Missouri Off-Grid Laws: An In-Depth Guide

Missouri is one of the best states for off-grid living. The state already has communities of people living off-grid, and there is minimum government interference.

However, there are still a lot of regulations to navigate if you want to go completely off-grid without breaking the law.


Is Living Off-Grid Legal in Missouri?

Off-grid living is legal in Missouri, considered one of the friendliest states for going off-grid. In rural areas, there are very few or even no building codes other than for septic. You are mostly free to do whatever you want on your own land.

Missouri Zoning Laws and Off-Grid Living

In many states, zoning laws can make it challenging to go off-grid. These laws may prohibit you from using your land in specific ways or set requirements such as minimum lot sizes. Luckily, there is still a lot of land in rural Missouri with no zoning.

In areas without zoning, you will mostly be free to do whatever you want on your land. You will still need to adhere to local building codes, though (which are in place to protect you and your neighbors).

However, there are surprisingly many places in Missouri that don’t even have building codes. For example, Osage County does not have building requirements or zoning. Rural areas of Douglas County also don’t have zoning or building codes.

The closer you get to cities, the more likely you are to have to follow codes. Also note that even if the county doesn’t have building codes, the towns within the county might have their own codes.

Exceptions to No-Zoning Land in Missouri:

Even if you find land in Missouri that isn’t zoned and has no building codes, you will still have to follow state laws about wastewater removal. See the sewage section of this article for more on those laws.

Also, most places in Missouri (even without zoning or building codes) have a Floodplain Management Ordinance. Under this law, you must get a permit to build in a floodplain. You will have to follow stricter rules when building and getting an inspection. You can see an example of Greene County’s floodplain rules here.

Qualifying As a Farm in Missouri

In Missouri, farmland has lower property taxes. As described here, agricultural land “actively farmed” is assessed. The assessor will assign it one of 8 grades based on productive value, with Grade 1 being the best land. The agricultural land is then taxed 12% of its productive or market value. Unused land is taxed at 12% of its market value.

An assessor will ultimately decide whether your land qualifies as a farm in Missouri. You’ll have to have the land reassessed bi-annually. Unfortunately, there is a lot of inconsistency in how land is taxed. There are reports of neighboring farmlands being taxed at drastically different rates.

Best Places to Go Off-Grid in Missouri

Southern Missouri, particularly in the Ozarks, is very popular for off-grid living because of the cheap land.

The South also tends to be more relaxed regarding the legalities of off-grid living.

However, the land in southern Missouri is very rocky and not great for traditional agriculture. Many people in the area pay for dirt to be hauled to their land and use raised-bed gardening methods.

The north has better dirt, but land is pricier, and counties are more likely to have zoning and building codes.

Off-Grid Electricity in Missouri

No laws prohibit you from disconnecting from the power grid in Missouri. However, many areas do have building codes. You must follow these codes when installing off-grid electrical systems in your home.


Missouri offers rebates for installing solar panels on your property. However, the rebates come from the utility providers, so they are not available to people living off-grid.

If you stay connected to the grid, Missouri has good net metering laws, so you can get money for any extra electricity you produce. Missouri also has a property tax exemption on solar systems; if your solar system increases your property value, it won’t count toward your property taxes.

You can find more info on the Missouri Department of Energy website.

Also Read:

Off-Grid Water

Missouri is a water-rich state and has very relaxed riparian water laws. You are allowed “reasonable use” of all water on or under your land. Reasonable use means water usage doesn’t adversely impact your neighbors or other water users.

You only need to register water use if you divert or can pump 70 gallons per minute or more.

Unfortunately, Missouri has a problem with water contamination. Even deep wells may have water contaminated with (as one resident said) “an impressive array of agricultural chemicals in concentrations that should alarm you.”

Surface Water

Unlike in many other states, Missouri allows you to use surface water. You can use as much water as you want. The only limitation is that you don’t adversely affect other water users.

For example, you could legally divert a stream in Missouri to irrigate your crops. But, if diverting the stream deprives your downstream neighbors of water, it would be illegal.

No laws prevent you from building water reservoirs, ponds, artificial lakes, irrigation canals, or cisterns on your property. The Missouri government even gives some great free resources on creating water storage reservoirs on your property, such as this guide to creating ponds. 

Navigable Waters

Under Missouri law, everyone can use navigable streams and rivers. This means you cannot prohibit people from boating on a stream that goes through or next to your property.

However, no law states you have to give people access to the water from your property. Likewise, boaters can’t step foot on your property from the water. You own the low water edge.

Well Water

Under Missouri law, it is your right to drill a well on your property. However, the law states that you must use a licensed well-driller. You will be required to get a permit and pay fees. Water must be sampled, but only during the installation process. After that, water quality isn’t monitored.   Read FAQs about the details of the law.


Rainwater harvesting is entirely legal in Missouri. However, some areas might have regulations about using harvested rainwater for drinking or other potable uses. You’ll need to check your area’s local building codes and ensure any treatment systems you install comply with the rules.

For more, here is a good guide to rainwater harvesting in Missouri.

