Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

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guitarplayer
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Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by guitarplayer »

I have been pondering a hypothetical situation of living off grid somewhere in the EU. Interested in, mostly legal, arrangements in various EU countries. I would like to rule out a scenario when I buy land and decide to camp on it/place a caravan and then a local authority kicks me out, or buy land with a cabin built without permission and then someone asks me to demolish it.

* In the UK it is nearly impossible. The only way I can think of is to get a croft in Scotland, but apparently there are lots of rules about owning/leasing a croft.

* I often find stories of people leaving off grid in Spain. But then, I found one property with 16ha and a wooden cabin, with a description We’ve lived ‘off-grid’ on this land for over 10 years now, in a camper, a caravan, a yurt and in the cabin itself and I’ve never had a problem with the local Town Hall / Ayuntamiento in all that time. Which makes me thing that there could be a problem?

https://sustainable-properties.com/prop ... rt-sp0242/

* I found a very nice old stone house with 13ha in Italy. Is it possible to buy it and just move in?

https://sustainable-properties.com/prop ... ca-sp0235/

Anyone has any insights on it? I would be maybe especially interested in buying a woodland and living on site, there does not need to be a building built. Also interested in a possibility of having a 'summer house' and living in it all year round.
Last edited by guitarplayer on Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

anesde
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by anesde »

When you say off-grid what exactly are you looking for? Just not paying municipal utilities or something more?

My parents live pretty close to “off-grid” in northern Portugal. They have their own water supply (well), a septic tank system, and solar panels. They still have an electrical grid hookup but nothing stopping anyone from disconnecting that. They do live in a house and pay (very minimal, something like a €300/year) property tax. They also have internet.

This is likely not what you’re looking for but suffice to say if you owned a plot of land and set it up a caravan there no one would bother you. My uncle has an adjacent plot of woodland that could be used for such a purpose I think. You would likely only run into issues if squatting.

@2B1S is doing this in Poland as we speak. He might chime in.

ertyu
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by ertyu »

Rural on-the-grid property can be found dirt cheap buttfuck nowhere eastern europe. €10k will get you an ok-ish house + associated 0.5-2dka plot of land in the north-eastern part of bulgaria. It would not be what you're used to when you think of a house in western europe, e.g. construction might be old, might be better to think of it as a cabin really, but it'll be a servicable shelter.

guitarplayer
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by guitarplayer »

Thanks for making me clarify anesde! I would not mind in principle paying some municipal utilities. I have in mind a sizable plot for experiments with producing food.

In the UK (I live here now) land with planning permission is much more expensive than land without one, it also comes in much smaller plots. If the land is a large farming/grazing/woodland plot, getting a planning permission for inhabiting it is nearly impossible.

So I guess the question is: Where could I buy a relatively large plot of farm/woodland (1-4ha?) and reside there one way or another that is legit. I would imagine that a plot with a hookup or a permission for one would cost more, therefore would be more interested in land with no hookup and no permission needed for residing there without a hookup.

@2B1S yes that would be very interesting to hear about how this would work in Poland! I have been reading about 'domki letniskowe' and not sure if one can just move in for 12months/year.

guitarplayer
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by guitarplayer »

@ertyu thanks for the input and making me reflect more. First, what unit is dka?

Buying a house with land sounds good first, but then I think about it as buying so much stuff which is the house! And I guess the maintenance of the house could be quite time consuming.

What about buying land and getting a campervan or something similar (cabin?) on it? Particularly interested in the legality of such enterprise.

I am thinking more along the lines of Rob Greenfield (who seems to be moderately popular on the forum). So basically having the land (I know he would not own the land) to:

* grow food on it,
* forage,
* have a simple roof over my head,
* ideally with a stream passing through the property = personal hygiene and water issues largely solved.

I am not super radical about the lifestyle and could easily imagine heading to the civilisation every now and again for internet, proper shower (swimming pools) etc. Outsourcing that sort of stuff so that I don't have to worry about much upkeep, the less maintenance the better.

chenda
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by chenda »

I would second Portugal as a good option; theres lots of old ruins in the mountains which can bought cheaply.

