Living in isolation in Australia: Properties where you can go off the grid

Living in isolation in Australia: Properties where you can go off the grid nmprofetimg 1673

Life in our big metropolises will get back to something resembling normal in a post-pandemic world, but some city slickers might be ready to literally head to the hills.

“Off grid” living – or put into today’s terminology, voluntary social distancing through real estate – has been gaining popularity for years and could see a spike in interest after the coronavirus wave has passed.

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A self-sustainable way of life was once something you had to create for yourself from scratch, but these days there are plenty of properties on the market offering a ready-made off-grid lifestyle with little to no bills and plenty of good carbon footprint karma.

Damien Moyse from Renew, a national not-for-profit organisation that advises people on how to live sustainably in their homes, said while completely cutting yourself off from society requires “significant effort” it has never been easier to at least live more efficiently.

Off grid living can mean a number of things, but most people seeking the lifestyle are looking to reduce their carbon footprint and bills. Picture: Supplied  Living in isolation in Australia: Properties where you can go off the grid capi 390d0819a36e00264e0dee1e03092a0f 53e6e5df64e5b74ea9380529a874bc1e

Off grid living can mean a number of things, but most people seeking the lifestyle are looking to reduce their carbon footprint and bills. Picture: Supplied

“We help people make decisions around building design, energy use and water use and we find a lot of people coming to us are doing a tree change.

They’ll come to us and say ‘we’re building’ or ‘we’re doing a renovation, how can we make it more sustainable?’”

He said the organisation, which has about 12,000 members nationwide, also provides assistance to house hunters who need to decipher real estate agent’s marketing material.

“People will come to us and they’re interested in a place, or they’ve bought somewhere and it’s off-grid, but “off-grid” can mean a whole lot of things,” Mr Moyse explained.

“Does it mean off the electricity grid? Does it mean off the water grid, or the gas grid? They could mean any number of supply chains we usually rely on.”

“Most of the time people mean the electricity grid, but interestingly enough if you go rural and want to go off-grid and be a bit more sustainable, actually the best thing you could do is get off the gas grid and water grid, but keep your electricity connection. You can still have solar, and still produce two thirds of your own energy, but keep the back up.”

He said the real hurdle for house hunters at the moment was the lack of a uniform standard for what “off-grid” means and what consumers can expect from a supposedly sustainable home.

“Most estate agents aren’t going to be able to provide that level of detail. If you’re buying, or renting a home with an off-grid electricity system you’d need an electrician or an engineer to explain what that system can or can’t do,” he said.

Renew is calling for a nationally-recognised mandatory disclosure system of energy performance to be provided to consumers.

“That would mean all homes would be rated over time and have a certificate. When you rent or buy a place all the estate agent has to do is give you that certificate and you’ll know just how sustainable that house can be. But at the moment it’s really hard to get a sense of that.”

Currently there are new off-grid homes hitting the market every day across the country, here is a collection of sustainable homes for sale right now:

This Barossa Ranges home in South Australia is contemporary home with a wood combustion heater, solar power, a vegetable patch and a cool chook enclosure. Picture: Supplied  Living in isolation in Australia: Properties where you can go off the grid capi 390d0819a36e00264e0dee1e03092a0f b1802e93379b63a12be028af2a911026

This Barossa Ranges home in South Australia is contemporary home with a wood combustion heater, solar power, a vegetable patch and a cool chook enclosure. Picture: Supplied

Pewsey Vale, South Australia

Price: On application

Unplug on 4.7ha of land with a contemporary house made from timber and corrugated cladding. The extensive use of glass maximises the views across the Barossa Ranges. The home has a wood combustion heater, a state-of-the-art kitchen, covered outdoor entertaining areas and sustainable design features including LED lighting, solar power with storage capability, double glazed windows and wall panel insulation.

Outside there is even a chook shed, an established vegetable patch, 144,000L rainwater tank, a dam and self-contained separate studio.

A near new home, this off grid property is surrounded by natural forest but also features a productive fruit orchard and even a seperate kitchen for bottling and preserving. Picture: Supplied  Living in isolation in Australia: Properties where you can go off the grid capi 390d0819a36e00264e0dee1e03092a0f 615697097874ce57bbda5c1e452fd9c7

A near new home, this off grid property is surrounded by natural forest but also features a productive fruit orchard and even a separate kitchen for bottling and preserving. Picture: Supplied

Hazelvale, Western Australia

Price: On application

Built from limestone and Jarrah timber, the house has three bedrooms, wood and gas powered ovens and a central double-sided wood fireplace with hydronic radiators. To be more self-sufficient there’s also a separate preserve bottling kitchen and a grand shed to stock homemade preserves straight from the productive fruit orchard. About half the 36ha property is native forest with four freshwater dams and two 90,000L tanks as well as solar and wind power.