Graywater Recycling

Under Missouri law, it is illegal to dispose of liquid waste on the ground. All liquid waste must go into a sewage tank. However, graywater recycling systems are still legal. You may be able to have your required septic tank size reduced by 40% if you install a gray water system. This is decided by an inspector on a case-by-case basis. Read more here.

Also Read:

Sewage and Waste Removal

In Missouri, sewage removal is regulated by the state and not the county. So, even if your county has no building codes, you will still be required to have an approved septic system, as Missouri law requires. This means connecting to the sewage system or installing a septic tank.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is responsible for regulating domestic wastewater systems. You will need a permit, and the installation must be done by someone registered with the Department of Health and Senior Services.

Read the laws.

Compost and Incinerating Toilets

Under Missouri law, composting and incinerating toilets are considered a “non-ground absorption sewage disposal system.” However, these systems still exist in a legal gray area. They can be used, but you will still need a septic tank for disposing of waste.

You may be able to have your septic tank size requirements reduced, though, for using waterless sewage disposal methods.

For more, see this fact sheet from the University of Missouri.


In almost all cases, outhouses are illegal in Missouri. They are only allowed in places that are:

  • Not continuously occupied
  • In remote areas not served by piped water

Even if you get approval for an outhouse, you must adhere to strict design regulations. You can’t even backfill outhouses; they must be pumped out by a registered septic tank pumper and disposed of in a municipal sewer system.

Also Read:

Other Off-Grid Laws in Missouri

RVs and Tiny Homes

Because so many places in Missouri don’t have zoning or building codes, it is one of the friendliest states for RVs and tiny homes. In cities, though, you will still come up against many restrictions that make living in a tiny home illegal, especially one on wheels. Some cities have started allowing tiny homes in their zoning codes. These cities include Saint Charles, Branson, St. Louis, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Columbia, and Springfield.


Missouri is one of the best states for homeschooling. The state government doesn’t monitor homeschooling. No notifications, teacher qualifications, or assessments are required. The regulations about keeping records or work are very relaxed. However, it’s worth mentioning that the Missouri educational system ranks very poorly nationwide, and rural schools are especially bad. So, homeschooling might be the only option if you want your kids to have a good education while living off-grid in Missouri.

Do you live off-grid in Missouri? Let us know about any legal issues you had to deal with in the comments section below. 

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  1. My husband and I are seriously considering moving out of New York and moving to Missouri to live off the grid….Any suggestions on first timers would be greatly appreciated.

    • Yes move out away from new york and purchase you and your husband some farm land to grow lots of vegetables and flowers plants lots of it in woodens building beds and sale some vegetables to make money ok me and my husband going to purchase us 40 acres off grid land in 7 more days to plant collard greens okra cabbage kale onions mustuard green beans potatoes sweet potatoes belle peppers carrots squash flowers guard turnip greens some of everythings pumpkin tomatoes zukinnie yes and go for it and you do not have to pay all that money out for a home and you do not have to ask nobody will you please give me time to pay my home are rent no more i have lots of farm tools rakes hoe lawn mower and going to buy a rideing mower and i saw a used $3,500 farm tracktor with a tiller hook behind it it still there it read need a streeing wheel it read somebody stole the steering wheel off it been there for 3 years still there they want cash then we going to move and get a use truck to haul our vegetables and plant in pots vegetables to see i use to plant in my own back yard made money then made money from flea market i used to have a flea market for 6 years but i still sale clothes and things from 1988 to 2020 i have not been saleing nothing in 4 years but i still do never stop i just keep on ordering shipments i am stacking up to sale and get older i sit down to make us mone i have lots of shipments stacked up in one bedroom move away from new york

  2. I live off grid now but looking to move to cooler locale. Any suggestions on best county for retired couple with heart condition?

  3. I am looking to move into a tiny home that is rv certified. Am I allowed to move into a rv park. The actual structure is made of steal so it does not look like a traditional tiny home

    • Areas with RV zoning are the most relaxed. The problem is if you want to live in an RV or tiny home in an area which isn’t zoned for RVs. You’ll have to very carefully look at the zoning laws though. They are on a local level, not state level.

    • That is most places in the nation now. The easiest let you stake and flag both sides of the driveway and assign an address. The worst require installation of septic, well, and electric before assigning an address.

  4. First of all, I just found this website and it is an unbelievably AMAZING resource. So thank you! Let’s say I find a rural property with an older barn and want to finish only part of it… if there are no building/ zoning codes, would i run into trouble? On top of that, I basically want to do what “Off grid w/ Doug and Stacy” do. Referring to their Composting buckets, water collection, etc…

  5. Very useful. Thanks.
    I just bought 3 acres near Lake of the Ozarks and plan on becoming as self-sufficient as possible. It looks like I picked the right state.

  6. Great read! Thank you for all the “How-To’s”, and helpful information. You answered questions I didn’t even know I had.

  7. Is it considered “off the grid” If you are only connected to one utility? Lets say the city’s sewer, but nothing else. I’d like to build a tiny home cabin in southern Mo. I’m just getting started with the research!

    • Technically, “off grid” means that you aren’t connected to any utilities. In reality, most people are going to rely on one utility or another. So you’ll have to figure out what off grid means to you and your desired lifestyle. *After seeing how disgusting some places get when they have loose rules, I actually am in favor of government regulation of sewage systems!


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