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Wife and I eventually moving...living expenses question

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by John_Canada, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. John_Canada

    John_Canada Monkey

    Hello all,

    Just wanted to say hi and have a general question to begin with.

    My wife and I are in our 40s (empty nesters) will be soon making a leap of faith and moving to a remote location, purchase as much land as possible, build a small house and go off-grid. It is both our dreams. We want out of the city. No neighbors and a simple debt free life.

    My question is, we have enough equity and cash to finance the house so once we move in, we would be debt free. But the areas we want to move too are VERY remote and have few jobs available and those that do, a long drive is required each day. I guess I want to know once we make that leap, how much would our monthly bills be in the short term and then long term? We plan to grow a large portion of our food in the short summer and heat the house with wood from the land. That leaves electric (which we may use solar but not sure yet as it adds a huge initial cost and many unknowns). So basically our monthly bills will consist of taxes, cloths, blah blah and I have estimated about $1000/mn which I can easily make online and doing odd jobs. Just not sure if it is economically possible or if that $1000 is realistic from month to month to live out in the middle of nowhere.

    Any advice?
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    As one who lives far out in the Alaskan Bush, I do, what you are dreaming about doing.... I generate ALL my own power. Momma and I have a unique situation, but we could NOT live on $1kUS a month, even in our situation. We are older, (60+) so our medical is higher than yours may be. You will need money for Fuel, Yea, the Vehicle, ChainSaw, Log Splitter, and Backup Genset, ALL will require fuel, and that isn't cheap, when you live far out in the bush. You can grow SOME of you daily Food Needs, but in the middle of winter, there isn't going to be much Growing happening, so a backup of stored Foods is essential, for living and just not Long Term Preps, but Daily food. Meat can be had, local maybe during Hunting Season. Are you a Good Hunter? If not then you had better start learning, or have enough Cash to make your Protein intake adequate, during the winters. Fish is a good source if you have a local supply. How are your fishing skills? Are there resources near near your land? Water is a REAL Issue in the bush. What is your water source, and will it still be liquid, throughout the winter months? If not, how are you going to store it, and what energy source are you planning on using, to make it useable. You might want to look at this Blog I wrote, for some Ideas, Alaska Wilderness Building about answering many of these questions. It was written with this style of living in mind. I wrote an "About Me" Blog that is posted on my Profile Page, here on the Monkey. It was written so that Folks have a frame of Reference, and Context, when reading my stuff. ..... YMMV....

    Oh yea, and Welcome to the Monkey Tree.... Pick your self out a branch and have a look around.... Lots of good stuff here, and lots of Good folks here as well... If you have questions, Just ASK, there will be at least ONE Monkey, around here, with an Opinion, and or Answer....
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    You might make it on 1K a month AFTER taxes, insurances, and fuel, but I think you might be cutting it pretty close even then. Add in for power until you can drop the service connection and go completely off grid. Time for you to make a spread sheet and see what the variables might do to you. Bear in mind that as you age, the wood harvesting will become somewhat more difficult, too, so don't forget to consider furnace fuel as backup for the days when you are too stiff to swing a maul.

    You didn't give us much to go on, John, but there's my best starting guess.
  4. John_Canada

    John_Canada Monkey

    Fantastic info! OK, a bit more info from what you mentioned here. We are considering North Bay, Sudbury ON area. Maybe a bit more north. We want a mostly wooded lot possibly with some fresh water source which is super abundant in that area. I can hunt/fish/build a house, grow a garden and my wife can pretty well keep up with all those. I have diabetes but it is REALLY well controlled with insulin pump. Most of my medication is thru mail already. We have medical covered by the government. The house we will be building will have in floor heating and broiler. I have seen pellet broilers or broilers that burn just about anything including corn stalks or just about any biomass. My wife cans everything already and our food bill (post teens) is VERY low. She currently works at a canning factory so we get canned goods cheap...we are looking into her transferring to a similar plant around the places we are looking. We have a small garden now and figure we can easily handle 10 times the size and canning and so forth when the time comes. We are using a mulching method that is requiring almost no watering. I have our current expense sheet and a fantasy spread sheet of both cashflow and balances once equipment is all bought such as log splitter/mill etc. What amazes me is a large portion of our expenses currently are used to generate income and if we take those away, we are already within range. I will read that blog BT! Sounds very interesting.

