We spent years looking for the perfect off-grid compound, mostly because we didn’t have a lot of money to spend. Before we found our off-grid home we toured a lot of shacks that quite frankly needed to be burned to the ground. All of those homes were traditional “on-grid” homes with what the real estate agent called “potential.”
We quite simply didn’t have the money to buy a livable traditional home. Somehow, on that same budget, we had plenty to buy a spectacular off-grid compound on 30 acres of pure heaven and absolute privacy.
There’s something about moving off-grid that’s frightening to most people. And honestly, it was terrifying for us.
Isn’t living off-grid signing up for a life of hardship? When we finally found the perfect homestead, even though it fit within our limited budget, we almost walked away because we weren’t sure we could handle it.
We were already harvesting our own meat, cooking everything from scratch and doing just about everything we could think of to provide for ourselves. We weren’t afraid of hard work, but still, there was hesitation.
It’s precisely that hesitation that drives down the cost of off-grid homes across the country.
In reality, we found that off-grid living afforded us a lot of luxuries we never had living in a suburban home. Yes, it takes a lot of extra planning and effort, but if you’re willing to spend time (rather than money) to solve your problems, then off-grid is incredibly rewarding AND affordable.
After 5 years of living off-grid, and loving our new lifestyle, I still found that people just didn’t understand. I’d invite new friends over, and they’d try to find a polite way to ask if we had a real toilet.
They just didn’t get it. Off-grid doesn’t have to mean hardship.
Trying to dispel those myths, I wrote a laundry list of off-grid luxuries we enjoy now, that we’d never dreamed possible until making the leap. Things we never could have afforded until we changed our lifestyle. Luxuries that only became possible when we started paying for things with our time and work, instead of money earned at a desk.
My goal was to encourage others to see that choosing a non-traditional lifestyle can be freeing, rather than enslaving. I wanted to show how much more you can have by being open to off-grid.
I was pretty taken aback when I got this comment, “This sounds prohibitively expensive for the average American. Kudos for you, but this isn’t attainable for most people.”
Not attainable? Really!?!?
We earn way less than the median US household. Our house is currently assessed at LESS than the median cost of a house in Vermont.
As a rule, off-grid properties cost much less than their on-grid counterparts. At least to purchase. But as my favorite science fiction author was fond of saying, “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”
There is a cost to moving off-grid.
Maintaining this household takes a lot of time.
We don’t just get to flip a thermostat and have heat. Every bit of heat we have was hand-harvested and split with hours upon hours of labor throughout the warmer months.
Then in the colder months, it’s at least an hour a day to tend the boiler. Sure, the heat is free, except for our time.
Beyond time, there’s the cost of convenience. Off-grid is awfully inconvenient sometimes.
We can’t just turn on appliances any time of the day or night. It seems strange, but you’ll never truly appreciate what a luxury it is to have toast at 2 am. Try it.
Next time you can’t sleep, make yourself some toast. Take a hot shower. Bake a cake.
Live it up now, because nighttime is off time when you’re off-grid.
Everything you do is somehow tied to the rhythm of the day.
In many ways, I suppose that comment was right. This is expensive. Expensive in time and expensive in convenience.
Perhaps they’re right, this “just isn’t attainable for the average American.” It is way too darn inconvenient.
For me and my family, it suits us just fine. I’d rather trade my desk job for time spent splitting wood any day. It all comes back to the very book that got us on this homesteading track in the first place: Your Money or Your Life.
There is a cost to everything, and you can spend money to accomplish your goals if you choose. You’re going to have to do something to earn that money, and these days it’s drudgery more often than not.
I’d rather choose to spend time. How you spend your minutes, hours and days is how you spend your life. I can think of no better way to spend my life than splitting wood or tending a garden.
That’s our true cost. That’s how we afford to live off-grid.