Is Tennessee a Good State to go Off the Grid?
When considering going off the grid Tennessee has a lot going for it. The weather is mild, water is plentiful and the laws tend towards freedom. However, Tennessee is not a perfect state. Here are 13 categories that you should consider when contemplating going off the grid in the great state of Tennessee.
Tennessee enjoys mild climate in general. It has four distinct seasons. The average high temperature in July is 89 degrees Fahrenheit while the average low temperature in January is 27 degrees Fahrenheit. Tennessee does have a lot of humidity in the summer and that can get very uncomfortable especially if you are living off the grid without an air-conditioner. Also Tennessee is susceptible to tornadoes and the mountainous regions will get its fair share of snow in the wintertime.
2. Precipitation and Snowfall:
The average annual precipitation in Tennessee is 54.2 inches. Tennessee is the 5th wettest state in the union. You wont have to worry about water in this state!
3. Building Codes Alternative Housing Materials:
While Tennessee doesn't have a long tradition of using alternative natural building materials, lately cob workshops have been taking place in Tennessee. The climate is also conducive to cob, straw-bale and earth-bag construction.
4. Cottage Businesses:
Cottage food laws in Tennessee require a permit to operate a food processing operation in their homes. The foods must be non-potentially hazardous foods like jams, jellies, cakes, pies and tortillas to name a few. They can only be sold directly to the consumer at farmers markets, road-side stands or at special events like parades or flea markets. There are labeling requirements in Tennessee.
5. Homeschooling laws:
Tennessee is what is considered a “medium regulation” state. The state requires parental notification, test scores and/or professional evaluation of student progress. I'm a little surprised that Tennessee requires so much as it is one of the “freest” states in the country.
6. Rainwater Harvesting:
There are no laws against rainwater harvesting in Tennessee therefore one would assume that it's perfectly fine to install a water catchment system on one's own property.
Tennessee has one of the lowest tax burdens in the country!
Tennessee has no income tax, although interest and dividends are taxed at 6%. Residents over 65 with a total income of less than $16,200 (single) or $27,000 (married) are exempt from that tax
Sales Tax is 7% although it can be higher as some municipalities have additional sales tax.
Property taxes are set at 25% of assessed value however, Tennessee has a property tax relief program for the elderly, disabled and veterans.
There is an inheritance tax.
8. Gay Marriage:
Same sex marriage is illegal in Tennessee. The Tennessee Marriage Protection Amendment of 2006 is a constitutional amendment that banned same-sex unions. This was approved of by 81% of the voters and states that only a marriage between a man and a woman will be legally recognized in the state of Tennessee.
9. Gun Laws:
Permit to Purchase Rifles, Shotguns and Handguns: NO
Registration of Rifles, Shotguns and Handguns: NO
Licensing of Rifles, Shotguns and Handguns: NO
Permit to Carry Rifles and Shotguns NO, Permit to Carry Handguns: YES
Tennessee is ranked 23 out of 50 in the best state for gun owners poll (#1 being the best) because there are a number of restrictions on where you can carry in Tennessee and because you have to get a permit to carry handguns.
10. Garden and Food Laws:
Raw milk is legal only through the participation in a herd or cow share. It is illegal for a farmer to sell raw milk directly to the public. I could not find any regulations against having a garden in your front yard in Tennessee.
11. Raising farm animals:
Farm animals can graze year round in Tennessee which can save a lot of money since you don't have to buy extra feed.
12. Property Prices and Cost of Living:
The cost of living is much cheaper in Tennessee than in most parts of the United States. And, Nashville TN actually came in fifth out of 10 cities with the lowest cost of living in the United States. The median cost of a home in Tennessee as of this writing is $119,200 while the median average across the United States is $170,100.
All other areas like groceries, health, transportation and utilities are below the average of the United States. According to people who track these things Tennessee scores a 70 compared with the average across the United States of 100. The score is based on the U.S. Average. A score above 100 means that the state is more expensive than the average in the United States and a score under means that the state is less expensive than the average.
13. Growing Season:
Tennessee has a mild, temperate climate in general. The growing season in the warmest parts of the state is about 235 days. However, in the cooler mountainous parts of the state the growing season can be as short as 130 days. Outside of the mountainous regions one can graze farm animals year round saving a lot of money in feed.
Tennessee was voted one of the freest states in the union awhile back. In general, it is a very good state when considering a self-sustaining off-grid lifestyle. The weather is mild, the laws tend towards conservatism, the cost of living is low. However, there is one huge problem with Tennessee at this time and that is it's crime rate. Tennessee has one of the highest crime rates in the country! I was very surprised to hear this but it's true. As of 2013 Tennessee was the #1 worst state for violent crime. Most of the crime takes place in Memphis and Nashville so if you are planning on going off the grid you might be safer since you'll be in a rural area but still this statistic is very disconcerting and must be taken into consideration before moving to Tennessee and going off the grid.
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