One question Dan and I frequently get from friends, family members, even strangers, is why we live off grid.
Why not live in a town with all the comforts? Then we wouldn't have to worry about generating off grid electricity, heat, or water.
Are you thinking about moving off the grid? While your reasons for doing so may be different from ours, here are just a few of the things that pop into my mind when people ask why we live the way we do.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
To Be More Self-Sufficient
The opportunity to rely on ourselves as much as possible is one reason why we moved off the grid. That's probably what led me to leave the banking world and start my own freelance writing business.
I wanted to be responsible for my ability to earn money.
We live off the grid partly because we're concerned about what the future holds. This way, we feel like we have a little more security looking after our own energy needs using solar power and a battery bank.
Independence From the Energy Grid
When living the city life back east in the early 2000s, we experienced multiple power outages. I became increasingly uneasy at the thought of how my family would survive a prolonged power outage in the city. Especially in the sometimes-harsh Canadian winters.
Truth time. The idea of generating our own electricity and providing our own heat and water was a little scary for me. And learning about off grid electricity, pumping water in winter, and dealing with batteries were completely new to me.
These terms made me think of Grade 11 physics - hands down my worst grade ever. Thankfully Dan's a lot better in these areas than I am.
Why We Live Off Grid in a REALLY Cold Place
So we live in Canada's Northwest Territories, just over 30 kilometers from the nearest town. If there was a road heading north, we could say we live about a three-hour drive south of the Arctic Circle.
Yes, the town is pretty close, but it feels remote. It's a ROUGH - though spectacular - drive around lakes and up and over bedrock formations to get to our place. And the last few kilometers are basically a one-lane dirt track.
We live here because five years ago, Dan took a job based in the closest city (Yellowknife), and we fell in love with the area.
We knew we wanted to live "in the country." However, around here, country living options are pretty scarce unless you're ready and willing to consider an off-the-grid home.
There simply aren't many (any?) country homes that ARE on the grid in this region. So you have to buy an off grid property.
So there's another reason why we're living off the grid. We have to in order to live where we want to.
Most of our readers live in more hospitable climates than we do. Yet living off the grid is really the only way to achieve the lifestyle we want in the region we love.
Why We Live Off The Grid Instead Of In Town
Living in Canada's far north is expensive because all the building supplies get shipped up from "down south." (Mostly from Edmonton, sometimes Grand Prairie, both in Alberta.)
So you'll pay a pretty penny to live in a smallish house (quite possibly a double-wide trailer) with neighbours close by.
When we were looking for a home here, we found that if we were willing to consider a home that wasn't tied to the power grid and town water, our dollar could go a lot further.
However, I should also note that the house we bought came with some off grid luxuries that we didn't expect.
It Suits Our Lifestyle and Personalities
As parents of seven kids (five grown and flown) and four grandkids, living off the grid but still within an hour's drive of town suits us.
There's an airport, so our big kids, extended family, and friends can come out to visit us. Or at least, they could before the pandemic restrictions hit.
There's a hospital and vet in town, a library, and a hospital and good medical services for our daughter, who lives with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.
I can get books, canning supplies, and any groceries we can't produce ourselves.
Plus, we absolutely LOVE our home.
The view over the lake is spectacular. We swim, fish, splash, boat, and the lake provides all the water we need for our off grid water system.
Why Are You Interested in Living Off The Grid?
If you're thinking about moving to a home that's off the grid, ask yourself why. Some common reasons we hear include:
- to be off the energy grid
- more self-reliant
- to save money
- to feel more connected to nature
- to get away from people
- the challenge
Also, think about just how energy-independent you want to be.
Make your answers as specific as possible. Remember, no two off-grid lifestyles are necessarily the same.
For example, some people want to get away from others. Yet we have neighbors within shouting distance, and we like it. In fact, one of our dearest friends lives right next door.
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Being honest with yourself about why you want to live off the grid. This will help you choose a location, house style, energy source, and acreage that best suits you and your family.