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Going off-grid for $12k or less
A journey of 7 key stages for making the off-grid leap (a guide for 1-2 people)
You want more time.
You’d like to be in nature more.
You’d like to be at peace and breath easy, directing your life’s journey in a slower and more methodical pace. Life shouldn’t be so frenetic.
Your job was simply supposed to be a way to make a living. But the pay simply doesn’t match the cost of living anymore. Especially with inflation.
There has to be more to living than the rat race of modern life.
Some days it feels like you just work simply to afford to be able to go to work: you pay for your apartment or house rent, you pay for the car, the insurance, the utilities and all the other bills needed for you to work your job. Is that your only purpose?
Seems a bit circular, doesn’t it? What’s the point here?
Aren’t you supposed to have at least a little time to head off for a hike, help a friend, do some writing, bake with your kids, or just slow down to catch your breath?
Most of us barely have time to think, once we dove into the work force, and things have only been getting worse with inflation. It seems like a current you can’t break free from.
The big winners are the people who sell you the fuel to drive to work, sell you the car, create the countless ads you see daily, the credit card companies, the big banks, and the corporate landlords who rent you the apartments and homes that sit empty while you are at work. Are you winning? Or are you just working 24/7 to pay the “winners”?
Back in the day we called that “indentured servitude.” America is heading back to medieval feudalism…
Our needs are less than you think. Just a few generations ago our ancestors couldn’t imagine the material wealth of today. Maybe that’s the problem…
Society can order same-day Amazon products, and we can order door-dash of any cuisine within an hour, but many people can no longer afford a home, free time, or peace of mind... Wouldn’t you trade 2-day shipping and Panda Express for getting your time back? For reclaiming your life? For freedom and peace?
Many people are.
Maybe you should too.
What’s an alternative path to a different way of living?
I’d like to propose a path for you.
It’s radical. It’s something that’s not easy. But it is possible.
It involves leaving behind the debt-laden cocoon of modern American living.
It’s going to stretch you, force you to learn new skills, and require you to live more simply.
But the upside is freedom. More time alone to think, or more time together to visit, more time in nature, more time watching clouds drift across the sky.
I’d like to outline how you can make the jump to off-grid living to reclaim more freedom and build a different lifestyle. We’re going to list real steps, real technology and tools, and real costs.
This off-grid path is not for everyone. It’s a huge shift away from our consumer culture of ease and convenience. It’s for those who seek to be free and are willing to make a big change.
This path has risks, but it also has huge rewards.
Perhaps you need an adventure, and a new purpose beyond the freeway, rush-hour commute and the eternal 8-6 grind. This guide is intended for a single person or perhaps two people together.
This is the guide I wished I’d had 10 years ago. Let’s get started…
If you have a family, many of these concepts will work, but making this off-grid jump with children is harder. It’s not impossible, just harder. You can still do it. We are.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. What does it take to make the jump?
I’m going to give you the rapid fire summary, and then we’ll unpack each step in detail after this overview list:
Going off-grid summary, in 7 steps, for $12k or less (for 1-2 people):
You need to decide if you actually want this. Only then will you see it through to completion.
Do you really want to break free from the machine?
Do you truly want a life changing adventure to reconnect?
It’s ok to be a bit scared. Charting a new path is always scary.
But more than anything, get excited. You’re breaking free.
You need access to land. Not much land; 1/4 acre or less will do. You have a few various options:
You can buy a small piece of land (costliest option - best long term).
You can rent a bit of land (fastest option - good for starting out).
You can barter for access to land (requires good people skills).
You need to ensure you can live on your land in a tent, yurt, cabin or RV. You’ll likely need a rural, low regulation environment where people enjoy freedom and leave others alone. Think: Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, North Georgia, Mississippi, Alaska, New Mexico and other states with low regulation. Often you’ll find more freedom in “mountain country.”
We’ll dig into these options more later.
You need a quality shelter to begin with. I recommend a high-end canvas tent. Hear me out; this can be an amazing home for the first 12 months while you build a cabin or something stronger. Some people live for years in a canvas tent.
A canvas tent is 100X better than Coleman tent for long-term use.
It can be setup in 1-2 hours. It can last for years with proper care.
You can heat it, cool it, and cover all your basics with this basic shelter.
