How To Live Off Grid Now…With No Money?

Dick Proenneke at his cabin in 1985. NPS photo taken by Richard Proenneke and donated by Raymond Proenneke
Dick Proenneke at his cabin in 1985. NPS photo taken by Richard Proenneke and donated by Raymond Proenneke

How To Live Off Grid…With No Money? Want to move off grid? Here’s how to do it now. You don’t have to save money for years  for a down payment. You can move off grid right now. How? Easy. Sell everything you own and pay cash for a small piece of land and MOVE! “Whoa! Wait a minute! Slow down there fella.” I hear you saying. “I can’t do that, I have a job, and bills, and kids in school, and a car payment, and…”

Sorry but those are all excuses. Yes they’re also reasons, but people who say those kinds of things are only using those “reasons” as excuses not to make the move off grid.

What those people are REALLY saying is they want to be comfortable and living off grid isn’t a priority for them. They can make their list of excuses as long as they want. I’ve heard it all. I’ve made them myself at one time or another. Let’s face it. If you want to live off the grid, unless you’re disabled and/or on a fixed income there’s really no valid excuse to not to make the move to live off the grid.

You can find 1-5 acres just about in any state in the USA for a very affordable price. You can raise $10k or $20k or so to make the move. You don’t need fancy or big, you only need just enough land to live on. 1-5 acres is plenty. And in some places you can get up to 40 acres or so for less than the price of a new car these days. If you have kids it makes it a little more difficult but it is very possible to live off grid and raise kids too. “What about the kids school or my job?” I hear people asking. “What about food?”. Let’s address all those things.


Technically speaking you only need 5 things to live in civilized modern society.

  • Shelter
  • Food
  • Utilities – (includes water, gas, solar power, internet)
  • Healthcare
  • Education

That’s it. OK. So let’s look at each of these things and figure out the cheapest least expensive and easiest way to provide them on your off grid homestead.


You need shelter. Where will you sleep at night, stay warm and out of the weather? You could get a travel trailer or a camper van, or build a tiny home if you had the money. If you have reasonable construction skills my suggestion would be to build a small one room cabin. Or, if you’ve got a little money you can get one of those portable buildings of Alberta and live in that until you get your main cabin built. Then turn the portable building into a shed, workshop or guest cabin.

How To Live Off Grid With No Money
How To Live Off Grid With No Money

These cabins range from about $8k to $20k depending on size. The one pictured above is about $10k and measures 12×24 feet giving you about 288 square feet including the porch. This one is from a site called EZ Portable Buildings and this particular unit costs $10k. They have the option to purchase for cash or you can Rent To Own and they’ll deliver to your property. In my opinion if you don’t need to go anywhere or be mobile once you get to you property this is a good way to go as long as you have an income. And see, therein lies the problem. If you move to a remote property you have to worry about where you’re going to work to make a living to pay the bills.

“But wait! I thought we were trying to do this without having a mortgage payment.”

We are. This is just an option you may or may not have thought of.

Here’s my point. You can BUILD a cabin like the one above for pretty cheap, for less than half the cost of paying retail price. This saves you money in the long run if you have about $2.5k in cash to buy the materials and have the tools and skills to build it. There are places online you can find cabin plans for free!

Like here! This article on Instructables is good and the price to build this little cabin is about $2200 for the materials.

PRO TIP: To find free cabin plans that are ACTUALLY free and not some download site that charges you to download the plans do a search on Google for “free cabin plans PDF download” in quotes. This narrows the field to ONLY PDF downloads so you don’t have to weed through all the sites that want your email address and then tries to sell you expensive cabin plans. 

How to Build a 12×20 Cabin on a Budget

off grid cabin on a budget
off grid cabin on a budget

I know I hear more excuses coming. But what about local building codes and permits and blah blah blah. Read my article about How to find off grid land which gives you some good tips on locating land with no building codes and few restrictions which should give you more options to build without being overly regulated by the local government.

Let’s move on to the next item on the list.