For just $275,000, this Queensland home is sitting on 7250sq m, has a vast vegetable garden, fruit trees and a second self-contained dwelling. Picture: Supplied  Living in isolation in Australia: Properties where you can go off the grid capi 390d0819a36e00264e0dee1e03092a0f f3233cfd274bbc22eeaea5adfb0b2c3d

For just $275,000, this Queensland home is sitting on 7250sq m, has a vast vegetable garden, fruit trees and a second self-contained dwelling. Picture: Supplied

Glenwood, Queensland

Price: $275,000

Located on 7250sq m of with two large dams, this three-bedroom home is fully off-grid. The large patio has loads of space for entertaining and not far from the main dwelling there is a rotunda with a fire pit for a change of scene in winter. Fully pest-proof vegetable gardens and fruit trees mean you can produce your own food and a second self-contained dwelling is ideal for visitors or earning a little extra income.

With sweeping views, two waterfalls and beautiful surrounding bushland, this rural retreat is a perfect place to switch off. Picture: Supplied  Living in isolation in Australia: Properties where you can go off the grid capi 390d0819a36e00264e0dee1e03092a0f 198668706cb5f7f12d0fe756cd14845a

With sweeping views, two waterfalls and beautiful surrounding bushland, this rural retreat is a perfect place to switch off. Picture: Supplied

Jiggi, New South Wales

Price: $850,000

For more than 12 years the current owners cared for this rural retreat surrounded by bushland on 44ha. Complete with two waterfalls, a large dam and rolling lawn, this property is frequently visited by wallabies and other native wildlife. Totally off-grid with a large capacity solar system, the octagonal four-bedroom is an open plan design with Brushbox timber floors and high exposed beam ceilings.

A unique home made from red brick, stone and rammed-earth, this home has a long list of sustainability features inside and out. Picture: Supplied  Living in isolation in Australia: Properties where you can go off the grid capi 390d0819a36e00264e0dee1e03092a0f 82df4aa8ee27998d205e38368084bb60

A unique home made from red brick, stone and rammed-earth, this home has a long list of sustainability features inside and out. Picture: Supplied

Braidwood, New South Wales

Price: $690,000 to $720,000

As well as picturesque views over the Great Dividing Range and the Araluen Valley, this off-grid property is solar passive, energy-efficient and unique in its design. Built using a combination of red brick, stone and rammed-earth walls, it features timber-framed windows, whitewashed timber lined ceilings, slate floors and a handmade open fireplace.

Out the back there are established fruits trees plus a 70,000L water tank and drinkable bore water.

This quirky off grid home has a double decker bus on site as extra accommodation. Picture: Supplied  Living in isolation in Australia: Properties where you can go off the grid capi 390d0819a36e00264e0dee1e03092a0f b3bbbfd00e2b2d0f4cf77900e20cfd42

This quirky off grid home has a double decker bus on site as extra accommodation. Picture: Supplied

Pomborneit North, Victoria

Price: $347,000

Live off the grid and at one with nature on 25ha surrounded by koalas, kangaroos, deer and echidnas in their natural habitat.

The three-bedroom house on site has all the mod cons including a composting toilet and on the property there is also a quirky double decker bus with its own pot belly fireplace. There is a solar system with battery storage, a backup diesel generator, bore water, two large water catchment tanks, cattle yards, machinery shed and lots of sundry shedding.

Once an old school class room, this off grid property was stripped back to its steel frame and rebuilt with recycled and sustainably sourced materials.  Picture: Supplied  Living in isolation in Australia: Properties where you can go off the grid capi 390d0819a36e00264e0dee1e03092a0f e3e582a53aff970d0c3bd6a3fba26b73

Once an old school class room, this off grid property was stripped back to its steel frame and rebuilt with recycled and sustainably sourced materials. Picture: Supplied

Cooyar, Queensland

Price: $525,000

Known as “The Old School Block” this unique off-grid property was designed to be low maintenance and low impact with minimal outgoings. The former class room was stripped back to its steel frame and rebuilt with sustainably sourced and recycled materials, has solar power and a back up diesel generator.

For water there are two dams and a 40,000L tank in addition to a bore supply. Created to make the most of passive heating and cooling, there is a fireplace, wool insulation, composting toilets and a self-contained shed where up to six people can bunk in.