How to go off-grid in Canada

Survive and thrive
One of our readers, called Craig, posted these tips as a comment on LandBuddy but they deserve a wider audience.

Some simple hints if you are going to come here to Canada.

1) The cheapest land is in northwestern Ontario or maritimes. Forget about BC unless you really want to get way off the beaten path like on the Cassiar highway.

2) Be prepared for winter. Yes it is cold here half the year except for areas in the okanogan of BC on on the coast. You might like the constant rain though being from England. Kamloops is a neat deserty place but the ecomony kind of sucks. Okanogan nice but expensive.

3) If you want to buy a rv cheap go to a public ADESSA auction in the prairie provinces or to a police compound sale somewhere. i bought a car for $120 WHICH IS PROBABLY 70 euros and a 1969 trailer for $200. there are even ads now offering older vehicles for free. Nope not kidding about this. Just make sure you know the regulations of the province you are in. Just make sure you have some mechanical skills. Go to auto wrecking places where you take off the parts yourself like PICK AND PULL. Schoolbuses are another option especially older ones you could convert into a RV. did this twice

4) The cheapest provinces to get insurance are the ones that have government insurance. Most likely Saskatchewan and manitoba.Stay away from Bc, (though government), Alberta, Ontario and the maritimes. Quebec I don’t know.

5) Become a freegan to save money on food. we throw crazy amounts of food away here. also buy food from dollar stores and store that offer discounts on dented or older foods. auctions are another good place to stock up

6) learn to fish and forage from locals in smaller communities for things like berry picking and mushroom picking (this takes many connotations in BC as you will learn)

7) Adverse possession or squatting is different here then in the uk, WITH MUCH OF THE LAW NOT RECOGNIZING it though this differs from province to province. Though because our nation is so damned big, it’s easier to hide.

Some books that you should get are the BACK ROADS OF… which show many campsites off the beaten path where one can stay for weeks on end in the boonies for free though they will be rustic. stay away from the national parks. They are nice but murder on your pocketbook.
There are other ways of getting land as long as you don’t build a permanent foundation house like gold placer claims and leases and traplines. Stay away from areas that have many land claim disputes with local aboriginal bands. too many cans of worms in that one.

8) get a hostelling card. goes without question. gets you 10 to 20 percent off of greyhound as well.

9) check out intentional communities on the web though beware that many are just looking for free labour from gullible foreign students over long periods of time. not all of them. just some.

10) if you want a yurt go to i will be buying one off of them if i don’t make one myself.
they make about the best yurt in canada.

11) learn how the underground economy works here if you don’t have work permit like Cash Corner in calgary or picking fruit in okanogan(talk to a young person in quebec about this). Just be careful. If you have work permit then ignore this one.

12) Know that film INTO THE WILD? Well don’t be like the guy in it. Learn from the people in area how to do things like hunt, fish or forage, or learning about solar and windpower. Learn and absorb from everybody be it a native elder, an older prospector, or old hippies in the back country.

13) good luck.

67 Responses

  1. Not sure if this site is still active. I have some knowledge and some kit. I am looking for a small piece of land in Alberta. Looking for other like minded folk.

  2. I am a single male of 55 years old, living in Calgary. Looking to go off-grid with another like minded person. I am tired of the money games in Calgary and have been dreaming about of grid living for a long long time. BC, sounds great, but I don’t have the resources to make that happen. I have the ambition to succeed and I want to build a log cabin off-grid and possibly film the whole experience. I have a car and could liquidate my assets which could possibly come to just under 10,000. I have a car for now, which is not a great off-grid option, that I would sell if the right opportunity came along. If there is a female with similar desires, that is not afraid of hard work, and wanted to work together to start a new beginning, feel free to hit my email up and we can discuss this further. Thank you Not a big drinker at all. Like to smoke my pot daily. God bless.

    1. Buy CHOOSING Off the Grid. Amazon. You CAN do it and do it rather well for $10K but you’ll be illegal (but so what? NO police). I don’t recommend that simply because living OTG is so fantastic that you’ll want to stay and that means – eventually – becoming legal and that is always harder after-the-fact. But there are dozens of ways people without money can get land. NOT hard. Odd. Different. Outside-the-box. One-off-arrangements. But very doable.

