Why We Live Off Grid in a Tiny House, Pt II

Part of our summer homestead bounty: butternut squash and cucuzzi edible gourd

Early impressions shaping our worldview (see last post) opened the door for us to consider decisions affecting our lifestyle choices and dreams, leading us to eventually live off the grid. Here is one decision that did that.

Living Debt-free

One “radical” decision monumentally affecting our lives was not to live with debt. One Biblical perspective admonishes that debt is bondage God intended as a curse, not for His Beloved (Deut. 15:6; 28:12, 44; Prov. 22:7). Because credit and debt is the mainspring of our modern economy, Silver Oak’s uncle challenged that without a firm commitment (vow) to live only within the means God provides, we WILL eventually borrow. After weeks of prayer, we felt God’s confirmation to make that commitment, taking us on many sometimes scary but rewarding adventures! Our faith has greatly increased by repeatedly witnessing God’s provision for His leading, often at the last minute.

Three years ago, the 20 acres that became our homestead was the only available local property fitting our needs, desires, and dreams that our cash could buy. That made God’s leading clear. An option to borrow would probably have resulted in something less than God’s best.

We didn’t have the $15k needed to bring electric lines back to the home site, and an $8k simple solar power system made more long-term sense anyway. We had hoped to “some day” live independent of the grid, so with this little “push” the Lord helped it happen. The longer we live off the grid system, the more value we see in it.

Since it took nearly all available cash to purchase the property, none remained for a house…normally a bad idea, but the only option for realizing our dream. We scoured the internet for alternative housing ideas. Some made sense; others were quite costly. At that time Silver Oak’s cousin just “happened” to be selling his old Great Dane semi trailer converted first into an office, then into living quarters. He offered a very affordable price, but we still did not have enough. A tax refund came just in time to buy our tiny house, an old storage shed, and a few other things to set up our home. While waiting we lived for several weeks in my parents’ camper.

The home site as we prepared to move onto our property: the camper we lived in for six weeks, the big shed (now red) being towed in, and a pit (foreground) for our future tiny house (semi trailer)

A view on the other side of the camper, with the silver tool shed in place, fighting some palmettos to make way for the big (red) shed

It was a happy day when our tiny house was finally put into place so remodeling could begin to prepare it for a family of eight.

First, we had enough funds to buy two 6-volt deep-cycle batteries for lights and a few other basics. We soon added an 18cu ft energy star fridge purchased through Craigslist, and more batteries, gradually adding more until we had ten, and a 2 kw inverter.  Later the Lord graciously provided through a large adoption tax credit that enabled us to purchase solar panels and a new generator to replace our worn out one.

This fridge replaced our coolers and was later placed in our tiny house.

When we had only four batteries and a 750 watt inverter to run the fridge, lights and laptops

Over a year later we "graduated" to solar panels using 8-10 batteries to store power

As time went on, we added a large deck and roof, using many repurposed or free materials. We installed our windmill for pumping water from the well we dug, added rainwater storage tanks, lots of fences, fruit and olive trees, edible landscaping, and Buttercup, our Jersey cow. We purchased a window a/c unit and ceiling fans, and a greenhouse cover and a shade cloth for our large bio-shelter.

Our windmill that pumps water from the well to the tanks on our roof

The first year we rented a skid loader and root rake for two weekends to help clear our driveway winding back through the woods to our home site, and prepare a home site area and another place for a future cabin or small pasture. The following year as finances allowed we rented it again for a week to clear fencerows and enlarge pasture space. In between, we did lots of work by hand (and sweat), but it was satisfying.

Sweat and toil, now our quarter mile driveway back to the home site

Machinery gets it done quickly

Waiting for funds instead of instant gratification encourages gratefulness for each need met. It often saves money and energy in the end, allowing time to find better deals or solutions, or for God’s provision another way. It often eliminates or changes the need. With tight finances, we enjoy having no mortgage payment, and no risk of foreclosure in economic collapse or income loss. Free to serve the Lord whenever or wherever He calls, we are not slaves to a bank. We gladly give up “stuff” and conveniences for that. Jesus said, “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth.” Luke 12:15b

Our kiddos wearing their Liberian outfits...two adopted from Kazakhstan, two from Liberia, and two biological

By NOT borrowing God provided for our four international adoptions. Adoption fees and expenses cost over three years of income for us, not including income and business losses being overseas many months. Funding came mostly from selling a small property that was worth little when we purchased it, but sold for much more a few years after rezoning battles and growth of the real estate bubble in 2005.

With an option to borrow, we would have purchased the adjoining property and house earlier, accepting debt “slavery” and probably unable to consider adoption for years. Alternatively, after rezoning made it buildable, we would have borrowed to build our dream home on that property. Instead, out of debt, but facing hopelessly large adoption costs, we put up a “For Sale” sign. Naïve, we were clueless that the property value had increased so drastically, until a realtor friend “happened” to see our sign. He got us a contract and large down payment just weeks before we needed to fly overseas for our first adoption. We would have missed that huge faith-builder with a loan.

Sometimes poor management or errors have forced a few months of credit card debt (card designated for online purchases only with cash to cover it immediately). Or we can’t pay immediately for services. Although not fun, we appreciate these reproofs and the built-in safeguards when carefully living within our means.

Living debt-free is not the only reason we homestead off the grid. I will share more soon!

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Blessings,

Why We Live Off Grid in a Tiny House, Part One

Note:  Credit must be given to Silver Oak for editing, critiquing, commenting on, and offering Scripture for what is written.  This is his vision (as well as mine), and he blesses me for taking time to write it down, freeing him to answer the many projects calling his name “out there.”

Linked w/Natural Living Mama, Barn Hop, From the Farm Blog Hop, The Art of Homemaking, Growing Home, Backyard Farming Connection, Down Home Blog Hop, Homemaking, Wildcrafting Wednesday, HomeAcre Hop, Old Fashioned Friday, Little House in the Suburbs, Farmgirl Friday, and Simple Saturdays.

 

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22 thoughts on “Why We Live Off Grid in a Tiny House, Pt II

  1. We are also working on becoming debt free. You never realize how much you put your self in debt or waste money till you start trying to get out of it. I was shocked when we set down and went thru what we spend a month on going out to eat or buying stuff we didn’t really need. Even if your not trying to become debt free it’s a real eye opener.

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    • Yes, Michelle, it’s amazing what a difference it makes in your lifestyle to live on cash rather than credit. Cash is finite, requiring thinking and planning ahead, and prioritizing everything with a long-term view. Credit is infinite, giving a false sense of endless resources which can come back to haunt us when reality sets in. It greatly affects the way we live.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us! It is very inspiring. We also chose to eliminate many things in our life in order to live debt free. Reading posts like these give encouragement that we are not crazy! 🙂 Thank you for linking up with the Art of Home-Making Mondays. I do hope you join in again next week.

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  3. Hello and thanks for linking up to Simple Saturdays Blog Hop last week. Your post was the most viewed of all the posts shared and that makes you our feature of the week! Your post and a photo from your post will appear on the front page of this week’s blog hop.

    thanks for linking up and we hope you will join us again this week

    – Janet @Timber Creek Farm

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  4. Thank you for opening up your home and plans to us. It is so refreshing to hear others choose a life of debt free living in order to follow their dreams. We lived in a camper for two years while building our homestead and it was a humbling experience I would never trade!

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  5. I love it when what we need is provided for us. It seems like not only was this homestead meant to be for you but it was a wonderful blessing! Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday!

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