Living Off-Grid in Canada: A Guide for Beginners
Living Off-Grid in Canada: A Guide for Beginners

Living Off-Grid in Canada: A Guide for Beginners

These days, people have developed a desire for off-grid living. They want to resort to the natural way of living to connect better with nature and be disconnected from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Though the grid refers to a country’s electrical distribution or supply network, it goes beyond that in this context.

Living off-grid in Canada or other countries involves generating your electricity via a wind turbine or solar panels, growing your food, disconnecting your cell service, and cutting off or reducing utilities such as gas and the sewage system. In essence, to live off-grid is to become self-sufficient in virtually every aspect of living.

This article will guide you on how to live off-grid, what it entails, and answer certain questions you may have regarding this decision.

The Concept of Living Off Grid

Living off grid comes in different dimensions. There’s the category of homeowners who see off-grid living as being totally cut off from modern amenities and society.

For these people, living off grid is a throwback to the days before particular inventions made life much easier. They are extreme survivalists who believe in hunting or foraging for their food and cooking it over a campfire, getting water from a stream, river, or via rainfall, having no gadgets (not even a radio), and so on.

Unless you’re a recluse, an extreme loner, and you’re averse to society, you’ll find this extreme off-grid living unpleasant or distasteful.

On the flip side, many homeowners in Canada who live off grid still enjoy some modern amenities. While they produce their own electricity and grow their own food, they still make online purchases, own a phone, PC, TV set, and other gadgets that connect them to urban life, and even prepare their meals with modern cooking equipment.

Does the Canadian Government Consider Living Off Grid Legal or Illegal?

Off-grid living is not illegal in Canada. There’s no law against relocating to rural areas, using renewable energy, building an off-grid cabin, cultivating your food, or disconnecting cellular service. However, the stipulation is that off gridders should adhere to the national building codes.

Furthermore, if you choose to live off the grid, it shouldn’t be on someone’s land. That will be illegal occupation or trespassing. Also, it doesn’t matter if you reside in British Columbia or Alberta; local building codes dictate that your off-grid home should have ample detectors and ventilation.

Can Someone Live Off Grid on Land They Don’t Own?

The short answer is no. It will be illegal to occupy someone’s land under the guise of living off the grid in Canada. There are no squatter rights in the country.

Will You Pay Taxes If You Live Off-Grid?

Of course, you will. Living off the grid shouldn’t give you an excuse to shy away from paying taxes. It’s what every citizen ought to do. You just won’t pay taxes as those are entirely dependent on the amenities the government provides. For example, since you generate your own electricity and source your own water, you won’t owe utility bills or may pay very little.

However, there are still income taxes to settle, as well as property taxes. It doesn’t matter if you obtained a building permit and constructed a house on land you own; you’ll still pay taxes for the building. Property taxes mostly depend on where your house is located and its square footage. They vary based on the locality. What’s obtainable in Northwest territories may not apply in other regions.

Is There Any Need to Have Insurance if You Live Off-Grid?

This is a tricky question because people who have resorted to off-grid living should pay for insurance to cover the considerable amount of money they’ve spent on their homes. The solar panels on the roof of their off-grid cabin, for instance, costs tens of thousands of dollars. The off-grid home itself should be insured, and the surroundings as well. However, it’s not that simple because many insurance companies are reluctant to insure the properties of people living off the grid.

The reason for that is people in off-grid locations typically go to certain lengths to become self-sufficient. This includes building a house with wood, shunning the water supply from the city, and constructing a well to get their own water. Furthermore, they don’t use any heating equipment during cold winters but resort to a fireplace. The insurance companies believe that the living conditions of certain off-gridders are unhealthy and that they don’t take the necessary precautions.

With that in mind, there are certain places that are best suited to live off grid in Canada than others. Also, note that you should take the necessary precautions and live healthily.

How to Live Off-Grid?

Living off the grid in Canada comes with a manual that you should be familiar with. There are certain you should do if you want to live off grid.

Adopt the Life of a Nomad

A nomad is simply someone who’s always on the move. The first step to a nomadic lifestyle is purchasing a mobile home. It could be an RV trailer, a motorhome, or a tiny house that can be pulled along with a vehicle. The idea is not just to be on the move but to equip your home with everything you need to be self-reliant.

Relocate to a Remote Area

A remote area is the best place to live off grid because you’re surrounded by a plethora of natural resources and disconnected from the distractions of urban life. Suppose you intend to relocate to a rural area. In that case, we recommend purchasing land in an area with an easily accessible body of water and a site that will be suitable for energy systems such as solar panels or wind turbines.

Grow Your Food

In the spirit of self-reliance, you should be familiar with crop farming. Cultivate a farm on your off-grid land and grow food such as fruits, herbs, spices, vegetables, and other food crops that you will need. This is one of the reasons why your off-grid land should have easy access to a water source. Having your own garden or farm will reduce your trips to the grocery store.

woman carries vegetable in off-grid veggie garden

Produce Your Own Electric Power

When living off the grid, renewable energy technology is the way to go. Although some off-gridders prefer to live without electricity, that’s too extreme. Install a solar system or wind turbine to provide your home with electricity that leaves no carbon footprint on the environment. An off-grid solar system comes with an inverter, batteries, a charge controller, and panels.

Find a Water Source

As we mentioned earlier, look for land that’s close to a water source. Water is one of the basic amenities because you’ll need to cook, drink, clean, bathe, and flush the toilet. An accommodation without access to clean, potable water is already a ruined living experience. In cases where the ground you own is not close to a river, stream, or lake, you should construct a well to supply you with water. Another water source is rainfall. You can purchase a large storage tank and set it up with a large funnel and water filter to harvest and store clean rainwater.

Do You Have to Leave the City for Off-Grid Living?

Not necessarily. You can live off the grid in the city, but only to an extent. However, if you don’t intend to be fully self-reliant and drop off the radar, you can remain in the city. Do the following:

  • Produce your electricity supply with clean, eco-friendly electricity sources
  • Shun the use of a gasoline-powered car or purchase an electric vehicle to reduce your carbon footprint
  • Shun or minimize the use of social media and the internet
  • Cultivate a garden with food crops in your compound

How Much Will It Cost to Live Off-Grid?

Going off-grid will cost a lot, considering you’ll have to install a solar system or wind turbine, purchase a storage tank, construct a well, or build a house on your off-grid land. All this will cost at least $50k.

How to Make Money While Living Off-Grid?

There are several ways to earn cash while living off the grid. One of them is agriculture. If you grow crops or rear animals on a mid or large scale, you can sell crop seeds, crop produce, and animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, or honey to earn cash. You can use natural resources to craft something and sell it online. Lastly, you can write a book on living off grid or make a documentary about it.

Is It Possible to Completely Live Off-Grid?

No, it’s not possible to completely live off the grid. In a way, you’ll still depend on society. If you work remotely, that’s dependent on society. If you have to sell your farm produce to make a living, that’s dependence on society. No man is built to be an island, but you can achieve considerable self-reliance off the grid.

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