Off Grid Garden & Farm
Off Grid Garden & Farm

We all need to eat. If you’re going to move off grid now then you need enough food to feed you whole family for about 3 months. Why 3 months? Because you’ll be growing your own food and that takes 2-3 months to get going, 3 months on the outside including the greenhouse build. Which is part of providing food.

If you want to move off grid now you MUST have a way to eat, and that means growing your own food. All of it. From the bacon to the vegetables, you need to raise and grow your own food.

The first thing you build after you build your cabin (or park you travel trailer) is your greenhouse. Don’t worry it’s easy! And it’s cheap!

This 12×32 foot hoop-house greenhouse can be built for about $400 according to this site.

How to Build an Inexpensive Hoop-Style Greenhouse

off grid greenhouse hoophouse
off grid greenhouse hoophouse

Now you have a cabin for shelter and a greenhouse for growing food. What’s next?

Chicken Coop.

How To Build a Chicken Coop (complete step by step guide)

how to build a chicken coop off grid chicken coop
how to build a chicken coop off grid chicken coop

A chicken coop like this can be built on the cheap for around a few hundred in materials. If you’re resourceful you can find discarded construction materials and recycle them into your chicken coop and it will cost much less, perhaps even free.

PRO TIP: Put wheels on this coop and you turn it into a Chicken Tractor!

So you have the shelter and food taken care of now for the bigger issues. Water, septic, and power. You have to have power, and if you’re anything like me you need internet. I mean we’re not primitive here, we like our creature comforts. (I know this irritates the purists but they’ll get over it LOL).


We have to have off grid utilities, water, power, gas and…internet if you need it…which you will.


If you’re smart you picked a property with a water well on the land. Land? We haven’t talked about that yet. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that in a few minutes. Like I said, if you picked out a good property it has a well, not city water. You don’t want to pay the high hookup fees and the cost involved with it each month. If you can’t find a property with a well then haul you own water and store it in a tank. (make sure you treat/filter it)

You can get a big plastic water tank for a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars and store water in that until you have the budget to contact a well drilling services company and have your well drilled and installed. The well can cost you a lot of money if you live at a higher elevation and depending on how rocky the soil is as well as how deep the water table is. This is why the ideal property will already have a well and septic on it. If not that’s a huge expense that could run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

So to avoid the cost, find a property with a well and septic already installed. These properties are easier to find than you might think. A lot of people buy property, start building and life stuff happens and they can’t finish it or lose interest in building their own place. Schedule a well inspection to determine the condition of the water well and learn if there are any damages.

The first thing they install is a well and septic. That’s good for you. These properties are out there you just have to do your homework to find them. The best thing is these property owners are usually pretty motivated to sell because they’ve got all this money tied up in the property and it’s costing the taxes and mortgage payments and they just want out.

It’s a great way to get a good deal if you know how to negotiate. Another reason you want to find a property with water and septic already installed besides the cost savings for you is that now you don’t have to be hassled by the local government about sanitation because all that has already been done.

If you’re not into that kind of thing then haul your water and use a composting toilet.

Propane Gas is an option but only if you absolutely need it. Propane is not a renewable resource and it costs money to refill your tank. If you want gas that’s going to cost you a few thousand dollars.


Now we’re getting civilized with electricity and internet. Gotta have solar power and a way to surf the web right? Get yourself a small solar power system with battery backup (and small win turbine).

The batteries will store your excess energy for use when the sun is not shining. You can get a good 1500W solar energy system with batteries for a few thousand dollars on Amazon or one of the myriad solar power websites out there. Don’t overpay for your system. Max for a small system should be around $3k including batteries.

You don’t need a huge solar system to get by at first. Especially if you have the batteries too. Also install a small wind turbine. it will supplement and compliment your system and charge the batteries at night if there’s a nice breeze. You can get a 400W wind turbine for about $200-$300.

400W wind turbine
400W wind turbine

Here’s what appears to be a good 1400W solar power/wind power system for about $2k on Amazon. (note: there’s no reviews, but this is just an example of what you can do if you shop around).

