Floating a balloon…….Marketing OTG 101


Imagine you can lease a spot on the ocean.  Off the grid.  You get a small tent-deck, water, sewer, some design limits and you can build whatever you want but it has to be small (under 800sft), it has to be built well and…….the ‘cabin’ you build is not yours (in the traditional sense) to sell.  The ‘site’ that you lease is also small.  Limited to the deck and building footprint give or take.

The cabin you build (or buy a yurt/shipping container/tent variation) is yours to take away should you want to buy land elsewhere and relocate to it but, it will initially be situated on leased land and the site belongs to the community and you have 20 years plus a day to be there – if you want.  If someone actually lives there for twenty years the site will likely require a do-over by then anyway.

Concept: some seniors might choose to live there the whole of the twenty years.

I envision most people will lease the site, bring in a shipping container-type abode and make some kind of arbor or tent addition or something to live in and half-outdoors while they build somewhere else.  They’ll use it for say, six months or so over five years and then take the container to their new site as a guest cabin to their now-built permanent home.  Or they may just leave it.  Or maybe it will be sold to the community.  The community will then re-lease the site and maybe even bring in a new shipping container.  Details to be worked out.


Lease rates will be low – to encourage the young to come and build and to encourage the old to ‘downsize’ and live amongst others in their latter years.  There will be a $5000 – 10,000 down move-in fee (to build the infrastructure).  Ballpark lease rate: $150/mo…maybe $2000 a year.  NO taxes.  No water bill.  Maybe a small maintenance fee or work-in-kind to keep it all going.  Sewers can be a problem… but it is all to be done NON profit.  Full, transparent accounting.

Maybe the tenant will get a portion of move-in fee back when they leave…

Why lease?  Because it is not our land.  We will lease it first and then sublease it to tenants.

Why small?  Because we want people to either stay small or buy-and-build elsewhere.  Ya can’t have chickens and dogs and goats and cows all a-wandering all over a relatively small area (7 acres).  Plus gardens, dogs, cats, kids and stuff…..not for long, anyway.  Otherwise it would get too crowded and ghetto like.

How many sites?  Start with ten.  Max maybe twenty. Let the community decide.  Ten makes sense to me.  Our area could absorb ten new families easily.  Probably twenty.  But no one out here wants it to become the new Saltspring.  We don’t want it to change, really, but very young people and very old people leaving is ALSO change so having a limited infusion of folks is really just stabilizing the community.

Will you bring in the container and hook it up to get me started?  Yeah.  Separate contract.

“But, if having that modest little summer camp-thing is enough for me, I can just live there?  Maybe just in the summer?”  Yep.  Twenty years.  Maybe renewal.  Maybe not.

In effect, the concept roughly described above is similar to a mobile home park but with an incentive to have the tenants stay small or move out to other OTG land.  Just NOT a mobile home or trailer……

AND IT MUST BE CHEAP.  The community is NOT trying to ‘make a buck’ so much as make a community.  We’ll pay people for labour and construction on any ‘community work’ or tenants can hire locals to work on a private basis but there is no OVERALL, for-profit company, there are no Benz-drivers, no sales offices…no organized greed corporation.  The idea is to support and foster the modest growth of our larger community.

As readers of this OTG blog and obviously, at least DREAMERS of the OTG lifestyle, would this kind of interim step, this ‘get your feet wet approach’ appeal to you?  Please do NOT quote me on any of this.  It is not mine to do.  It is currently a blank-slate piece of land and people out here are invited to propose other ideas.  I am sure they will.  So this is just one concept of likely many.

But I do have an advantage.  I can ask you guys what YOU think of the idea…



17 thoughts on “Floating a balloon…….Marketing OTG 101

  1. The no dog rule is kind of a deal breaker for me. i would have to wait until I was “between” dogs. Doable, but you would definitely need a community dog or two. Are you financially committed for the whole 20 years? People may not be prepared to lease-in if there was no way they could break their lease without a large financial penalty.


