Living off the grid is getting more and more popular. Some people just squat on remote pieces of land, or live semi-gypsy lives in some sort of vehicle. A long term off the grid lifestyle, however, means getting an off the grid piece of land.
Discovering off grid property in BC isn’t all that hard. You’ll find lots of paid classified listings or free classified listings, on the web or in the papers, to complement what you can find on the Multiple Listing Service (which is also available online).
There is, of course, the issue of what, exactly, qualifies as “off grid“? Most pieces of land will have some sort of access, even if only by a tiny road, and so is, point of fact, at least partially on grid. You can, of course, look (or ask a realtor to send you an automated search)for land parcels that do not have electricity hook ups, water, sewer or telephone. These are usually negative characteristics for land sellers, and so you’re likely not going to be facing too much competition from other buyers.
Satisfying local building codes andinspections can be something to get past, but its possible to find unserviced property in areas that do not don’t require building inspectors. These are usually properties that are far from the nearest built up areas. Technically you are still supposed to comply with the BC Building Code, but its unlikely that anyone will enforce the code.
In any event, satisfying the building code is possible. The building code allows lots of types of building styles, and is supposed to ensure that the building is safe, not that its hooked up to the grid. There are successful off grid properties that meet the local building code and which have been inspected and passed by inspectors.
Its possible to acquire pieces of property in BC that you can’t reach by road. Most of the time this is water or boat access, either by lake or, more commonly, by the ocean. There are also properties that are accessed by horse, bushplane or walking. You may find this more attractive remember that poor access makes home building difficult, and once you’re built it you’ll still have the obstacle of getting medical attention or supplies.
Going offgrid in British Columbia means making it through the winter. Winters are chilly enough everywhere in the province that you’ll need a heat source, and in some areas of the province it gets really chilly. The best solution is wood heat, but for that you require a stove or fireplace, and plenty of cordwood. Perhaps the most attractive and most sustainable is geothermal, which can be built in many ways.
Solar and wind won’t do the trick for heat. They can, and do, give enough electricity electricty to run an off grid household, although your electricty consumption habits will probably have to change. Solar can be very costly, and so can wind, when you make the intial investment. You can build your own, though, and there are lots of plans on the internet that work.
You can go offgrid with a generator, and as long as you have enough gas or diesel you’ll have electricty to spare. This is how remote set ups, whether farms, lodges or ranches, have been powered throughout the remote parts of BC, but a old style generatorlikely isn’t as attractive to modern day off gridders.
I think the biggest thing to remember when considering living off the grid is that it is not easy, it will likely be more difficult than you imagined, and there will be obstacles that you never anticipated. Of course, most off gridders are resourceful – its in their DNA.