Living Off-Grid Without Money

By cutting costs, trading labor for equipment, and bartering with neighbors, this family is able to live off-grid with no expenses.

Renting out part of his home helps the author offset its expenses.
Photo by Aur Beck

Living without money in today’s society is a challenge, but it’s also satisfying. My dad led me to this lifestyle; he didn’t like that his tax money was going to support wars, so he figured he wouldn’t earn more than $6,500 a year. For the first 20 years of my life, he filed taxes, but he didn’t have to pay, because he earned less than the required amount to file. Somehow, he convinced my mother, and later, us kids to join him in taking this voluntary vow of poverty.

To succeed, we needed to eliminate a majority of the expenses that most people have:

House and land. We traded house-sitting and land-sitting in exchange for a place to stay. Eventually, we bought a house under a contract for deed, and we now rent out part of the home to cover all its expenses, such as the monthly payment, taxes, and insurance, while I exchange work for some repairs.

Food. We grew a lot of our own food wherever we were land-sitting, bought in bulk, and ate at the bottom of the food chain, with almost no meat or dairy in our diets. We also worked for farmers in exchange for bulk food.

Vehicle. We traveled by horse-drawn wagon, and we had a truck for work that brought in enough money to cover the truck’s expenses.

Electricity. We lived completely off-grid by going very low-tech and, later, using solar power.

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