Its possible to buy cheap rural property in Britain if you move to a remote area. Local auctions are you best source of info, as it's where all the odd and quiky bits of property get sold.

There is an obscure piece of legislation in Britain which allows you to convert redundant agricultural buildings into dwellings without formal planning permission. I can provide more info on this if of interest

guitarplayer
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by guitarplayer »

@chenda, a link (or name of the legislation) would be great, thanks!

@bigato, thanks for all the info, good to hear from you since you are having hand on experience (though in Brazil and not EU). Yes spot on with me putting my mind on many things, can't help it! Should have made it clearer in OP that this is all hypothesising for now (in fact just edited the first sentence there to make it clear). The reality is that most likely for at least the next 5-10 years I will be more or less where I am and working (and I am fine with it). But hey there are loads of people with various lifestyles here, like e.g. yourself, and so lots to learn by just asking.

chenda
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by chenda »

Its Class Q, Part 3 of Schedule 2 of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended)

Page 41 of the document linked below. If you search for Class Q conversions on local authority planning websites it'll give you an idea, though I don't think many have been carried out yet. Obviously something to get professional advice on before buying anything.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015 ... 596_en.pdf

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Stahlmann
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by Stahlmann »

(for USSR sattelites) in the past commie gov gave (some) workers a piece of really small garden
some of workers abused this and build semi legal housing.
as so many people did this, current gov closes eyes for such situations -.-".
prolly unachievable for non-native person [to get such occasion].

otherwise, it's "ability to connect with local people" (yes, that though even for eccentric "native" person!) + "being native"+land+ur creativity at building shelter.

also, most such entries won't be found in the internet, because they're on border of legality or/and perosnal beliefs of such people (did I mention paranoid schizophrenia :-DDD)

my "inspirations":
http://www.krzysztofbross.pl/
https://kalpapada.wixsite.com/kalpapada
https://www.facebook.com/Szklany-Zamek- ... 927632663/

as wisdom from last guy on his decision on emigrating from Poland to Italy (from closed FB group):
Post without a picture, because for people analyzing facts. You ask me about domed houses, skeletal houses, dugouts, tiny houses and what else is fashionable in the poland. Does that make sense? I answer collectively what I think about it based on experience and observations.

If the aim is to move to the edge of the system and live peacefully without major worries in a pleasant environment of nature instead of toxic fumes, in a group of loved ones, then you must first of all realize that:

- fireworks cost, so if someone does it for economic reasons (skeletal cheaper) it will go hard. My experience from a few years ago: "let's build a brick bottom and a skeleton top", after conversion, it turned out that engaging the company that covers all these profiles and elements will come out much more expensive than adding 3 days for bricklayers who will supply these few bricks, having everything under by hand: transport of bricks, additional cement pallet, concrete mixer.

- dome houses. It's nice that everything circulates, circulates, air, namaste energy ... But now do round wooden elements, furniture, stairs and everything else. Prices will amaze you. Another thing, what do you tell an engineer you will need to have to permit and approve the project? That because the dome, you want calculations cheaper (and curves are more difficult to count, everyone who has not slept in mathematics knows it). Of course, a dome house producer, housing developer will earn and this is where you are going. See who is behind these 'settlements', who is active in groups, like 'tiny houses' etc. PRODUCERS. My ex-father-in-law, which some of you probably associate, also felt that he would build a dome here. He sits in England on M2 and hearing of him is lost. Why do you think

- but everyone earns something wrong. Well, nothing, but does it have to be on you if you have no money? I also deal with bricklayer in Italy, because it is just such a possibility. I learned when building my own home in Poland, and here it is very necessary and everyone needs it. So I build. They're made of brick, stone, reinforced concrete. Do I earn on it? I haven't made any coconuts yet, I just earn what people need and advise them not to go bankrupt and spill them after 5 years, that's all. Same as with food and anything else.

