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Pros of Living Off the Grid in Sims 4
- Reduced bills and tax breaks
- Refreshing and unique gameplay
- Great for storytelling and challenges
- Great for pack integration
Cons of Living Off the Grid
- What works off the grid is inconsistent
- Limited cooking recipes
- Not totally immersive (Sims still have cell phones; live in a connected world)
- To get the most out of off the grid, you need Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle
Living off the grid has fascinated many, but exploded in popularity in 2010 and the following decade, with pop culture, reality TV shows, and even social media gurus promoting a more substantially lifestyle–and Sims 4 joined that trend.
Living off the grid in the Sims 4 is one of my favorite ways to add a new challenge, create unique stories, and take a break from the usually very technologically forward worlds in the Sims 4.
But living off the grid requires a guide, to fully understand and appreciate what to use and how. And as much as I find living off the grid compelling, both as a concept in real life and in the Sims 4, it isn’t without its drawbacks.
Consider this your guide to living off the grid in the Sims 4– and prepare for an unique player experience quite different from the bustling City Living in San Myshuno.
What is Off the Grid Living?
Off the grid living, both in the Sims 4 and in real life, is a lifestyle devoted to environmentally friendly practices and divorcing oneself away from the constant connection of smartphones, computers, and social media.
The goal of off the grid living is twofold and depends on the individual. Generally, off the grid living is supposed to be promoting a sustainable lifestyle with a much-reduced impact on the environment. The other goal, for many, is to connect more with their natural world, disengage from the chaos, and even mental health impact of being digitally constantly connected. Which, of course, makes playing with off the grid in the Sims 4 amusingly ironic.
In the United States, off the grid living is not illegal, but certain city and county ordinances may have zoning requirements. While there are many ways to live off the grid, it generally involves harvesting your own food, water, and electricity. Solar panels, wind turbines, and even hydroelectric power are among the most popular options.
Some opt for moderate approaches, with half on half off the grid living or modern living off the grid, which involves using well to harness energy.
Is Off the Grid Living a New Feature for Sims?
Sims 4 is the only Sims game that truly has off the grid living, which is not surprising as the rise in popularity surrounding the trend was at its peak when Sims 4 was released. The closest to off the grid living in the Sims Franchise was in the spin-off game, Sims 2: Castaway.
Sims 2 Castaway followed a story request theme, where your Sim was stranded on an island and had to live off the land to survive. This was a spin-off game, and, while much of the lifestyle echoed off the grid living, it was from a survival standpoint, not a chosen lifestyle.
It was not, however, until Sims 4 that off the grid living became a feature, and one arguably developed from the larger theme of environmental stewardship and sustainability.
Using the Off the Grid Lot Trait
Off the grid living in Sims 4 was introduced as a trait. Lot traits, first appearing in a patch with the launch of Sims 4 City Living, impact gameplay and skill acquisition. In some cases, lot traits can also impact can sims socialize.
The Off the Grid lot trait was launched alongside Sims 4: Island Living in Summer 2019, but since it was patched in the base game, you don’t need the base game to use it. Lot traits can be found under build mode.
What it Does & Perks
When you select the off the grid lot trait, it affects buy objects that use electricity and water. The kitchen and bathroom items, alongside lights, are the most affected.
However, with these lot of traits, your house won’t have to pay for utility bills. Not only that, but you’ll also be given small tax breaks, typically around 75 simoleons. It may not be much, but those together add up and help Sims save money early in their careers!
Essential Buy Objects
Because many objects require power, you won’t be able to use your typical stove/ oven range or shower. However, there are a number of build items that function with the off the grid trait without using electricity.
There was initially a good deal of inconsistency. While many of these issues have since been addressed, there are a few irregularities still. The best way you can tell is by hovering over the items’ description, where it will state whether or not it works off the grid.
Any candles, or lights labeled as candles, should work. Regular lights, for the most part, will not. Lanterns are also an option, and, for a large room, I’m especially fond of fireplaces and extra windows (and large ones!) to bring in natural light. As a side note, I prefer opting for a world that tends to be sunnier (if you have Seasons installed), such as Sulani, as opposed to the rainy worlds that came with Sims 4 Get Together and Sims 4 Cats and Dogs.
You’ll also be limited to what sinks you can use, and far fewer options for bathing. As a general rule, outdoor sinks and outdoor showers work off the grid(such as the one that came with Island Living). One of the biggest critiques I have is inconsistency: for instance, most bathtubs do not work, yet the shower/tub combo from the base game will, as will a shower that comes with Strangerville. Most toilets work off the grid.
Stoves and Other Appliances
Your Sim can cook with just a few stoves– both the Wood Burning Cookstove and the YumCooker (used and new) from the base game are go-to’s. Of course, you may also use outdoor grills too, and with the recent update that came with Hispanic Heritage month, there are now more grilling options available than ever.
Storing and Preparing Food
You may have to give up your Sims’ coffee habit, but they can store food in the small cooling units (vs full sized refrigerators). You may also keep some food items for several days to a week by using sales tables from the City Living expansion pack or the Jungle Adventure game pack. Now, with a new update, you can also use regular refrigerators by adding ice. Ice will only keep food fresh for one Sim day.
Cooking and Preparing Food
For stoves, you’ll have access for just a few main recipes, including grilled cheese; eggs and toast; tomato soup; fish on a stick; and popcorn crickets. Of course, cold dishes, such as fruit salad and other salads, as well as dry goods are always easy meals you can prepare. For more recipes, I highly recommend using outdoor grills.
