Off Grid Homestead vs Tiny House: Which is Perfect for You?

You’ve decided you’re going off the grid. Maybe it’s going to be part time, weekends and summer vacations away from the city. Or maybe full time, all year round every season thrown at you, no matter the weather you’re ready to tackle it all. Either way, you’re going to do it. It’s high time to save money, no more utility bills and embrace the great adventure of man vs nature.

Ok, so now you’re asking yourself “Where the heck do I even get started?”. Before you put pen to paper, start looking at properties to scope out and Googling “what’s the best solar system for off grid living”… you need to think about whether you want a small simple off grid, self sufficient tiny home or something bigger with some room to roam, stretch your legs, and yet still be 100% off the grid like an off grid homestead. 

But what are the differences between these two lifestyles, and which one is best suited for your needs, preferences, and goals? In this article, we will compare and contrast off grid homesteading and tiny house living in terms of cost, space, comfort, and sustainability. We will also provide some guidance and advice on how to choose the best option for you. 

Let’s get started!

An image showing two contrasting alternative living options. On the left, a spacious and rustic off grid homestead with various features and facilities for self-reliance and sustainability. On the right, a minimalist and modern tiny house with limited space and amenities for mobility and flexibility.

Table of Contents

What is Off Grid Homesteading?

A happy smiling woman feeding her chickens and tiny pony on her homestead

An off grid homestead is a property where the home and outbuildings are not connected to utility services, such as water, gas, or electricity lines. This type of homestead relies on alternative sources of power, like solar, wind, or hydro power, and often has its own water source. Off grid homesteaders aim to be self-sufficient and sustainable, growing their own food, raising livestock, and producing their own energy. It can take many forms, from a small-scale garden with a few backyard chickens to a large farm with crops, livestock, and extensive renewable energy systems on hundreds of acres of land.

What is Tiny House Living?

Off Grid Living Solar Power Lights At The Off Grid Cabin

Tiny house living is a way of living that involves shedding your excess space and stuff, and living in a cozy, compact, and often custom designed home. Tiny houses are typically between 100 and 400 square feet, and can be built on wheels, trailers, or stationary foundations. Tiny house living represents a form of minimalism, as well as a way to save money, travel more, and live more intentionally and creatively. There needs to be a strong desire to live in a compact house. As an example, you might consider our off grid cabin is really more of an off grid tiny house. The off grid cabin just sounded a lot better than the off grid house when we first started building the cabin and our website.

The Off Grid Cabin Complete Build List and Materials Image

Cost: Which One is Cheaper?

An image comparing and contrasting off grid homesteading and tiny house living. On the left, a green and natural off grid homestead with a large cabin and several animals and plants. On the right, a gray and urban tiny house with a small trailer and a few accessories and decorations

One of the main reasons why people choose off grid homesteading or tiny house living is to save money and reduce their living expenses. Who doesn’t want to save more of that hard earned money. But which one is cheaper in the long run? Well, that answer depends on several factors, such as the size, location, design, and quality of your home, as well as the amount and type of resources you’ll need and use. You can have a low cost fully functioning homestead that costs less than the average tiny home. However, you can also own a cutting edge, high tech tiny home with all the bells and whistles that far out costs an average homestead. Ask yourself, are you building your off grid homestead or tiny home yourself? If so, this is a significant way to cut costs of either project. Maybe you’re lending a hand during the construction process to offset overall costs. We actually designed and built our entire off grid home ourselves in just two weeks

Initial Cost

The initial cost of building and setting up an off grid homestead or a tiny house can vary widely, depending on how much you do yourself, how much you hire professionals, and how much you buy new or used materials and equipment. According to some estimates, the average cost of building an off grid homestead is around $50,000, while the average cost of building a tiny house is around $25,000. However, these numbers can be higher or lower, depending on your choices and circumstances as we discussed. The initial cost of our 512 square foot home cost roughly $13, 653 in building materials. You can download a complete building materials list and cost breakdown here.