- wooden constructions. Recently I met a man from France who makes historical roof trusses, made of greasy rafters and purlins. Wood is not cheap and well seasoned - very expensive. You too. When I bought a roof truss to Osłonin, I bought it cheaply, and then it turned out that the freshly cut beams were twisted, impregnated to the word of honor. Because it was CHEAP! Don't have any illusions. Good materials cost money and the rest are fake. Unless the surrounding area abounds in natural materials. Here they build from stone because it balances heat on a daily basis, and lies toto underfoot. But even if you slept on $, you can't have anything expensive, because the overpaid investment is not sellable. You need to simplify the construction and capture the multitude of unnecessary layers.

The German cried yesterday that he bought Italian wall paint and covered it with stains half of what was German. As Cezary G. says, "think wisely about your money"

Your "exit from the matrix", to be able to succeed at all, must WORK AS A WHOLE. So what if you blow a cool dome when you get credit? So what if you have a permaculture garden, when it is covered with aluminum from the air, what if you create a "community almost like a family", how will it work in Warsaw's traffic jams? So what if he'll have a great stove, since leaking windows, tandente materials, stupid fashions and you break on opals? Or the system fills you up because you were not interested in politics? Or the partner will go "meet" in korpo, or with the younger? Corporations will blow you up because you had no idea about economics? Savage children, having picked up toxic role models at school, waste your property? Life must act as a whole.

And that is why I personally decided that there would be nothing good overall in this fifty years and I emigrated. I am not saying that this is an option for everyone, you need to know languages, you need to feel good with other nations, you must respect local customs and laws. But for me this is the only place that has no major disadvantages in Europe, like a good car. That you do not go bankrupt on its exploitation, no matter how attractive it is, what advantages it has, important that there are no major faults. In the same way as with human beings.
also, this guy is really interesting case. was PhD in physics (inb4 slavic education), got into programming before it was cool (in Poland). nevertheless "failed" with mortgage and found peace through conspiracy theories. that's scary that local version of "white male programmer" didn't succeed in FIRE department. I need better role models :lol:

7Wannabe5
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Another strategy I've considered is owning several small plots and periodically moving the camper. This might even be possible in decrepit city location if you are stealthy enough. I was busted for attempting to live in my camper on city lot within days.

chenda
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by chenda »

There is quite a community of permanently nomadic van dwellers in Europe. Apparently its easier to do long term in northern Europe where laws are more permissive.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Heya, thanks for thinking of me :)

Here in Poland we are not off grid, but it's considered an agriculture/liesure plot of land which used to be outside of city limits. There is a three season house my grandfather built himself in the early 1970's. The taxes are very low, and we do not have many common amenities of formal residential real estate (garbage pickup, mail delivery), though there is municipal water and electric hookup. The house was built prior to current code/standards being enforced. It may be a grey area in terms of legality, but living here full time is fully within your rights. Building such a structure now would involve new laws that I'm not familiar with, but as Stahlman pointed out, many of these huts/cabins/houses exist and have been grandfathered in. Similar to Bulgaria, you can find a piece of land with a structure on it for <15k Euro in the countryside.

I saw many people living off grid in Portugal. You may look on workaway website for some hosting volunteers for a week or months at a time. You can check out an area, stay for free, learn something in the process. We found many all over the country. The weather would be much more favorable than eastern Europe.

FRx
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by FRx »

It's worth noting that utilities and housing costs are really low in Spain. I own a flat in Galicia and I pay 180 euros a year for property tax. Water is 30 euros a month. Electricity is 30-50 euros a month. HOA dues are 26 euros a month.

I can't get rid of the HOA dues.
No way to get rid of the HOA dues.
But I can collect rainwater (Galicia) and disconnect the water.
I can disconnect electricity and install a solar panel on the roof.

I own a condo in the US an my HOA dues are $400/month.
Property taxes are $3,000/year.
I don't pay for water.
Electricity is about $30/month.

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Jean
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by Jean »

It's not possible anywhere in Europe legally, and people who know a loophole have very little interest in sharing them. I used to share them openly, but since many of my loopholes started to close due to overusage, i got very reluctant.

guitarplayer
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by guitarplayer »

@chenda thanks for the doc, have downloaded it, who knows when it might come handy.

@Stahlmann, @2b1s thanks for the info about how it looks like in Poland formally.