Our ancestors would have LOVED a tent like this compared to their teepees, tents and yurts.
We really like using a canvas outhouse over the toilet, makes a great combo with the canvas tent.
If you’re not down for a canvas tent, a simple A-frame cabin, off-grid camper, teardrop trailer, or yurt can all work too.
You need water. There are many options here as well. Let’s cover a few:
Rainwater catchment. This is quick to setup and often can meet your needs fully. Costs a few hundred dollars to setup properly. Most realistic route.
Running surface water: Creek / stream.
Hookup if available (only applies if you are renting / borrowing land). This could be a well, city water, or another local water source.
Hauling water in for a while. Not glamorous, but 100% viable.
Purification can be as simple as a sediment filter, and then a gravity fed kitchen water purifier (like a WaterDrop filter).
You need sanitation. Everybody poops, you included. Composting toilets or a HomeBioGas methane digester toilet are fantastic options for solving sanitation.
Composting toilets are simple, affordable, and work better than you’d imagine. Trust me. I was unsure at first, but after testing them I’m a big fan.
If you want to keep flushing, and have the water available, opt for a HomeBioGas methane digester toilet. It’s truly some amazing technology.
You need to wash your hands of course. We recommend a simple hands-free, foot-pump sink to start out with. We have really enjoyed ours.
With land, shelter, water, and sanitation covered, we really need energy now. There are so many cool options for your energy needs:
400 watt solar panel kit + solar generator. This reliable electrical setup can power:
Laptops, cell phone, LEDs, TV, fans, power tools
An AC unit for a 1-2 hours, or a heater briefly
An efficient freezer or a very small 12v refrigerator
A tiny tent wood stove for heating during cold months. If you have easy access to sticks, branches, and logs this will keep you warm during the cold months on the cheap.
An electric blanket for personal heating from the solar generator.
If you use the HomeBioGas methane digester with your toilet, you’ll have 1-2 hours of clean burning cooking fuel daily. A fantastic bonus.
You can also cook food directly with sunlight, using vacuum tube solar cookers. GoSun makes some solar ovens our team loves using.
As far as food goes, you really just need a safe place to store rice, beans, produce, eggs, spices, and some condiments. You barely need refrigeration space: just for dairy or meat really.
Technically that’s it to make the jump. Growing your own food off-grid is another ballgame, and we’ll cover that in future posts. The off-grid journey is incremental, and if you pull this off you’re doing amazing. Keep building skills, refining your systems, and evolving your new lifestyles.
It’s not flashy, but that’s what it takes to get started. To get started living off-grid you now have the basics covered:
You decided to actually make it happen.
You found access to land to begin your off-grid journey.
You setup an affordable, and simple, shelter from the elements.
You found a water source that works for you.
You built a sanitation system that is effective and safe.
You found energy systems that provide for your basic needs.
You continue to learn, evolve, and refine your lifestyle.
Now that you’ve read the high-level overview, let’s dive into the nitty gritty on costs, technology, zoning, and more!
1) Committing 100%: Is this journey truly for you?
Are you physically healthy enough for this? To live on the land you need to be in good shape. You’re going to be lifting, sweating, working and using your body. This might be just what you need. Don’t go into this without prepping yourself. Our modern sedentary lives make us weak. You need to be strong and you’ll enjoy this journey more.
Are you in a good financial position? (mostly debt free). If you’re tied down to big student loans, consumer debt, or other debt you can’t quickly pay off, you’ll have a harder time becoming free in an off-grid environment. Debt follows you, especially student debt. Perhaps this lifestyle will help you reduce expenses to pay off debt. If so, great! Sadly, debt is often the trap that prevents people from actually making this dream real.
Do you have a creative work solution? If you’re moving to a more rural area, what work can you do? Are you able to get internet with a hotspot for remote work? Do you have skills in the trades that can be used in nearby towns or cities? Think through this. You’ll still need an income, even living off grid. There will always be property taxes (except some parts of Alaska), vehicle fuel (typically), and it’s unlikely you’ll actually grow all your food. The goal is to not need much money, but you’ll still need a bit of income. Remote work is my choice, being in the software industry.
