Off The Grid Queries – ask anything

31 thoughts on “Off The Grid Queries – ask anything

  1. Guessing that these two bought their land.

    It’s generational because there is no more getting crown land and everything else is unaffordable. One generation gets it and the next gets to pay for it….

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    • Yes. We did. Bought in the 70’s during the back-to-the-land movement but weren’t inclined then to actually go back. Re-discovered it at 50 and was blown away at our good fortune. It was like a lottery win. But properties OTG have fallen like common sense and so there are tons of good places for sale quite cheap. No window has been closed.

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    • It is next to impossible to buy crown land. And there is no need to anyway. There is plenty of land for sale and only half of it is listed. Or maybe it is listed but not by a realtor doing anything. Ed Hanje is likely the best – he works the coast, has a plane, does a good job and knows what’s what. But even Ed doesn’t know the area around me as well as I do and I know of several pieces not listed. And that kind of local knowledge is relevant everywhere. If it is not half, then 30% of land for sale is NOT listed.
      “So, what should I do?” Firstly, figure out what area you want to be in….by say, a few miles or even more. Then look at the listings for that area. But, after that, you really MUST visit the area before even bothering to look at a property. “Why?” Well, some places face North. That may be good if you like shadows but most people want south-facing so that they can grow a garden and not get suicidal. Fresh water is not always easily accessed. You can collect rain water (we have plenty) but that is a ‘system’ to be installed and factored in. And so it goes.
      Don’t let your budget influence your effort as much as it would in the city. Deals can be made. 160 acres can be shared. The way people think of real estate in the city is not the way people think of it in the country. I could spend $100K on a half acre lot or get 40 acres of land….or more……it is just NOT the way it is down here in the city.
      Honestly? There is much to choose from. “Why?” Because the back-to-the-landers don’t need 160 acres anymore. Because some country mice are being lured to the city. Because young people are NOT buying rural. And on and on.

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      • We contacted Ed H during our search. Never met the guy. He simply sent us out to various properties we asked to see and paid the large water taxi costs ourselves. Try lanquest or a local island realtor. PS we are on an island neighbouring David’s island. Just read his book and LOVED it… all sounded sooooo familiar since we are also boat access and OTG! Dave, will be contacting you soon, if I may?

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      • Also, David is correct: lots of cheap land for sale. Pick a possible area and go there. If there are listings, arrange to see them, but be sure to travel around and look. Ask the locals who’s maybe selling, too. We looked for three years and it was all part of the journey. I wrote about it in the old Cottage Magazine a few years back.

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    • Yes, we do. But the more remote you are, the less your taxes are because you basically get very little. Ours are about $500-600 a year. But there are no amenities, of course.

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  2. Hey David it’s me.. just south of you… for the big reno we are looking to add a solar hot water panel . Our friends here have made theirs but we are looking for an local source to buy it ready made. ( all the wee bits cost alot And it would require a lot of soldering as well). we would like to at least to price it for comparison..
    Do you have one or know of anyone on the big island that sells them?
    Our “guy” at wee go solar just does the normAl solar panels…..

    Hope all is well.. I will get back to writing when I get walls and a roof back… 😉

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    • No. Not really. A lot of us have such devices but they are ‘cobbled’ units using black tubing and sometimes housed in boxes with a valve or whatever. I looked at the ‘retail units’ but the cobble-style seems to work pretty well. Good enough anyway. Run a bunch of vertical tubes in a box covered in glass and away you go. I have one slated for the greenhouse (winter).

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  3. Hi, David,

    I co-host a show called Off The Grid Radio. Would you be willing to talk to us for 20 minutes about your book “Our Life Off The Grid”? You can email me at the email address tied to this message or call 815-259-0122. Our reach is pretty big. I can send details.

    Thanks!
    Michael

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  4. Thanks for your ongoing list of recommended tools and supplies! Are you strictly on a rainwater tank or do you have a well also (you mentioned a pump). If so, did you build a well house did you pour a concrete foundation–wondering if we need to (in the same climate as you, but total greenhorns).

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    • We have a strong stream a mile away but still on our property. We also have elevation. We put a pipe in the steam at the 110 ft level, ran the pipe all the way and we fill our cisterns (2000 gallons) at the 75′ level….thus – gravity feed to the cisterns. But the house is at the same elevation so the cistern feed is boosted by a pump to provide the pressure needed for the on-demand Bosche water heater.
      Rain collection works but make it all higher than your highest taps. Gravity works best.

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  5. Mr. Cox, I’m compelled to send you this, as I just finished your book “Our Life off the Grid”. I’m an avid reader, and outdoorsmen (hunter/angler Canadian prairie boy). I’m a pretty concrete person, and usually don’t go for deep thinking monologues of some of the famous writers of today and yesterday. However, the justification you provide on the last few pages of your book (pages 285-288) are the best collection of words I have ever seen put together. I couldn’t agree more with the rationale of your way of life.
    I never comment online, so had to build up the courage to even complete this message. I’m also motivated by receiving recent negative health news. Over two decades of a stressful law enforcement career has led to a myriad of cardiac issues that has been a little overwhelming the last 12 months. My escape from stress has always been to get away to a rustic piece of property we have where I can live off the grid. It’s therapy at its finest, I just don’t think I was able to receive enough of it, as I was too busy burning my candle from both ends. I was never able to put into words or clearly articulate the positive effects. You did that perfectly in those last few pages of the book and I was blown away with how perfectly I can relate to everything you said. Time doesn’t speed up when I’m out there, it slows down, and I find myself stopping to live in the moment and truly appreciating my surrounding and existence in it (like you described). Thank you for the gift of clarity, these are definitely words for me to live by and appreciate in my days ahead.
    I don’t travel much, but I know from reading your book I would truly enjoy a visit with you over the differences between life off the grid in the prairies and the coast. I’d supply the scotch and wine.
    I just discovered your blog, and learned of Sally’s knee surgery. Wishing her all the best in her recovery, and hope it leads to many more years of mobility and happy living together back home where you belong. The strength of your relationship and marriage shines through in your writing.
    All the best to you.

