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Is West Virginia a Good State to go Off the Grid?

Updated on March 24, 2015

West Virginia is known for it's beautiful Appalachian mountains and colorful history. One would think that West Virginia would be a great place to go off the grid but there are some kinks in the state that might make you think twice.

1. Weather:

West Virginia has a humid continental climate with hot, humid summers and cool crisp winters. The highest recorded temperature was on July 10th 1936 at 112 degrees Fahrenheit and the lowest was on December 30th 1917 at -37 degrees Fahrenheit. However, average temperatures in the summer rarely exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It does snow in West Virginia.

2. Precipitation:

The average annual precipitation in West Virginia is 45.2 inches. West Virginia is the 17th wettest state in the union. More than enough water in this state!

3. Building Codes Alternative Housing Materials:

In general the further away from any city the better your chances are of building without having to jump through hoops of building codes. I read that in West Virginia plumbing and electrical codes only apply if you're already hooked up to the grid, so that is a good thing.

4. Cottage Businesses:

West Virginia does not allow cottage food operations.

5. Homeschooling laws:

West Virginia is what is considered a “medium regulation” state. The state requires parental notification, test scores and/or professional evaluation of student progress.

6. Rainwater Harvesting:

There are no laws against rainwater harvesting in West Virginia therefore one would assume that it's perfectly fine to install a water catchment system on one's own property.

7. Taxation:

  • West Virginia's total tax burden is 9.3%, 29th highest in the United States.
  • West Virginia's highest income tax bracket is 6.5% There is a retirement income and social security exemption.
  • West Virginia is one of the few states that tax social security income. Taxpayers over 65 can exempt the first $8,000 ($16,000 if filing jointly) of any retirement income. If a couple filed jointly with $70,000 in income they would pay $3,380 in tax, after the exemption. This is one of the highest state income tax in the nation.
  • Sales Tax is 6%
  • Per capita property taxes are among the lowest in all 50 states West Virginia has a homestead exemption which provides for $20,000 against the value of a single family home.
  • There is no inheritance or estate tax.
  • There is no tax on groceries.

8. Gay Marriage:

Same sex marriage is illegal in West Virginia by law and by the Constitution. (Update) Apparently, same sex marriage is now legal.

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 if they are concealed but not if they are open carry.

West Virginia is ranked 21 out of 50 in the best state for gun owners poll (#1 being the best).

10. Garden and Food Laws:

Raw milk sales are illegal in West Virginia.

11. Raising farm animals:

Farm animals can graze year round in West Virginia although it can get very snowy in which case you might have to supplement their feed.

12. Property Prices and Cost of Living:

Cost of Living
West Virginia
United States

The cost of living is cheaper in West Virginia than in most parts of the United States. The median cost of a home in West Virginia as of this writing is $110,400 while the median average across the United States is $170,100.

West Virginia scores a 86.10 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:

The growing season in the warmest parts of the state is about 156 days. However, in the cooler mountainous parts of the state the growing season can be as short as 115 days. Outside of the mountainous regions one can graze farm animals year round saving a lot of money in feed.

Although West Virginia has a lot of natural resources and the cost of living and property is affordable the state puts a lot of road blocks down for people who want to live off the grid and in a freer state. It's very difficult when home-schooling is thwarted through unnecessary regulations, cottage businesses are illegal and even raw milk isn't allowed. Additionally, West Virginia has a reputation for being a bureacratic state. It is 42nd and therefore in the bottom 10 states in overall freedom. I think the only way one could really get off the grid in West Virginia would be to ignore a lot of laws, which could be problematic but I have a feeling that is what a lot of people are doing.


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    • profile image

      I'm looking for an old 800acre tobacco farm that is now an off grid community. 

      6 months ago

      Sandra is the person I talked to. Lost contact and would do a cartwheel to get back in touch. Martin Germain. 928-715-8339

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      2 years ago from Manhattan

      Good to know..thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      Dot G 

      2 years ago

      Currently we live off the grid in the heart of West Virginia. We have not ignored any laws. We did have to get a well and septic permit with cost about $120. Our building permit was $5 ( not kidding). There are generations of families here who have done so and willing to help others. We do have solar panels, and with the weather here we did have to get more batteries than one would expect. We raise most of our food and kill wild game for much of our meat. It is easily possible here.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Permit no longer required for open or concealed carry of firearms.

    • profile image

      Sam Boothe 

      3 years ago

      Greetings Brie. Enjoyed your page.

      May I correct and update your posting in the firearms issues at hand. Your Article (9) Gun Laws.

      1. We here are not required for a handgun permit above the age of 18. Under age you must still obtain a Conceal Carry Permit. (Allowing your record does not contain a felony)

      2. Yes we do have Constitutional Carry and have all our existence actually.

      3. There is no permit required to have in your possession any long arm meaning rifles or shotguns.

      4. You must have a background check to purchase a firearm.

      5. As far as registration of any firearm none is known other than one you have purchased legally through a retailer.

      Thanks Brie.

      Summersville West Virginia

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks SirDent, I depend on my commenters to help me with updates like that as I can't keep track of all the changes.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Great article. Gay marriage is now allowed in WV and there is no tax on groceries now, just in case you want to do a little editing.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      4 years ago from Manhattan

      Thanks Tweedlie

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      No permit is required to open carry a handgun, only applies with concealed carry.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      5 years ago from Manhattan

      Yes, I was surprised at that too. Thanks for stopping by "teaches12345.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      I have traveled to and through West Virginia many times in my lifetime. The mountains are steep but the views are beautiful. Wow, what a high tax rate they have! Thanks for sharing this interesting information.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      5 years ago from Manhattan

      I have already written on this subject (although not as an off-gridder) in two articles:

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      I don't know anything about the niche, but have you considered adding availability/accessibility to medical care should you need it or something on that topic? I'm guessing that even an off-gridder would need medical or dental care on occasion.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      5 years ago from Manhattan

      You and me both! Thanks for commenting Billy.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What an interesting niche you've carved out here. I'm learning some interesting facts about states thanks to you.


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