Searching around the net you will find quite a few people attempting monotherapy with Clomid.
I've observed people reporting good results dosing 12mg ED or 25mg EOD. There seems to be a consensus that you should follow such a protocol for at least 3 months prior to seeing if your body can function 'with the training wheels off'. You're right thought, some people will need to continue the treatment for life. You're also right about Clomid causing estrogenic sides for a minority of users... this usually manifests as depression or libido issues, however I believe this is far more likely to occur at high doses (100mg / day, as some do for steroid PCT), which is quite a difference from the 12mg ED I listed above.
Just from researching, I see Dr. John Crisler's name come up quite a bit on this topic. You may want to check out his site and investigate for yourself: http://www.allthingsmale.com/index.html
This is not an endorsement, and I have no affiliation, just sharing some information I have seen come up repeatedly on this topic (on various forums).