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    • Thanks. Very kind. And, with those flattering words, you have just become our all-time favourite reader. Seriously, thank you. Glad you liked it.
      Now, as to the heart issues…..you KNOW what we prescribe for that, don’t you? Get back in the woods! Stay there. Send out for pizza or whatever. NEVER go back. NEVER. Urban strife ain’t a life, live in the woods, it’s all good.

      That may sound simplistic (’cause it is) but, really, once you are in your fifties, the rat race loses all appeal (for me, anyway). Sal and I wish you the best. And please let us know how you are doing from time to time. Of course, you are welcome to come and visit here and, if I ever go mohoing across Canada again (slim), we will stop and visit. It may sound weird, but we have met at least a dozen people as a result of writing. Strangers otherwise. And yet, upon meeting, we had an instant bond. I am sure you’d be no exception. Take care.

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  6. Hello Mr Cox, I just bought your book…hope to receive it within 2 weeks. We are looking at a proporty on Read Island (Lot A Whiterock Pass°. It is located on the north side of the island. Is that far from where you are located? Kind regards, Wim

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    • Wim. Nice to hear from you. Yep. Not far. Not far at all. Let me know when you are there and I’ll come up and visit. Hope you like the book….it may become YOUR story, too!

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      • Hello David, Thanks for your quick reply! Well…things will not go that quickly ;-). Both my wife and myself have been in the rat race for the last 30 years, and now that we are both 54 (about same age as you and Sally were when you embarked on this adventure), we both feel more and more uncomfortable with our current way of living. <this is starting to have a bigger and bigger impact on our health and general well-being (especially my wife has had serious stress related health problems the last 2 years).
        I always had a visit to BC (Vancouver) on my bucketlist, and finally last year we visited Vancouver Island and Vancouver city and mainland. In total, we spend 7 days on Vancouver Island (Ucluelet/Tofino area mainly), after which we went to Squamish/Whistler/Vancouver for 4 days. So although we visited the 'busier' part of Vancouver island, we were immediately 'taken' by the peace, the nature, wildlife…and for the first time in a LOT of years, we felt 'at home'. Even visiting Squamish/Whistler/Vancouver after Vancouver Island did not feel good anymore (as in too busy) Since then, the feeling hasn't left me, and I find it more and more difficult to stay in this rat race…but as with a lot of people…it's not easy to take the big 'leap'. Our next trip will definitely be to the more quiet part of the Discovery Islands (Quadra/Cortes…and now for sure Read Island!!) .
        I really look forward to reading your book…and maybe this will give us inspiration on which way we will take our lives!
        With the current travel restrictions, we will not be able to visit this year, but we will definitely put it on our list for next year!
        In the meantime, I have watched your Youtube video maybe like 10 times and read your blog several times…you both truly are an inspiration to both my wife and me.
        So if you don't mind, we would like to keep in touch from time to time!
        Kind regards

        Anouk and Wim

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  7. Hi David,

    I recently started reading your book and will finish it soon. It have given me many a fine chuckle and more than a few good insights into living well off-grid. A marvelous read so far. Like you my wife and I have an water-access-only off-grid cabin/home in the discovery islands. We purchased about 7 years ago and spend about half of our time there now that I am retired.

    You said to ask anything, so here goes. Our cabin was built in the late 70’s and has a very rudimentary septic system (450 gal tank and 1 line). As far as we could determine, it had never been emptied and we were starting to get those tell-tale smells that says to take care of the little problem before it gets big. Anyways we tried to figure out a way to get someone to do it without costing an arm and a leg, but were unsuccessful (e.g., S at Inlet Nav didn’t know of anyone who would do it). In the end we cut an inlet port in the tank and pumped it out ourselves using a small submersible electic pump and distributed the sludge around the propery. It was a horrible job! So my question is this: have you heard of other off-gridders with this problem and how did they take care of it?

    -Frank

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    • I answered Frank directly but maybe incorrectly…….I assumed he was talking about the old Cedar boxes that were, in fact, just rudimentary septic tanks. But, re-reading it, that 450 gallon tank may be an old fiberglass tank and then…well, the same advice holds true. You can pump them out as Frank did, you can get a septic tank service if there is one on your island (not ours) and you can also throw in some weird bacteria accelerator and then use a bit more water than usual in it to ‘kinda’ rinse it. Chances are the problem is NOT the tank – it is the ‘septic field’ or, more precisely, the pipes from the tank that feed the field. If the tank can’t keep the stuff moving, then it will stop and start to back up.

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      • Hi David,
        You are right that it is a fiberglass tank. The cabin is on rock and the tank is directly under the house with the line running out the back. The system seems to drain ok in the sense that if you dig down to the line and flush the toilet, clear “water” comes out of the line. I think that the tank had simply filled up with too much sludge over the years. It may be more than what you and your readers want to know, but some previous owners seemed to have a penchant for flushing hair and swallowing cherry pits. The combination proved deadly to the impellers and filters of the two pumps that I tried using. In the end, we pumped out about 150 gal of sludge and everything has been great for a couple of years now. I doubt whether we will have to deal with it again in our remaining lifetime, but our children may have to if they continue to love the place as much as we do. If I was writing my equivalent of your book, this would be a chapter for sure!
        Cheers,
        Frank

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