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living off grid in the netherlands

Off-grid living in the Netherlands I’ve never done, but as you may know I’m currently* living in a camper. Off-grid. With husband and child.

And although it is sometimes quite a hassle, and sometimes we suddenly run out of gas or water, it also gives us a lot of freedom.

How exactly do we do that?

We generate electricity through a solar panel on our roof. We store the solar energy in two batteries. Gas we buy in bottles. We use that for cooking, and very occasionally for the stove.

Water we buy in large bottles or we fill our 150 liter water tank. We can empty the chemical toilet in designated areas. And the Internet reaches my laptop via a mobile hotspot.

And it works really well this way! Of course, we now live under the Spanish sun, so the power-generation part is almost never a problem.

But otherwise we might as well have been in a North Holland meadow somewhere. As for the off-grid part.

But can you actually live off-grid in the Netherlands? What are the possibilities, and what are the rules around living? And is there actually enough sun?

Is it possible to live off-grid in the Netherlands?
To answer immediately: yes, it is possible!

But it is not easy.

At the moment, houses cannot be built without connections. And just living in a hut on the heath is not allowed either. Nor is living in a camper van.


Because, of course, you can live in a camper van. Or in a cabin. Completely off-grid. But that’s another story 🙂

What exactly is off-grid living?
Off-grid living means that your home is not connected to the basic utilities electricity, gas, water and sewage. Sometimes it also means that there is no phone connection and/or internet connection. As a result, you are completely independent.

Why would anyone want to live like this?
The sense of freedom is what attracts a lot of people to off-grid living.

Going off-grid living in the Netherlands is an option when you want to pay fewer bills, live more sustainably and thus experience a greater sense of freedom.

For some people, another factor is that they don’t want to send their money to big energy companies.

Or don’t want to be found. And, if you factor in a possible apocalypse, going off-grid is excellent preparation.

By living off-grid
You put less strain on the environment
You are cheaper (provided you adjust your consumption accordingly).
experience more freedom – no contracts, no obligations
Sounds pretty good, right?

Can everyone just go off-grid?
If you live in an ordinary house, an apartment or a row house, it seems to me that it would be quite difficult to go completely off-grid. You have the utility connections anyway.

And now to turn off your gas tap and go get gas cylinders…. Doesn’t seem practical to me. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done in an apartment! Where there’s a will…

If you live in a cottage at a vacation park, or in a houseboat, in a garden house, a yurt or a camper (etcetera), then it does seem a little easier to me.

What all has to change for you to be off-grid?
Electricity: you will need a solar panel and battery(ies) if you plan to use electricity. We have a 160 watt solar panel and with that we can charge 1 laptop and 2 phones every day. Often we have even more power than that and I can also use the hand blender while cooking. We also have lights on every night. But in Spain there is generally a lot of sunshine. When we’re back in Holland soon it might be different.
Heating: you can switch to a wood stove / pellet stove, for example. This does require a bit more effort than your central heating, but it is stikromantic. And the heat that comes off it cannot be matched. So nice.
Cooking: you can continue to cook on gas and buy gas cylinders, cook on wood-burning fire, or on induction. The last option, of course, is a lot better for the environment.
Heating water: you can do that with a geyser on gas, or electric. But you can also opt for a solar water heater (YES!).
Drinking water: you can buy drinking water, of course, or you can purify rainwater to drink. Really, just read here. Or, if you’re lucky you might be able to build a well.
Other water: you can collect rainwater for the garden, for example. And did you know that you can also wash your clothes with rainwater? Smart.
Sewerage: you normally have that for your toilet and your gray water (wastewater). Your toilet can become a compost toilet (DO IT!). And if you only use eco products for washing (laundry, dishes, and yourself) and use a helophyte filter then you can reuse the water, for the garden for example. How exactly this works Rainproof explains well here.


Waste: simple. From your green waste you make compost. Or you let your piggy eat everything so he makes compost for you. A lot is reusable, like glass jars and plastic bags. The residual waste you take away. And the plastic waste you use for this (SO TOF, I want this).
Your consumption: your battery(ies) may not provide the same power as a normal outlet. And showering hot with a solar water heater for the same amount of time as hot water from a central heating boiler, that doesn’t work every day either. So if you live off-grid, you sometimes have to be a bit stingy 🙂 .

Rules around living in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, there are a lot of rules regarding living. These are recorded in the Bouwbesluit (a rather dusty document). In any case, you are not allowed to live in something that is not officially a house.

Even a vacation home falls outside of this, let alone a garden house or a camper. This is so because of safety, health, usability, energy efficiency and the environment.

In general, you must at least be connected to utilities. Municipalities are even required to provide a sewer connection.

However, you can request that they make an exception. The municipality must then seek permission from the Province, which ultimately determines whether or not you will be connected.

The building code also states that a house must be connected to gas and electricity – even if you don’t want to use them.

How can you live off-grid in the Netherlands?
There are possibilities. But there aren’t that many. You have to be willing to pioneer a bit if you want to live off-grid in the Netherlands! But maybe that is one of the nice aspects of it.

Tiny house
You can build a Tiny House so that you can live completely off-grid. Of course, you still need to find a place to put your Tiny House.

On the website of Tiny House Netherlands you will find a map with locations where you could possibly live and which initiatives are still in development. Anyway, it’s worth following this link because they just renewed their website and there is a lot of very useful info on it (and it turned out really nice)!

Tiny Findy is the Funda of Tiny’s. It also sometimes lists pieces of land that are for sale where you can live with your Tiny House. These are always taken off in no time, there is a lot of demand!

Motor home or caravan
Go (temporarily) with a camper or caravan on a seasonal spot of a nice campsite! Also a good way to find out if it really suits you, that whole off-grid living thing.

Rent a place from a farmer
If you’re looking for a place for your off-grid home / camper / yurt / whatever, you can knock on the doors of farmers who have a lot of land. Who knows, they might want you there!

Adapt your home step by step
This may be easier to accomplish if you own your own home, not a rental. But even with a rental house, there are options. Who knows, maybe your landlord thinks it’s a good idea to install solar panels or start collecting rainwater for the toilet.

Build a new house
And integrate all the off-grid options you want. These people in Groningen did it, too!

Do you know of any other opportunities to live off-grid in the Netherlands? Let me know (you can do so below), and I’ll include them in this list.

What do you think about off-grid living?
Would you like to live off-grid? I’m very curious to hear your thoughts on this, and what motivations might be for wanting/not wanting it.

You can leave a comment below if you like it. Or on Instagram! Nice to talk to you there 🙂


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