaho regions.

Best Counties for Off-Grid Living

Ada County

Located in southwestern Idaho, Ada County has mild winters and is one of the more developed parts of the state. However, it still offers opportunities for off-grid living:

  • Boise is the largest city in Idaho, providing amenities and jobs
  • Foothills locations have great solar access
  • Relatively low population density in outlying areas
  • Established off-grid communities to join

Rural Ada county has seen an uptick in alternative home building and solar installations due to rising Boise housing costs. Permitting varies across the county with more flexibility outside of city limits. Property taxes remain low compared to other western states. Access to medical care is convenient if needed.

Popular off-grid areas include Garden Valley, Horseshoe Bend, and the Owyhee Mountains. These offer proximity to Boise resources with a remote living experience. Wildlife like deer and upland birds thrive in lower elevations.

Kootenai County

In the Idaho Panhandle near Canada, Kootenai County has a low population and affordable land:

  • Four distinct seasons with milder summers
  • Rural towns like Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint
  • Major lake access at Lake Pend Oreille
  • National forest land borders county
  • Growing season ranges from 80 days in mountains to 120 days in lower valleys

Kootenai County leads northern Idaho in residential renewable energy installs. Utility burdens are low for off-grid construction in rural areas. A strong sense of community exists with regular educational events at the nearby Eco-Village.

Popular areas include Naples, Clark Fork, and Hope. The proximity to Schweizer Mountain ski resort and Lake Pend Oreille offer recreation while Boundary County wilderness provides seclusion. Mennonite communities provide local food, crafts, and supplies.

Bonneville County

Bonneville County in southeastern Idaho has a relatively mild climate and open spaces:

  • Winters are cold but not frigid
  • Blocks of BLM land available
  • Low population density in countryside
  • Snake River runs through county
  • Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
  • 100+ day growing season at lower elevations

Bonneville offers diversity with mountains, rivers, and high desert. The abundance of public lands provides hunting and fishing opportunities right out your door. Rural zoning allows flexibility for off-grid construction.

Popular areas include the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Curlew National Grassland, and Caribou Mountains. This region appeals to outdoor enthusiasts who still want occasional conveniences in Idaho Falls or Pocatello.

Clark County

Centrally located, Clark County is arid and extremely rural:

  • The least populated county in Idaho
  • Hot, dry summers and cold winters
  • Sparsely populated high desert
  • Affordable off-grid land opportunities
  • Surrounded by mountain ranges
  • Growing season up to 120 days

With less than 1 person per square mile on average, Clark County offers guaranteed isolation. The arid climate supports passive solar design. Permits are flexible for off-grid construction. Close proximity to Medicine Lodge geothermal aquaculture research center provides learning opportunities.

Popular areas include Medicine Lodge and Monida Pass. The Caribou-Targhee National Forest provides hunting, hiking, and foraging. For supplies, Spencer or Idaho Falls are 1.5 hours away. Enjoy sweeping high desert views and dark night skies.

Idaho County

Idaho County in north-central Idaho is a huge, mountainous county:

  • Bordered by National Forests
  • Lowest population density of any Idaho county
  • Largest county area in the state
  • Rugged, isolated terrain
  • Salmon River runs through
  • 60-90 day growing seasons in valleys

With an area equal to the state of Maryland but less than 5 people per square mile, Idaho County epitomizes seclusion. The Salmon River and backroad adventures provide recreation. Rural communities offer some conveniences within reasonable driving distance.

Popular areas include Dixie, White Bird, Grangeville, and the Frank Church Wilderness. The isolation and self-reliance required in Idaho County appeals to experienced off-gridders seeking a true wilderness living experience.

Owyhee County

Owyhee County in southwest Idaho is remote and rugged:

  • Sparsely populated high desert
  • Warmer winters than northern Idaho
  • Isolation but close to Boise for amenities
  • Affordable off-grid land
  • Challenging but beautiful terrain
  • Up to 120 day growing season

The Owyhee Mountains contain Idaho’s largest roadless area outside of wilderness. The remote setting allows uninterrupted stargazing and wildlife viewing. For supplies, Boise is just a few hours drive.

