Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10 Things To Consider When Living Off The Land {And How Much Money Will It Cost}

Do you hold a dream to live off of the land and experience the joy of sustainable living? There really are countless things to consider when living off the land. However, these 10 things are on my priority list and I think they should be on yours.

1. Land
2. Natural Fresh Water Source
3. Food
4. Shelter
5. Power
6. Medical Skills
7. Protection/Security
8. Methods of Communications
9. Disposal of Waste
10. Positive Mental Attitude

I put land as the number one priority on this list 'cause without land, there's no livin' off of it! There is a huge debate about how much is enough. I say, you make do with what you have. But in order to produce enough to truly live off the land, you will need at least 5 acres. This allows for enough space to produce for your family and your animals. When considering where to purchase cheap land you must consider things such as acreage, amount of timber, quality of soil, presence of water, cost of property taxes, and weather. A few states I consider to be the most "free" and homesteader-friendly (i.e. homeschooling laws, gun laws, tax burden, etc) are: New Hampshire, Colorado, South Dakota, Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Idaho, Wyoming. Cheap land ($1,000-$1,500 per acre) can be found just about anywhere, you just have to know where you're looking. We found our 20 acres listed on Craigslist and we purchased on a land contract, without a bank loan. Check out this great article on

{Natural Fresh Water Source}
We can live days, even weeks without food, but we will surely die without water in about 3 days. A fresh water source is crucial to your success in living off the land. Whether it be a lake, river/stream, spring or well, it must be close by and it must be drinkable. The cost of digging a well depends on your location, water table, and contractor, but you can expect to pay between $2,000-$4,500 dollars. This website,, is a great tool in helping you locate a fresh water source close to you. Water Storage (tanks, cisterns, aquifers, and ponds for domestic supply, fire and emergency use)is also a necessary system to consider and institute.

Nutrition, and the production of food, is super important and a key factor in living off the land not only for your family, but for your animals as well. You must know your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone and plan for year-round growing accordingly. In most zones a greenhouse for the winter is a must as well as a garden in the summer. Books such as The Winter Harvest Handbook teach sustainable year-round gardening methods and will give you a good price point for getting started. Additionally, you'll need a working knowledge of traditional food preservation techniques using salt, oil, sugar, alcohol, vinegar, drying, cold storage, and lactic fermentation. Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning is a great resource for this. Production animals (i.e. bees, chickens, cows, ducks, goats, pigs, rabbits, and sheep) provide a fresh source of food, among countless other things. The start up cost of purchasing your animals will vary as will the initial cost of heirloom garden seed. Depending on where you wanted to start, chickens and goats seem logical to me, you may be looking at around $500-$1,000 for animals, garden, and seed. If $500 seems like too much initially, get started with a small flock of chickens; the eggs alone are enough to sustain and nourish.

The fist item of business on our land, is the building of a root cellar, or basement. If nothing else we could live in the basement if we had to. Don't get to hung up on building your "dream home." All to often I see people shoot themselves in the foot by focusing their time, energy, and money on building their home first! Wrong, wrong, wrong! Live in a camper if you have to. Your home is what you make it. Don't waste your precious resources on lavish living quarters, that can come later. A modest home will do, and for a cost of around $5,000-$10,000 you can have a nice, liveable space. Or, if your conditions are right, and you have the skill, for $100 shelter can be yours.

When constructing your home/shelter, positioning it for power efficiency is of upmost importance. When living off the land, the hope is, our use of power will decrease. Some of the sources for off-grid power are wood/fire, solar, wind, and hydro. Ideally, your property and/or your local area should contain enough timber to provide a heat and cooking source. The old-fashioned cook top stove would need to find it's place in your home. Solar chargers, wind turbines, and water powered generators are all rather expensive forms of generating power, initially. Which one's better? It depends on who you talk to and where you live! Anyway you go, you can plan on investing around $2,000-$3,000. Bottom line, the less power you need the less power you have to generate. Power conservation is your best bet when choosing to living off the land.