@2b1s yeah I totally see your point about first getting to know the area first, whatever the area. I did some helpx (like workaway) in the past, a good way to get to know the surroundings from the perspective of a local. In fact I sometimes talk with DW about having an extended period of moving about, probably by bikes, doing helpx and odd jobs until we find a spot we like that is suited for our preferences. A version of ERE if you like, and according to how buoyant I feel I suggest it to her at somewhere between £100,000 (that would be next summer!) and £200,000 (that would be maybe in 4 years?) mark. Portugal/Spain seem to be a frequent choice from the point of view of the weather, but I think Bulgaria could actually have quite a lot to offer in this regard, too. Also, let's not underestimate the Polish weather with great well defined four season. I dream of it in Scotland - where I am at this coming week the temperature averages 13 degrees C, cloudy most of the time, rain over 50% of the time. In Łódź for example it averages over 20 degrees C, mostly sunny. On a different note, I have a bit of a sentiment for Turkey actually, but since it is not EU, it would be difficult to settle.

@7w5 @chenda thanks for the inspirations about van dwelling. Every now and again I am pondering living in a van, but mostly drop it due to my dislike for combustion engine vehicles. I would very much love to get a piece of land and put a Cube2 on it (https://www.herts.ac.uk/cubeproject/qb2). It qualifies as a static caravan and can be moved, but has no wheels so it is tricky to move it.

@FRx this is a really useful info, thanks! And how much was/can be a flat in Santiago de Compostela? I know that Galicia got quite depopulated after the 2008 crisis and generally as a rural county. Have looked at the region in the past (not exclusively from the point of view of off grid) also because it seems to be similar to Scotland, but way warmer. Presumably similar wildlife so our time learning about foraging would not turn into waste ;)

@Jean, well if you ever feel like sharing, please PM me! Especially in Switzerland, man once I went to Neuchatel for a PhD programme interview, such a gorgeous place it was.

ertyu
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by ertyu »

guitarplayer wrote:
Sat Jul 04, 2020 11:51 am
I have a bit of a sentiment for Turkey actually, but since it is not EU, it would be difficult to settle.
Southern Bulgaria to Istanbul is a 4hr drive. Id's say it's practically a day trip, but more realistically it might be a weekend trip :lol:
We've got the same deal with the plentiful street cats as they do in Istanbul, it's a Balkan thing.

guitarplayer
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by guitarplayer »

Yeah down there the mix of cultures must be quite something, a melting pot of Islam and Christianity. I was quite impressed with this in Bosna some years back.

I know Izmir and Ankara a bit cause I have studied there, but visited friends in Istanbul quite a few times. Though this time I would probably want to stay away from such huge metropolises. Just looking at the map, I remember that my roommate from a dorm in Ankara was praising Canakkale (he was from Bursa).

FRx
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by FRx »

Galicia is very interesting - a lot of variety. I live in Santiago de Compostela and a flat in the city center will cost around 60k-100k for a studio or 2-br. There is a medical school there, engineering university, major arts, gyms, etc. It's got a decent city feel to it. Further out you can get a decent amount of land and an older home for 100k euros and upwards of 250k.
Quite a few homes are still off-grid because my friend's parents grew up without electricity or gas hookup. Many still use the bombas - which are those orange propane canisters.

RealPerson
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by RealPerson »

For southern Europe, I suggest paying close attention to precipitation patterns and the presence of bone dry forests in the area. There are increasingly severe wildfires. Climate change could have a severe negative impact so your time horizon is important.

Not trying to scare you into not doing it. Just something to be aware of.

The size of land only really matters if you want to maintain or farm all of it. As far as I know you could just leave a portion of your land undeveloped/wild. Or better yet, restore the land to its original natural state. That obviously would not work in an HOA controlled subdivisión 👿

WingsOnFire
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Re: Off grid living arrangements (legal and other) in various EU Countries

Post by WingsOnFire »

Hm.. There was just a big story here on a major newspaper about a guy who went to live in a tent in a forest, and is continuing to do so. I didn't get an impression that it was illegal in any way..

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