Off grid living in British Columbia ( The Pacific Province )

British Columbia is located on the west coast of Canada, with a population of around 5 million people. Canada doesn’t actually have states but provinces, although there are some differences between the two they more or less the same. British Columbia is massive, you can easily fit in this province all the west coast states from the USA. When people tend to talk about British Columbia they mainly talk of Vancouver but trust me there is much more to this state than Vancouver.

British Columbia is a fairly good province for off grid living, the population density is low, the cost of living and the cost of housing is also fairly low. The main problem with British Columbia is the local climate, as it can be fairly punishing during the wintertime and the local climate also limits your ability to grow crops, although not a lot of crops can be grown here. Most people who live off the grid in this province prepare for the winter the entire summer.

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British Columbia’s population density is low, and most of the province is untouched nature, which makes it excellent for off grid living. The main difference between off grid living in British Columbia and in one of the states in the USA is the climate, imagine something less punishing than Alaska. Although British Columbia has a low population density, in fact, it has around 10 cities with a population of over 100k people.

The biggest city in this province is Vancouver with a population of 635k people, followed by Surrey with 520k, Burnaby 232k, Richmond 198k, Abbotsford 145k, and Coquitlam with 140k residents. Most of the cities and towns in this province are concentrated in the southern parts of the province, this means that the vast majority of British Columbia is untouched nature. This province has more in common with Alaska than Washington, not because of the climate but because of the skills, you will need to live off the grid.

There are a lot of people living off the grid in this province, especially as there is almost no infrastructure in the northern parts. Although living off the grid in British Columbia might seem like paradise on earth, the truth is that there is so much work to live off the grid that you will hardly enjoy the beautiful nature, but if you love working outdoors all day round you will love this province. If you want to compare this province to Alaska then check out my recent article Off grid living in Alaska ( The Last Frontier ).

British Columbia climate

British Columbia is massive if it would be a country it would be one of the biggest countries in the world. Due to this fact, the local climate is fairly diverse and it includes warm humid continental, oceanic, subarctic, cold semi-arid, and even tundra climate. Generally speaking, the warm humid climate is in the southern parts, the oceanic climate is in the western parts, the semi-arid climate is in the southeastern parts and the subarctic climate is in the northern parts of this province.

The average summertime temperatures also fluctuate a lot due to the size of this province, generally speaking, it can be anywhere between 60°F-80°F ( 15C-26C ). The northern parts of the province are the coldest ones and some areas in the Southern parts can have fairly high temperatures. The average wintertime temperatures are around 35°F ( 2.2C ). If you want to live off the grid in this province then you will need a lot of firewood, for more information check out my recent article How to store firewood outside in winter ( In 6 Easy Steps ).

Types of crops grown in British Columbia

British Columbia’s climate is not the best for growing crops, although you can still grow berries, vegetables, different grains, grapes, and mushrooms. Just note that you will definitely need a greenhouse to grow any kind of crops and in some areas, you will also have to use compost as the land is not that fertile. People who live off the grid here often grow livestock, and some even produce their own dairy products. If you want more options when it comes to growing crops than I suggest you to take a look at one of B.C.’s neighbors in the US, for more information check out my recent article Off grid living in Washington ( The Evergreen State ).

Freshwater availability in British Columbia

Most of the province has a humid climate except for some areas in the south. The average yearly rainfall is around 60″ and in the northern parts it can get as high as 120″, the average yearly snowfall is around 200″. Generally speaking, the northern parts of the state get the most snowfall, although the actual snowfall from one area to another will be significantly different mostly due to the size of the province.

British Columbia wildlife

Due to its large size, British Columbia has a fairly diverse wildlife and you can find here raccoons, Canadian geese, beavers, black bears, coyotes, cougars, hoary marmots, white-tailed deer, gray wolf, and even wild horses. There are also a lot of different types of fish bout living in freshwater and saltwater like salmon, char, lingcod, steelhead, halibut, and even Sturgeon. You will need a license both for saltwater and freshwater fishing https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/sports-culture/recreation/fishing-hunting/fishing/recreational-freshwater-fishing-licence.

Generating power off the grid in British Columbia

  • Solar: British Columbia has a couple of incentives and rebates for solar power, like the PST Tax Exemption,  and the CCA or Capital Cost Allowance. In addition to this in some areas, you will also get rebates in cash.
  • Wind power: For wind power, you can apply for both the PST Tax Exemption and the Capital Cost Allowance.

British Columbia off gird laws

Living off the grid in British Columbia is legal, although you still need to follow the local building code. You can also legally harvest rainwater as the local climate is fairly humid and there is no shortage of fresh water. You can homeschool your children and a lot of people who live in the northern parts of the province have no other option than to homeschool. Luckily the homeschooling laws are fairly relaxed and you will have to register your child for homeschooling.

Road access in British Columbia

Most of the state doesn’t actually have road access, generally speaking, most roads are in the southern parts of the province. The few roads running through the northern parts are only seasonal roads, meaning that during the wintertime some of them get closed. Most people who live off the grid in remote areas use ATV’s during the summertime and snowmobiles during the wintertime, although you will have to think about the logistics carefully if you want to build a homestead.

Price of land in British Columbia

The average price of land in British Columbia is around CAD 55k, although in some areas the price of land can get significantly more expensive. Generally speaking, the most expensive lands are in the southern and the southwestern parts of the province.

British Columbia cost of living

Generally speaking, you will pay around 13% less for groceries, and around 21% less for renting and buying property. If you compare British Columbia to the other provinces in Canada then the cost of living in British Columbia is still lower than the national average.

British Columbia jobs

British Columbia’s unemployment rate is 6.2% which is lower than the Canadian national average of 6.9%, although significantly higher than the US national average of 3.6%. The minimum wage is CAD 12.65 which is significantly higher than in the neighboring states and provinces. The biggest industries where most people work are construction, film, mining, manufacturing, tourism, forestry, commercial fishing, and aquaculture.

British Columbia natural disasters

British Columbia is prone to having avalanches, wildfires, tsunamis, floods, landslides, storms, and earthquakes. The most commonly occurring natural disasters are storms, both during the summer and wintertime.

In conclusion

Overall British Columbia is good for off grid living, living off the grid is legal and you can also legally harvest rainwater. In addition to this, there are a lot of people and communities living off the grid or in a semi off grid way.