I Am Trying to Go Off-Grid (need advice please!)

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by Permaculture Lover, Feb 1, 2016.

  1. 2/1/2016
    Hello, I'm new here. This site seems pretty awesome!

    About me:

    I am a 23 year old male with a bachelor’s in Natural Resource Conservation. I have a solid knowledge base for ecology, permaculture, and sustainable agriculture. Sadly, I do not have a huge amount of experience actually implementing permaculture besides a few raised beds and planting fruit trees. But I am not very worried about this because I have faith that I can easily develop more permaculture skill.

    I am completely disillusioned by how our society is run, the amount of work you have to do just to get by in the city, the way I am treated by my bosses, the general public, the quality of our food, how unsustainable this lifestyle is, etc.

    I currently have $15,000 in the bank. By 9/2016 I should have $25,000 in the bank.
    I am hoping this will be enough money to start a life for myself. I am willing to go into some amount of debt because I think starting the homestead at an early age will pay off later (E.G. fruit trees mature, property becomes more developed over time, land prices increase).

    T minus 1.5 years until property purchase.

    T minus 1.75 years until straw bale house construction starts.

    I ask that anyone with experience give me advice on my off the grid concerns PLEASE.

    Off the grid concerns

    1. Money – 20k for the land, house (around 30k to 40k), building a driveway (unknown)
    2. Permits – should be fairly easy to secure in the right county
    3. Internet – a very valuable resource. Not willing to pay more than $40 a month for internet. I hope I can at least get cellphone internet.
    4. Livelihood – worse comes to worse I work seasonally for the government, as I’ve been doing. Best situation would be starting my own cottage business or selling and cultivating food market gardener style.
    5. Completing my straw bale building mostly on my own.
    6. Leaving for extended periods of time – how hard is it to get someone to watch/stay on your property for free?

    I am currently trying to make a step by step document for going off the grid.

    House Blueprint Pictures (FYI there are bikini models in these house plans) The bottom two lines are url links to my google drive.

    Off Grid Blueprints

    House realife pictures blueprint

    Extra Information:

    Property Checklist NECESSITIES:

    2. Lax building codes
    3. Land is not next to significant sources of pollution
    4. Safe neighborhood
    5. Reasonable neighbors
    6. Adequate rainfall
    7. Able to grow 2 to 3 acres of produce
    8. Few slopes
    9. Able to have an access road that is NOT EXPENSIVE to build or maintain. Must think of road access COST
    10. Not in a flood plane
    11. Good southern exposure
    12. Good building site
    13. Decent soil
    14. Decent surrounding area
    15. Logical shape (E.G. not a skinny rectangle)
    16. How much wind does it have? CAN’T BE TOO WINDY.
    17. Rain shadow or dry area?
    18. Fire history?
    19. Flood history?

    Watch out for:
    1. Slopes over 20% are unusable for food production without serious modification
    2. Monocrop fields, coal plants, meth heads, “bad” type of rednecks/fanatics
    3. Flood planes
    4. Easements/unpaid taxes
    5. High wind areas
    6. Temperature of the area
    7. Any existing structures

    1. Mature trees
    2. A lot of privacy
    3. 20 acres

    Straw bale building specs 3.0

    2 string Strawbales are 18 inches wide---- Definitely want these and not the larger ones!
    3 string ones are 24 inches wide
    Interior of the building will be 20x16
    Exterior will be 23x19---due to the bales
    Full second floor
    Total space of 640 ft2

    Homestead Tools/Cost List

    See page 166 of Strawbale book for example house

    Check out salvage yards first

    Strawbale construction tools:
    1. Stucco sprayer- $300
    2. 1200 watt generator- $120
    3. 3 tool nailer/stapler/compressor- $200
    4. Hammer, ruler, basic saw- free
    5. Miter saw- $120
    6. Nails and staples?
    7. Japanese hand plane (not NECESSARY but COOL and CONVIENIENT)
    8. Hatchet – not NECESSARY
    9. Chisel- not NECESSARY
    10. Draw knife -not NECESSARY
    11. $740

