How to live off the grid with no money: a practical guide

Looking to live off the grid with no money? We'll walk you through everything you need to know to live a self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle.


How to Live Off the Grid with No Money

Do you dream of living off the grid with no money? By engaging in work exchanges, joining eco-villages or building your own sustainable life from scratch, it's possible to escape traditional monetary systems while fostering personal growth and environmental conservation. In this article, we’ll explore some ways you can start living off-grid.

First, we'll discuss how you can join work exchange programs where you can find off-grid communities that offer free accommodation in exchange for your help. That's a great way to learn the basis of this lifestyle!

Then, we'll talk about building an off-grid life from scratch by finding free land and constructing low-cost housing using natural materials. 

If you choose to do that, you'll also want to how to get your own food without depending on commercial markets. We’ll talk about how you can do that by growing organic food or tapping into local resources like fish and edible plants.

We’ll also explain how to ensure clean water supply, how to generate energy through renewable means and how to barter for services and goods that you can’t supply for yourself. 

Finally, we'll give some ideas on how to create alternative income sources so that you get some money for other essencial needs. 

How to live off the grid with no money

Do a work exchange

If you're new to the off-grid life, a great way to start is through Worldpackers. This is a platform that connects travelers looking for unique experiences with hosts who need help at their properties. 

There are thousands of volunteer placements all around the world, and many of them take place in alternative communities created by people that probably share the same world view as you.

Through this platform you volunteer your time and skills in exchange for accommodation. In many cases you'll also get extra benefits like meals, access to bikes and other perks. That way, you can start living off the grid without any initial investment other than the annual subscription plan and the transportation costs to reach your destination.

If you apply for a sustainable project, not only will you not have to worry about spending money on housing or food, but you’ll also gain valuable experience in various aspects of off-grid living such as farming, permaculture, bioconstruction and renewable energy.

You can look for volunteer positions near where you live, or you can travel somewhere else and combine this experience with amazing cultural exchanges.

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Join an off-grid community

As I mentioned, on Worldpackers you can find many off-grid communities all around the world that need volunteers to help with daily tasks, such as eco-villages and permaculture projects. 

What many people don't know is that it's often possible to stay in these communities after the work exchange period is over.

This allows you to access resources shared among community members and keep learning from experienced people already leading successful lives away from mainstream society.

Living off the grid as part of a community makes a lot of sense. By pooling together efforts towards common goals, such as growing organic produce, managing waste responsibly or generating clean energy, this lifestyle becomes more manageable and enjoyable.

Some off-grid volunteering positions that might interest you:

Want more? Check out all the opportunities for volunteering at an eco-village or permaculture project around the world. 

How to build an off-grid life for yourself

If you don’t want to join an existing community, it’s also possible to build your own self-sufficient life. 

Beware, though, that this requires more dedication and planning. And even if you’re doing it by yourself, getting help and making connections with other people and communities that also live off-grid will make all the difference.

To create a sustainable existence that minimizes reliance on external resources you’ll need to learn essential skills such as growing food, bioconstruction, fishing, and water collection. 

Let's explore some key steps to help you get started:

1. Find low-cost or free land

In many places around the world, you can buy a low-cost piece of land, especially if you go far from city centers and tourist areas.

You might also be able to find free land in some rural towns in North America. Yes, that's right: some towns offer it to those willing to develop it into a productive farmhouse. Research online listings and contact local authorities to find out about available properties.

2. Construct a cabin or tiny house

Affordable housing options like cabins and tiny homes are perfect for off-grid living, since they require fewer materials than traditional houses.

I suggest you learn about eco-friendly construction methods such as straw bale, cob, or earthbag building through Worldpackers' volunteering opportunities in bioconstruction projects and put that into practice.

3. Grow your own food

One of the key elements of an off-grid life is being able to supply your own food. To start, learn about organic farming methods and create your own sustainable farm.

You can plant vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, beans and herbs that grow easily. Also learn how to create garden beds with nutrient-rich soil mixtures.

Raising chickens might also be good, since it provides a steady supply of eggs and meat, while helping to control pests in the garden.

4. Fish responsibly

Depending on where you’re living, fishing can be a good way to supplement your food supply with protein-rich sources. 

To ensure sustainable fishing, make sure to follow ethical practices like catch-and-release and obeying size and season rules. You can find out about responsible fishing techniques through local workshops or online resources.

5. Forage for edible plants 

There's a whole world of wild edibles waiting to be discovered right outside your doorstep. Foraging for native plants can add variety and flavor to your meals while also providing essential nutrients.

