How we built our off grid tiny farmhouse, debt free!

By The Petite Plantation - October 29, 2019

It was 2013 when my husband and I had a discussion in the kitchen of our 1300 sqft townhome full of extra rooms, extra stuff and not one, but TWO cars parked outside.

We were CLASSIC consumers. But, we wanted out. We NEEDED out. We were broke and tired of spending our time working SO hard to get ahead in the game then BAM! the car broke down, the husband lost his job, and our ATROCIOUS power bill dropped in the mailbox in the middle of winter.

I wanted a little farmhouse, a garden to grow my own flowers and food, and he wanted to live in a tiny house. We wanted to live our lives on our own terms, for ourselves, doing what we loved to do. A dream was born, and so was our blog.

We kept dreaming for 5 years and struggling to stay afloat . We downsized. We started living more simply and thrived when adapting to a minimalist lifestyle. But our dream was not coming true. Still on the grid and in the grind.

But something shifted in us and in our mindset. 

There was an awakening and affirming moment. If we wanted that dream to come true, and I mean if we REALLY wanted to live that life, we needed to start changing our thoughts and taking actionable steps and jump in with two feet because what we learned is, there will never be a perfect time to start living your dream just like there is never a perfect time to have a baby.

When we just kept dreaming about what could be, we were subconsciously telling ourselves 'this is a dream and not a reality'. It was always a thing that was GOING to happen in the future, and mindset is EVERYTHING.

For years we kept telling ourselves this is 'going to happen' or 'we will do it someday'. We would have never made it here if we didn't change our mindset from dreaming about building our off grid cabin one day to 'we are doing this!' and 'this is how we are doing it!' And after this shift, things started to fall into place.

So, we started taking actionable steps to get here! Things that we could start doing immediately to make our dreams come true. These could look differently for everyone, but for us they looked like this:

1. creating a passive income so we could make more and work less
2. downsizing and selling our possessions then saving this cash
3. purchasing, renovating, and moving into a fixer upper camper #nelsoninthewild
4. living nomadically, rent free, while we eliminated all debt and accumulated savings
5. purchasing our property with cash and moving onto the land in our camper

Next thing we knew, we were living in a tiny house on wheels on our property! From here we started clearing the land and building our off grid tiny cabin and now that we are here, I am 100% certain if we carried on only dreaming about it without taking actionable steps or changing our mindset, we would still be dreaming and stuck on the grid and in the grind.

Creating the freedom to build our dreams...

When sharing our lifestyle choices with friends, family or other off grid dreamers we meet along the way, one of our most asked questions is how we afford to live this way or how can we afford to build a cabin debt free and not have a full time job.

We both, the person inquiring and myself, find these questions a tad uncomfortable to ask and answer because your salary is personal and private, but we all need to make money to live, right? And there are many people we have met who also want to build a cabin or move off the grid! To make our dreams come true, we needed to create a passive income and become financially free.

Financial freedom is when you can earn an income
when you aren't working and
it's far more than your expenses.

How we built our off grid tiny farmhouse, debt free; we cooked all our own food!

Ways we lowered our expenses and became debt free...

A little over two years ago, we became ruthless with our money and determined to pay off all our debt. We weren't terribly in debt because we didn't have a mortgage to pay but we had credit card debt and we were a single income family who had moved back and forth across the country... Regardless, it needed to go so we started making some changes!

We cooked all our own food, grew a garden for fresh veggies, and tried hard to never eat out. We even asked our friendly neighbour for their wifi password and cancelled our home phone, satellite, internet ( you really only need Netflix nowadays). We went to the extreme of cancelling our insurance and selling our car in the spring and used public transit all summer and fall to pay of debt and build a nest egg!

Once we really decided to commit ourselves to the dream of building a tiny house in the forest, we purchased a 24' Class C motorhome to live in while we continued to work for our dreams! We lived, and worked, in this motorhome for a year and half before purchasing our forested property, for cash.

How we built our off grid tiny farmhouse, debt free; we did the work ourselves!

Some ways we earned a passive income so we could afford to build off grid..

While the husband continued to work outside the home to pay our living expenses, pay off debt and build up savings, I started creating and earning passive income! Here are a few ways we did this:
  1. we run ads on our blog
  2. we sifted through our belongings and sold anything we didn't need
  3. we create eco friendly handcrafted items to sell at farmer's markets and online
  4. I taught art classes in our home to homeschooled children in our area
  5. I wrote an eBook 
  6. I created downloadable printables available online
  7. helped women reduce the toxins in their homes and bodies to live more naturally
These streams of passive income are all STILL bringing in an income so we can focus on keeping our expenses low by building our cabin ourselves and doing all the labour, which ultimately, made it all possible!

How we lowered the cost of our off grid cabin build, so we could actually do it...

Like I just said, building the cabin ourselves was how we made this happen! Spending our time and not our money, saved us thousands. We built and installed our own culvert, cleared our land for our cabin and driveway by hand and chainsaw, and built the cabin ourselves. It saved us thousands of dollars because we weren't paying someone else to do it.

We weren't both working away from home full time, earning less from other employers, to pay for labour. And I am NOT a master carpenter hah! I am a stay at home mom of two children but I am telling you, if I can build my own home, so can you!

How we built our off grid tiny house debt free!

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