Pursuing The Off-Grid Life

Do you dream of getting away from the system and going off-grid? 

Living without any bills or any rent to pay? 

Getting your electricity and heat from solar panels and wind power, your water from a well and living in peace with nature? 

It does not need to remain a dream. Going off-grid and acquiring a home that will run itself is not very difficult at all. You simply need some money - there are off-grid solutions for all wallets - and land to either purchase or live on for some rent, either money or services. Some may even let you live there for free. There are plenty of land owners who are agreeable and appreciate the unconventional people who are trying to create a life that is self-sufficient. 

There are many options when it comes to the kind of homes you can stay in off-grid and to find out which one might be it for you, you need to know your budget and how mobile you want your home to be. 

If you want a mobile home you can get: 

  • A yurt that you can pack up and take apart whenever you move. [bought or built]

  • A teepee - same principle there. [bought or built]

  • A caravan [bought/free]

  • A gypsywagon [bought or built]

  • A tiny house on wheels [bought or built]

  • A van

  • A bus

If you want a more permanent home: 

  • A log cabin [bought or built]

  • A cobhouse [bought or built]

  • A hobbit home [bought or built]

  • A tree-house [bought or built]

  • A container home [bought or built]

  • A mud hut [bought or built]

  • A viking home [bought or built]

Whatever your wallet contains and wherever you reside, there is an option out there for you. Be it with €100 or €10'000, you can go off-grid.

When it comes to the off-grid system, you need to figure out how to get water, electricity, how to get rid of waste and how to stay warm/cool

The easiest bathroom solution is some sort of composting toilet. If you live in a warm place and don't mind showering outside, an outdoor bath and a camping shower can be acquired for very little or even for free. A simple shower/bath can be installed indoor quite easily as well.

kitchen can be built as elaborate or as simple as you'd like. Think about yourself, your family and your habits. Think about whether it is for a mobile or permanent home. Consider your budget. Do you need a freezer or a refrigerator? Do you need an oven or only some hotplates? Will you cook indoor or outdoor? 

Refrigerators, freezers and ovens - heck even full kitchens - can be acquired for free. The easiest way is to get them from a caravan that is being stripped and another way is to get them from a home that is to be taken down. If you live in a warm place, that remains warm all year round, you ought to consider an outdoor kitchen. It will give you an entirely different feeling and it will give you a new passion for cooking for sure.

The easiest water solutions in my opinion are: 

  • A well 

  • Collecting rainwater

  • Dunks 

Or a combination of the three.

If you manage to get a water heater and a regular heater running on gas, you can keep a home biogas system that turns your waste into gas. That gas can be used for your heating system and your stove/oven. You could even use it for your car, if you have one that can run on biogas. 

Another waste solution is a bokashi that turns your foodwaste into soil, compost and fertiliser for your garden.

If you are getting solar panels and combine them with appliances that are all run on electricity, you'll want to get products that are 12V or 24V. Not the regular ones they sell in regular stores. Most can be acquired for free if you ask around. Consider setting up a WANTED list on Craigslist or in the Facebook marketplace. You'd be surprised at how much you can get for free. If you have an electric car you can connect it to the solar panels and charge it that way. 

For a smaller home you can get by on one or two 160 Watt solar panels - flexible ones are recommmended, an inverter, a backup battery with at least 250 ah and a water pump for your rain barrels or your well. You can get it all for around €500-€1500, even less if you get some or all of it second hand or during one of the large sales during the year. Some also build their own solar panels, so if you are tech-savvy and good with your hands, that could be worth looking into.

When relying on solar panels all year round, it is recommended to combine them with one or two wind-turbines to make sure your system charges during any and all kinds of weather.

Growing your food by your house is easy enough, even more so if you are vegan. Consider the climate, the amount of sun you'll have and what kind of food you eat. Food can also be foraged and acquired for free if you know where to look for it.

When it comes to storing your vegetables, fruit and berries, consider building a root cellar or if you want the quick and easy DIY version, dig a hole, put in a non-working box or freezer box and put it all in there. The ground will keep it cool and well. Check on it regularly though.

If you decide to build your own home, free materials can be acquired from stores, if it is something they can't sell anymore, something with a defect, or from homes being taken down, or you can use pallets as a building material. If you are making cob, most parts of the cob can be acquired for free. With any home, portable or otherwise, good insulation and ventilation is crucial. Find out what you'll need and how to use it.

There are many more or less free ways to build a home, and plenty of expensive mistakes you could make. If you are not savvy yourself, talk to people who are. It is a learning curve, but you can make the pits less deep by asking the right questions and learning as much as you can. 

Good luck!