Manitoba is located in the center of the country, and it has a fairly large coastline to the Hudson Bay. Manitoba’s population is around 1.37 million residents and as in almost every province of Canada, the highest population density is in the southern parts as the local climate is a lot milder here. Manitoba has only one city with over 100k population, the biggest city is Winnipeg with 705k population followed by Brandon with 49k, Steinbach 16k, and Thompson with around 14k residents.
Manitoba is a good province for off grid living, in the southern parts the climate is fairly mild and you can grow plenty of crops. In addition to this living off the land is fairly easy here especially if you can fish, as there are thousands of lakes and rivers with plenty of fish. In the Northern parts of the province off grid living is just a way of living and a lot of towns and communities in this area do not even have road access.
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Manitoba is famous for its numerous lakes, including some of the biggest lakes in the world like Lake Winnipeg, Lake Manitoba, and Lake Winnipegosis, and countless other smaller lakes. This province also has several national parks and reserves like the Riding Mountain National Park, Amisk Park Reserve, Sand Lakes Provincial Park, Wapusk National Park, and the Caribou River Park Reserve.
Manitoba is one of the best places to watch the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights, especially in the northern parts of the province where there is a lot less pollution. Living off the grid in Manitoba is possible, but in the northern parts of the province, it can be extremely dangerous. This province has a lot of polar bears, although most of them in the northern parts as they pass through Manitoba while they are migrating.
Some towns in the northern parts of the province actually recommend people to leave their cars unlocked all the time, as polar bears often enter these smaller towns and they can get fairly aggressive especially if they are hungry. You might think that everybody leaving their car doors unlocked would increase the crime rate, the truth is that most people in these smaller communities know each other and the crime rate in these areas is fairly low. If you want to compare this province to its western neighbor then check out my recent article Off grid living in Saskatchewan ( Canada’s Breadbasket ).
Manitoba has two types of climates, humid continental in the southern parts and subarctic in the northern parts. The average summer temperatures are between 56.3°F and 78.6°F ( 13.5°C and 25.9°C ), although in some years the summertime temperatures can get as high as 100 °F (38 °C). The average winter temperatures are anything between 0 °F to −40 °F ( −18 °C to −40 °C ), generally speaking, the coldest areas are in the northern parts of the province. If you want to compare this province to a state then check out my recent article Off grid living in New Hampshire ( The Granite State ).
Types of crops grown in Manitoba
Due to the mild climate, you can grow some crops like canola, buckwheat, barley, field peas, field beans, fava beans, rye, potatoes, soybeans, oats, lentils, spring wheat, and winter wheat. The southern parts of the province are the best for growing crops, and in some areas, you do not even need to set up a greenhouse to grow crops. If you want to take a look at Manitoba’s northern neighbor then check out my recent article Off grid living in Nunavut ( Our Land ).
Freshwater availability in Manitoba
Due to the humid continental climate, Manitoba has plenty of fresh water, in addition to this, there are thousands of lakes and rivers, especially in the northern parts of the province. The average yearly rainfall is around 9″ ( 225 mm ), although if you compare it to some of the states in the US you will find that 9″ of yearly rainfall usually occurs in semi-arid climates dominated by deserts.
Manitoba has a fairly diverse wildlife like beavers, caribou, coyote, lynx, moose, raccoons, skunks, white-tailed deer, wolves, and polar bears. In some areas polar bears are a real threat as often they wander into towns looking for food or going through while they are migrating to the north. Manitoba has thousands of lakes and access to the Hudson Bay which makes this province excellent for fishing, you will find here brook trout, arctic char, black crappie, brown trout, burbot, cisco, lake sturgeon, northern pike, splake, and tiger trout. You will need a fishing license both for saltwater and freshwater fishing https://www.gov.mb.ca/sd/pubs/fish_wildlife/angling_guide.pdf.
Generating power off the grid in Manitoba
- Solar power: Manitoba has one of the clearest skies in the country and when it comes to yearly sunshine it is in the top 3 of the country. Manitoba used to have a very generous solar incentive program called the Manitoba Hydro Solar Rebate Program, this program is not available anymore although in the near future it will probably come back. The good news is that there are several local programs for which you can still apply to either get a loan or to reduce the costs of a solar power system like the Affordable Energy Program, Energy & Water Saver Program, and the Indigenous Communities and Energy Efficiency Program.
- Wind power: This province is also excellent for generating power with wind turbines, especially near the coast. To reduce the costs you can apply for the Affordable Energy Program and the Energy & Water Saver Program.
Manitoba off grid laws
Living off the grid in Manitoba is legal, although in the northern parts off grid living can get extremely dangerous and hard. If you come from the US then the best options for off grid living are in the southern parts of the province. You can also homeschool your children, and this is fairly common in the more isolated communities, the homeschooling laws are fairly relaxed just make sure to know what the requirements are.
Road access in Manitoba
Manitoba has plenty of roads in the southern parts of the province, although in the northern parts there are several communities where there is literally no road access. For example, you can only get to Churchill only with a plane, and the cost of travel and transportation in such areas can be fairly expensive. In the southern parts most people use 4×4 pickup trucks and in the northern parts snowmobiles or dogsleds.
Price of land in Manitoba
The price of land is somewhat higher than in a province like Alberta, although not due to the high population density but because a lot of areas are simply inaccessible. You will have no problem finding cheap land and housing near a smaller town or city, as long as you stay away from Winnipeg.
Manitoba cost of living
In the southern parts of the province, the cost of living is around the national average, although in the northern parts of the province the cost of living can get significantly higher. There are a lot of smaller towns and communities in the northern parts with no road access meaning that everything has to be flown in and this makes the cost of living significantly higher. In addition to this, the northern parts of the province are not suitable for growing crops so even food has to be imported via planes.
The minimum wage in Manitoba is $11.65, and the unemployment rate is only 5% which is significantly lower than the national average of 6.9%. The biggest industries are oil, gas, renewable energy, mining, agriculture, forestry, transport, and tourism.
Manitoba natural disasters
Manitoba is prone to having floods, landslides, wildfires, tornadoes, storms, and arctic winds. The most commonly occurring natural disasters are storms, which during the wintertime can significantly disrupt everyday life, especially in the northern parts.
Overall Manitoba is a good choice if you want to live off the grid. Just keep in mind that there is a massive difference between living off the grid in the southern and in the northern parts of the province.