Look for books and courses that teach you how to identify safe-to-eat plant species in your area. Remember to practice caution when trying new foods found in nature, because some may look harmless but could be toxic.

6. Collect and filter water

Accessing clean drinking water is crucial when living without access to public utilities. Securing a consistent supply of pure water for your independent lifestyle might take up work, but will make your life cheaper and more sustainable.

Rainwater harvesting is an effective way to collect clean drinking water when living off the grid. You can install gutters on your house that direct rainwater into storage tanks.

If collecting rainwater isn't sufficient or feasible in your area, digging a well might be another option for accessing groundwater. In that case, it's important to consider factors such as soil type, aquifer depth and potential contamination sources.

To ensure that collected water is safe for consumption, you must always filter out impurities using natural materials like sand and charcoal. 

A simple DIY filtration system can be built with a few basic supplies such as buckets or barrels layered with gravel, sand (preferably activated), and charcoal granules. If you learn how to do it properly, this setup will remove sediment, bacteria, and other contaminants from your water supply.

7. Generate energy through renewable means

Living off-the-grid also requires generating your own power supply using sustainable methods like solar panels and wind turbines. These installations help reduce reliance on fossil fuels while minimizing environmental impact, making it an eco-friendly choice.

Solar energy is a popular option for off-grid living. Once you have an idea of your electricity needs, investigate the solar panel options that best suit them while taking into account sun exposure, climate conditions, and available space. 

If your chosen location experiences consistent winds throughout the year, harnessing wind power might be another option for generating electricity. Small wind turbines, created for home use, are becoming more popular among off-grid aficionados.

Before committing to this form of renewable energy generation, consult with experts or conduct thorough research about local regulations regarding installation permits and potential noise restrictions.

8. Swap goods and services

Without money, you'll need to find other ways to get what you need and can’t supply for yourself. A great option is to barter with neighbors or nearby off-grid communities.

Bartering is a way of exchanging goods and services without the need for money. By engaging in this practice with fellow off-gridders, you can acquire items that may be difficult to produce on your own while also fostering a sense of camaraderie.

For example, you might trade some of your homegrown vegetables for fresh eggs from a neighbor's chickens or offer carpentry work in exchange for help installing solar panels.

9. Find alternative income streams

In case you don't plan on cutting off ties with money entirely, living off the grid can be made more comfortable and sustainable with alternative income streams. That way you'll be able to pay for any goods and services that you can’t get for free.

Here's some ideas:

  • If you're skilled at crafting or creating useful items from natural materials found around your home, you can sell those online or in local markets.
  • If your land is located somewhere scenic, you can rent space for campers or even get a room ready for tourists. 
  • You can also offer services to people around your area, or sell some of the food you grow. 
  • • If there's internet connection where you live, the possibilities are endless. There are plenty of jobs you can do remotely, like teaching, writing, consulting, designing and much more. If you need some inspiration, check out our articles about digital nomads and remote work.

Questions about How to live off the grid with no money

How do I start living off the grid with no money?

We suggest you begin by researching work exchange opportunities and joining an off-grid community. 

Beginners can start living off-grid by first learning essential skills like gardening, carpentry and cooking. Joining an existing off-grid community or volunteering at sustainable projects will help gain practical experience while reducing costs during this transition period.

If you don’t want to live in an existing alternative community, you can look for free or low-cost land, learn natural building techniques to construct a simple home, grow your own food, and explore renewable energy sources.

Do you need money to live off the grid?

You don't necessarily need a lot of money to live off the grid. However, if you choose to start it out from scratch, some initial investment may be required for securing land, basic construction materials, tools and seeds. 

Once established, it's possible to sustain yourself through bartering goods and services within communities and generating income from various streams such as selling homemade products (e.g., crafts), offering services (e.g., teaching skills) or working remotely in online jobs. 


Living disconnected from the grid is possible, but requires thoughtful preparation and hard labour. With a lot of creativity, you can create your own sustainable lifestyle that will allow you to live freely while still making a positive impact on the world.

Whether through Worldpackers eco hosts or other sustainable communities, or even by building your own homestead from scratch, there are many ways to live off the grid with no money if you're willing to put in some effort.

Are you excited about discovering the world and experimenting alternative ways of living? Sign-up to Worldpackers for free and start looking for hosts that match your interests! You can gain life-changing experiences while learning valuable knowledge to live off the grid.

Sign up as a Host: If you share the feeling of building a resilient and abundant future and believe in the power of volunteering, your journey starts here. Join Worldpackers for free and be part of our community. Connect with committed and open-minded volunteers ready to support your project, strengthen local communities, and create a positive and sustainable impact worldwide.

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