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How much does it cost to move off grid?
Such a simple question, such a long and complicated answer. As with so many questions regarding moving off the grid, it depends.
First, you need to start looking at off grid homes, and/or purchase a property. The location, improvements, and whether it includes a livable shelter will impact how much it will cost to get set up.
Feeling overwhelmed already? Don’t worry. To calculate how much it costs to move off the grid, you'll need to do some research first to figure out what needs to get done.
If you're serious about prepping to live off grid, you should have at least a general vision of the lifestyle you want. And what you do or do not want or need in your home off the grid.
By breaking down what you need to do into a series of actionable steps, you’ll get a better handle on how much it could cost to go off the grid.
Here are five steps to help you calculate how much it may cost to move off grid.
Research Off Grid Property Prices
One of your first tasks in figuring the cost of moving off the grid is research. Research land/property purchase costs in your desired area – not just the list prices of properties but also recent sales.
Depending on the country and region you live in, you may be able to find this information online. Otherwise, call a real estate agent.
Although you may get added to their call or email list and have to deal with “salesy” emails or phone calls, realtors can get details on recently sold off grid cabins and properties quickly.
This information will give you a better idea of the initial purchase price of an off grid property. And it can help you avoid one of the common off grid mistakes. Spending more than you should.
Tip: Don't forget about the cost of moving a long distance. This could include the cost of moving boxes, renting a truck, and fuel. Use this handy uhaul cost estimator to help you figure it out.
Estimate Building and Reno Costs Before You Move Off Grid
If you plan to build or renovate, you'll need to get quotes from contractors or other professionals or price out the supplies if you plan on doing the work yourself. Do this BEFORE you move. Remember to add at least 10 – 15 percent to your total cost as a cushion for unexpected build-related expenses.
This is especially true if you’re renovating an off the grid cabin. You never know what you’ll find when you rip apart someone else’s work. Even worse, it may cost more than expected to fix it.
Related: How to Plan Your Homestead Projects
Get Quotes on Legal Fees, Closing Costs, and Transfer Taxes
When you’re working out the costs of moving to an off the grid property, don’t forget to get quotes or estimates on the following:
- Legal fees
- Closing costs
- Real estate associated taxes
- Appraisal costs
- Other fees particular to your area
Depending on where you plan to live, this may add several hundred (or in our case, several thousand) dollars to your purchase price.
4. Estimate Startup Energy and Water Supply Costs
Are you planning to build an off grid cabin from the ground up?
Maybe you’re turning an existing “on-grid” home into an off grid property. Or perhaps you're just upgrading what’s already there.
To help you figure out the cost to move off grid, you’ll need to estimate the cost of the equipment you’ll need to run your home. You'll need to consider off grid electricity, generator costs, and alternative energy options.
Don't forget installation and labor costs as well.
And while you're at it, start looking at ways to boost your financial self-sufficiency. That way you'll be better prepared to handle unexpected costs when you do move off the grid.
Solar power, wind power, backup generators, diesel for the generators, propane, wood heat (stove, fireplace, plus the cost of getting the wood), water tank, water heater, the off grid water system itself – these are typical costs associated with off grid living.
Related: Our Off Grid Home Systems
5. Get a Property Insurance Quote
Once you find a property you like, get a quote on property insurance. Maybe even do this before you put in an offer.
We were shocked when the insurance quote for our off the grid home was almost TEN TIMES as much as the insurance on our suburban home.
Distance to the nearest emergency services (fire department), closest water hydrant/water source, and fuel sources all impact the home insurance price when you move off grid.
Getting quotes from different companies, negotiating terms, and using a university alumni discount, Dan was able to reduce our insurance so we now pay just five times what we used to.
And don't forget about your vehicles. If your dream property is off the beaten path like ours is, you'll need to invest in a sturdy four-wheel-drive pickup or SUV.
To learn more about living off the grid, continue reading below.
TIP: Theoretically, it's easier for beginners to purchase an off-grid home that is already operational. However, if solar panels, batteries, inverters, your water source, or plumbing are dated, expect to deal with breakdowns and, eventually replacement of the systems. You will need to know the costs to start budgeting for this.
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