    My thought is that as time goes along (just like in my business) things will become cheaper and less resource intensive so expenses may go down. With very little effort, I can make more and more money as time goes along but my concern is those beginning years...the unknowns. Scares the crap out of me. The fuel unknowns being the largest.

    Well will have a million questions as time goes as this is all going down in a year one way or another.
  5. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    At only 12k a year, I don't know how you will save enough to create or maintain a decent nest eggs to replace vehicles when worn out, to replace the roof when it's shot and to cover food costs and other needs if an injury or disability precludes your ability to garden, hunt, farm, butcher, etc. You are setting yourselves up to be dependent upon .gov or your kids to care got you. How is that going to work when the government is in no better shape than Greece? Prepping means planning for SHTF AND planning for nothing bad to happen.

    cjsloane, Witch Doctor 01 and KAS like this.
  6. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    I would recommend getting the retreat set up while still maintaining you urban place if possible. Use it as a weekend/vacation home for awhile before committing to full time residency. Even purchase the land first and move in a travel trailer for the short term. Just to get an idea of the work involved in cutting and storing up firewood, growing your own food etc. I have known too many who have invested in that dream only to find it was not the utopia they thought it would be.
    One good friend did it the right way in my opinion. He purchased the land then camped and hunted it for a few years until it was paid for. Then he went down and bought one of those large, portable, buildings. He converted it into a very small cabin and moved in. It was maybe 15' long by 8' wide. But he fixed it up nice. He financed solar panels and a wind generator. Had a well drilled with a solar pump. When that was all paid for he began to add on to the "house".
    In the end, after maybe 5 years he had a very nice house with a good sized living room, bigger than the original cabin, which became a full kitchen. He had a T.V., computer, all the gadgets that I had and he had not one single utility bill. He filled large 100 gal propane bottles at the local co-op and hauled them back to the house for cooking. Wood stove for heat. A view overlooking the river that was amazing. Everything he needed. But he did it in stages.
    His is the success story. I have known a few others who like I said found out that it was more work than they thought and soon abandoned the idea. So good luck to you. Take your time and do it right. Wishing you all the best. You're starting in the right direction. There is a wealth of knowledge here that may keep you from unforeseen pitfalls. Good luck!
  7. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    Canuk John ,
    You dreaming a DREAM !!!
    Minute man Gave the way to find out the woods / critters / area / weather / oooooOOOOHHHHH there is so MUCH !!
    I have lived where your talking , plus a few more rural areas .. one grand a month if your setup after 30 years & all is stable .
    diabetes will be fixed after you work hard each day , eat REAL FOOD , But your garden won't produce well till after the ground has been worked & all that Acid rain has been taken care of.

    Sorry , But diving in with head dreams will cost you huge.
    BT , Myself , and a few others live like you dream.. I started today at 06:30 (Saturday) Woke at 5:40 hoping for some cuddle time :) worked / chores / livestock etc, It's 21:33 now , just finished the day , Dinner next !!!
    Summer days are long , because Wet Winters are ugly to work with .

    Got done about half of what I dreamt I'd do.

    Not saying it won't happen , BUT !! Wife & I have 59 years doing this , and it's a good life , but I'll scratch your hand shaking it ,hopefully it's clean of poo to diesel ..

    BT knows cold , so do I , But many don't know that that area can do a -40 for some time , making ice (lack of water ) 4 feet+ thick..
    Do as Minute man posted , You wouldn't want to get a divorce over this !!

    Sorry to be 2the point , but Canuks do dream :)

    Canuk Sloth .
    Motomom34 likes this.
  8. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja Jedi Bipolar WINNING M.L.F.

    Lots of good woods for making maple syrop between NB and the big Nickel.
    If the land you buy is primarily maple, you might be able to set up a sugar shack and earn a pretty penny that way. Not sure why you'd want to build your own house out there though...the economy around North Bay has been so depressed for so long that you can prolly pick up an old farm/ranch for next to nothin. I'd suggest Trout Creek - since the highway bypassed town house land prices flopped so I'm told. Not sure how you're going to pick up odd jobs on the internet in the bush though. Off highway 11 the cell service isn't exactly 4 bars.
  9. John_Canada

    John_Canada Monkey

    Again so much fantastic data. Minuteman. It is possible this is what we may do. We are still thinking about the timing of this and have not 100% figured things out which is why I was seeking advice. I have read many stories of people that have followed the process you mentioned and were very successful because they first rented a place, established some friendships with neighbors and those neighbors helped locate land, resources and even jobs. The main issue is we are about a 5 to 9 hour drive from where we want to be so that may become an issue but we shall see.

