People are drawn to the idea of living off-grid for many reasons, to reduce their environmental impact, to be self-sufficient or simply to have a simple life! But the main motivator is often the idea of living debt free and financially independent.
If you set yourself up right, either save up and go big or pay as you go, you can be living a debt free, off grid lifestyle in no time. But in order to get there it’s going to take a lot of work and let’s face it, money.
Things like land, fencing, greenhouses, power, buildings can require a decent investment before you start to reap the financial benefits of living off-grid.
Fortunately, to navigate these waters, there are many government and non-profit grants available that could benefit many of us off grid types. The Federal Government has a housing program that offers low interest loans at 0% down. USDA has a very friendly grant program that will pay for greenhouses, compost, fencing, even land! Many state governments offer incentives for alternative energy projects. There are also many crowd-funding options to advertise your cause and products.
Related: If you are in the market for finding grants to help fund your off grid dreams, then you need to get the book, How To Write A Grant: Become A Grant Writing Unicorn. I recently got the book and scored my first grant that funded some soil to help establish more growing beds.
Consider The USDA Your Friend
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are your go-to source for grants and low (or no) deposit loans. The definition of farm or agriculture is flexible, as long as you are growing, raising or harvesting you are eligible for government agricultural grants.
So if you are starting an off-grid life, you can sell some of your produce or some of your chicken’s eggs to be considered part of the agricultural industry.
Some grants of interest:
- Beginning Farmers Grants – to qualify you must not have worked on a farm for the past 10 years. Perfect to help you bring your dream to life and make the shift from urban to rural.
- USDA Rural Development – USDA offers grants that cover a wide range of topics related to your off-grid goals including housing, energy, training and community projects.
You can get a low interest, no down payment loan from the USDA Rural Development Home Loan Program. I have looked into one myself and the qualification and terms are very acceptable. Definitely worth looking into if you are a first time home buyer.
- NRCS Financial assistance programs – The NRCS offers multiple different programmes at all times, keep up to date with these and look out for some that may be relevant to your endeavours. Past programs have included wildlife habitat, water quality, alternative energy and conservation stewardship to name a few!
The grant to look into is the EQUIP grant. If you have at least $1000 in Agricultural sales, you can qualify for grant funds from the USDA that will pay for fencing, structures, greenhouses, compost, trees and more. It is a fantastic program that covers a lot of what any homestead needs. Only drawback is that you have to front the funds.
- National Sustainable Agriculture Commission – this organization is designed to support beginning and minority farmers with down payments.
- Minority and Women Farmers and Ranchers – another government endeavour to support those underrepresented in agriculture, ideal for tropical homesteaders such as native Hawaiians and pacific islanders!
Solar/Alternative Energy Grants
Many local and state governments have now recognized the importance of environmental stewardship and offer incentives for those using alternative energy.
To find grants near you or relevant to your project, utilize DSIRE (the Database State Incentives for Renewable Energy). The website for this database provides a map of the United States and shows how many incentives are available for you to apply for and provide links to relevant resources! It will also direct you to local incentives and committees which will be able to provide you with more specific and relevant information.
Using this database will help connect you to your local government bodies and offer grants for the specific projects you have in mind. Although there is a lot of information available online you should consider getting in touch directly with these departments and committees for the best opportunities.
Hawaii alone has 28 current policies/incentives at the time of this article including rebates, tax credits, loans, grants and assistance.
This database will also ensure you have all the knowledge available of laws, permits and codes you must follow while you undergo your off-grid journey. Having to adhere to rules and regulations may go against the independence you are searching for on your journey, but ensuring you are crossing all your T’s and dotting your I’s will make for smooth sailing to the simple life you desire.
Crowdfund Your Off Grid Dream
If someone can start a crowdfunding campaign after lathering her hair in gorilla glue, then so can you!
Crowdfunding relies on how far you can spread your cause and be seen. If you have a pre-existing social following, this may prove a lot easier but this is not a necessity.
To create a successful crowdfunding campaign you should share your true authentic self and advertise your goals and plans for your homestead. Share your personal story and journey, you may feel uninspiring in your own eyes but to many, you will have an incredible story and vision to share.
Just as the government offers incentives for alternative energy, you can offer an incentive for support also. Use your skills and knowledge to offer something to those who support your crowdfunding pages. Let your passions guide you, if you are artistic, offer your crafts. If you have the expertise, write and offer guides and ebooks. If you have accommodation, offer a holiday and hospitality! Your imagination is the limit when it comes to raising funds.
Free Land To Homestead On?
Now this one is not quite a “grant” per se, but it is a way to get ahead if you do not have much to start your journey with.
The term “homesteading” has gained momentum as a social movement on many platforms lately, but it originates from the 1800s where the government provided free land to settlers to start new lives and kickstart economies and communities. While this is uncommon now, there are still some states that have free land on offer.
It may sound like a clickbait email you received once, but it is a tactic some small towns are still using to encourage population growth. If you are planning to build a home and homestead buildings and live off-grid you may be eligible for some of this land. Many of these offers come with conditions to contribute to the town growth, with jobs or house building but it varies. Research free land in the US and see what you can find that suits your needs.
As you can see, there are many avenues you can pursue to overcome some of the financial restraints you may be worried about when planning your off-grid future. But with lots of research, applying for grants and networking there is no reason you can’t achieve your goals.