Why is Building Off-Grid More Expensive?

Lately I have noticed that we’re receiving an increasing number of emails inquiring about living off grid. How exciting! One of our goals at Rewild is to inspire people to embrace self-sufficiency and to live more sustainable lifestyles. The fact that our clients are routinely asking for solar panels, compostable toilets and rainwater collection systems is a sign that we’re doing something right. Or, rather, that you’re doing something right!


Unfortunately, there is an abundance of inaccurate information about off grid living floating around the internet—particularly regarding how much it costs to build and run an off grid home. So, I took it upon myself to write this blog post in hopes of shedding some light on the true cost of off grid living.

First, it is important to consider your definition of ‘off grid’. The term generally refers to living without access to public utilities such as power, water and sewer connections. Living without these amenities is absolutely possible. (Lest we forget, human civilization was surviving just fine before the invention of the light bulb). However, when most people talk about living off grid today, what they mean is living off grid with the same comforts as living on grid. What they’re talking about is not just living remotely, but living remotely with working electricity, running and potable water, adequate bathroom and shower facilities, and the ability to cook and refrigerate food. So, if by ‘off grid’ you mean reading by candle light and peeing in a chamberpot, then yes, building an off grid home is less expensive than building an on grid one. But if you’re looking to live off grid with all the creature comforts, it’s going to cost you more than a couple of candles and an old bucket.

At Rewild, we design homes that function at varying levels of autonomy, or, for lack of a better term, ‘off-gridness’ depending on your budget and needs. Off grid additions can range from a supplementary solar system that powers your kitchen lighting and a small potable water tank, to a house powered fully by solar accompanied by a rainwater collection system with storage cisterns, filtration systems, and pumps that pressurize your water. Over time, (re)using these systems will save you money, as they are a renewable resource. However, the initial investment in off grid systems in unavoidably expensive. Think about it. It takes a lot of highly specialized technology to harness energy from a sphere of flaming plasma 150,000,000 kms away from us, store it, and then convert it to something that can power your Netflix account. To give you an idea of the price of these systems, check out the ‘Off Grid Gear’ page on Tiny Life Supply’s webpage. We source a lot of our off grid equipment and logic directly from them, and they are an excellent resource when it comes to researching the cost of living comfortably off grid.

Off grid systems also take up a significant amount of space and add a lot weight to your home. Because of this, off-grid homes are usually better suited for either permanent homes that can house some of their systems externally or bigger homes on larger trailers with a greater number of axles that can bear the additional weight—all of which add cost in materials and labour. Off-grid homes also require a lot more planning—both from a lifestyle and a design standpoint. If you’re serious about living off grid, we take special care to customize a system that suits your individual needs, based on your usage habits, appliances/electronics, and your intended parking location (i.e. how much sun and rain you can capture).


Even relatively simple off grid additions can drive up the cost of your home. For example, the difference in price between a standard flush toilet and a Separett compostable toilet can be well over $1000CAD. Another good example to consider is your heat source. An average electric heater will cost anywhere between $50-100CAD, whereas a good quality propane heater or pellet stove can cost upwards of $1500CAD, with some of the industry's leading wood stoves costing up to $5000CAD, such as the Kimberly & Katydid stoves from Unforgettable Fire LLC which are frequently featured in tiny homes for their sleek design, super minimal clearances, and unparalleled efficiency (also available through Tiny Life Supply).

In the long run, being off grid has a lot of benefits, both for the environment and for your personal sense of independence and self-sufficiency. The initial investment to build an off grid home is high, but it has the potential to pay for itself over time. Ultimately, building an off grid home ain’t cheap—but in our opinion, the ability to live wherever you want, without reliance on anyone else, is priceless.

Let's Talk Trailers


Owning a tiny home typically means owning a trailer. Just like when talking about tiny homes, the language around trailers can be confusing. What is the difference between a flat deck and a gooseneck?  How do I know which trailer is right for me? We’ll get there. For now, let’s start with the (not so obvious) basics—what is a trailer?  

