Do you dream of living off the grid? There are many reasons why people choose to live off the grid, from wanting to reduce their environmental impact to enjoying more autonomy and freedom. If you're interested in finding off grid homes for sale, here’s what you need to know.
How we found our off grid home
When my husband Dan was offered a job in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, nine years ago, we had a tough time finding a house in town.
First of all, it was January in the subarctic, so there wasn’t much for sale. And secondly, we didn’t want to live in town anyways.
In this area, if you want to live outside of town, you'll be looking at an off grid property. It’s as simple as that. Country living means a home that is off the power grid up here.
The company Dan was interviewing with had flown us into Yellowknife just before Christmas in 2012, so we could learn about the area. While visiting, one of the people in the company mentioned a cabin for sale off the grid up the Ingraham Trail.
We drove out to see it. While I liked it, Dan wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having a honey bucket in the washroom.
(Learn about off grid toilets and find out more about honey buckets if you’re interested.)
While looking through the cabin, Dan nodded towards the larger house on the next 1-acre lakefront lot. “Geez, I wish that one was for sale instead,” he said.
We were back at our kitchen table two weeks later in Burlington, Ontario. And Dan found that the large off grid house was just listed for sale on a local online classifieds site.
Dan accepted the job; we flew back to Yellowknife that January and the rest is history!
What are off grid homes?
Off grid homes are residences not connected to the public power grid. This means that they rely on alternative energy sources, like solar panels, wind turbines or generators, to provide power for their home.
Off grid living is often associated with a more sustainable lifestyle, as it doesn't rely on non-renewable energy sources. When we bought our off grid home, we relied on solar panels to power our batteries and our house. We had two Lombardini diesel generators as backup power.
Recently we upgraded our system. We got new solar panels and added a Tesla 2 Powerwall and a new Kubota 11kW diesel generator.
Why live off the grid anyway?
There are many reasons why people choose off grid homes.
Off grid living often allows people to live a more sustainable lifestyle, as they're not relying on non-renewable energy sources. This can help to reduce your carbon footprint and overall environmental impact.
However, if you don’t have a reliable alternative energy source such as wind turbines or solar power, you could depend on an expensive (and noisy/stinky) diesel or gasoline generator.
Another benefit of off grid living is that it gives you more autonomy and freedom. You're not reliant on the public power grid. So you're not subject to power outages or other disruptions.
This can be a great advantage if you live in an area with unreliable power supplies.
Off grid homes also tend to be cheaper to run than homes connected to the public power grid. That is, once you have reliable off grid electricity in place.
You don’t pay for the power you don’t use. And you're not subject to power price hikes.
However, off grid living isn't always easy. Especially if you live in an extremely cold climate like we do. And if you’re interested in running an off grid homestead.
Over the years, we’ve dealt with plumbing issues, frozen pipes, a large generator shed fire, propane boiler issues, and off grid water heater issues.
If you're interested in living off the grid, it's important to carefully research the pros and cons before purchasing a home. There are many factors to consider, such as your budget, lifestyle, access to fire protection services, emergency services, and the climate in your area. However, off grid living can be a rewarding experience – if you're prepared for it.
How to Find Off Grid Homes for Sale
If you’re serious about finding off grid homes for sale, here are a few places to start looking. You could consider buying vacant land and building an off grid home from the ground up.
You could buy a home on the grid, then convert it to an off grid property with a solar power system, generators, and an inverter/charge controller to create off grid electricity.
Or you could do what we did and buy a home that is already off the grid.
Local Newspapers and Magazines
Find off grid homes in local print newspapers and magazines, especially if the property is located in a rural area. Check out the classifieds section or real estate section to see if any off grid homes are for sale in your area.
One option for finding off grid homes for sale is to look online. There are many classified websites specializing in off-grid properties, and you can also search general real estate listings to find off-grid properties.
Another option is to check online local newspapers and magazines, which could have sections dedicated to vacant land and off grid properties.
The digital version of a local newspaper can be a great way to find off the grid properties located in remote areas.
Another option when looking for off grid homes is auctions. Property may be sold as part of an estate auction, by the owner, or even by a local municipality for unpaid property taxes.
Off Grid Realtors
Some off grid homes are sold directly by property developers or real estate agents, especially if they are new developments. This can be a good option if you want to work with a professional who has experience in off grid living.
I know of at least one realtor in our area with expertise in selling off grid properties. She has also lived off the grid herself here for years.
This first-hand knowledge is invaluable for purchasers, especially when trying to get a mortgage on an off grid property.
Local Facebook Groups
If you’re already interested in living off the grid, you’ve likely found at least one Facebook group.
Preppers, bushcraft, survivalism, and homesteading Facebook groups often have discussions or even subgroups on buying off grid properties. This includes listings by owners.
These groups are also a good option if you want to learn more about off grid living and meet people already doing it.
Off Grid Homes for Sale Websites
Yes, there are indeed websites focused specifically on off grid homes for sale. This can be a good option if you want to see a wide range of off grid properties in one place. It can also give you an idea of off grid property prices in specific areas.
Some sites with off grid real estate listings in North America include
LandSearch (not just vacant land, also off grid homes)
Eco Property (Canada)
Word of Mouth
In some cases, off grid homes are sold by word of mouth. This is often the case when buying locally. It’s one of the main ways people around Yellowknife buy their off grid cabins for full-time living, or for hunting and fishing cabins.
Posted in Local Establishments
You know those bulletin boards at the post office, municipal offices, restaurants, and grocery stores? Where people post notices about lost dogs, bake sales, and items for sale? Sometimes you’ll find off grid properties for sale by owner.
We’ve seen them on bulletin boards at churches in western Newfoundland. Also in the grocery stores in northwestern Ontario and southern Manitoba.
When you're searching for off grid homes for sale, it's essential to keep your budget in mind. Do some digging into how much it will cost to move off the grid.
Also budget for unexpected off grid living expenses.
While the maintenance costs of living off the grid can be lower than on grid homes, getting the off grid home system you want can be expensive if you’re looking for a more “luxury” off grid lifestyle.
Think carefully about your reasons for wanting to live off the grid. What kind of off grid life do you want? What are some of the challenges that could impact your decision?
If you’re ready to take the first steps on your journey to buying a house off the grid, grab our free Off Grid Living Quickstart down below.