    1. 14, 16 ft 6x6s- $50----$700
    2. 1x6s for floor—3 sq ft----320*3====$960
    3. Metal roof 500 sq ft- 4 sf ft- $2,000 (WHITE ACTUALLY LOOKS NICE)
    4. 24, 2x6x12s-$12------- $288
    5. Strawbales-- $5-------560 sq+544 sq=1,104/3.5==315 bales= $1,577
    6. Lime Plaster------1,104 *5= $5,520
    7. Concrete Pad---- $500 to $4,300 (only entered in for $500)
    8. Windows-----$1000[​IMG]---$781---100”x48”=8.3x12’----3 , 3ft circle pieces of glass $200*3= $600-----UPDATE PRICE
    9. Total so far is ----$13,666
    10. Toilet--- $50
    11. Electric---5.50 a square foot---$3,520
    12. Stove- $300
    13. Solar system---1 kw- $2,500
    14. Plumbing-- $500[​IMG]
    15. Total so far is ----$20,536
    16. Cement mixer---$170
    17. American Clay, Enjarre, 80-Pound bag—150 sq ft*8—1,104 sq ft---- $680---- cheaper to make yourself[​IMG]??
    18. 5 gallons of clay paint----$261 (seems like a ripoff)
    19. Plaster trowel- $25
    20. Mica flakes 16oz- $52
    21. Total so far is—$21,724
    22. Composting Toilet- $900
    23. Rigid Floor insulation- $600 to $800 (r13)
    24. Engineer fees- $1500
    25. Total so far is $24,924


    1. Land--- $20,000
    2. Tractor ( for land clearing, road building, pond building)--- $4700
    3. White and black ---Elderberry 2 plants- $22---2 to 3 yrs.---15 lbs.—picky
    4. Blueberry 4 plants- $40---- 2 to 3 years---10 lbs—highly acidic soil
    5. Blackberry 5 plants- $50----- 1 to 2 years----10 lbs
    6. Goji plant 2 - $32----2 to 3 years---4 lbs
    7. Honeyberry 2- $35---1 to 2 years----1 to 10 lbs
    8. Fig tree 2-----3 to 5 years--- $32----25 lbs
    9. Hardy kiwi 2- $60—5 years---75lbs
    10. Red and black currant 2- $30--- 5 to 8 lbs ---
    11. Hazelnut 2- $40
    12. Gooseberry 2- $30--- 5 lbs per plant----easy to grow---3 to 4 years
    13. Plum 4- $120--- 3 to 6 yrs----30 to 120 lbs
    14. Honeydew melon--$5
    15. Cornelian cherry 2----$60 ---
    -$482 – for food so far
    16. Red Raspberry 5----$33---1 to 2 years---
    17. Fall Gold Raspberry 5--- $20----1 to 2 years---
    18. Peach tree 2--- $60---2 to 4 years-----120 lbs.
    19. Apricot 2---- $30—2 to 5 years---30 to 120 lbs
    20. Nectarine 2--- $20---2 to 4 years---60 to 120 lbs
    21. Apple crisp trees 2---$60---dwarf 3-5 yrs , 1-2 bushels (40 lb-80 lb)----reg. 5-8 yrs, 4-5 bushels (200 lb- 240 lb)
    22. Grapes 3- $32---2 to 4 years---7-9 lbs
    23. Strawberry 25--- $20---1-2 yrs--- 1 lb.
    24. Sea Berry 2--- $50—2 to 3 yrs--- 30 lbs.
    25. Service Berry 2--- $20
    26. Nanking cherry 2---$40
    27. Kristen Sweet Cherry 4-- $120—4 to 7 years---40 to 120 lbs
    28. Highbush cranberry 2---- $60—12 lbs
    - $987 so far for food
    29. Chestnut 4----$32----3-5 yrs---55 to 110 lbs (year 10)
    30. Chinese Chestnut 4---- $32---3 to 5 years---150 to 300 lbs (year 10)
    31. Almond 5----$100-----2-4 yrs
    32. Black walnut 20 (fast growing variety)----$60---- 4-7 yrs

    Criteria for land:

    1. Not close to oil/coal extraction/ other pollution such as industrial agriculture
    2. Not close to methheads
    3. Decent neighbors
    4. Safe area
    5. Little regulation
    Ganado, GOG, hitchcock4 and 1 other person like this.
  2. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    LOL! That is your #1 priority. I guess you can live on love. Sorry. Seriously. Welcome to the monkey. You seem to have quite the list. I will have to study it more closely.
    Ganado, Mindgrinder, chimo and 2 others like this.
  3. What can I say? I like affection.
    Mindgrinder and Motomom34 like this.
  4. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    Welcome to the Monkey !!
  5. Thanks. I'm curious how much most people had in the bank before going off grid.
  6. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Welcome to SM and good luck!!
  7. Do you all have any advice?
  8. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Advice will be along. Patience. Now I do have some questions and thoughts. One- you need to figure out where you want to be. I am thinking South because they have better weather and longer growing seasons but you have tornado and other issues to deal with. But since you want a straw hut and it is moist in the South, you could get mold. Land is cheap down south or parts of. No opinion on how much to put in a driveway because w/o land there is no way to throw a $ figure at that.

