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 have to start looking at off grid homes, and/or purchase a property. The location, improvements, and whether it includes a livable shelter will figure largely in how much it will cost you to get set up. Feeling overwhelmed already? Don’t worry.
By breaking down what you need to do into a series of actionable steps, you’ll be able to get a better handle on how much it could cost to go off the grid.
Here are five steps to helping you calculate how much it may cost to move off grid.
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1. Research Off Grid Property Prices
One of your first tasks in off grid living preparation is research. Research land/property purchase costs in your desired area – not just the list prices of properties, but also recent sales prices.
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.
Having 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!
2. Get Quotes on Building and/or Reno Supplies Before You Move Off Grid
If you plan to build or renovate, get quotes from contractors or other professionals, or price out the supplies if you plan on doing the work yourself. 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’re ripping apart someone else’s work. Even worse, it may cost more than expected to fix it.
Related: How to Plan Your Homestead Projects
3. 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, starting 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, back up 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.
Tip: Theoretically, it's easier for beginners to purchase an off-grid home that is already operational. However, if solar panels, batteries, inverter, 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 so you can start budgeting for this.
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