  3. Bc is the hardest place to live off the grid but the best place and I’ll tell you why. If you can travel deep into the northern part of Vancouver in the great bear reef as it’s called the food supply is amazing. Cover is perfect. It’s hard for forestry officers to find you if you travel 100kms north of Vancouver. The best thing to do is buy a jacked up truck with wide mudders. Buy a rv and Jack it up and put wide mudders on it as well. If you got the skills exchange the front axle on the rv with a truck rear differential. Put a small gas truck engine at the front of the rv. Connect the two with a drive shaft. Run a cable to the truck to control the starter and rpm and gears. Next is build a wood gasification system for the truck and trailer. Also install a big generator so your gasification system can run it as well. Build a quad or small lifted 4×4 that runs on a wood gasification system and tow it behind the trailer. Now stock the trailer with survival things. The small 4×4 or quad is to return to town for emergancies or supplies. Travel slow into the forest when it’s dry or the ground is frozen. Summer is best because it hides your tracks. Go deep and survive.

    1. I am in Alberta and would love to learn how to do that. I have an RV that I would like to upgrade, and am very interested in wood gasification but have a lot to learn. Going a completely different route I have thought about sailing as well.

  4. I am from UK and want to go off-grid for a few years have skills driving field work woodworking any pointers or offers of help would be appreciated

  5. looking for someone or a couple to help me go off-grid, I have 10 acres about 2 or 3 cleared, over looking the Atlantic ocean. I do have people living with in eye sight, on both sides,

  6. Hey folks. I’m looking at 157 acres in northern Ontario, its within an organized township though. Can anyone steer me towards information concerning taxes, permits etc.

  7. Hello, I’m a 60 yr. old loner male already living pretty much off-grid here in Tn. I have made my own solar panels, wood gasifier, wind generators, steam engine (that doesn’t work but loved building it, ha) I just recently finished building a 16’x16′ deck 24 feet off the canopy floor over a creek with a 40′ walkbridge to it from the top.
    I made most of the lumber myself from poplar and pine trees with an “Alaskan chainsaw” mill. 18’x14″x3″ beams. I can operate most any heavy equipment except a dozer because I lost my right arm in a mining accident in 86. That being said, I do not own any land but I want to buy a couple or ten acres up in Canada if I can with the 6-8 grand I have stashed back. I currently live in a 89 model 34′ diesel pusher and I love it. I’m good carpenter/jack of all trades and love a challenge. I can make log furniture and have built a few log homes. I have the tools and the knowledge to live off-grid, forage, harvest,, can veggies and the tools and books to share.
    I’m looking for a small community of like minded people or just a couple of other folks that want to do the same. I’m willing to work and barter with any fair minded person and I will not impose myself upon anyone or become a bother as we all love our own space. If anyone has a thought or a plan similar to mine then holler at me?

  8. I am a single man with two friends who are husband and wife. We are tired of living in the states with everything that is going on and wanting to go off the grid in Canada. We grew up in the woods of northeastern Minnesota and have plenty of experience in the woods. We are looking for some land to bye that is off-grid. Is there any advise on where to look for land and the cost?

  9. Hi I’m from Southern Ontario and I’m just looking into living up north off the grid, I looking to hone my skills and learn as much as I can about being self reliant, I’m currently working and plan on quiting it all next spring to buy some land and start my dreams, is there any more info or books I can read to further my knowledge?.

  10. Just grabbed 150 acres in un-organized Northern Ontario (about 6 months ago actually). Going there this fall for 6 weeks. Lots of work but I cant wait.

  11. i am single mom 35 yrs old who dreams to go iff grid.,..low income, willing to learn j work to be self sufficient or to cultivate area to b offgrid friendly. looking for ideas , locations of preset off-grid communities and to reconnect to the earth, self and daughter. tired of rat race n govt conformity… no more drama worrys or fear. just freedom, work for self or as part of collective movement to help maintain offgrid living and to being happy. any offers, suggestions advice greatly appreciated!

  12. Hello,

    I am a 32 year old athletic male looking to join or assist in an off-grid community.
    I fish, trap, bow hunt, operate a chainsaw which I own, play guitar and truly have a desire for off the grid living.
    Reaching out to anyone listening.



