Off grid living in Newfoundland and Labrador ( The Rock )

Newfoundland and Labrador is located in the eastern part of Canada, and this province has one of the richest histories in the country. Newfoundland and Labrador’s population is around 521k, and the population is neither growing nor shrinking, although most of the younger generation tend to leave this province. Newfoundland and Labrador used to be a part of the British Empire, and it was a self-governing province.

Newfoundland and Labrador is not a good place for off grid living, the population density is too low, the unemployment rate is too high and most of this province is relying on fishing and mining, which in the past couple of decades has started to decline. On the other hand, this province allows you to grow some crops and the local authorities offer several incentives and rebates for both solar and wind power systems.

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In 1949 this province has officially joined Canada after several referendums. Previously this province was called Newfoundland, and the “Labrador” part was added in 2001. This province has a fairly low population density, especially in the Labrador part as around 90% of the population lives in Newfoundland. Newfoundland and Labrador have only one city with a population of over 100k.

The biggest cities in this province are St. John’s with 108k population, followed by Conception Bay South 26k, Mount Pearl 23k, Paradise 21k, and Corner Brook with 20k residents. The capital city of this province is St. John’s, and this city is the oldest European city in the continent, it has been found on maps as early as 1519. There are a couple of off grid communities in this province, although most of them are in Newfoundland.

Due to the low population density, most of the province is untouched nature, with several reserves and national parks. Newfoundland and Labrador is not popular amongst tourists, which is a great plus for anybody wanting to live off the grid in this province. If you want to take a look at one of its neighbors then check out my recent article Off grid living in Quebec ( La Belle Province ).

Newfoundland and Labrador climate

Newfoundland and Labrador have two types of climates, humid continental in Labrador and south Newfoundland and subarctic climate in the northern parts of Newfoundland. The average summer temperatures are between 61°F and 77°F ( 16C and 25C ), the average winter temperatures are around 32°F ( 0C). In the northern parts of Newfoundland, the temperatures are mostly below freezing during the wintertime, and during some years the Arctic winds are blowing. If you want to compare this province to a state then check out my recent article Off grid living in Oregon ( Beaver State ).

Types of crops grown in Newfoundland and Labrador

Most of this province is not ideal for growing crops due to the local climate and low fertility of the lands. The best areas to grow crops are in the southern parts of Labrador, although not a lot can be grown. The most commonly grown crops are potatoes, carrots, turnips, beets, cabbage, and several types of berries. If you want to grow your own food in this province then your best option will be to grow potatoes, just don’t get your hopes up as due to the high humidity during some years most of the potato crops fail. If you want to take a look at a province that has a lower cost of living and more options when it comes to growing crops then check out my recent article Off grid living in Alberta ( Sunshine Province ).

Freshwater availability in Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador have plenty of fresh water and as the population density is fairly low, most of the freshwater is clean. The average yearly rainfall is around 57″ ( 1400 mm) and the average yearly snowfall is around 100″ although in the northern parts it can get as high as 300″. Most of the cities and towns are located on the coast, and in some areas, the groundwater is contaminated with saltwater.

Newfoundland and Labrador wildlife

Newfoundland and Labrador is home to a lot of animals, both on the land and in the ocean. The most common animals are woodland caribou, lynx, muskrat, foxes, black bears, moose, and otters. The most common freshwater fish are arctic char, northern pike, whitefish, landlocked salmon, and brook trout. The saltwater fish are Atlantic salmon, herring, mackerel, Atlantic cod, Atlantic halibut, turbot, and redfish. Just keep in mind that you will need a fishing license both for saltwater and freshwater fishing https://www.flr.gov.nl.ca/wildlife/hunting/nonres.html.

Generating power off the grid in Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Solar power: Although this province gets plenty of sunshine every year, the local climate isn’t the best for generating power with solar panels. The good news is that this province offers several incentives like the TakeCharge Program, which is a rebate available for customers of the NL Hydro and NL Power. The local authorities also offer a grant called Home Energy Savings Program, this is mostly for low-income families and the cap is at $5000.
  • Wind power: On the coastlines, you will see plenty of wind turbines, although these are somewhat expensive to set up, but they also generate a lot more power than solar panels. Newfoundland and Labrador also have several incentives and rebates for wind power as well.

Newfoundland and Labrador off grid laws

Living off the grid in Newfoundland and Labrador is legal, and in a lot of communities, it is a way of life. Due to the low population density, there are only a few schools in this province and most of them are in the largest cities. You also have the possibility to homeschool your children and a lot of people who live in remote areas homeschool their children, just make sure you follow the local homeschooling laws.

Newfoundland and Labrador road access 

The road access in Newfoundland and Labrador is not the best, this state has few roads and a lot of them can not be used during the wintertime. You will have no problems with road access near the bigger cities but there are a lot of smaller communities which have no road access at all, and flights to these places can get expensive especially during the wintertime.

Price of land in Newfoundland and Labrador

The price of land and property is almost the same as in Ontario. Due to the low population density, there is not a lot of demand for new housing, although occasionally new housing complexes are built in the bigger cities, these tend to be more expensive.

Newfoundland and Labrador cost of living

The cost of living in Newfoundland and Labrador is higher than the national average, most of the population is concentrated in a few cities where when it comes to basic needs there are not a lot of companies competing. You might think that in remote areas and smaller communities the cost of living will be lower, the truth is that the cost of living in these areas is even higher, mostly due to the lack of road access and because everything has to be flown in.

Newfoundland and Labrador jobs

The unemployment rate in Newfoundland and Labrador is 12.4%, and this number is getting higher every year, there are not a lot of industries where people can work. The minimum wage is $11.65, although there is a big push for increasing the minimum wage. The biggest industries are commercial fishing, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, transportation, and even tourism.

Newfoundland and Labrador natural disasters

The most common natural disasters in Newfoundland and Labrador are earthquakes, storms, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and tsunamis. Overall this province is fairly safe from natural disasters, mostly because of the low population density.

In conclusion

Overall I can not recommend Newfoundland and Labrador for off grid living, although a province with low population density might be great for off grid living, but in this case, it only makes the cost of living higher as a lot of areas have simply no access to roads.