What does it mean to go off the grid? How much does it cost?


Recently going off the grid is trending, van-living is going up exponentially as is boat living. People are looking for sustainable ways of life and don’t want to rely on being at the same place all the time.

Going off the grid means that you don’t have energy or water supply from the public grid. You are completely self-sufficient producing your energy using renewable sources like solar or wind power. It is great when located in remote places where you can’t find a reliable supply.

Some people live off the grid by necessity, others live because they can and like a nomad lifestyle. I will uncover all the angles of living off the grid.

Living in a remote location

Although living off the grid is trending, some people live off the grid because they have no other option to live. Those people live in remote places like islands, forests, or deserts and they have no access to electricity or public water supply.

So they need to be creative and nowadays it is getting easier and cheaper as technology like solar panels, lithium batteries and inverters are getting more accessible to the masses. That means that you can live on the most remote island on the planet and you can still have all the commodities like those you have at home right now, and yes, even the internet!

How do they get internet?

People living in remote locations usually have Internet cafes as satellite internet is crazy expensive to own as private! In the United States, in rural areas, people can have up to 100Mbps for $150/month.

To have internet, you need to have electricity, until recently it was produced by diesel generators. Fortunately, nowadays you have access to solar systems that could power your house for days on battery. This is a must for those who live in remote locations so they can have a life more comparable with the rest of the world.

This option is great for whoever loves to work remotely, this way you are not attached to the same place all year round.

Living off the grid on a vehicle

Many people are opting for living off the grid on a vehicle, a quick search on YouTube for van life will show thousands of people who chose to live off the grid on a van, motorhome, or even on a boat, and that’s unbelievable!

People are living off the grid by option! Some are working remotely and traveling the world, some are just traveling the world and when the money is short they stop by a place working for few months just to have enough money for the next trip and those are amazing ways of life!

Really, I admire their courage to travel the world and they can make it work somehow. I follow some adventurers on YouTube like Ben and Leah from Kombi Life, Jason and Nikki from Gone with the Wynns and their channels are awesome. Ben and Leah are traveling the world in a VW Kombi and Jason and Nikki were traveling the world in an RV, a few years ago they changed to a catamaran and I love their adventures and how they suppress their struggles with all the problems that a nomadic lifestyle has.

I don’t know if I would do that, leave everything behind and have my house and everything I own with me, that seems too dangerous for me, that’s why I admire all the folks who pursue that lifestyle and share with us that are daydreaming about that or just love to watch their progress around the world.

They also get energy from solar panels, for internet they use hotspots or satellite internet, Google Fi or Elon Musk’s Starlink will help allot people who have a nomadic lifestyle and who live in remote places without service.

Why do people choose to live off the grid?

Some people live off the grid are in this situation because they have no choice at all, they live in remote places with no access to electricity or communications. Others live off the grid by option, or they have a nomadic lifestyle and are traveling the world or they work in other countries and their work requires some nomadic lifestyle. I had a friend who worked in tourism in the summer and agriculture or civil construction during winter, so he lived on a motorhome because he was always on the road.

It is an interesting lifestyle and may cause some curiosity in some people, the sense of freedom, do whatever I want, whenever I want, it’s not so simple as some influencers portray online. The struggle off the grid is real, there is always something that doesn’t work or gives problems and the costs go up exponentially.

It is not for everyone. But from what I see, everyone that is in this lifestyle doesn’t want to live another more common lifestyle neither.

Is living off the grid easier?

Not even by chance. The struggle is real and is constant. There is always something happening, you need to worry about things you don’t need to worry about when you live in a house or apartment. Some of those things are energy when in a house unless the power company has some serious problems, you’ll have always energy on demand and you can use whatever you want, in a responsible way, and you can always have other sources of energy others than the grid. Let’s say you have more flexibility.

When living off the grid, you don’t have these commodities on demand, you need to be careful when using water, taking short showers, use a composting toilet so you don’t waste water. Have power generated by solar panels or diesel generators will make you think twice before you buy a refrigerator or other kitchen appliances.

You need to have a meaningful way of life, everything you own should have a purpose and cannot be wasted nor waste resources. That’s an interesting way of life if you think about it, isn’t it?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of living off the grid?

Here’s a resume of the advantages and disadvantages of living off the grid:

Advantages:

  • You have the freedom to do whatever you want (always respecting the law!)
  • You have a meaningful way of life, everything you own must have a purpose
  • You have way more privacy off the grid, there’s nobody looking over your shoulder what you’re doing
  • You are always in contact with nature, for some folks this is essential

Disadvantages:

  • You are in a constant struggle for resources
  • It is expensive!
  • You need to have conscience about the natural resources as you feel in your skin immediately if you waste them

Related Questions

How much does living off the grid cost?

The cheapest way, you always need at least $10,000 to build a cabin in some terrain you already have and set up all your needs like energy, water and food. The average cost goes up to $50,000 to set up everything and have some comfort. To live in a comfortable way without giving up on anything, you will need at least $100,000 to build something that has lots of space, insulation, lots of batteries and solar panels so you can have energy without worrying too much about it.

If you are going nomadic, the cost is a bit steeper, for a van, you’ll need to spend $10,000 buying something old and converting it to have the basics covered. To have something comfortable and reliable, you need to spend at least $30,000 buying and converting the vehicle. To have something without compromises as possible, $50,000 is what will cost you to have a more comfortable life on the road.

Buying an RV or a boat will be much harder initially but you won’t need to convert it to make it liveable. So it’s about what you want, what you need and what you can pay for.

Maintenance

Depending on the vehicle you chose, you will have maintenance costs, fuel, taxes, insurance and all the costs related to a vehicle with the fact that it is your house and if anything goes south, it’s your house that is at stake, so have it in mind when choosing the way of life.

Is it worth it to live off the grid?

For some folks yes, for others no way. If you love adventure and if you have a way of income that enables you to do this alternative lifestyle, please go ahead. Watch a bunch of YouTube videos, watch some vlogs of people who are living this life already, you have those two examples of vloggers I watch frequently: Kombi Life and Gone with the Wynns. It’s a good way to take an insider look at what is to really live off the grid.

If you still want to pursue this lifestyle, my advice is to rent an RV and go off the grid for some weeks and feel yourself the struggles of living off the grid. In my opinion is a great way to have a better insight without making a huge financial compromise.

OnePlanetSaver

Hi, I'm Sérgio and I'm passionate about saving the environment reducing my carbon footprint and making better choices. Here I will share some tips that I'm learning on my journey of having a way of live that is more sustainable.

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