Planning to move off the grid to be self-sufficient?
The first thing you need to know is how much it costs to live off the grid. While moving off the grid is a fantastic way to avoid the stress of city life, it has some challenges. And staying within your budget can be one of them.
Before setting this goal, you should be able to answer these questions:
How much money do you need to move from the city?
Can you afford it?
That said, estimating the costs of living off the grid can be overwhelming for beginners. The good news is that we’ll help you estimate these off-grid costs!
In today’s article, we’ll describe the average costs to start living off the grid, common recurring expenses, and hidden costs that could bust your budget.
So, let’s get started!
Although it’s true that off-grid living can cut down your monthly utility bills, you’ll have to deal with high upfront costs to make this possible.
The main initial costs to live off the grid include buying the land, building a shelter, generating electricity, sourcing water, heating your off-grid home, installing a septic tank, and setting up a garden.
Moving off the grid can cost about $10,000 to $600,000, depending on your location, needs, preferences, and other factors. On average, most people end up spending at least $100,000 to start living off the grid.
Now, let’s explain these costs factors so you can estimate how much money you’ll need to start living off the grid:
As a general rule, the land is cheaper the farther away from town you get.
If you live in the US, the states with the cheapest land (average of under $2,000 per acre for farmland) are New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, and Alabama. If you live in Europe, you could opt for Sweden or the west coast of Ireland.
If you decided you would like to live off the grid and know how much you could spend, then why not find out the best places to live off the grid worldwide.
Most homesteaders recommend buying 5-10 acres to move off the grid. Yet, some people prefer 1-5 acres to start their off grid lifestyle.
So, it really depends on how much land you’ll need to set up your dream off-grid home and grow your own food. If you’re planning to raise livestock, you’ll need more space to support this activity.
Costs of Buying Off The Grid Land
Finding the right place to live is the first step to moving off the grid, but it also accounts for a big portion of what you’ll spend to move from the city.
Buying off-grid land can vary greatly depending on factors such as country, size, and accessibility.
In general, remote and off-grid land tends to be less expensive due to the lack of infrastructure and amenities. However, purchasing off-grid land can still be a significant investment.
Some approximate costs for off-grid land include:
- Rural land in the Midwest or Southern US: $1,000-$5,000 per acre
- Off-grid land with no road access: $500-$1,000 per acre
- Remote land in Alaska or Northern Canada: $500-$3,000 per acre
- Land with water sources or established infrastructure: $10,000-$50,000+ per acre
It’s important to note that these prices can vary significantly based on the specifics of the property.
Off Grid Housing Costs
Depending on your budget and preferences, you can opt for a portable shelter, temporary structures, or a permanent structure to live off the grid.
As you’re probably guessing, housing costs will be lower if you opt for portable shelters or temporary structures. Some of these options include:
- Yurts: Pre-built yurts usually cost about $4,000 to $10,000.
- RVs: These portable options can cost around $10,000 – $20,000, but you can get a used RV for as little as $5,000.
- Tents: These are the cheapest options for an off-grid home. A tent can cost you somewhere near $500 or less.
If you’re interested in having a permanent structure, these are the average off-grid costs for some common options:
- Tiny homes and other prebuilt homes: The prices start at $25,000 and can go up to $50,000 for simple off-grid tiny homes.
- Log cabins: Cabins are another affordable option to live off the grid. You can purchase one for less than $50,000.
- Having a home built: This is one of the most expensive options. Building your off-grid home in a remote location is much more expensive than having one built in town. On average, the cost to build an off-grid house can be somewhere between $120,000 and $250,000.
Some lands already have a house that you can inhabit, but how much does it cost to get one of these off-grid houses?
Well, you could find off-grid houses for tens of thousands of dollars, but the best options will most likely cost much more than that.
Costs to Power Your Off-grid Home
Since you won’t be connected to the power lines, you will have to generate your electricity to keep some aspects of modern life. To determine how much this will cost you, it’s important to know how much power you’ll need first.
An easy way to know this is to check your past electricity bills.
Depending on how much energy you need to live off the grid, you can compare renewable energy options to choose the best option for you.
Here are the average costs (before tax credits or state incentives) to install enough solar panels or wind turbines to power your off-grid home:
- For a small off-grid solar system setup (under 2kW), you will have to spend around $5,000. This system will allow you to charge your cell phone and run a few small appliances.
- For more complex systems, you can expect to invest $30,000 to $65,000. The amount of money you’ll need to spend might vary depending on several factors, like how large your home is, how many people live with you, and how much sun or wind you get in your location.
Another expense to keep in mind to live off the grid is the batteries. Having a few batteries or a large backup system unit will allow you to supply your home’s power needs at night and even on cloudy days.
A battery power storage system can cost you about $7,000.
Heating Costs For Off The Grid Home
For those who want to start living off the grid, wood stoves and propane heaters are the best options for cooking and heating.
Simple wood stoves range from about $200 to $3,000, while more complex models can cost more than $5,000. On the other hand, you can find small propane heaters for less than $100.