Powering Your Home
Of course, opting for the Off the Grid lot trait in the Sims 4 doesn’t mean a sentence for your Sim to survive off-dry bowls of cereal and bathe in the ocean. You’ll need to work to provide electricity and water for your home, which is part of the fun, and part of the challenge.
You read correctly–if you’re fully committed to off the grid living in Sims 4, you’ll need to have your Sim collect water. There are a few ways to do this.
- Gather Water: Gathering water is the main way to get what you need to use your toilet, shower/tub, and most sinks. You can do so in a wide range of places, from ponds for fishing to oceans/ swimmable water and even pools (though the thought of using pool water, in my opinion, is questionable). You’ll have to collect water regularly, as the options to shower or even flush your toilet will disappear when you’re out of water.
- Dew Collector: The dew collector is a more inventive way to collect water, but requires the Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle expansion pack. This allows you to collect natural dew in the morning but is normally only enough to take a shower. It will also add a ‘green’ footprint to your world.
- Water Generator: The water generator likewise requires the Eco Lifestyle expansion pack (and adds a polluted/ industrial footprint). The water generator is bulky, requires fuel, but is more powerful and provides more water at a time. Due to the fuel requirements (scraps) and the general look, I don’t use this option often.
To generate power in your Sim’s home, I have some bad news and good news. The good news is that it can be done; the bad news is these methods require Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle. In general, I either stick to solar panels and wind turbines or just go without power.
- Power Generator: The power generator requires 25 bits to function, is rather bulky, and also adds to pollution.
- Solar Panels and Wind Turbines: By far my preferred methods if I feel the need to have power for my off the grid Sims, solar panels are installed either on the ground or the roof and provide a ‘green’ footprint for your world.
Pack Tie Ins
One of my favorite things about a lot of traits is that they have the ability to impact your everyday gameplay, but also enhance expansion packs you own. When it comes to the off the grid lot trait in Sims 4, both Sims 4: Island Living and Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle are natural pairings; it even works well with some stuff packs.
Sims 4 Island Living
When Sims 4 Island Living was launched, many in the Sims community anticipated that it would be much like the tropical expansion pack from Sims 3. That pack, Sims 3: Island Paradise, focused on a vacation and tourist aspect, with hotels you could run and manage, houseboats, and a seemingly idyllic world.
Sims 4 Island Living has its flaws, but I personally do like the unique direction it took, replacing the tourist-heavy aspects with an eco-focused theme as well as a spotlight on traditional cultural practices.
Along with that theme comes the conservationist career, with the ability to clean up beaches, and also, a stunning world with lots that feel quite disconnected from the normally quite modern and technologically connected world of the Sims 4.
I love using the off the grid trait in the world of Sulani, perfect for a Sim pursuing the conservationist career, or even the Sim who wants to connect more with the local culture and natural world.
Sims 4 Eco Lifestyle
When Sims 4 Eco Lifestyle was announced, most simmers were quite surprised. The expansion pack also focuses on environmental themes, though, unlike in Island Living, where sustainable living was a side feature, environmentally friendly practices is quite literally the theme of the expansion.
The objective, so to speak, of Eco Lifestyle, is to impact a polluted environment. Based upon what objects you use and building materials, the world becomes less or more polluted, which is why the off the grid trait is a perfect way to go. You reduce emission, and it’s a natural pairing for the pack that introduced wind turbines and solar panels.
And of course, as this guide has already covered, Sims 4 Eco Lifestyle provides more options for gathering water and generating power.
Laundry Day and Tiny Living (Stuff Packs)
Both of these stuff packs also contain that running theme of eco or sustainable living that’s become prominent in Sims 4. Laundry Day does have washing machines and dryers, but it also provides the ability to use the clothing line and hand wash.
Sim 4 Tiny Living is all about reducing your footprint, with perks for making homes as small as possible. A tiny living lot trait, combined with the off the grid lot trait, really helps me create Sims fully committed to a sustainable and minimalist lifestyle.
Question: How do you live off the grid with a toddler in Sims 4?
Answer: Playing a family in Sims 4 with a toddler (or many, if you’re doing something like the 7 Toddler Challenge) is daunting in itself. Add to the grid lot trait, and you’ll find yourself juggling toddler care, cleaning up messes, and gathering water.
But when it comes to keeping your toddler clean, you can bathe toddlers using any of the tubs (base game) that work with the off the grid trait. For entertainment, I recommend little toddler toys and spending time reading with them.
Question: What does functional while off the grid mean in Sims 4?
Answer: If you hover over plumbing and electric buy objects in the Sims 4 build/buy catalog (such as stoves, refrigerators, showers, and sinks) there may be a note indicating that the object is functional off the grid.
This means that you can use this object even with the off the grid lot trait applied (you may also use it for lots that are on the grid). However, you’ll still have to gather your own water. For ovens that work, you’ll be limited to recipes with stovetop cooking, just as grilled cheese. And in the case of refrigerators, you’ll have to restock them with ice every Sim day.
Question: What are the plot traits in Sims 4?
Answer: Lot traits in Sims 4 can be applied to any residence and community lot and impact the way sims interact, gain skills, or provide perks like reduced bills or emotional buffs.
There are also a few traits that provide added challenge to your game, including the base game off the grid lot trait; the filthy lot trait; and the quake zone lot trait. Lots of traits were introduced to the Sims 4 in a patch accompanying the release of the City Living expansion pack and available to the base game. Since, lots of traits have come with expansion packs, game packs, and even a stuff pack (Sims 4: Tiny Living).
Living off the grid in the Sims 4 certainly has its challenges, but, in my opinion, the challenge is exactly what the Sims 4 needs. With the off the grid lot trait and a guide at your disposal, you can escape some of the modern worlds, even if your Sims are still ironically glued to their smartphones.