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. Hey everybody. Just bought a forty foot travel trailer for $300 . Going to gut it to the chassis. for a nother tiny house. Feel free to ask questions. In the middle of beautiful BC enjoying the summer.

  2. Hi all…I’m in Southern Ontario right now, but I am born, raised, and have spent most of my life on Vancouver Island. Lasqueti Island is only one of 4 or 5 small islands off the coast of Van Isle where people go to live as off the grid as possible. Hornby, Denman, Quadra and to a lesser degree the Queen Charlottes ( Haida Gwaii ). There are benefits and disadvantages to all of these places, it’s basically what you want to invest of yourself….hard work will always be needed, but if you are willing there are huge personal benefits.

  3. I’m just a guy who’s sick of it all and I need an out, unfortunately I am financially bonded and in debt unable to afford land or rvs, starting out with literally nothing is scary but I finalized my decision on wanting to go off-grid, any tips as to where to start? So far I’m currently learning how to grow my own food.

  4. headed to India or Pakistan get some property and live like a Man . why you ask ? because half the people in my Canada are Muslim and Pakistanis or Indian their all over here we don’t have more than 2 babies in a family its been slow growing population but we have silly Governments who come in and decided to bring millions of all of the for mentioned to our land what has happened so far is like an invasion they buy up properties and helter skelter ruining in all their relatives nothing wrong with that but I cant walk down my street without seeing a thousand of them head gear and covered faces walking down my street with a dozen kids in tow. im no racist but I sure as heck don’t care for my so called Conservatives plan to populate but if they would only play our game . it has gotten so bad my daughter has tried to buy a house in our town five times the Muslims will pay 10 % more if anyone is offered to buy how can we live like this in a so called peaceful country the name of the leader is Stephen Harper he has ruined this country beyond repair

  5. For me living off-grid is a no brainer. All that stops me is land. There is available land but mostly large parcels. I am hoping to find say an acre or two.

    I just want to be able to try my hand at utilizing some skills i have developed over the years, like portable water purifiers, hand crank generators and more.

    You hope to find like minded people cause anyone can be a hermit but its building a small community that increases your chances exponentially of success.

    I am in vancouver and if there are any here living off-grid or planning it, lets have coffee and share some ideas for making how we want to live happen.


  6. Well juanita you found me, although I am in vancouver I would help in any way I could. I am a carpenter by trade and would be willing to work for you with the hope f one small acre as payment.

  7. Sure loving all the ideas here. I live just outside Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. I have 27+ acres that I am still working on getting on. Trying to find a trailer to pull onto the land. I have 2 natural springs on it that I have been looking for. My mother gave me the land and I didn’t have much interest in it as I lived in the states for a few years. Now the head is on straight and the land and living off the grid has my full attention. I am still trying to find out anything I can about living off the grid here legally. I sure as heck am not going to the municipality with my questions as I may as well announce to the world that way. I have been looking for others around here who are living off the grid and not finding anyone. There has to be someone but I have no clue how to find them. Any suggestions anyone?

  8. Wow! I’m so inspired by everyone’s efforts at making this happen for themselves. I’m still at the dreaming/convincing family- stage that this could be amazing. Being an Ontario resident fully submerged in the consumerism trap, what is the first step? I imagine the first step is finding the ideal land and then finding the shelter and start modifying it to suit my needs? Are cooperative communities a good idea? Some day… :)

  9. Hello,
    This is an ad hoc answers session for several people who have posted on here.
    KIRK- There is that island near Vancouver Island that is an intentional community and there is a squatter’s camp somewhere on the Queen Charlotte Islands that BC authorities want to kick off but the local native band has said they could stay. Google it or there is a piece on it on youtube. Don’t know the situation now.
    Lana – I live near Calgary. You can be safe as a woman as long as you stay away from questionable areas in a RV. Got to the parks around Fish Creek during day to make use of the facilities ( They close at night) If you are adventurous but don’t mind the commute park an older RV at a campsite near mountains ( cheaper one near Sundre) and go back and forth in smaller car. Stay away from the established ones as they cost too much money. Of course this is usually only doable from May to October unless you are a very tough person . ( I freely admit come November I want heat and a better place to live)
    JEANNIE and RYAN ( the Americans)- By all means come up here now. Our dollar is starting to tank down to 90 cents per American and probably down a little lower to 85 cents. If you have some good skills especially in regards to the oilpatch they will be needed up here. If not get a cheap RV or schoolbus and tour. There are places to work ( legally and illegally) just be careful.
    RODNEY BLAIS- Good luck with your off-grid journey. Let me know if there is any info i could help you with

  10. hello

    Im Rodney Blais…there is a lot to say here.. I don’t know if im prepared to write it all down..