 

Ongoing Cost

The ongoing cost of maintaining and living in an off grid homestead or a tiny house can also vary widely, depending on how much you consume vs produce, and how much you pay for taxes, permits, insurance, and other fees. According to some estimates, the average annual cost of living in an off grid homestead is around $10,000, while the average annual cost of living in a tiny house is around $5,000. Again, these numbers can also be higher or lower, depending on your choices and circumstances. We found the yearly cost of our off grid home to be approximately $4000 including land taxes, Starlink internet, propane for heating and cooking, and some other consumables like ready made fire logs that we sometimes use, fuel for the ATV to plow the roads in winter, and the odd tool or off grid product to make life more enjoyable.

Cost Comparison

Based on these estimates, it seems that tiny house living is cheaper than off grid homesteading, both in terms of initial and ongoing costs. However, this may not be true for everyone, as there are many variables and trade-offs involved like the quality of home and equipment. For example, some off grid homesteaders may be able to reduce their costs by growing and selling their own food, or by using natural resources, such as wood and water from their land. On the other hand, some tiny house dwellers may have to pay more for renting or buying land that’s ready made for a tiny house, or for moving and parking their homes. Ultimately, the cost of either option depends on your personal situation and preferences, and how you manage your finances and resources.

Space: Which One is More Spacious?

An image divided into two sections by a white line. On the left, a large wooden cabin with a solar panel, a rain barrel, a vegetable garden, a chicken coop, a goat pen, and a beehive. On the right, a small metal trailer with a bicycle, a folding table and chairs, a potted plant, and a sign that says “Tiny House Parking Only”.

A major perk of living off grid is the expansive room available to you vs the city life. People choose off grid homesteading or tiny house living to have more space and flexibility, either in terms of physical or mental space. You may have what most folks consider a huge back yard in the city, but chances are you have neighbors only a few feet to the left and right of you. Count us in on wanting more mental space and not just a big backyard. But which of the two is more spacious in reality? The answer depends on how you define and measure space, and how you use and especially optimize it. Space optimization is far more important living in a tiny house than an off grid homestead.

Physical Space

The physical space of an off grid homestead or a tiny house is obviously determined by the physical size, floor plan and layout of your home, as well as the size and features of your land. Generally speaking, an off grid homestead offers more physical space than a tiny house, both inside and outside. An off grid homestead typically has more rooms, more storage, more amenities, and more comfort than a tiny house. An off grid homestead also typically has more land, more privacy, more nature, and more opportunities for gardening, farming, or recreation than a tiny house. However, there can also be a happy medium in between like we have. We own 3.2 acres of forested land and have our home situated right beside a lake. While we don’t own the lake it definitely increases the feeling of having more physical space.

Mental Space

The mental space of an off grid homestead or a tiny house is determined by the design and style of your home, as well as the mood and atmosphere of your environment. Generally speaking, a tiny house offers more mental space than an off grid homestead, both inside and outside. There are less things to think about living in and maintaining a tiny home compared to a homestead. Of course that depends on what you have on your homestead property. A tiny house typically has less clutter, less distraction, less stress, and less maintenance than an off grid homestead. A tiny house also typically has more mobility, more variety, and possibly more adventure than an off grid homestead.

Space Optimization

How you organize and utilize your space, and how you adapt and improve upon it over time plays an important role in any home but especially in a tiny home. Both options require some degree of space optimization, as they both have their own limitations and challenges. For example, an off grid homesteader may have to deal with harsh weather, pests, or emergencies, while a tiny house dweller may have to deal with zoning laws, parking issues, or social stigma. However, both options also offer some room for space optimization, as they both have their own advantages and possibilities. For example, an off grid homestead is easier to add expansion, facilities or even rearrange the floor plan down the road. However, your land size stays the same. A tiny house dweller has less room to rearrange but you can most certainly expand your view if you are on wheels. The only home whose property size may change more than the home.