Do you have kiddos or other dependents to factor in? You might be able to rough it, but can your spouse and kids? Some families love this adventure! You need to ensure everyone is ready for a big change. With a family, sometimes it takes baby steps. If it’s just you, what are you waiting for? Jump!
Do you know that off-grid living, while awesome, won’t solve every problem? "Wherever you go, there you are”. Off-grid living and simple living can make life more peaceful and simple in many ways, and in other ways life will become more complex. Choose your hard. Off-grid living is not some romantic meme. It’s a different lifestyle with different challenges.
If yes to the above, are you ready to launch off-grid? If you have seriously considered the factors, and you’re ready to jump, go ahead and take the leap! With one life to live we all should have a bit more adventure…
2) Finding access to land
Zoning / Codes
Zoning and building codes will be the trickiest part of going off-grid. You can rule out most big cities, most suburbs, and many small towns even. Every state, county, and town has different rules and regulations. It’s on you to do your homework. Some states are generally better than others for off-grid living. Here’s a few:
Alabama: Good for finding a county without building codes
Missouri: Good farmland for growing crops, low regulation
Alaska: Good for experienced off-griders and adventurers
Tennessee: Good for off-grid living, mild weather and low regulation
Kentucky: Good for off-grid living, affordable land
You’ll need to research on your own, as zoning codes and building codes change yearly. The general rule of thumb is that the more rural you go, the better. Find land that has access to water, mild weather if possible, and plenty of trees if you can swing it. Personally, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and Alabama are some of my favorite states to find off-grid land.
Municode - Rules & Zoning for Land
When you think you have a county you’d like to buy land in to go off-grid, research it in depth using municode. This database will show you county and city codes across the USA. You want to research the following:
Minimum square footage for a home. Can you build a tiny home legally?
Many counties in the suburbs require homes of 1500 sq ft or bigger.
Can you legally live in a tent, mobile home, RV, or camper?
Are there building codes?
Can you have livestock? How many?
Can you dig a well?
Can you legally capture rain water?
Do you have water rights on your land?
Can you legally be off the power, sewer or water grid?
The fewer regulations the better. Most rural counties have less regulation than suburban counties. Ideally you can find a county that doesn’t even need building permits.
After you find the land you want to buy it’s time to think about financing (I often search on LandWatch.com, Land.com, or Zillow.com). You typically need 20% down to purchase raw land. Raw land is often considered farm land, hunting land, or recreational land. AgCredit is one of my favorite national lenders for buying rural land. You’ll fill out an application, submit your financial information, and then complete the approval process.
Sometimes 15% down is enough if you have a good credit score. You want at least a 700 credit score or higher. However, 20% down requirements are becoming more standard. Interest rates will vary, but are around 7-8% today. You typically purchase land for a 10, 15, or 20 year payment period. A 30 year mortgage is not common for raw land. You can also consider owner financing if the owner of the land offers this arrangement.
If you’re thinking about buying 5 acres of rural land for $40k, you’ll need at least $8-9k for the downpayment and closing costs (assuming 20% down payment). Let’s say after hunting for a while, you find 2 acres of mountain land for $18k, and put down $4000 including closing costs. The county is rural, there are not building codes or zoning regulation. You have unrestricted land to build on. We now have the land.
You’ll pay property taxes yearly, often at the end of the year. Don’t forget about this cost. These can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Many people are not aware that special tax breaks exist for farm land, timberland, or land to raise hay on. If you enroll your property in one of these conservation programs, you can often save up to 90% on your land taxes. This means you can’t develop a subdivision or warehouse on your land, but if you’re seeking an off-grid life I doubt you’re into building subdivisions.
Drilling a well, clearing a driveway, and other earthworks projects will also add up in costs. Much of this you can do yourself if you have the time and desire to build new skills.
Renting & Bartering
Renting land is absolutely an option for off-grid living. I’d recommend not building permanent structures if you want to relocate. If you find a farmer or landowner who’s willing, you could rent a small section of space for your off-grid setup. This often takes effort, connections, and perseverance, but it’s doable. Many people barter their work on organic farms, eco-villages and homesteads for a place to live.
Renting will be far cheaper in the short term, but you’ll miss out on building equity over the long haul. Renting can be great at the beginning to build the skills, and learn the new methods required for off-grid living.