    Best place to start is the beginning

    I looked for and bought some land, 43 acres. Sharing it with my brother.

    this land is in Baldwin township Ontario Canada. by the Spanish river but not on it.. about 2000 yards from hwy 17 so not too far inland.

    I had a 34 ft motor home that I’ve been trying to sell forever.. and as luck or fate would have it, I found a mobile home and strange as it is, this guy was looking for a motor home. so we made the order to get the mobile home in place. I had to clear some land. And made a road. This cost me $4000.oo

    I had good friends provide some foundation bricks so I could level the mobile home. Presently that is where im at. winter came in and halted the progress.. I was able to install a well before the snow.. but at this point it is untested.

    My next step is to build a deck.. I’ve acquired much of the materials needed.. im sure I will need more.

    solar panels ,sine wave inverters.. controllers.. batteries and managers are next.. I’ve been spending the winter absorbing as much as I can to do this in the spring.

    I was lucky to have acquired a 4000w generator for free.. nothing special but will suffice. champion.

    I also have a 2000 w Honda generator.

    I’m 57 , my plan is to , live relatively cheap for a few years , grow a garden build a green house and a shelter for the truck and quad..ect.

    I have yet to find a wood burning stove..

    so there are many things yet to be done.

    I am very willing to have this process video taped..

    volunteers wanting to learn more of this process.. how to make my dream as I progress available to others.. the struggles the successes and the failures… Mostly I think.. is the effort that is required to make this happen.. it something that one would have to document.. because it long and drawn out.

  11. Hello,

    I thought this post had been taken off so thought i would give an update. I have now gutted 6 old double axel travel trailers down to the frame. I have the floors built on 2. I shelved the yurt idea because of many things I learned from talking to people in BC about them.. I am now a tiny house junkie and will have one this year ( or two connected). Just wish I was more versed in carpentry. I purchased a used press and will be teaching myself how to make my SIPS panels and construction. Can tell anybody how to tear old travel trailers apart in sequence and what to look for . Learning the walls and roof thing next. Would have loved to do the yurt thing but oh well.

    I have boats and things hidden on a friend’s place in BC ( no ,not a growop) It is much easier to go off-grid in BC and remain hidden then in prairies. I have become proficient on the low profile thing though I am not a hermit.

    My advice is to just do it people. I am a loner by nature and have to learn from repetition and hard knocks. I was a spoiled kid when i was younger and should have learned to become more self reliant then. If I can do a lot of these things anybody can.

  12. @ jeannie
    I know a guy this happened to, although he was hiding out because he went awal from the american army. He was deported and had to answer to his american charges. The only reason he got caught is because he actually tried to get citizenship. As long as you dont need a doctor or somthing and live a trouble free life you shouldnt get caught and if you do the worst they will do is put you on a plane back to the us.

  13. hi i sure would like to do this mself-cept i am in/from america-can i? i do have a passport i used oncce to go into canada,and a old rv,i dont like it here usa anymore and realy want out of here…can i come there and stay off-grid?or anywhere-what would happened if i over stayed there-what can happen? is sucks around here and onl getting worst-thanks for any info

  14. Hi, I enjoyed the read. I am thinking of going off-grid as I am so darn tired of paying someone else’s mortgage. I am in Calgary, but I’m from BC. Have any of you heard about the “Land Grab” project In Northern BC? And also, I’m a single woman and was wondering how safe it may be to RV it alone? And also how easy is it to get part time work if someone knows your homeless? Thanks. You can contact me through my email

  15. I am looking for some property in the interior of BC that could be hooked up if required, but I would like to do without bc-hydro bills, Also a hobby farm would suit me fine, were would you suggest is the best, I would prefer a river front or lake front property, thanks Bob

  16. kirk, the island in bc you speak of exists. its called lasqueti island. they are completely off-grid. global did a feature on it. the show was 16 by 9.(16:9)

  17. Hey Craig. Good comment. Were just north of Toronto. Sadly still in the rat race for the moment. Were starting to look for a place we can “retreat” to and get ourselves out of this endless, pointless mess.

