How Much Does It Cost to Go Off-Grid?

Many years ago the United States government offered free land in order to increase the population in certain areas of the county. But, under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), the federal government took over ownership of public lands and repealed all remaining traces of the Homestead Act of 1862, but it did grant a 10-year extension on claims in Alaska.

However, there are communities in places like Kansas, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska that are willing to give up a parcel of land, provided you meet the right criteria. But these are parcels within a community, not farmland in the countryside.

Congress passed the Homestead Act and created the Department of Agriculture, the transcontinental railroad, and the land grant college system all within two months of one another (May–July 1862).

One of the first expenses you will encounter when you move off-grid is the purchase price of your land. The first three rules of real estate are location, location, and location. This is also true when estimating the cost of your property. You can spend from $25,000 to $2,500,000 depending on the number of acres, location of the property, and condition and size of the home.

Add to that initial expense any updating to the house, outbuildings, septic system, and alternate energy sources. Of course, these things don’t have to happen all at once. But, you should budget enough to ensure your home is in good shape. You will also have to purchase supplies like seed, livestock, animal feed, and whatever equipment you decide is necessary to work your land. Be very realistic when you prepare a budget for your new move and then add 20 percent for those little surprises that always seem to crop up at the last moment.

The bottom line is this: it is not cheap or free to move off grid. Despite the view of “the simple life,” an off-grid life needs to be built from the bottom up. Unfortunately, those who start out thinking they can move off the grid on a shoestring budget are often those who give up their dreams and move back to the city. With a little advance planning, however, you can successfully earn a good income while living off the grid.

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