3) Quality (affordable) initial shelter
Canvas tent: A quality canvas tent can cost $800-$2000+. We love the bell tents made by the Life in Tents team. A good bell tent with the accessories will cost about $1500. Bell tents make a great temporary shelter. They’re far higher quality than the cheap nylon tents. Bell tents are made of cotton canvas, so they breath well. A canvas tent can by surprisingly comfortable in the winter with a small wood stove, and it can be quite enjoyable in the summer with a few fans or a tiny solar powered AC unit. Living in a bell tent for 6-18 months while you build a bigger cabin or home is a great way to get started. You’ll want a fly (protective layer) on top of your tent to protect from UV damage. You’ll also want to install it over level ground with a tarp underneath. Sand, small gravel, packed earth and wood chips make a good base under a tent. The best base is a large wooden deck, but this can become expensive quickly. A bell tent can be setup in a matter of hours.
Yurt: If you really want more space and durability right away, a yurt is a great option if you have the budget. Yurts typically range in cost from $10k to $20k+. You’d likely need to finance a yurt, and pay $1k-$2k down. Or use a zero interest credit card. We don’t recommend consumer debt unless you use it strategically with a solid plan to repay quickly. Yurts are far better insulated and durable than canvas tents.
Used RV / Pop-up Camper: For the same cost as a yurt, or less, you could also consider a used RV or pop-up camper. Many decent used camper options can be found for $5-$15k. Once again, you’d likely need to finance this unless you could pay cash. These are great if you have a vehicle with a tow-hitch to move the camper. Mobility is a greta feature. You don’t even need your own land with a camper. For $80 yearly you can purchase access to BoonDockers Welcome or Harvest Hosts and camp for free at thousands of sites across the USA. This is an amazing option if you want to be more mobile.
Reclaimed A-Frame / Cabin: If you want something more durable right away, a small a-frame cabin or tiny home could be a great option. These will take the most effort, and be more expensive than other options, but if you have the time & skills to build it, it will be the longest term shelter. Tiny homes and cabins can be build for a few thousand dollars on the low end, to much more expensive builds over $100k. We love the simple build for $5-$10k where people found reclaimed materials wherever possible. Many people purchase portable sheds and convert them into tiny homes, which is a cool concept that’s more plug and play.
Whether you opt for a bell tent, or finance a more expensive shelter, you can get going for a few thousand dollars. Let’s say you spend $2k on a bell tent and the accessories.
4) Finding access to water
Rainwater: In many parts of the USA, rainwater alone can be enough for your basic needs. You’ll want to be safe and filter the rainwater of course, but this option can be very rewarding. You’ll want to research average annual rainfall in your area, and then use this formula to compute hoe much rainfall you can collect:
Roof Area (ft2) X Precipitation Amount (in) X 0.623 = Amount Collected (gallons)
You’ll need a roof of course. A simple tin roof covered area can be enough. Sink four 4x4 posts, create a few trusses, and add tin sheeting. Now you have a covered area to eat under, relax, and catch rainwater! You can add a gutter, attach a downspout, and divert the water into a few 275 gallon IBC totes. You’ll want to use food grade IBC totes that carried corn syrup, or other non-toxic materials. Never use a non-food grade IBS tank for potable water as it could have previously stored carcinogenic chemicals like diesel fuel. Google “food grade IBC tanks for sell near me” to find your tanks. You would spent about $500 for the covered area, and another $500 for the IBC tanks and gutter hardware. Let’s add another $500 for miscellaneous parts and a water purifier like a WaterDrop gravity system. We’re at $1500 for water infrastructure.
Here in Georgia we are able to collect tens of thousands of gallons of water yearly from rainwater collection. The average human needs about 10-60 gallons of water daily for all of your needs.
Surface water: You can capture water from a creek, stream, pond, lake or river if your land has proximity to these sources. Absolutely check on pollutions levels. Is the water downstream from a big city? Don’t drink it. Are there any CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) or industrial plants nearby? Be careful! Surface water can work, but do your research and purify it well. A gravity purifier, distiller, or osmosis purifier are all good options.
Hookup or Well: If you’re renting land, using Boondockers Welcome for a camper, or if your land already has a well - you can use a hookup! These are obviously special cases, but if you already have a water hookup, use it! Don’t worry about being an off-grid purist from day one. Start with what is available. Wells can cost $5k-$15k to dig, so they’re one of the more expensive water options.