  13. I am 55 years old and got build a tiny off-grid cabin on my acreage in Saskatchewan last summer. Would love to live there all year long, self sustainable as much as possible. I have to improve my water storage because of having 2 horses that drink a lot and water freezing up in this harsh cold during the winter. Always need some help, if anyone is interested. Enough space for RV or motor home. I also got a 5th wheel that could be used.
    Just email me for more info.

    1. I am 63 yrs old and I dream of living off-grid. I am experienced with all kinds of tools and have worked on the family farm operating heavy equipment, trucks and tractors. I have off and on bouts with arthritis and fybromialga but am in good shape for 63. I lived in Saskatchewan when I was younger and spent many summers north of Prince Albert with my Grandfather who taught me a great deal. I know that this posting is old but are you still off-grid? If so I am interested in your thoughts about off-grid living and what is new with you.

  14. I am dreaming of buying a few acres of land, buying several sheds (the largest ones from home depot) and winterizing them. I want to start a community where people can come in and stay for free in exchange for work for the community. Any suggestions for the location? I have been thinking about the maritimes.

  15. Natasha,
    I did look at yurts and even bought some vinyl to experiment. The thing you have to look at though is local fire regulations and the fact they are considered temporary shelters ion many juridictions and have to be moved (even just a few inches) every few months or so. Depending on how big the yurt is as well and if you have a removable deck doesn’t mean they are “easy to disassemble.” I have talked to many yurt owners. I love yurts but they have their problems as well.
    Just be aware of that.

  16. I’m surprised to see no mention of yurts yet – we looked extensively at mobile homes/rvs/tiny houses, and have rejected all former plans in favour of yurts. Portable, easy to set up/disassemble, little to no footprint on your land if need be, and can be totally winterized for year round living. They really have endless options. Perfectly compliments my desires to be in closer contact with nature (think house tent) and the possibilities of a more nomadic existence, as I hope to experience most of Canada’s different environments at some point during my life.

  17. To the other Craig. How big a cabin? How much do you want to spend? Do you want a permanent foundation or tempoarary housing? Live in a trailer while building. My dad had an old mobile home he lived in and built a cabin around it.
    For a well, well find a douser ( it does work) or take a pump to nearby flowing creek but keep it quiet so the Code monsters don’t get you. Dig your own outhouse and use wood shavings for greater decomposition. There are a thousand things you can glean from the internet. Good luck.

  18. Oh and to Greg up above. Find a cheap RV or trailer. Go on kijiji or craigslist . Look for a cheap place to put for rent or make deals with people to look after land, make a barter agreement with them or cheap rent. Learn basic scavenging skills, fishing, hunting, growing of food, etc. Make networks with people who are doing the same and learn from them. Learn and educate yourself about basic survival skills but don’t overwhelm yourself. Right now I am teaching myself how to be a carpenter and how to make SIPS panels myself for my tiny houses. It is &*%$##& difficult but I am making headway. Slow and sure wins the day.

  19. Hubert,
    I alternate between BC, alberta and Saskatchewan. Sense of place is hard for me to ascribe to but my heart is in the Cariboo / Chilcotin area of BC. A friend of mine has bought some land in an unorganized township in Ontario for very cheap. Land ownership to me is a double edged sword. There are some good things to it and then some beaurocratic silliness to it as well.

  20. hey craig, an unorganized township is the best way to go. low low property tax. no municipal building permits are required, ive lived about half my life in northern ontario – the best. locate close to a lake(s) as fishing is good. whare are you?

  21. watch zeitgeist 3 people… this off-grid living movement could lead somewhere beautiful. i just watched it for the 1st time today. eye opening…. check out the others as well if ur interested .

  22. We have been looking into the cob house idea. It seems doable!! I am obsessed with going of grid! We are currently in Edmonton, AB and have land options, but I really want a secluded treed area. I found 160 acres in SK with homes and building already on that are totally self sufficient for 289k wasnt really looking to going to saskatchewan but I find it really overwhelming to start from scratch!

  23. Hey folks. I’ve found a tract of land in Northern Ontario which I was thinking of buying. Its in an un-organized township. Is there any way I can live there year round without running in to a lot of trouble and expense later or can anyone steer me towards pertinent information. I would be building a cabin and digging a well.

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