Popular areas include Three Creek, Silver City, and Juniper Mountain. Existing off-grid communities provide mentorship and knowledge sharing. The county’s hands-off approach to permitting enables sustainable structures and living.

Payette County

Payette County in west-central Idaho provides natural amenities:

  • Relatively low population density
  • Affordable rural land, especially near Little Willow Creek
  • Access to Payette National Forest
  • North Fork Payette River
  • McCall nearby for supplies
  • 100+ day growing season

With skiing, rafting, and recreation access, Payette County balances sustainability with quality of life. Renewable energy options are expanding with drops in solar costs. Limited restrictions allow yurts, container homes, and other off-grid designs.

Little Willow and Council offer plentiful water and open meadows for small-scale agriculture. The county’s popular events like McCall Winter Carnival foster community engagement. Proximity to a regional medical center provides peace of mind.

Building an Off-Grid Homestead in Idaho

Once you’ve found the ideal location, building a comfortable off-grid homestead requires planning and preparation:


Creative off-grid home options include:

  • Yurts – Circular insulated fabric structures that are affordable and efficient
  • RVs/Campers – Quick transitional shelters with some amenities
  • Cabins – Pre-fab kits or DIY timber construction
  • Straw bale – Provides natural insulation
  • Earthbag homes – Uses stacked sandbags and earthen plaster
  • Shipping containers – Repurposed into low-cost housing

Consider passive solar design with south-facing windows, thermal mass, and insulation. Include a basic Attached greenhouse to grow food year-round.


Water access options:

  • Drilled well – Best for year-round household use. Cost varies based on depth and location.
  • Rain catchment – Uses roof and tanks to store precipitation. Requires filtration and disinfection.
  • Surface water – Stream or lake for non-potable use with treatment. Check regulations.
  • Delivery – As backup or primary source, have water trucked in monthly.


Solar energy can fully power most off-grid homes:

  • Photovoltaic (PV) panels – Converts sunlight into electricity. Power output ranges from 300W to over 1kW per panel.
  • Batteries – Store solar energy, generally lithium for long cycle life.
  • Charge controller – Regulates battery charging and load output.
  • Generator – As backup during cloudy periods. Propane is recommended over gas.

Assess your electrical needs for sizing requirements. Seek expert help for proper design and installation.


To handle human waste:

  • Composting toilet – Requires no water and produces usable soil amendment.
  • Septic system – Gravity fed drain field ideal for larger households.
  • Outhouse – Simple pit toilet sufficient for minimal waste.

Graywater can be dispersed in mulch beds, or filtered for irrigation. Consider a shared community drain field for clustered housing.


Stay warm using:

  • Active solar – Uses thermal panels with fluid to store heat in insulated tanks. Provides hot water.
  • Passive solar – Uses south-facing glass and thermal mass to naturally collect heat.
  • Wood stove – Most common for space heating. Use high-efficiency units to conserve wood.
  • Geothermal heat pump – Uses subterrain temperatures for heating and cooling.

Super insulate homes to minimize heat loss in cold winters. Close off unoccupied rooms to conserve energy.

Living Off-Grid in Idaho

Once your off-grid homestead is set-up, enjoying the self-sufficient lifestyle takes knowledge and skills:

Growing Food

  • Take advantage of the long growing season in southern Idaho to cultivate fruits and veggies using biointensive and permaculture methods.
  • Consider attaining CSA shares, shopping at farmers markets, and participating in community gardens to supplement homegrown produce.
  • Incorporate high tunnels, cold frames, and greenhouses to extend the short growing season in northern Idaho.
  • Keep chickens, goats, rabbits, or other small livestock for dairy, eggs, and meat. Manage their grazing rotation on the property.
  • For meat protein, hunt game like deer, elk, antelope that is abundant in Idaho forests and prairies. Learn proper field dressing and butchering.
  • Preserve food by canning, dehydrating, salting, and cellaring to enjoy homegrown food year-round.