    Seems Ontario is expensive, even way the heck north of thunder bay. Wouldnt want to even know how cold it gets up there in Feb.

    I heard of an Island in BC people are going to to go off-grid. Heard about it?

    From where we are, dont really know what direction to go. Not really lookin to head south. What do ya think?

  18. Well steve, I’m in Canada. I haven’t hunted deer or upland game for over 25 years but I do plan on getting back into it. I now fish quite a bit. I’m planning on building a tiny house on a flatbed this year that will be completely off-grid. I took several courses in renewable energy and have done a few solar PV installs, medium windmill installs and a couple evacuated tube and flatplate systems. On the verge of changing over to fry oil conversion on my vehicle and have started to experiment with this by collecting from restaurants. If you want to buy real estate up in Canada wait. Our real estate hasn’t been devalued yet like in the States but we are almost there. This is being told to us up here by real estate experts not just doom and gloom types. Alberta and saskatchewan are booming now ( and coming from saskatchewan I still have a hard time believing that) for the economy but things are more expensive now. Start learning these things slowly. I go to auctions and I am a freegan
    ( who wants to hunt and fish believe it or not). Listen to people who know what they are doing and with their feet planted firmly on the ground . It takes time to become self reliant and I know I have a long way to go in that department.

  19. I am sick of what America has turned in to and I am at the end of a failing marriage. I just want to get away from all the crap. I just want a small piece of cheap land to live on so I can live out my days in peace. I can hunt and fish and I am fairly good at raising my own veggies. Any suggestions?

    1. There is free land. Look on internet for it. Getting in S. Ontario, has the advantage of dropping back to USA when needed. Start out with a small plot, easier to come by. Passport gives you an advantage, when needed. How will I heat it, tools needed, canned food, so much to think about. Info on line, books, YouTube. It is cold up there. Still places in the USA down south. But no free land.

  20. Chloe,

    It depends where you are. There always auction houses in bigger cities. PBR auctions in saskatoon sells foodstuffs ( though I guess saskatoon isn’t a big city), Hanna auctions in Edmonton and others. If you want to do the freegan thing stay away from the big outlets as they use trash compactors. Try organic or specialty food places, smaller snack vendors ( I have a place where they throw out tons of sandwiches and I take out the meat and dispose of the crappy bread and use flax bread to make sandwiches). Stay away from the dairy stuff or tuna and chicken salad stuff, it can be unpredictable and try to stay within one to 2 weeks of expiration date. If you are a vegan the organic places throw mucho fruits and vegetables though it is good to time it when the bins will be the fullest. In the last 6 months I have gotten organic buffalo pot roasts and organic chicken,. Two nights ago i stocked up on specialty mustards that were still good. Sometimes I feel guilty when I see what is thrown away. Another place to look behind is food banks ( yes food banks) though stay away if they are using trash compactors.

    Hope this helps.

  21. in actuality the cascadia subduction zone lies off the west coast of b.c. vancouver island and the coast will be in trouble when it lets go but the rest of the million square kilometers will be largely unaffected.

    ‘it’ is an awfully big province with many flood-plains. every hundred years or three there will be floods. especially if we continue to practice intensive urban development.

    ‘it’ also has a lot more than swollen rivers/creeks and flood-plains

    as for nuclear facilities – i have a suspicion if you look closely enough you will find a facility of one sort or another across the border from just about every province bordering the u.s.

  22. BC isn’t as all bad as he makes it. BC is covered in mountain ranges so if you want land, you can find lots covered in trees, and near creeks, rivers or lakes. Depends if you just want land, or if you want to get away from it all. You also don’t have to worry about floods, earthquakes or melting nuclear reactors here. I would not want to go anywhere else

  23. Great tips.. I like the info sharing on this website. Thank you.. Yes the Maritimes are pretty affordable (don’t like the water fluoridation in some areas) and be aware that we are under survey for hydraulic fracking in parts of New Brunswick so if you’ve seen “Gasland” from Josh Fox you will want to avoid land in/near fracking sites.. seriously… I just finished the book “off the grid” and want to say you should tell your friends/family to read it.. great information for moving forward.. thanks everyone!

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