Is it REALLY Cheaper to Live Off the Grid?
While the dream of living self-sufficiently is so seductive, if you are anything like me, you might wonder is it too good to be true? With so many people looking to make the move out of the city, I thought I would give newcomers a run of what, in my own off grid journey, it really costs to live off the grid.
Is it cheaper to live off the grid? Living off grid can cost just as much or more than living on the grid, depending on your lifestyle. But, instead of monthly bills you spend more in upfront costs. However, living off grid gives you flexibility in lifestyle, which allows for much lower expenses than city living.
Living off the grid is certainly not free (as in free beer), and there are many costs that someone just getting started might not expect. So, here are my top 5 biggest hidden costs while living off the grid, and one bonus expense that most people miss.
If you plan on owning land off the grid, which gives you the most freedom to live the way you want, your biggest expense is very likely to be property taxes.
A lot of people miss this fact, and assume when their mortgage (if they are buying a house), or land payments cease that they will no longer have a monthly bill for their property. This is completely wrong.
Solar Panel Aging
This one hits people really hard. For many of us off-gridders, we provide for you power needs with solar panels. Unfortunately, solar panels do not last forever.
Under typical usage, a solar panel will decrease it productivity by about 0.8% per year (according to data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory), although some users report loosing as much as 3% or more on average per year. Generally, a loss of 15% – 20% of overall productivity is when a solar system is considered to have failed, and will need replacing.
Unless you plan on living as a hermit, and never going in to town, transportation can be a sizable expense for those of us living off the grid.
I think many of us off gridders really enjoy the thought of piece and quiet in the country, and the chance to shed all the city stress and distractions for a serene off grid lifestyle. To this end, we don’t really consider how boring this can get.
Not that there isn’t a lot to do out in the country, but rather all this space that we open up in our lives ends up wanting to be filled by something.
General Upkeep aka Home Depot Runs
The first this you will probably notice one you start building up your off grid homestead is just how often things need fixed up, repaired, or replaced.
As you increasingly become more self-sufficient and capable, you will end up needing to acquire a wide range of materials and tools to keep everything going.
These expenses are hard to quantify or plan for, but if my Home Depot and hardware store receipts are any indication, they can be a significant cost.