What is an Off-Grid Home?

Off-grid homes are homes that do not rely on utilities for energy supply or water such as:

  • municipal water - you aren't hooked into town water and are dependent on an off grid water system 

  • sewer - instead, you have either a septic tank or field bed, outhouse, propane or composting off grid toilet

  • Natural gas- no natural gas to heat your home or run kitchen/laundry  appliances

Contrary to popular belief, off-grid homes can be found in both remote and non-remote places.

Off gird living means producing your own solar electricity, collecting rainwater through capture and filter system, designing your home to naturally cool/heat, and strong excess energy in batteries for future use.  


Image via Homedit

Off-Grid Living 


Pulley Operated
Windows and Walls

Nestled between the border of Turkey, Bulgaria, and Greece, the plywood-clad structure is sited in a small village near the Turkish city of Edirne and measures less than 200 square feet. To accommodate for the various weather conditions across all seasons, the architects have designed the windows and walls to be pulley-operated, allowing them to be raised and lowered depending on the climate. Because the tiny house can be used off-grid, the inside is heated with a wood-burning stove, and many elements are flexible and can be used in multiple ways (source).

Pulley Operated

Windows and Walls


Mountainside Guest Home

Ariel McGlothin has lived off the grid in a tiny house in the Wyoming mountains for 6 years. She has first-hand experience on how to deal with heat, water, and electricity without a reliable connection to the grid or even consistent sunshine.


Click here to listen to a podcast to get an inside look at how she has set up the systems in her tiny house.

Mountainside Guest Home


Prefab Self Sufficient Home

The prefabricated home, which can be removed with minimal impact if needed, operates completely off the grid. The 700-square-meter home was constructed with a prefabricated steel-frame system and sheathed in low-maintenance sheet metal.


Factory construction took four months, and the project’s cost was approximately $250,000.  (source).

Prefab Self Sufficient Home


The Porter Cottage in Maine

The Porter cottage makes the most of its unwieldy site. The cottage was sited as close to the water as legally allowed to take advantage of the views and far enough away from the graywater leach field where the soil is deep enough to allow for proper run off. The screen porch was angled to capture direct southern exposure for the solar panels.

Photo: Eirik Johnson

The Porter Cottage in Maine


Western Home in
Pioneertown, California

The Off-grid itHouse is an architecturally significant house, powered by solar panels for energy and hot water, and located in a pristine remote valley in the beautiful California high desert. The house observes key green principals of smaller footprint, minimal disturbance to the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, use of renewable resources, and living simply and minimally (source).

Photo: Airbnb

Western Home in
Pioneertown, California


Worm Farm Treatment System

Bush House collects rainwater, produces energy from a 3kW ground mounted solar array, heats water with a roof mounted solar hot water heater and treats blackwater with a worm-farm treatment system that irrigates the garden with nutrient rich water.

Source: LunchBoxArchitect

Worm Farm Treatment System


Mountainside Guest Home

This home in Santa Barbara, CA is designed to be completely self-sufficient. property features its independent sewage treatment, on-site water supply and a rooftop PV system. An earthy palette of leather, wood, brass, and handwoven textiles creates an overall inviting atmosphere.

Off grid homes are a great option if you are looking to build a guest home or getaway home to escape the city. Click here to read more about this beautiful home. 


       Source: OneKinDesign

Mountainside Guest Home


Image via Homedit

Degrees of Off-Grid Living

There are different degrees of living off the grid. This may look like: 

  • living without electricity (no electricity)

  • using a generator (partial electricity use, but not through utilities)

  • generating electricity through solar, wind or geothermal energy (mostly full electricity use, independent of grid system

Although homeowners may think making the switch to alternative energy means they are now off the grid, many opt to stay connected to their utilities as a backup or to sell surplus energy produced through net-metering. Since they remain connected to utilities, it can be said these homeowners are still on the grid despite consuming energy off the grid.                                                 

You may still rely on electricity or sewage, yet use a well to pump water into your home. Being off-grid  has many different combinations of self-reliance with moderate reliance on the grid.

How Much Does It Cost to Live Off-Grid?


Source: Dwell

The price for most off-grid homes and land is anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000. Taking into account that off-grid upgrades can cost nearly $70,000, this is still below national home price averages and will spend even less without monthly bills.

It is smart to plan what other unexpected expenses may come up when you move off grid. This will ensure you are prepared for additional expenses before making the switch to an off-grid home. Some of these include transportation costs and cost of wood, which varies depending on your location and remoteness. 

This article provides insight into factors that are important to consider when choosing to live off-grid, such as land cost, as well as potential ways to offset expensive or unnecessary costs. 

What Else Should I Consider?

It is better to prepare for unexpected challenges you may face when going off-grid by reading and preparing beforehand. Reading everything about off grid living before you make the switch will make the transition smoother. 

It is important to ensure the materials that were used to build the house are resistant to harsh weather conditions if it is in a remote region. While they can be more expensive to construct, container homes can withstand the harsh conditions.

Choosing a Location


Consider how certain factors will affect the cost of living off-grid. Choosing a remote location may mean paying higher costs to access hard to transport raw materials (i.e. wood to heat your home). It is also important to consider climate, land availability, tax rates, building requirements when choosing a location. 


Source: OneKinDesign

Additional Resources

It is important to research what options there are for gathering water and energy if you decide to go off-grid. If you decide to choose a remote location, it is worth considering alternative food options, such as harvesting your own food, if it is more difficult to access food market

Source: Archiblox


Water Systems

Explore what options there are for water and sewage

Read More


Learn more on growing your own garden for an off-grid home. Find gardening products

Read More

Compostable Toilet

Learn about creative and safe waste disposal options

Read More

Batteries for Off-Grid Living

Prepare for unexpected drops in electricity, or have them as a main source of energy

Read More

Essential Off-Grid Appliances

Consider using appliances made for off-grid living to make the switch easier

Read More

Renewable Energy

Read more about what RealtySage and EnergySage offer for solar and geothermal options

Read More

Eco-Friendly Products

Realty Sage offers a list of eco-conscious products for off-grid and day to day living, making it easy to find eco-friendly products for yourself or to gift. 

From sustainable kitchen supplies to holiday gift ideas, eco-friendly products are a great addition to your off-grid home. 


Image via Dezeen