{Medical Skills}
Basic medical skills are a necessity for anyone living off-grid. Simply because in most cases you will be quite a distance from the nearest medical facility and you may not hold health insurance. For a $50 start up cost you can construct an emergency medical kit. Bookmark ThePatriotNurse's YouTube channel and begin learning emergency first aid. Purchase books like Where There Is No Doctor, Where There Is No Dentist, Where Women Have No Doctor: A Health Guide for Women. (Note: You may view and download these books for free off the publisher's website by clicking on this link.) And for sustainability's sake you will need to learn how to make homemade herbal bandages, tinctures, and syrups; all of which require knowledge of medicinal herbs. Many herbs grow wild, but if you wish to create an organized medicinal herb garden, I recommend you purchase medicinal herbal seeds from Horizon Herbs. I've been very happy with my purchases from those guys.

Guns & Ammo. Enough said. Learn how to safely handle and care for a gun and get one. About $150-$200 should be fine here.Read this informative article and choose a weapon that fits your needs. Remember...we're talking about living off the land.

{Methods of Communications}
Communication has been and will always be a very important aspect of our lives. Modern technology (aka The Internet) has dramatically changed the way we communicate with others. There are a variety of Satellite Internet Services providers that are for the most part, pretty inexpensive. The initial equipment and set up fee will cost you approximately $400 with a monthly charge of $40-$60 depending on what provider you go with. Don't want the monthly charge? CB radio works well for local use and the Ham radio is better for long range communications. See this off-the-grid communications article.

{Disposal of Waste}
In order of least expensive to most expensive, here are 3 options for the disposal of human waste.
  • Humanure. Composting human waste is free. The most amazing system has been created and you can read all about it in The Humanure Handbook. If you are even remotely considering living off-grid this book should be in your home library.
  • Incinerator Toilet. The waterless incinerator toilet can be set up anywhere and is the perfect alternative to a septic system. One of these lovely things will cost you approximately $2,000.
  • Septic System. The septic system is the most expensive costing anywhere from $4,000-$10,000. This system requires modern electricity and running water in addition to routine maintenance.

{Positive Mental Attitude}
If you are going to live off the land and thrive, you have to have your mind right. A positive mental attitude, and a willingness to learn, will see you through the tough times of sustainable living. However, living off the land is no joke. It's not romantic or sexy. It's blood, sweat, and tears. It's up with the sun and working for hours. It's unpredictable. An agrarian way of life is a willing submission to the laws of nature and to the Creator. This will cost you everything!

Don't ever give up on your dreams of living off the land! I promise there is a just have to find it.

Please feel free to comment and share with us your thoughts on living off the land. I look forward to continuing the discussion.

You can find this post and a host of others like it here: Simple Lives Thursday, Your Green Resource, It's A Keeper, Farm Girl Friday, Friday's Nature Table, Living Well, Farm Friend Friday, Friday Favorites, Fresh Bites Friday, Gallery of Favorites, Fight Back Friday, Freaky Friday, Homestead Barn Hop, Homemaker Monday, Mangia Monday, Fat Tuesday, New Nostalgia, Handmade Tuesday, Patchwork Living Bee, Teach Me Tuesday, Frugal Tuesday Tip, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Homemaking Wednesday, Living Well

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate, which means I’ll earn a very small commission from any sales made through links. Please know that I would never recommend something to you that I don't already use and love myself.

Year Supply of Basics


At October 27, 2011 at 2:40 AM , Blogger click clack gorilla said...

Great post. Hoping to get to this point eventually myself, but we're currently in the "saving money to buy the land stage." Best of luck!

At October 27, 2011 at 5:59 AM , Anonymous Carol J. Alexander said...