Earning Income

  • With good internet access available in many rural areas, telecommuting provides the most turnkey income source. Everything from programming to customer service to writing can be done remotely.
  • Start an ecommerce business selling homemade crafts, herbal products, food items, and more. Reach online customers.
  • Develop niche skills like wildcrafting, foraging, tanning hides, fabrication that you can barter and trade with others.
  • Offer services like small engine repair or tree felling that nearby residents often need.
  • Grow excess produce, eggs, and livestock products to sell into local markets and restaurants.

Managing Wildlife

  • Use electric fencing as necessary to deter bears, wolves, and other wildlife from gardens, coops, and livestock areas. Install motion-sensor alarms.
  • Keep pet food inside to avoid attracting predators.
  • Safely store house trash in sealed bins to keep pests away. Take to the dump regularly.
  • Hunt problem animals only as a last resort with proper permits. Focus on prevention first.
  • Learn to live in harmony with nature. Enjoy wildlife sightings from a safe distance.

Emergency Preparedness

  • Maintain first aid/trauma supplies for injuries or accidents far from hospitals. Consider wilderness first aid courses.
  • Keep backup power like propane/gas generator in case of prolonged cloudy weather.
  • Have backup water stored in cisterns or portable tanks.
  • Clear fire breaks around structures in forested areas. Keep multiple fire extinguishers and tools accessible.
  • Own a high clearance 4WD vehicle that can handle rugged backcountry access in storms. Carry chains, tow straps, shovel, and other recovery gear.
  • Get to know your neighbors/community

Community Building

  • Join or form an intentional off-grid community to share knowledge, labor, and resources. Plan skill shares and regular social events.
  • Volunteer at local farmer’s markets, seed libraries, and sustainability organizations.
  • Help neighbors and homesteaders in need. Today they’ll help you when you need an extra set of hands.
  • Attend preparedness fairs and permaculture workshops. Seek out experts with specialized knowledge.
  • Where cell reception allows, use online forums to exchange ideas and ask advice.
  • Barter services and goods to build relationships. Your surplus apples are valuable to the right person.

Ongoing Learning

  • Subscribe to magazines like Mother Earth News, Permaculture, and Backwoodsman that share practical how-to advice and feature profiles of homesteads.
  • Enroll in online courses or apprenticeships related to skills like fermenting, beekeeping, animal husbandry to constantly improve.
  • Follow social media accounts and YouTube channels of experienced off-gridders who generously share their expertise. Then try it yourself!
  • Keep detailed records of what works each season – crop yields, rain catchment levels, livestock health etc.
  • Network at any opportunity to find mentors. Many homesteaders are eager to help newcomers avoid pitfalls.

Enjoying Nature

Don’t get so caught up in hard work and routine tasks that you forget to soak up Idaho’s natural splendor:

  • Take moments throughout the day to sit quietly and observe the local wildlife and their patterns.
  • Get outside first thing in the morning to appreciate the sunrise colors reflecting off the mountains.
  • Rediscover child-like wonder in the simplest of things – the sparkling stars, the dance of fireflies, the songs of birds.
  • Treat yourself to an afternoon picnic by a secluded creek or lake.
  • Embrace the changing of the seasons and what each brings.

The cycle of hard work followed by contemplation and enjoyment provides balance and gratitude on an off-grid homestead. Don’t lose sight of the reason you came here – a simpler life connected to nature.


Idaho provides an ideal blend of natural attributes like pristine forests, clean air and water, good solar access, and abundant wildlife that make living off the grid rewarding. Affordable land options can make the dream achievable even with modest budgets. The diversity of regions and microclimates means you can tailor your homestead to the lifestyle you desire, from a peaceful remote wilderness cabin to a vibrant mini-farm.

Idaho’s tight-knit off-grid community provides invaluable knowledge sharing, support, and camaraderie. The ability to barter goods and services fosters relationships. With the right mindset of flexibility and continuous learning, off-grid living in Idaho offers a path to a fulfilling and sustainable life.

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