Off grid living in Ontario ( The Heartland Province )

Ontario is located near the center of the country, it has access to Hudson Bay and to several great lakes like Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. Ontario has one of the highest population densities in the country, currently, there are over 14.57 million people calling this province home and the population is increasing every year. In the year 2011 Ontario only had 12.85 million population.

Ontario is a fairly bad province for off grid living, the climate is fairly good for growing crops and off grid living, but the cost of property and the cost of living is extremely high. Generally speaking in the northern areas you will be able to find cheaper land and property but the climate in this part of the province is fairly cold all year round which complicates living off the grid significantly.

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Ontario has 13 cities with a population of over 100k people, the biggest cities are Toronto with 2.7 million population, followed by Ottawa 935k, Mississauga 725k, Brampton 695k, Hamilton 540k, and London 385k residents. Ottawa is Canada’s capital, and as it is located in the Ontario province this directly impacts the cost of living. At first glance, Ontario looks like a decent place for off grid living, although this province has a lot of problems.

The main reasons to live off the grid is to be self-sufficient and to live as frugally as possible, and this is almost impossible in this province due to the high costs associated with off grid living, or living in general. Generally speaking, most of the population of this province is concentrated in the south and southeastern regions, and there is already a big problem with housing in these areas. In fact, a lot of people are moving out of this province because they can not afford to live here.

During the past couple of decades, a lot of foreign investors came to this province investing in real estate, some of them are legitimate businesses but most of them are shady, to say the least. Once these investors came with virtually unlimited money they started buying off property, to a point that the average Canadian can no longer afford to buy or even rent. If you want to take a look at Ontario’s western neighbor then check out my recent article Off grid living in Manitoba ( The Keystone State ).

Ontario climate

The main climate in Ontario is humid continental, summers tend to be hot and winters are cold. Ontario has one of the highest humidities in the entire country due to the close proximity of the Hudson Bay and several great lakes. The average summer temperatures between 87°F and 94°F ( 30C and 34C ), during the wintertime the average temperatures can fluctuate a lot but for the most part, it is below freezing and in the northern parts it gets even colder. If you want to compare this province to a state then check out my recent article Off grid living Maine ( The Pine Tree State ).

Types of crops grown in Ontario

Due to the continental type climate and the high humidity Ontario is one of the best places to grow crops. The most commonly grown crops here are soybeans, grain corn, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat, oats, barley, and rye. For the most part, you will not have to set up a greenhouse to grow crops, although in the northern areas growing crops without a greenhouse will be extremely difficult. If you are looking for a province with plenty of untouched nature and low population density then check out my recent article Off grid living in Yukon ( The Land of the Midnight Sun ).

Freshwater availability in Ontario

Ontario has plenty of fresh water, the province has a lot of lakes, and access to some of the biggest lakes in the world. Around 20% of the world’s freshwater reserve is in or near this province. In addition to this, the high humidity means that rains are frequent. The average yearly rainfall in Ontario is around 15″  ( 400 mm ) and the average yearly snowfall can be fairly high in the northern parts of the province.

Ontario wildlife

Ontario is home to a lot of animals like wild turkeys, moose, white-tailed deer, elk, black bear, wolf, coyote, caribou, bobcat, Canada lynx, cougars, foxes, and even the occasional polar bear. The most common fish found in this province are panfish, salmon, brook trout, lake trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, muskie, walleye, and northern pike. Keep in mind that this province has both saltwater and freshwater fish, and you will need two different fishing licenses for them https://www.ontario.ca/page/fishing-licence-canadian-residents.

Generating power off the grid in Ontario

  • Solar power: Ontario gets plenty of sunshine during the year, although due to the high humidity the skies are covered with clouds. In the past couple of years, Ontario had several incentives and rebates for solar power, sadly all of them are officially ended. The good news is that you can still use the Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) Renewable Energy and the Canadian Renewable and Conservation Expenses (CRCE).
  • Wind power: Due to its close proximity to the Hudson Bay and several great lakes Ontario can get fairly windy, especially in the southern parts. There used to be some incentive programs for wind power in the past but most of them are gone, although you can still apply for the Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) Renewable Energy and the CRCE.

Ontario off grid laws

Living off the grid in Ontario is legal, there are no limits on harvesting rainwater as in some of the US states, but in areas, with a high population density where you are already connected to the utilities, it will be extremely hard to go off the grid. The quality of education in this province is fairly high, although it can get extremely expensive, you also have the possibility to homeschool your children just make sure you follow the local homeschooling laws.

Road access in Ontario

The quality of the roads in Ontario is fairly high, although there are some areas in the northern parts which do not have any access to roads or which become inaccessible during the wintertime. If you live off the grid in the southern parts of the province then you shouldn’t worry too much about road access.

Price of land in Ontario

The price of land and property is one of the highest in the country, the good news is that you can still find a plot of land or a small homestead in some areas cheaper. Generally speaking the best areas for off grid living are in southeastern parts, the bad news is that the cost of land and property is the highest here.

Ontario cost of living

The cost of living in Ontario is fairly high, not because everything has to be imported but due to the high population density in the south especially near the capital Ottawa. If you want to live off the grid as frugally as possible then it will be extremely difficult due to the high cost of living.

Ontario jobs

The unemployment rate in Ontario is around 5.9% which is lower than the 6.9% national average. The minimum wage is 14 CAD, which is significantly higher than in the neighboring provinces. The biggest industries are agriculture, mining, oil, gas, construction, manufacturing, public administration, and tourism.

Ontario natural disasters

Ontario has a couple of natural disasters like wildfire, floods, storms, earthquakes, landslides, and even tornadoes. Although not an actual natural disaster but the one thing you will definitely notice in Ontario is the high humidity, during the summertime it is almost bearable but during the wintertime, it causes a lot of problems, like black ice forming on the roads.

In conclusion

Overall I can not recommend Ontario for off grid living, as this province is home to the capital city Ottawa, the population density is fairly high, and so is the cost of living. If you are on a tight budget then you are probably better off moving to one of the western provinces.