Best places to go off the grid in SA

There are various reasons why people choose to get off the grid – a term coined to describe households that don’t receive public utility services from their city.

Some do it to assert their independence and to escape the monthly service fees, others attempt it as an environmentally responsible endeavour to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

“Whatever your reasons, going off the grid takes a lot of careful planning and resourcefulness. Most alternative energy and water supplies require a certain type of climate in order to be effective. That is why finding the right location is paramount to successfully maintaining your self-sufficiency,” says Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

Goslett believes the top four best places in SA to get off-the-grid are Hoedspruit in Limpopo, the Riebeek Valley in the Western Cape, the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and Kuruman in the Northern Cape.

Neighbouring on the Kruger National Park and situated at the foot of the Klein Drakensberg, Hoedspruit is a safari lovers’ dream. Being so close to the largest national park in South Africa, Hoedspruit offers many smallholdings that are ideal for potential off-the-grid buyers. The additional space allows them to install their own water tanks and alternative power generators, and the warm climate makes it the ideal spot for solar-generated electricity.

“We have two off-the-grid properties on the market at present, one of which is in Leadwood Big Game Estate. This four-bedroom home is designed to be self-sustainable with 5 000 litre water tanks with a water purification system as well as a solar system,” says Annie van den Berg of RE/MAX Wildlife Properties.

Just an hours’ drive from Cape Town, the Riebeek Valley area offers the perfect location for an off-the-grid home that is still within easy access of a bustling metropolis.

“Our underground water, which comes from the Kasteelberg Mountain, is pure and unpolluted, so many of our properties make use of their own borehole water supplies,” explains Anne Ketel of RE/MAX Valley Properties. The Western Cape’s warm conditions also make it easy for homeowners to make use of solar power, and RE/MAX Valley Properties once marketed a large four-bedroom home on a 4 900 m2 plot that ran completely off its own borehole and solar system.

Midlands in KwaZulu-Natal is rich in water sources – rivers, lakes, dams and waterfalls are abundant here. The climate is also suitable for self-created electricity sources such as solar panels and wind turbines.

“The Midlands is an area rich in natural resources, making it an attractive spot for off-the-grid property buyers,” explains Chris Smallie, branch manager at RE/MAX Midlands Howick branch. This office has three off-the-grid properties on its books, all of which are in the Curry’s Post area. Providing the perfect example of a property that makes use of the abundant available resources, Woodlands Farm has its own natural water supply that feeds off a natural spring into an 80000 litre water tank that overflows into an on-site dam. Solar panels and wind turbines provide electricity for this property.

Kuruman in Northern Cape is a scenic area with a great underwater supply originating from the Eye Fountain, and it is said that the sun shines 340 days of the year here – making it the ideal spot for solar electricity.

“We know of a lot of owners in the area who are trying to get their properties off the electrical grid. Sections of our town were not on the water supply grid, so most of these owners have their own boreholes and many have their own sewage systems too,” says Elretha van der Merwe, of RE/MAX Kalahari, Kuruman branch.

She suggests that off-the-grid buyers look at river properties close to Douglas. There are about 40 plots available on a property here called Plaas Zandberg that present the perfect opportunity for sustainable living.

“Going off-the-grid is more than just a trendy craze to try out. It is an entirely new environmentally responsible lifestyle that homeowners will need to adopt. Choosing the right location is one of the most important parts of successfully making the transition into an entirely self-sufficient household,” Goslett concludes.