Off Grid Living – How Much it Really Costs

By LandCentral

So you think you’re ready to live off grid. We get it, cutting yourself off from the rest of the world sounds pretty good right about now. And rumors connecting financial freedom to off grid living are only getting stronger by the day. But how much money can you actually save by living off the grid? More importantly, how much money do you need upfront to get you there? And, is trading convenience for self-sufficiency really worth it? LandCentral tackles these questions and more with Off Grid Living – How Much it Really Costs:

Minimalists have known for years, we don’t actually need that much to live happy. Just 4 basic necessities:

  • Shelter
  • Water
  • Food
  • Energy

However, to truly set yourself up with an off grid lifestyle, you’ll need to spend a bit of money upfront. This is a stark difference to the mainstream lifestyle of borrow now, pay later. So let’s get to it.

How Much Money Do You Need Upfront?

Shelter =  $35k – $80k

This includes not only the house you’ll live in but the land you’ll live on. The cost and quality of raw land varies greatly across the U.S. For example, living off grid will look quite differently in Arizona than it will in Colorado. This is due to weather, terrain, and cost. Most off grid living is best on at least 1 acre or more.

  • Average cost of raw land (depending on size):   $5k – $30k
  • Average cost of a tiny home:    $30k – $50k

Note: Experts recommend smaller homes for off grid living as bigger homes take more to heat and maintain.

Water =   $5k – $12k

That’s right. When it comes to living off grid, water is essential. From drinking to watering, water will be the second most important thing to secure on your raw land. The easiest way to obtain water is to dig a well. However, this comes with its own upfront costs, including: drilling, installing a pump, and treatment.

  • Average cost of putting in a well:  $5k – $12k
    • Well pump
    • Casing Pipe
    • Electrical Wiring (if needed)
    • Pressure Storage tank
    • Water treatment/purification system
    • Water Heater

Note: The quality of your soil and the state you live in will impact the cost of adding a well. If you want to avoid a well altogether, you can choose a property with a water source already there (such as a creek), or employ the use of Rain Barrels ($2,500).

Food =  $4,100

Gardens have been growing in popularity for years. And to truly live off grid, you’ll need to learn how to grow your own food, and possibly raise your own animals. The cost of a garden can include plants and seeds, fertilizer and soil, as well as tools to maintain and protect your bounty from outside pests. The same is true if you choose to raise animals for food production.

  • Average cost of a garden:  $300
  • Average cost to raise chickens:  $4k
    • (stretched out over 5 years, or average life span of a chicken)
  • Average cost to raise goats:  $415 annually per goat

Other sources of food include planting an orchard, canning/jarring, baking your own bread, fishing/hunting, bartering with neighbors, etc. Since going off grid is as unique as the person living it, we’ll keep things simple here.

Energy = $10k – $65k

This one is a bit more tricky. Those who want to truly unplug from the matrix like prefer to do it au naturale, meaning going without an energy source. Others like the convenience of solar, while some think wind power is the way to go. For this reason, the cost of energy will vary greatly depending on need, location, and source.

  • Average cost of Solar Panels:  $10k – $30k
    • Use this Solar Calculator to find out the cost and savings for solar in your state.
  • Average cost of Wind Turbine: $48k – $65k            
    • While more expensive, wind turbines are more effective than solar.
  • Average cost of Micro-hydro Electricity – $1k – $20k            
    • Micro-hydro electricity requires a moving body of water near your property as it converts energy of moving water through a wheel.

While there are of course other expenses to consider when going off the grid, such as installing a septic tank or outhouse, waste disposal, taxes and zoning, etc. The above are average costs to get you started.

How Much Money Do You Actually Save Compared to Mainstream Living?

While mainstream living varies, the average cost of living to stay On-Grid can be calculated based on mortgage, utilities, taxes, grocery spending, and more. We broke it down by categories based on the average home owner with a family of four:

  • Average mortgage cost (annually) – $14,500
  • Average cost of utilities (annually) – $2,200
  • Average cost of groceries (annually) – $6,600 (based on average American diet)
  • Average cost of waste removal (annually) – $200
  • Total recurring cost for Mainstream Living (annually):  $23,500
  • Total upfront cost for Off Grid Living (one time fee):  $54k – $157k

Yes, off grid living does seem more expensive in that first year of set up. However, if you break down the cost of living mainstream over the years, that recurring cost will amount to much more than your first year of securing yourself off the grid.

Is Trading Convenience for Self-Sufficiency Really Worth It?

This depends on you and the reasons you’re drawn to living off the grid. Yes, you can save money in the long run. Yes, it costs more upfront. Yes, needing less assistance from the outside world can create a safety net in hard economic times. And yes, living off the grid is better for the environment.

But living outside of the matrix isn’t for everyone. You’ll need to get on board with wasting less. You may need to give up some comforts like high-speed internet and long, hot showers. And you will likely need to learn how to work with nature and your place in it. But most who leave the matrix, never go back. That has to say something about living off the grid.

So there you have it, LandCentral’s guide to Off Grid Living – How Much it Really Costs. If you’re convinced this way of living is right for you and you don’t want to wait for the next apocalypse to go for it, check out these amazing land deals to get you started. We even offer financing to help you with those upfront costs. You’re welcome.  

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