PRO TIP: Make sure you can get internet/cell signal to your property. Why? For making a living. Work online. Sell your homesteading products online. Find something to do that you can easily make and ship from you homestead to anywhere in the world. Start an online storefront for handmade goods, art, crafts, preserves, soaps, handcrafted items, or even buy and sell online through dropshipping websites like Amazon, Oberlo and Shopify. You can sell on eBay and Etsy too. There are many options. You can do local work for folks too to give yourself extra spending money.

Solar Energy Is The Future of Energy

Solar power is the future. It’s what everyone will be using from now on. You need a good quality solar array installed on your off grid cabin to produce your own energy. Couple your solar energy system with a battery backup for energy storage and usage when the sun goes down. Go here for a solar power installation estimate.

EDUCATION (online)

Today you can get a college education online. You can also homeschool your kids. This takes time of course and dedication and it might not be for you, but it’s an option and it’s there if you need or want it. Modern education has advanced beyond the classroom and some scool even offer online tutoring/help in the for of email. I’m personally waiting until the have some kind of video tutor/teacher program where I can park my kid in the room  with a computer/camera online for a few hours each day while the teacher teaches.

This would be so convenient. No more having to drive all over town to get your child in class or leave work early to pick them up from school. They would still get to interact with other students as well. That would be awesome. We’re not quite there yet with the technology but it’s coming. I for one can’t wait. Homeschooling is the alternative right now though.


Most properties in the USA, at least the lower 48 states, are within an hour of a decent hospital. If medical care is needed it might take a while for you to get the care you need. But if you’re not too concerned about that, then a remote property is probably ok. Some of you guys may need a VA, if that’s the case there are options. Just do a search online for land within an hour of a known VA and make your decision about where you want to live.

Last but not least let’s talk about land.


Off Grid Cabin Land
Off Grid Cabin Land

No mortgage!

I know this is technically the first thing you need and it adds to the list of 5 things you need, but land kind of goes without saying. You need a place to call home. So, where is that going to be? That depends on how much money you can raise by selling your stuff. If you’re going to move off grid now then your options are going to be limited somewhat by what you can buy and that is limited on how much stuff you have to sell.

Some people may be hesitant to sell their personal property but to these folks I ask you what’s more important to you, your stuff or your freedom? Stuff is stuff. It’s not important and it’s replaceable. You freedom is not. Your freedom is priceless. Get rid of your stuff and go off grid. If you own your own land you have the freedom of no mortgage payment, you can build your own cabin and produce your own power. You can live off grid with no electric bill, gas bill, water bill, food bill, or mortgage. Your education is free online.

There are only a few things you need to pay for each month. Your cell phone, your internet, taxes and insurance. Anything above and beyond those bills is a luxury. You car payment? Luxury. Pay cash for a 4×4 pickup truck and a van. It’s more useful and you won’t have a monthly payment.

You can still have Netflix and your big screen TV. You can still watch the big game while living off grid because you’re disconnected from the grid and you make your own power. The only thing you pay for is internet and that’s maybe $100/month.

Need help finding your land?

Read our article about How to find land for living off the grid

Notice the featured image on this article. Dick Proenneke was a man who took this concept to an extreme. He built his cabin in the woods by hand. It cost him nothing more than the money for the tools. Everything else he fashioned and made from scratch. The point is you can do it too whether you realize it or not. If Dick can build this awesome cabin in the remote Alaskan wilderness then you can build a nice little cabin with modern technology a lot cheaper and easier than you think possible.

Dick Proenneke at his cabin in 1985. NPS photo taken by Richard Proenneke and donated by Raymond Proenneke
Dick Proenneke at his cabin in 1985.
NPS photo taken by Richard Proenneke and donated by Raymond Proenneke

This is worth it!

Moving off the grid with NO MONEY is a myth!

It’s a myth because you need to buy land to live on and all the tools and equipment and seeds and everything else you need to move off the grid. Unless you’re a Mountain Man (or woman), you’ll need a place to go and that requires money.

Sell your stuff and buy your land. Pay cash for it. You don’t want a mortgage. Land is the most important thing. You need access to the land where you can live off the grid, grow your own food, and live the free self sufficient lifestyle of the modern day homesteader.

It comes down to this. Which is more important to you?

Your stuff or your freedom?

It’s your choice.

What do you choose?