    Sloth, I super agree with the health thing. My wife and I were on almost all veggie diet for about a year and we both lost 35 lbs each and were more energetic than when we were teens. Also my medication was lowered by 65%. Back to that soon. As I said the kids sort of supported the unhealthily eating style..ever tried to feed a teen veggies only for supper? They will eat three bites than head for the bagels or cereal cupboard and load up on junk.

    We are both used to hard work. I do google photography/sales and website building/marketing for 8 to 10 hours a day, she works at a plant then usually we both work around the house the remainder of the day. I am no stranger to 16 to 20 hour construction days for days on end.

    I actually talked more with my business partner in the US today and he lives about 2 hours from anywhere and him and his wife pull in $250K per year with a cell phone and internet connection. What I do is I automate sites and they each pay money month after month and the income from those automated sites has grown for the past three years which is why I say we may begin with about $1,000 mn and that will climb as time goes on. My friend said he stays around $3,000 per month but travels, has many toys and is socking enough away each month to retire in 6 years and have that income for 30 years to come. Man with a plan.

    I never even considered maple syrup, Mindgrinder! Good idea. We both do woodworking as well and know ways to sell pieces for about 10 times what most people do so that is another option. Our dream is a metalwork shop and woodshop we build up over time. I will also look in those areas you spoke of. The reason I said the land is because we can get about 50 to 80 acres of wooded land for as low as $20K (some also around $50K but it looks like it is not selling). Not sure about the house but we have an architect friend that has designed a house we can build for about $50K to $70K in very little time and use mostly local materials.

    I have lived in Toronto during some of the coldest winters, and although we live in windsor area now, we are no stranger to cold! I prefer it to be honest but know that you need a summer to grow.

    Very glad to get many of these unknowns out now. The ones I rarely see people talk about are the unknown financials and financial plans. Living in the middle of nowhere in the cold to me is not the hardest part. It is knowing you have enough income to remain there as long is humanly possible and have backups if things happen.

    Ah sorry airtime, yes for sure we need that nest egg and unknowns money. That is not included in the $1000/mn. That is sort of a starting place number. As I can see it should likely be double that and is still entirely possible in the long run.
  10. KAS

    KAS Monkey++

    this is a good thread...
    Lots of good points but up and really hope it all works out for you ---
    Please read Bts blogs things or whatever its called it is very informative and inspiring ...
    Im not at all an expert at this but i know all to well what it is like going from having money to know money cause a truck shit them bed or someothing like that ....
    but maybee if you have a good nest egg already and have been prepping or hording as my wife calls it {only wen she talking about the 20 differnt tires i have or spare belts for everything everywere and stuff like that }maybee u can make it .... please keep us posted
  11. John_Canada

    John_Canada Monkey

    Actually what fascinates me about that area in general is some of the most expensive homes/cottages in Ontario are 30 minutes away. There are even private islands. So strange that the price of land is so ridiculously cheap there.
  12. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja Jedi Bipolar WINNING M.L.F.

    I lived in the North Bay area for aboot 10 years...there is VERY little good work even if you are highly skilled. Wal-Mart killed the downtown core and when the 2 big call-centers shut down as the CDN dollar climbed to par - suddenly 1000 or so people were looking for work. (in a town of 50k). Tourism is still pretty decent in the summer months but the winters are quite intense. Lake Nippissing is good easy fishing for Walleye and there are many rivers off gravel roads with trout. The growing season is not as bad as you might think...I'd suggest lots of strawberries. People are generally friendly to strangers in North Bay but not so much in the surrounding small towns. Frankly I miss Trout Creek (population 600). It took aboot a year to "fit it" with the locals but once you're accepted it's a real community. Nobody calls the cops on each other preferring to sort problems out "locally" and if you run out of sugar or something, the general store will give you "credit" until payday. Lots of underemployed people but they look out for each other and that is priceless.
    Cruisin Sloth likes this.
  13. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja Jedi Bipolar WINNING M.L.F.