A trailer is what allows your tiny home to be portable. In this context, in the most simple of terms, a trailer is a flat deck with wheels. As its name suggests, a flat deck is the floor-like part of the trailer. Tiny homes are often built directly onto a flat deck in such a way that they cannot be detached. Of course, tiny homes can also be designed to sit on a foundation, in which case, a trailer is only involved in transporting the home from a build site to its intended location.

The distinguishing feature between common trailer types is how they are attached, (or, more accurately, hitched) to a towing vehicle. Tiny homes are commonly built on one of two trailers types: a bumper pull or a gooseneck. In a bumper pull scenario, the trailer is not actually attached to the bumper of a vehicle.  (Confusing, I know). It’s attached to something called a ball hitch. You have probably seen a ball hitch sticking out of the back of a pick-up truck or SUV. It looks like a little tail capped with a clown nose. A ball hitch is secured to a vehicle’s chassis, which is another technical term that refers to the vehicle’s internal skeleton. In summary, a bumper pull trailer is attached to a ball hitch, which is fixed to a vehicle’s chassis, allowing you to tow your tiny home with relative ease.

Gooseneck trailers get their name from their shape, wherein the front end careens up and over like the head of a goose. Unlike a bumper pull, a gooseneck cannot be attached to any vehicle. They are designed with a kind of ball hitch that can only be secured to the bed of a pickup truck. This is also why gooseneck trailers are easily confused with fifth wheels. Both trailer types attach to the bed of pickup trucks, but fifth wheels use a more complex hitch system.

When it comes to tiny homes, bumper pull and gooseneck trailers offer different advantages. Gooseneck trailers are generally more secure and can bear more weight. Their unique shape also allows for an extra loft space in your tiny home. If you own your own truck, or are planning to move frequently, a tiny home built on a gooseneck trailer may be the better option for you. On the other hand, tiny homes built on bumper pull trailers more closely resemble traditional home exteriors and may be a better option if you have a set location for your tiny home. Bumper pull trailers are also the more common trailer type and finding a truck that can tow a bumper pull may be easier than finding a truck with a gooseneck hitch.  

It is important to do your research before deciding on a trailer style and moving forward with building your tiny home. Some questions to consider are: how often do I plan to move my tiny home? What is the combined weight of my trailer and home? Do I have access to a truck and a hitch that are properly rated to safely transport my tiny home? Check back for my next blog post where I will delve further into these questions and the impact of trailer types on home design.


Guided Tiny House Tour with Exploring Alternatives

Join Jessica for a video tour of our 24' Fox Sparrow Tiny Home! Mat & Danielle from Exploring Alternatives are back with this guided tour of one of our most popular homes. 

"It's spacious, functional, and bright; and it's perfect for a person
or couple who plan to work from home!"
- Mat & Danielle

"Jess from Rewild Homes gives us a tour of the Fox Sparrow tiny house. It's spacious, functional, and bright; and it's perfect for a person or couple who plan to work from home!

The house is built on a 24 foot trailer, and it measures approximately 160 square feet. It is designed to be on the grid, so there's no composting toilet or grey water tank.

It has a spacious bathroom with a full-sized shower, toilet, and space for a combo washer dryer.

The kitchen has an apartment sized fridge, a full cooking range, and a large sink. Adjacent to the kitchen counter is a live edge desktop with space for two people to work from home.

The hang out space is spacious and comfortable with lots of floor space for entertaining, yoga, etc. The staircase to the loft provides a ton of extra storage underneath, and leads to a 10 foot sleeping loft above, which provides room for a king sized bed.

We felt like this tiny house was simple but well designed and would suit our lifestyle perfectly."

A big thanks to Mat and Danielle for their excellent editing, skilled directing, and enthusiastic encouragement! If you liked this video, definitely check out some of their other work. They meet a lot of interesting people and share some great ideas.

Until next time!

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