AWG: Atmospheric Water Generators are a new type of technology for pulling water from the humidity of the air. Some, like the Source Panels, work in an off grid capacity using only sunlight. You’re able to pull daily drinking water, but not enough water for bathing, washing clothes or gardening. AWGs are a fascinating new technology, but they’re currently expensive and typically require alot of power. This is an off-grid technology to watch closely.
Hauling water: The least desirable and least sustainable option is hauling your water in. You can fill up tanks and truck water into your off-grid site. This is not always cheap, it’s not very green, and it’s not convenient. However, it can be a viable option to get started.
Let’s say you opted for the rainwater collection system with the tin roof and tanks. We’re at $1500 for a simple water catchment system. You could build an even cheaper version using scrap lumber and free vinyl billboard tarps.
5) Solving sanitation
Composting toilets: Composting toilets work much better than most people likely imagine. You can have a streamlined toilet like the Natures Head using peat moss, or create a simple bucket toilet with sawdust. The key is to learn the proper technique of the composting toilet that works bets for you. I really like the Nature’s Head toilet. #2 (solid waste) is contained in a chamber with peat moss. A small 12v fan keeps things dry, and vents odors outside through a tube. #1 (urine) is diverted into a tank. By keeping #1 and #2 separated, this keeps your waste odor free and easy to deal with. Combining urine and waste is what makes sewage so nasty. When you have filled up either than #1 or #2 chamber, you can take it to the woods to fertilize trees and bushes. Plenty of other brands exist: From Ogo, SunMar, AirHead, Separette, C-Head and more. Most quality composting toilets cost about $900-$1000. This might sound like alot, but a traditional toilet costs about $300, and the septic tank it requires costs about $15,000 (often a similar cost for sewer hookup). A composting toilet is about 1/15th the cost of a traditional toilet system. We love our canvas outhouse with our composting toilet. A composting toilet and a canvas outhouse run about $1500 total.
Safe processing: Composted waste and urine are great fertilizer for trees and bushes. Safe handling is key, and ensuring you cover the composted waste with leaves or grass to break down further. Our modern sewer systems allow so many chemicals and other toxins into our waste stream. Our human waste is simply a part of nature, and it should be returned to the earth to keep the nutrient cycle working. Off-grid toilets and composting toilets are far more eco-friendly and affordable than any city sewer or septic system.
HomeBioGas Methane Digester Toilet: The HomeBioGas toilet is an incredible solution for both waste and cooking fuel. The HomeBioGas methane digester allows you to have a flush toilet (that uses 1/10th the water of a normal toilet), and then use your waste to produce up to 2 hours of methane cooking fuel daily. I think this is incredible. You cook using a gas burner that ships with the HomeBioGas system. We love our HomeBioGas digesters, and are excited to install our first HomeBioGas toilets. We’ve been powering our HomeBioGas system using food waste for the past 18 months. Many people prefer a flush toilet to a composting toilet, and this is the solution. At about $1500, this is 1/10th the cost of a traditional toilet and septic tank ($1500 for HomeBioGas compared to $15,000 for traditional septic).
Woodchip leach field: If you use the HomeBioGas toilet, you’ll need to install a leach field (similar to a septic tank) for the liquid to flow into. This allows the HomeBioGas system to expell the digested liquids and fertilize trees, bushes, comfrey or bamboo. You can then use this biomass you grow for biochar, composting, or other projects. Note: Do not use the liquid from a human waste HomeBioGas directly on vegetables for consumption for safety reasons.
Composting biomass: For all of your food waste, leaves, grass clippings, paper, paper towels, cardboard, and other biological materials - compost it! Composting is natures way of dealing with waste. Nothing is wasted. Everything turns back into rich soil. Soil you can grow future veggies in!