Great post, Andrea. Can I add? Rarely does anyone consider how much food we depend on from the grocery store...oil, salt, yeast, and in my case ketchup. I ask myself constantly, how sustainable am I willing to go? Am I willing to learn to do without these things? Notice I'm not saying learn to produce them because producing what we can is already hard, hard work. But am I willing to do without? Am I willing to eat ONLY what I've put up for the winter (as the pioneers of this country) or does my being long for that tomato in February so much that I find myself buying them at the grocer? I once heard that it's easier to change a person's religion than it is to change their diet. I want to come to that place that food is not an idol in my life and I can be content with what is already in my pantry.

At October 27, 2011 at 7:01 AM , Anonymous Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable said...

@Carol Wow! Thank you for your transparency! And you are right on. I think almost everyone would agree with you. Isn't it amazing how our expectations as a society have changed in such a short time. Thank you, thank you for your comment!

At October 27, 2011 at 8:35 PM , Blogger Heidi said...

This post is a great help. We are just starting out in our quest to find a piece of land that meets our needs ie: fresh water source, good soil, climate, CCRs, etc. Thank you.

At October 28, 2011 at 5:03 AM , Blogger Buttons said...

Oh I think the positive mental attitude is truly the hardest one. My husband and I went through "Our Journey" and I write about the mental side which many I think are not prepared for. I found that sometimes the hardest part. I
I love your post I am going to check out more you have some very valid points and know your information well. B

At October 28, 2011 at 10:38 AM , Anonymous Jen said...

I love this article. . .this is my desire "to live off the land". We are in a position where we will likely be moving. I so want to be sustainable where ever we wind up. These are all good things to consider! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

BTW . . we have a blog carnival here: Please post this awesome article!

At October 28, 2011 at 3:21 PM , Anonymous Andrea @ The Greenbacks Gal said...

Out of curiosity, do you read Nourishing Days?

This is my favorite article on Your Green Resource this week! I'm not tough enough, I know this about myself. But I'm fascinated by those of you who are!

At October 28, 2011 at 7:55 PM , Anonymous Kirsten said...

Great article! Some very good points...

For those readers who are frugal and are okay with using the computer or e-reader for reading, I found the series of books "Where There is No Doctor", etc. available free online, via the publishers... Of course, it is nice to have a hard copy for reference... but if money is an issue, people can still learn some basic medical without buying the hard copies...

At October 29, 2011 at 6:41 PM , Blogger Andrea said...

@Andrea Yes! I've known of Nourishing Days but really just started reading her:) Partly because I'm in love with what her family is doing!

@Kirsten Thank you!!! What a great find! Free is always good:) I will update the post to include this as an option. Again, thank you.

At October 30, 2011 at 6:10 PM , Blogger LisaWeidknecht said...

Thank you for joining the Halloween Weekend Hop at! I'm a follower and hope to see you at next weekend's hop too.

At October 31, 2011 at 7:08 AM , Blogger Kimberly said...

Having just moved to rural Idaho this year, I can attest to a positive mental attitude as being key. This is just plain hard work. It has its rewards definitely, but there is no break from the endless work trying to get everything up and running well.
I am not saying it was a mistake to do at all, but there have been days I want to chuck it all for a little convenience!!! And then I go outside and take a walk and do much better. :)

At November 1, 2011 at 1:13 PM , Anonymous Jill said...

Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

Be sure to visit on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!
If you have grain-free recipes please visit my Grain-Free Linky Carnival in support of my 28 day grain-free challenge! It will be open until November 2.

At November 2, 2011 at 6:17 AM , Blogger Deborah Jean at Dandelion House said...

Wonderul post on off grid living. Great advice and resources too! We once dreamed of and off grid life on our ten acres in Northern Nevada, but we are in Ma now and instead enjoy and off- grid summer cottage.. It's not our " whole " life but we grow veggies, shower outside with solar heated water, use solar electricity for our well pump and lights inside. It's a slice of heaven and one day we hope to make it a year round home! Again, thank you for this comprehensive post on off grid living!

At November 3, 2011 at 1:53 AM , Anonymous April @ The 21st Century Housewife said...

I want to thank you for sharing this post with the Gallery of Favorites! It is well thought out, and a wonderful resource for anyone considering a move 'off the grid'.


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