    You talking about Orillia? Bleh. Go further North.
    If you go as far as Timmins....might even find gold. :)
  14. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    How far is the grid?
    are the roads seasonal?
    Can you get deeded legal access? i.e. is it land locked inside of crown land? do you have to take trails to get to the property?

    All those factors will drop the price of land like a rock.
  15. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    Kool MG , I did my time in that area also , Yessin , a good lot of decent folks , but seriously , - temps suck , and then next its melting , plus back to - death temps, leaves tire ruts that steering control is not require !! I'll pass , find a better ambient area.
  16. Oddmar

    Oddmar Monkey+

    My 2 cents...Just trying to help.

    I've researched for years online and done some of this stuff.

    Strawbale house for super-insulated home...insulation makes a big $$ or labor difference when you're trying to heat and cool a home. Personal tip: Spray insecticide along the outside bottom, (permethrin 38 works good, for fire ants too) then spray on stucco. Spray papercrete on the inside wall, then trowel smooth.
    Straw Bale House Construction | Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

    I once thought heated floors, or pellet stoves were the way to go, my eyes have been opened. Pellet stoves caught on but then the pellet/ fuel prices went up.
    My best stove to date has been a 'rocket mass heater'...it will heat my home for the rest of my life, there is NOTHING more efficient or easier to get fuel for (free fuel that is).
    Build it without the drum for a gravity-fed wood stove. (Super-hot gas coming out of the top of the heat riser hitting the bottom of a pot a couple inches above.) Can be used to efficiently boil down maple syrup. ;)
    Put a barbecue grill over the heat riser instead of the pot and bake bread. Sprinkle hickory shavings in the bottom of the grill and they will smolder, smoking and slow-cooking meat.
    Permsteading.com • View topic - My First REAL RMH Build

    Bake bread, cook stews without danger of burning with a solar oven. Solar cooker plans - Solar Cooking

    SuperSplitter for wood splitting. Log Splitter, Wood Splitter - Super Split(R) You just Gotta watch the Youtube videos! They are a little expensive so i've been thinking about using metal gears and chain instead of the pinion shaft and rack bar, and truck tires filled with cement for the flywheels.

    ShopSmith combo machine for woodworking. Shopsmith - The Tool To Start With -- The System You Grow With New ones are pretty pricey ($4k) but look on ebay, find one for under $1k with all the accessories.

    Keep your solar panels aimed at the sun all day for 30-40% more efficiency (sp?).
    Red Rock Energy Heliostats His page is terribly long but i'd get the dual-axis tracker he sells assembled for about $94. Requires some fabrication. I'd use an electric screwdriver with a long piece of allthread to build a linear actuator. But i tend to build rather than buy.

    Wind power will put alot more electricity into your battery bank than solar PV if you have any wind to turn the generator. If the tree limbs and leaves are moving at all most days, that is enough for the wind generator below. These people are the experts on how to build the wind generator yourself. 20 foot diameter wind turbine | Otherpower

    Mike Oehler up in Idaho has some good ideas on underground housing, and other good ideas such as his barbecue window idea and earth-sheltered greenhouse one. The book is funny and well-illustrated. $50 and Up Underground House Book – Underground Housing and Shelter

    That's all i can think of for right now, feel free to ask me any questions.
  17. Oddmar

    Oddmar Monkey+

    Also i have a couple books you might find useful...

    Back to Basics...
    Well-illustrated and a ton of knowledge. I've always found a good illustration easier to comprehend than a 2D photo. Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition: Abigail R. Gehring: 9781602392335: Amazon.com: Books

    Country Wisdom and Know-How
    Same kinda stuff, different book. Tried barnes n noble cause amazon almost crashed my laptop.
    Country Wisdom & Know-How: A Practical Guide to Living off the Land by Storey Books | 9781579123680 | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2015
    Witch Doctor 01 and BTPost like this.
  18. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    And if you are like @Oddmar and live in Tornado Country, an Underground House, or Earth Berm-ed Living Structure can save your life.... .....
    Mindgrinder likes this.
  19. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja Jedi Bipolar WINNING M.L.F.

    Imagine it cuts down on heating costs quite a bit too....looks neat to boot.
    If he's living in near north ontario it may be challenging to construct though due to the Canadian Shield of hard rock.
  20. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    When was the last time there was a tornado in Ontario....
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