6) Capturing energy
Electricity, Photovoltaics: Solar generators and solar panels have come such a log way just in the last 10 years. For $1500 you can have a 1kwH solar generator + inverter and 400w of solar panels. This can power so many devices at once: Laptop, fans, lights, 12v cooler, cell phone and even a heated blanket or tiny AC unit. You don’t need as much electricity as you think if you’re willing to live differently. Arctic cold AC and a giant refrigerator are luxuries, not true needs. If you’re willing to use a small 12v cooler and keep cool with fans and a tiny AC unit, you can make do with a very small solar panel system. We love the Delta Ecoflow system with 400 watts of solar panels. You can always scale up down the road, but to begin with, 400 watts of power in panels with a 1.3kwh battery can go a long way.
Your energy budget: Laptop, lights, fans, fridge: Add up the watts needed to run your devices. Your laptop, lights, fans, a cooler, etc. You won’t be running any dishwasher, clothes dryer, or massive AC unit off-grid. But that’s ok! Going off grid is about living better with less. You need an idea of your energy budget.
TEGS, Thermo Electric Generators: If you have a small woodstove in your tent, you could even use a TEG to generate electricity. TEGs are solid devices that sit on a hot surface. They generate electricity from the difference in energy between the hot side on the stove, and the cool side away from the stove. TEGS are fairly expensive, and don’t produce a great amount of electricity. They’re best used in cloudy areas where you would run a wood stove often to keep warm. A small TEG unit to generate 100 watts of power can run about $700.
Micro Wind / Micro Hydro: Using a micro wind turbine or a micro hydro turbine for power generation requires unique land. If you live in a very windy area in the west, midwest, or a coastal area, a micro wind turbine could be a great solution for you. You’ll spend about $1800 for a 1.5kwh turbine. This can power everything listed above from the solar panels and more IF you have the steady wind to keep it turning.
If you’re on land with a river or creek, and you have the right distance of falling water (head) you could consider running a micro hydro power station. These are more expensive (often around $5k), but can generate a huge amount of power (more than you’ll need), if you have the right location with falling water.
Heating, Biomass: Solar, hydro and wind would have a hard time heating your home. For heat, you want to rely on a different type of fuel: biomass (wood). A small wood stove can cost $200-$400, and do a bang up job heating a bell tent, yurt, tiny home, cabin or camper. You’ll want to be very safe with the install, as there is a fire hazard, but these tiny stoves are a great option for affordable, sustainable heating.
Cooking, Biomass + Biogas + Solar: You can always cook on your stove top or a camp fire. If you’re looking for other ways of cooking food (outside of traditional butane / propane stoves), we have some fascinating options. If you have your HomeBioGas system setup, you can cook for 1-2 hours daily using your clean burning methane gas on the burner. HomeBioGas is great for cooking using your existing pots and pans.
If you have a sunny day (summer or winter, does not matter the outside temperature) you can cook using SUNLIGHT. GoSun makes solar ovens that allow you to cook food at temps of 500F or higher within 20 minutes. We love our GoSun solar ovens, and think it’s amazing we can cook using just sunlight.
Cooling, Electrical: Cooling can be tricky. Placing your cabin or tent in a shady area is the best first step. Insulating your cabin or yurt is also key. Saving energy on cooling is the best first line of defense. You can use solar power to power fans for cooling too. Small window AC units (5000 BTU) often need about 500 watts of power. If you have enough solar panels and battery storage, you can power a window AC unit on hot days when it’s really scorching outside.
We’ll opt for a 400W solar panel setup with a 1.3kwh batter +inverter kit for our power needs to begin the off-grid journey, this will run us $1500. We’ll also opt for a $300 solar oven too. We’re at $1800 for energy needs. Let’s add a tiny wood stove for $200 for the bell tent. Now we’re at $2000 for our off-grid energy systems.
7) Next steps in your journey
Let’s review. We now have the following systems in place:
LAND: You have access to land: $4000 down payment (or less perhaps)
You either own it, rent it, or are using Boondockers Welcome for a camper.
SHELTER: You have a canvas bell tent: $2000 to own it outright
Great shelter for 6-18 months years while you build a bigger home
Or not! You might love your bell tent. Just take good care of it with a tent fly for protection.
WATER: Rainwater collection systems: $1500
Tin roof covered area, IBC tanks, gravity fed purifier.
SANITATION: Composting toilet OR BioGas toilet: $1500
We have a well functioning eco toilet solution in place for 1-2 people.