    • The no dog rule is NOT a rule. It might become one, I suppose, but likely NOT. People like dogs out here. But I think we have to have some controls. Some people like to own a pack of Rotties and that can get tiresome….but community living rules will be minimal and mostly designed by those who choose to live there.
      No. The lease is 20 years plus a day to avoid certain weird Provincial laws. But there will be a no penalty or ‘small’ penalty for breaking a lease. We actually WANT them to break it if they buy land and build elsewhere. No one will care if there is a waiting list. No one cares if there is plenty of notice. No one really cares if no one else is unfairly burdened.


  2. Dave, I am reading your February 2011 post about the move and building the cabin. I think for most of us wanna be OTGers, the biggest challenge would be building the damn thing. It was a daunting task even for you, the self proclaimed junk collector,lol., can you imagine the difficulties we true urbanites, who can’t even swing a hammer,would face? So yes, if some kind of community help is out there and the building part can be made easy, whether on leased or bought land, it sure will be a hell of lot encouragement.


    • Thanks for that……now the next question would be…would you be happy half-roughing it in a small place or do you think you need 4000 sft and granite counters? There are builders out here. Good ones. But you pretty much have to do some of it yourself because there might be only two or three and they do not do everything. Plus, you cannot afford to ‘bring guys in’. It’s all day getting in and out – no time to build. And putting them up is even more expensive. I could get you all sorted but you end up with a lot of deck, not so much house and a small cabin. The only reasonable way is to learn some basics and hire piecemeal after getting something like I described in place to live in temporarily.


      • Thanks Dave. Currently there is a 31 acer property for sale on Read island for 695k and a 11 acer on Port Neville. By your judgement, how reasonable or not are they?


  3. Well, I am not a fan of anywhere north of us because there is a HUGE temperature drop just a ways up. The ‘bathtub’ that is the Gulf of Georgia has limits. NO snow in winter right here. Three miles away – SNOW. NO shirt here in August and a windbreaker a bit further north. Use the ‘Oyster line’ as an indicator. If oysters grow, its temperate. If they do not grow on the nearest beach, it’s ‘north’.
    If you want to ‘experience’ what I am saying, go to Campbell River. Spend a few days. Then go to Port Hardy immediately after. Spend a few days. You’ll ‘get it’.
    As for the price……well, it is all in the location. Anything north facing is summer only. Anything south facing or even east-west is OK. Then you gotta suss out the water. Some places ‘go dry’ in August. That’s NOT good.
    If you want to send me the address, I’ll give you my opinion but I am biased. If there is a home on it, SOMEBODY loved it even if I do not. So a grain of salt is required. You know what opinions are worth right? Zip.
    It depends a lot on you…………want fancy? Want simple? Want large or small? All year living or just summer…? Gonna swing a hammer? Or, at least, TRY?


  4. The concept isn’t much different than us purchasing a float cabin with a 20 year BC water lease. We knew going in it could be only for 20 years, no guarantee of a renewal (except I think they will – we’ll learn in 2022). We own the cabin but not where it’s located. We can take it away if the lease isn’t renewed but probably there will be a wholesale business in cabin demolition if that happens. I sure hope not. The problem I would have with your 20 year and a day lease proposal with no guarantee of a renewal clause. I’m already starting to get a worried feeling about our situation and it doesn’t feel good. – Margy


  5. Interesting concept for OTG leases….It would work with like minded people in small groups. The bigger the groups the bigger the conflicts.

    I didnt realize the Temperature variances up north of Campbell River were that defined. Fascinating.
    I owned a property in PEI and my neighbour was an Oyster fisherman. Tough as nails. The season starts in Spring and is done by July ( warm gets too warm and red tide can be an issue). Watching them “rake” oysters off the bottom of the inlets in all types of miserable weather was eye opening.


  6. On first blush sounds good. Who is responsible for the infrasture like water, power and sewage is that cost buit into the lease rate? Sounds like a boat will be required it just seems a little complicated. Maybe if I was in my early 50’s but now at 70 plus, yes, and 1 additional year not likely for me. I feel for Margy already will they need to move their home if lease not renewed and where would they go?


    • These leases are for twenty years so, at 70, you are covered. Maybe a rule that requires extension if the tenant is over 80?
      But yes, you’d need a runabout. Yes, community builds infrastructure, lease pays for that investment. length of term not a problem.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.