If you’re able to get firewood from your property, you could cut it down yourself or hire someone to help you. Alternatively, you could buy wood or propane. Bear in mind the costs of driving to town now and then.
Costs to Drill a Private Well
Even though most people living off the grid drill a private well, it doesn’t need to be your case. For instance, you won’t need to do this if your property already has a well or has access to a freshwater source nearby. You could even have a rainwater collection system if allowed in your location.
Commonly, well-digging companies charge $15-$100 per foot. The exact cost depends on the quality of your soil and other factors.
Here’s the problem:
A regular well is usually about 100-150 feet deep, but it’s not possible to estimate how deep it will be on your property. So, the cost of drilling a well can be anywhere between $1,500 and $15,000, while the installation of a simple rainwater collection system can cost between $1,000 and $3,000.
Installation Costs for a Septic System?
If you live close to a sewer line, you’ll probably have to hook up to the municipal sewerage system to comply with local regulations.
If that’s not the case, you’ll have to install a septic tank to deal with wastewater while living off the grid.
The average installation cost for a septic system is between $3,000 and $10,000. The costs might vary depending on the septic tank size and the drainage ability of your soil.
Fortunately, a septic system can serve you for decades!
Some locations are now allowing alternative wastewater treatment systems, like composting toilets. These toilets use a small amount of water to turn human waste into fertiliser. The cost of this alternative method is roughly $2,000.
Costs of Setting up a Garden
If you’re planning to live off the grid, learning how to grow your own food it’s key to increasing your self-sufficiency. To live off the land, you’ll need fertiliser, seeds, fruit trees, fences, and maybe even raised beds:
- Fencing is one of the most important expenses to protect your garden from animals and prevent home break-ins. Installing high-quality fences can cost between $1,000 and $5,000.
- To water your plants, you could buy a hose instead of installing an irrigation system to reduce your costs. Likewise, you could use homemade compost instead of using store-bought fertiliser.
- Purchasing seeds for the whole year can cost you less than $100 while buying fruit trees can cost you about $80 per tree. Choose options that grow well in your area and collect seeds from your garden when your plants start producing.
How Much Money It Takes to Live Off the Grid in Detail
Let’s summarise the initial costs of living off the grid.
Below, we’ve put together the off-grid costs you should expect if you’re on tight a budget, the average amount of money most people spend, and the costs of high-end alternatives:
This should give you a better idea of how much it costs to move off the grid.
That said, you should do your own budgeting and research. Remember that these costs might vary depending on your needs and the costs in your area.
Recurring Costs of Off-Grid Living
Now that you know the initial costs to start living off the grid, don’t forget to take into account the costs of a day-to-day off grid lifestyle.
That’s right, even though off-grid living can reduce your monthly utility bills, there are some recurring expenses you may need to keep in mind, such as:
- Taxes: Even if you start living off the grid, you’ll probably have to pay income tax as well as property tax.
- Fuel: You’ll need fuel and oil for your vehicles and generators.
- Food: Condiments, sugar, salt, oils, and others.
- Propane or wood for heating
- Internet: You’ll need to pay a monthly fee.
- Pumping out the septic tank every 1-3 years
- Insurance: While this is not mandatory to live off the grid, it might be a good idea to have insurance for your home, vehicle, and your health.
- Household items: Light bulbs, kitchen utensils, garden tools, etc.
- Replacement batteries: Most batteries need replacing every few years, make sure to save money for this.
- Replacement solar panels: Although you won’t need to replace your solar panels every year (luckily), remember that they don’t last forever. Most solar panels are designed to last about 20 or 25 years of service. After this, you’ll need to replace them.
What Other Off-grid Costs Are There?
Besides the main initial costs to start living off the grid and the costs of a day-to-day off grid lifestyle, there are some costs that most people forget.
Let’s explore these “hidden off grid costs” so you can take them into account:
- Land-related expenses: Besides the costs of buying the land and building your off-grid home, you’ll probably need to clear the land, pour the foundation, test your soil, make a road, and so on.
- Outbuildings: Greenhouse, woodshed, barn, animal stalls, chicken coops, rabbit cages, garage, toolshed, animal food storage, and other buildings you might need.
- Livestock: Chickens, pigs, or cows.
- Costs to cut your own firewood: To cut your own firewood, you will need equipment like chainsaws, gas, and a truck or an ATV. You might even need to hire someone to help you. So, it’s not completely free.
- Other costs for your private well: You also have to take into account the costs for the plumbing, electrical work, the pump, and the water tank.
The average costs to start living off the grid can be overwhelming, but remember that everyone has different needs and preferences.
So, your costs might be different as well. Besides, some off-grid costs can be lower in certain places & different climates.
Take your time, research, compare costs in your location, and choose the best options to move off the grid. You might even discover that you’d spend the same amount of money to buy a new home that’s not off the grid!
Now you know the true costs to living off the grid, why not read How to Live Off the Grid: The Complete Guide for Beginners