Martin Johnson Off-Grid Living: Should You Follow the Channel?


Written by qualified solar engineer Aniket. Last updated:

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You may wonder what a middle-aged couple with no off-grid experience has to teach about living in the woods, but Martin Johnson’s YouTube channel gives you an answer: a lot. 

Today, there are dozens of off-grid and homesteading channels on YouTube, but Martin and Julie Johnson’s simplicity and relatability have gotten them hundreds of thousands of viewers. Let’s look at their story and see if their channel is any good.

Martin Johnson’s Off-Grid Living YouTube Channel

Martin Johnson started his YouTube channel in July 2013. Originally titled Riding Java, it chronicled his motorcycle journeys in Indonesia and neighboring East-Asian countries. 

Over time, Martin and the family decided to quit the city life and live in the forests of Sandpoint in North Idaho, which is how the current version of the channel began. 

Martin and Julie with their kids Sarah and Seth

Choosing seven acres of raw land, the family first lived in tents for six months. During this period, the couple and their two kids built their DIY, off-grid homestead and shared their entire journey with the viewers.

Martin’s channel shares information about many things related to an off-grid cabin build, including building a root cellar, hand pump installation, and reviews of solar generators. The channel often has videos about simple home construction stuff such as flooring, laminates, and kitchen counters.

The channel’s cover photo says, “Debt free. Off-grid. Modern homesteading”. There are new videos published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. As of mid-2022, the channel has 414,000 subscribers and over 63 million total views.

Martin Johnson’s Off-Grid Website

Martin and Julie also have a website called “Down to Earth Homesteaders,” where they share more information about their journey through a blog. 

The resources section on the website is particularly helpful. You can find wiring diagrams for an off-grid home solar system and links to items useful for an off-grid cabin.

More About Martin Johnson and Julie Johnson

In the couple’s words, they haven’t retired Silicon Valley types or trust fund babies. They are just regular average middle-class conservative folks looking for a change. Martin has previously worked as an HVAC technician and Julie at a daycare center. 

According to the couple, in the 19 years they’ve been married, they have lived in two countries, six states, and over 15 houses.

They have served in Indonesia for nine years as missionaries, living off-grid in New Guinea for about four of those years. They have two kids, Seth and Sarah, who also live on the homestead and appear in several of their videos.

Julie also has a channel of her own where she shares cooking videos and has almost 25,000 subscribers.

Martin Johnson Off-Grid Living Top Videos

Martin and Julie’s off-grid life has millions of viewers on YouTube, but their three most-viewed videos are as follows:

  1. Easiest Off-grid Solar Power System Battery Bank: Getting energy is one of the biggest challenges when living off the grid. Martin’s channel’s most viewed video proves how many people want to know about using solar panels for their off-grid needs. The full video is about 25 minutes long and has been viewed more than 4.4 million times!
  2. Timelapse: House Built by Family in 15 Minutes: All of the family’s efforts in building their own off-grid home crammed into just 15 minutes. The second favorite video is a timelapse of their work, and has 4.3 million views.
  3. We Built a Well and You Won’t Believe What They Pulled Up: When the family decided to drill a well, they pulled up (spoiler alert!) a massive amount of glacial silt – grey and clay-like. A video detailing this is the third-highest viewed with over 1m views.

Final Words

Martin Johnson and his family may not be trained survivalists, but their experience living in the wild while building their own house is worth watching. 

Their videos are not only entertaining but also full of valuable tips and tricks that will help make building your off-grid home easier and perhaps even more fun.

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