Off grid living in Yukon ( The Land of the Midnight Sun )

Yukon is located in the western part of Canada, and this province has one of the lowest population densities in the country. Over the past couple of centuries, this province has seen a large influx of people especially once people found gold in this province. This has kickstarted the Klondike gold rush and turned the small tent city of Dawson into a real city with over 40k population. The Klondike gold rush was over in just 3 years and Dawson’s population started falling.

Yukon is not good for off grid living, most people who live here off the grid were born and raised in this province and know how to manage in the subarctic climate. The cost of property is way above the national average and the cost of living is also very expensive as almost everything has to be imported. Generally speaking, if you are from British Columbia, Alaska, Nunavut or from the Northwest territories then you should probably have no problem living off the grid in Yukon.

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Currently, there are only around 35k residents in the entire Yukon province. the biggest city in Yukon is Whitehorse with around 25k population, followed by Dawson City with 1400, Watson Lake 800, and Haines Junction with around 600 residents. When it comes to off grid living you can expect something similar to Alaska but a lot more expensive. The main difference between Alaska and Yukon is the population density.

Alaska has around 730k residents and Yukon only has 35k, although states and provinces with a low population density are the best for off grid living, but there is such a thing as way too low population density. The main problem with a province which has such a low population density is that there isn’t demand for a lot of items, this makes ordinary items extremely expensive in some cases.

Yukon has a fairly large off grid population, in most communities and even towns living off the grid is a normal thing. Although the gold rush is over, there are still a lot of people making a living by prospecting for gold, although most of the work today is done by large machines rather than by people prospecting for gold manually. There is still a lot of gold in Yukon, and every year more and more people are coming to make it big, although most of them end up getting broke. If you are looking for a province with a milder climate and a higher population density then check out my recent article Off grid living in British Columbia ( The Pacific Province ).

Yukon climate

Most of this province has a subarctic climate, and this is probably the worst climate for off grid living. The average summertime temperatures are around 77°F ( 25C ) although the sun shines all day round. During the wintertime, the days are extremely short, and the temperatures can be anything between 25°F to -58°F ( -3C to -50C ). The main reason why not a lot of people live in this province is due to the climate, you will have to be extremely motivated to live here all year round, for some the idea of finding gold is enough, but if you only want to live off the grid than this is probably one of the worst places to do it. One of your main ways of heating in this province will be done with firewood, although due to the local climate these can often get wet, for more information check out my recent article How to dry wet firewood ( In 6 Easy Steps ).

Types of crops grown in Yukon

Due to the subarctic climate, not a lot of crops can be grown here, although you will still be able to grow nuts, berries, grapes, hay, and some vegetables. Generally speaking, the areas which are best for growing crops are in the southern parts of the province. As growing crops is fairly limited in this province a lot of people choose to grow livestock, the most common ones are cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and even wild horses. If you want to compare Yukon to Alaska then check out my recent article Off grid living in Alaska ( The Last Frontier ).

Freshwater availability in Yukon

Yukon has plenty of fresh water, mostly due to the local climate but also because the demand for freshwater is fairly low. The average yearly rainfall is around 33″ ( 838 mm ), and the average yearly snowfall is around 58″ ( 148 cm ). This province has also plenty of freshwater below and above the ground and the groundwater is one of the cleanest in the country, mostly due to the low population density.

Yukon wildlife

When it comes to wildlife Yukon is a paradise for a lot of subarctic animals the most common animals found here are caribou, wolves, moose, mountain sheep, marmots, and the occasional polar bear. The most common fish are salmon, arctic grayling, burbot, bull trout, inconnu, lake trout, northern pike, kokanee salmon, coho salmon, lake whitefish, chum salmon, rainbow trout, and chinook salmon. You will need a license both for fishing and hunting http://www.env.gov.yk.ca/environment-you/eServices.php.

Generating power off the grid in Yukon

  • Solar power: Near the bigger “cities” and communities people often generate power with solar panels, although these work great during the summertime but during the wintertime, their power output is extremely low as the days tend to be short. The Yukon province offers the Renewable Energy Systems Rebate for people who want to set up solar panels, although this is limited to $5000.
  • Wind power: You can also apply the Renewable Energy Systems Rebate for wind power systems, although wind turbines tend to cost a lot more, but the rebate is still capped at $5000.

Yukon off grid laws

Living off the grid in Yukon is legal, not only that it is legal but it is a way of living in this province. As Yukon has such a low population density there isn’t a lot of demand for utilities and most people either generate their own power or simply do not even bother with it. Due to the low population density, only the  “bigger” cities have schools and a lot of people choose to homeschool their children. The homeschooling laws are fairly relaxed and you will either have to register or notify the local authorities.

Yukon road access

There are not a lot of roads in Yukon, and most people who live in this province do not travel far from their communities. During the summertime, most people use 4×4 wheel drive vehicles and during the wintertime, they use snowmobiles or dog sleds.

Price of land in Yukon

The price of land tends to be fairly cheap, although the price of a house can be extremely expensive. Buying a house in Whitehorse is almost as expensive as in Vancouver, and the prices are getting higher every year. Buying a plot of land and building a house seems like a good idea at first, but the construction season is only a couple of months and the building materials are more than double than in the rest of the country.

Cost of living in Yukon

The cost of living in Yukon is high, most of the items have to be imported and when it gets to the average consumer the prices have already doubled if not tripled. The good news is that if you have the skills to live off the land then this province provides you with everything that you need.

Yukon jobs

The unemployment rate in Yukon is below the national average, currently, it is around 4% and the national average is 6.9%. Generally speaking the lower the population density of a province or state is the lower the unemployment rate should be. The minimum wage is $12.71, which is around the same as in the neighboring provinces. There are two major industries in which most people work, mining and tourism. The most commonly mined minerals in Yukon are lead, gold, zinc, silver, and copper.

Yukon natural disasters

Yukon is prone to having avalanches, wildfires, floods, landslides, storms, and earthquakes. Even small storms can do a lot of damage due to the local climate, so always listen to the weather forecast if you plan to go anywhere.

In conclusion

I can not recommend living off the grid in Yukon, the local climate is extremely harsh and everything is expensive. Although there are a lot of people living off the grid in this province, but most of them are natives, and if you come from a southern province or state then you will struggle.