    If you want mature trees then you will have to bump up your tree budget.

    Q: You are 23 with a degree and already have 15 thousand set aside. How did you get all that? If you have been working for the gov't in the past, entry level doesn't pay that well. Unsure if you can get all you want done on the amount you are projecting. Mexico is really cheap. I am being serious. I have talked to many Mexicans and they work in the US buy land in Mexico and live like a king. Good growing down there.

    Also- here is a great thread. Building with Hugelkultur | Survival Monkey Forums
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2016
    Asia-Off-Grid likes this.
  9. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    $25KUS will barely get you started.... I would look at, doubling that, depending on where you are looking for Land....
  10. I got $15k saved from 1 year of work for the government. I am probably going to be off the grid in rural Kentucky because its close to family and the land is cheap.

    Thanks for the suggestion of going to Mexico. But I am terrible at Spanish and have no interest in living in that country.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2016
  11. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    Hard to find land that can sustain decent crops for just a $1000/acre even in pretty remote places. Land that can do that is generally $4-10K in the Midwest. I suggest you figure more in the range of $2.5-3 K / acre for plots that size and then do some very careful shopping.

    Beware of going in debt. Debt is the paramount anti-prep. You have established an ability to generate and save money, capitalize on that skill. I think you should focus on trying to double or even triple your saving rate (eschewing women might help) for the next year or two then try and get some land free and clear. Find a second job, hit the auctions and sell stuff on ebay, start some kind of side business, deliver pizzas, whatever. What good is going off-grid if the bank owns your retreat and can snatch it away if you fall on tough times for 4,5 or 6 months? "Prepping" is to position yourself to weather any kind of storm including the personal financial versions.

    Straw house. You'll likely get no loans for that. It might ward-off the females though so it could prove indirectly economical, I suppose. You might consider the lifespan of such a structure and the susceptibility to rodent infestation. Rodents are another major anti-prep. There are still a lot of FMEA temporary housing trailers around that can be had for just a few thousand bucks that might be worth consideration if there are any near your location. A FEMA rig might not be quite the babe magnet as a doublewide but it could be a more economic option for the next 5-10 years while you accumulate more funds and construct a better and more secure domicile.

    Asia-Off-Grid likes this.
  12. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Okay. That helps. Kentucky should be good with growing and having family nearby will be good. Family at times can pitch in and help, saving you on hiring labor. Plus family always has stuff you can borrow instead of having to buy tools and such for single use.
  13. GOG

    GOG Free American Monkey

    Welcome here. I wish you well.
  14. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member

  15. Thanks Clyde. Natural building is one of my passions. I actually run the largest natural building blog on the web:

    Motomom, I agree. I am lucky that my parents are so supportive and my Dad does have some pretty nice tools I could use.

    The problem that I see is that land prices are forever increasing. When I make some money by that time prices will have increased again. But yes you are right debt should be avoided if possible. My parents would "probably" bale me out if the times got tough. I'm a ladies man so I'm not tooooo worried about finding a good woman. I hate working traditional jobs but I agree that I should work harder to save up money quicker.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2016
  16. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    As a guy approaching 50, and still (barely) remembering what it was like for me to be 23, here is my first piece of advice.

    Forget the women for now. According to your images, I see three. Although these are just drawings, I lived with two women for a year in the Philippines, before. Probably the best - AND worst experience I ever had in my life. I learned not to do that again, though. God, it was fun learnin', I have to admit.

    Wait. This is supposed to be advice to keep you away from those lovely vixens. :D
    Cruisin Sloth likes this.
  17. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    I've lived abroad - Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, for going on two decades. Don't knock it until you've tried it. Trust me, being young is advantageous when it comes to learning other languages. Not to mention, if you are around other people who do not speak English, you will find how fast you really can learn the local language. :)
    Clyde and Cruisin Sloth like this.
  18. Asia-off-grid, sounds like you need to share some stories about the two filipino women;)
    Asia-Off-Grid likes this.
  19. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Or maybe not....still have to keep it family friendly. I had two girlfriends in college, myself (their idea);) and I agree, never again.:whistle:
    Asia-Off-Grid likes this.
  20. To anyone who wants to answer...
    How much money did you all spend to get established on your homestead?
    How much time did it take to get reasonably established?
    What do you do for income?
    GOG likes this.
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