ENERGY: 400W solar panels, 1.3kwh battery/inverter, solar oven, tiny stove: $2000
We can power electrical devices, cook with sunlight, and heat our tent
We have not yet factored in items like a 12v cooler for food, a bed, or chairs. We’ll add in $1k for basic items you might not have now that you’ll need for your off-grid setup.
LAND + SHELTER + WATER + SANITATION + ENERGY + EXTRAS
$4000 + $2000 + $1500 + $1500 + $2000 + $1000 = $12,000
These are prices from September of 2023. Prices change over time of course. Prices are different in various parts of the US and across the globe. Your budget off-grid build could be more or less. It depends on many factors. They key idea here is that it does not take a fortune to begin a simple off-grid life. Some people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to go off-grid, like Curtis Stone. Other people spend a few hundred dollars or less, like Robin Greenfield. It’s your journey to define. The key skill is learning to enjoy living well with LESS and to give up modern suburban culture.
If you used a 12-month 0% interest credit card for your key systems, you could make this off-grid project happen for $6k-$8k. You would need to be strategic and have a plan for the debt.
Land is the biggest variable here. You could find 1/4 acre for $5000, you might find 3 acres for $25000. Land prices vary everywhere, and change over time. The key is to be patient, and know what you’re looking for.
We’re making some assumptions that you already have your car, you’ll need that. You’ll need other basics like your digital devices (perhaps?). Personal items are not included in our estimates here. This is a general guideline to show you the core systems and their costs.
This off-grid setup is barebones. It’s basically high-end glamping. However, this is a better set of systems for shelter, energy, water, and sanitation than millions of people have globally. Our “typical American lifestyle” is incredibly excessive. If everyone lived like Americans do we’d need over 5 earths to provide the materials.
A simple life is a good thing. Simply living can bring freedom.
That’s it. If you setup these systems, you could be living off-grid and beginning your journey. You could work less, explore more, watch the stars, visit with friends while hiking, and begin a new way of living.
This won’t be an easy project. You’ll have to save money, learn new skills, get uncomfortable, and break out of old habits.
But it might be the best adventure you ever begin.
Our team at Acorn Land Labs has designed our Land Lab Off Grid Simulator app to help more people easily understand which system can help them go off-grid. You can drag and drop hundreds of systems to easily see which ones will meet your specific needs for shelter, water, energy, sanitation, food and transportation.
We publish videos on our social media illustrating ideas, concepts, tools and technology. We want there to be a renaissance of freedom in the USA and across the globe.
We’ve built a 10 hour online course to dig into these off-grid topics in even more depth.
Our dream is to help millions of people build simple, sustainable, enjoyable, and healthy lives through off-grid living ideas and principles.
Humans were not made to work around the clock for wall street.
We are supposed to have time to think, wonder, build, hike, bike, cook, visit, love, share, and invest in others.
Let’s break the mold. Let’s live bigger by needing less.
Let’s reclaim our time, energy, and finances.
We humans can do so much if we put our minds to it. Let’s turn off the TV, ditch the video games, skip the fast food, and get to work rebuilding our freedom one step at a time. Comfort has been killing America for decades. Life is short, so we need to start living today.
Keep learning more about off-grid solutions for freedom at: AcornLandLabs.com
If you need more examples of amazing people who are making the change to live differently, here’s a list you might enjoy:
John & Fin Kernohan - Tiny House Living
Kirsten Dirksen - Creative Tiny Homes
Jack Dody - AbundaCulture solutions
Robin Greenfield - Simple Living
Noah Sanders - Permaculture Farming & Faith
Joel Salatin - Local Farming & Faith
Paul Wheaton - Permaculture & Simple Living
David Holmgren - Permaculture & Energy Solutions
Godspeed & be well everyone! I hope this article helps your journey to freedom.
- Kemble Hildreth
Our mission at Acorn Land Labs is to share the ideas, methods, tools & concepts needed for people to leverage off-grid systems to live more freely and affordably. Go build something!
🎥 Off-Grid Systems Video Course - 10 hour off-grid systems course
📗 Acorn Off-Grid Home eBook - 50 key off-grid systems we use for living simply
🎧 Acorn Off-Grid Audiobook - 50 key off-grid systems we use for living simply
📚 Acorn Off-Grid Systems Paperback / Hardback Editions - buy on Amazon